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  • 02/13/2020 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    By Harold Moskowitz

    When France and Great Britain fought each other in the 1790’s, the United States neutrality policy recommended by President Washington was questioned. Some Americans favored France out of dislike for the British and gratitude for French assistance during the Revolution. Others, horrified by reports of bloody executions during the French Revolution, sided with Great Britain.

    The United States had signed a neutrality agreement but France wanted the United States to support them against the British. The government resisted their pressure and instead signed the Jay Treaty with Great Britain which settled old issues. The French reacted by interfering with American shipping. President John Adams sent envoys to France in an effort to diffuse hostility. French diplomats responded by seeking bribe money for granting access to their Foreign Minister and a loan for the French war effort against Britain.

    When news of the French diplomatic actions reached Adams, he requested and was given Congressional funding for a military buildup. A two-year undeclared war with France followed. It is known as the “Quasi-War.” During this time, French naval vessels and privateers attacked our ships. They did all that they could to disrupt American trade with Great Britain.

    In order to finance the ‘Quasi-War,’ Congress needed to raise two million dollars. It chose to impose the only direct tax on personal property in our nation’s history. Known as the “House Tax” (1798), it taxed residential structures, land, and slaves. Each state was to be proportionately responsible for its share of the total. Pennsylvania’s share was $237,000.

    Since there were very few slaves in Pennsylvania, the tax was mostly based upon inhabited residences and land ownership. The taxable amount for homeowners was to be based upon the size of the windows and the number of window panes. Many state residents refused to pay the tax. They claimed that the tax was not being levied equally in proportion to the state’s population as was required by the U.S. Constitution.

    Many of the settlers in the northeastern past of the state were originally from Germany where they had been forced to pay a “Hearth Tax.” It was also disliked because it was for funding a “non-existing” war.

    In Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton, and Montgomery Counties, people began to protest the tax. As during the American Revolution, “liberty poles” were erected. Women even threw hot water down from the second floors of houses onto the agents as they counted and measured windows on the ground floor. John Fries became the leader of the opposition. He began to lead a group of about sixty armed men. Their goal was to prevent tax assessors from carrying out their job. Often, tax agents were intimidated and run out of town. Their lives were threatened.

    Fries told an assessor that if he did not leave, “700 men would be ready to fight to the end.” A few assessors were taken hostage and held for several hours. Upon release, they were threatened with death if they returned. The governor sent the militia to arrest rebels and tax resistors in what became known as “Fries’ Rebellion.”

    Nineteen men were arrested. Fries and 400 men freed them from the custody of a United States Marshal. President Adams called for a militia to be raised. The 1,200 man militia rearrested the 19 freed prisoners. Fries was captured. He and two others were tried for treason. As was the situation in the Whiskey Rebellion (1794) trials, the definition of “treason” was an expanded one. It said that “combining to defeat or resist a federal law was the equivalent of levying war against the United States.”The others were tried for misdemeanors such as “opposition to the House Tax,” “hindering the assessors in their duties,” and “holding unlawful meetings for interfering with the execution of the laws.”

    Forty-one of the arrested men were tried in federal court. Three, including Fries, were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Those tried for misdemeanors were convicted except for one. Two days before the execution date, President Adams pardoned the three condemned men as well as those who had been convicted of misdemeanors.

    Fries was seen by many in the nation as a victim of federal power. The handling of the “rebellion” by President Adams damaged the political standing of the Federalist Party. Hostility in Pennsylvania prevented Adams from “carrying” the state in the election of 1800, allowing Jefferson to defeat him. The “House Tax” was repealed in 1802. Armed citizen resistance had made a difference. 

  • 02/13/2020 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    By Henry S. Kramer, Tompkins County, New York

    How do liberties get lost? Does a nation-state slip into dictatorship and totalitarianism all at once? Experience says that it is a slow process in which, bit by bit, we lose our freedoms.

    Unlike many of the readers here, I am not particularly a fan of guns. I live in a fairly safe area and don’t believe that I need to be armed. But I realize that many of my fellow citizens do live where they feel a need for protection and they don’t feel they can rely on law enforcement alone. So, why am I a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and keeping it robust and in place?

    First, because it is an amendment to our Constitution and I believe our Constitution must be upheld. As soon as we lose any of our constitutional rights, all the others become endangered. And consider this, of all the types of property that we have, guns are about the only property that is specifically constitutionally protected (yet we can’t carry them easily from state to state).

    On a practical level, the statistics show that restrictive gun laws just do not work. Faced with restrictive legislation, criminals do not give up their guns and no law is likely to make them do so. Areas like Chicago with strict gun laws do not have lower crime rates, they have high ones. Conversely, areas like Texas which allow concealed carry have much lower crime rates. I do support strong controls on fully automatic weapons, but they have been highly regulated since the 1930’s so that is not an issue any more.

    Pastor Niemoller said of the Nazi regime that when they came for the Jews, he didn’t care as he wasn’t a Jew. When they came for the gypsies, he didn’t care, he wasn’t a gypsy. When they came for him there was no one left to stand up for him. That was an important lesson and an important reason why I stand for all of the Constitution and do not want to see it dismantled bit by bit.

    Admiral Yamamoto, who was the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan in 1941, told the Japanese leaders that they could never invade and occupy the United States. The reason he gave - too many guns in too many hands.

    Now our constitutional republic is under attack. Free speech, gun rights, and even our ability to elect a president and see that president finish his term are under attack. If we are not to become a “banana republic” without the rule of law, we must protect and uphold our constitution - every part of it. Right now, the Second Amendment is under siege. If it goes, how long will it be before our other rights go as well? 

  • 02/13/2020 11:05 AM | Anonymous

    By Attilio A. Contini

    Does anyone care? What will it take for people to realize what is going on and say “enough with this foolishness”? Actually, it is far worse than foolishness. Call it what you want but I say it is down-right and deliberate subversion and, perhaps, even treason. Our very concepts of national security, citizenship and our Constitution are being undermined.

    The elitist leftists call themselves Progressives for a reason. They have a goal, increasing their own power and control, which they systematically and relentlessly work towards with never ending determination. We need to understand that goal and determine if it is right and proper - or even acceptable - for that goal to be entertained and promoted in a constitutional, free, nationalistic, country and society. Our country’s constitution exists for the preservation and protection of the rights and safety of its people – its citizens.

    Society has boundaries, laws and rules for a reason and these laws and rules must be obeyed; without them we have chaos. Unlimited, illegal immigration is making a mockery of our laws and rules. What is the sense of having laws if illegal immigrants are going to be given all the rights and privileges reserved for law abiding citizens and those who play by the rules?

    We have rules to punish people who break the law. Granting privileges to illegal immigrants, such as drivers licenses, creates a snow balling effect that undermines our whole system. How can you deny a citizen the privileged of a driver's license if you give a license to felons who violate immigration laws? To say we must automatically give them a license because they need to drive to work and move about in the community is hypocritical. Now, the proposal in the New York State legislature to automatically register them to vote is an insult and act of national suicide and stupidity. It creates an environment that can destroy the Constitution and norms of society.

    We need to step back and ask why are the extreme radical progressives - and those that enable them - advocating and promoting ideas that are so dangerous. Let's be honest. In my opinion, most progressive politicians - and those enabling them while luring in the shadows - are devoted Socialist and Communists. They want to “Fundamentally change our government”, subvert our Constitution, limit our freedom, and control our lives from the cradle to the grave. They place very little value on human life, except their own. They want gun control not because they want to stop crimes but because they want to render us defenseless. They want to impose a form of government on us that fosters a class society where they, the elite intelligentsia, can control and take advantage of the masses.

    They are bribing and brainwashing the unsuspecting illegal immigrants and other minority groups into supporting them so they can gain total control of our government and alter or destroy the Constitution. They believe the end justifies the means. For some reason they hate our government, our Constitution and everything it stands for.

    It is time they be declared what they are: seditious, sabotaging, criminal, treasonous enemies of our nation, our Constitution, and the American People. They should be identified as threats to our National Security, removed from office, and barred from ever running for or holding public office. 

  • 02/13/2020 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

    A hate-filled mentally ill man attacked Hasidic Jews with a machete, in the home of their Rabbi, in the upstate town of Monsey, New York, seriously injuring five. Senate Minority Leader Schumer promptly called for an increase in Federal grants to help secure houses of worship and schools. The attack, New York’s Governor Cuomo said, was due to a “scourge of hate in this country” and Cuomo, never to be outpandered, proposed a new state law, the Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act, which makes illegal that which is already illegal. If Cuomo was being consistent, he would have called for a ban on “assault machetes.”

    New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio, who can out-pander anyone, said, “We New Yorkers have the ability to stop the hatred.” Frighteningly, the mayor thinks, or wants you to think, that he has the power to change people’s feelings. The new “no bail law” in New York State turns many violent offenders loose. But thankfully, this perpetrator of this crime remains in jail on $5 million bail.

    Let’s compare the Democrat response to the machete attack in Monsey with the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. The difference in tone and focus is striking. Immediately after the Newtown shooting and long before the facts were known, Schumer, Cuomo, et al. blamed so-called assault weapons. At the federal level, Schumer pushed for tougher gun control laws, while Cuomo shoved the Safe Act through the state legislature in record time. Boosting funding to make schools a harder target was never a priority. Democrats never blamed alienation or mental health services that don’t reach everyone. Nor did they blame a collapsing moral structure. The focus of their ire was never the shooter, another mentally ill man who stole his mother’s guns and murdered her before going to the Newtown school to slaughter the innocents. No, they blamed guns and, by extension, gun owners. Here in New York, the Safe Act didn’t make schools safer - it made gun ownership harder, which was the point.

    But New York’s ruling ideocracy is at it again with State Senate bill S1412. This monstrosity will require every buyer of a shotgun or long gun to apply for a hunting license first. The bill imposes other burdens such as: taking a 5-hour gun safety course, passing a shooting test with 90% accuracy, notarized proof of a passed drug test and mental health evaluation, and finally, proof of safe storage.

    Meanwhile, New York State continues to hemorrhage population. The latest census data paints a bleak picture. New York has lost 1.4 million people to other states since 2010. Cuomo was governor for 9 of those 10 years. New York lost 77,000 people in 2019. I don’t know the numbers for the 55 counties upstate, but I know that upstate always takes it on the chin.

    The title of this article says it all. We know that the Albany/ Washington ruling class would love to delete the Second Amendment. But Cuomo, et.al. never admit it; instead, they say they want to make us safer. They’re obviously lying. Their arrogance knows no bounds; it is gigantic, oceanic, titanic arrogance. Lies and hubris make for bad public policy. Problems are never really defined or solved. People experience the results and they sense that their leaders are dishonest and govern poorly. This is why people flee New York, if they can.  

  • 02/13/2020 10:55 AM | Anonymous

    By Tom Reynolds

    Quite often, the simplest solution to a problem is the best solution.

    In Chapter 11 of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s book, “With All Due Respect”, she describes the conditions in South Sudan, a country that has been torn apart by civil war. By the fall of 2017, two million people had been displaced and two million more had fled the country. It is the site of one of the United Nations’ largest and most expensive (and ineffective) peacekeeping missions.

    Thousands of civilians sought refuge near UN peacekeeping bases and the UN set up “protection of civilian sites” outside their gates. These tent cities are ringed by barbed wire and exist in horrible conditions under the unreliable protection of UN peacekeeping troops.

    Violence against women is rampant. UN peacekeeping forces are infamous for raping and abusing women under their care and these are the “good guys”. In these camps, women must venture outside the security of the barbed wire to collect firewood for cooking. Once outside the compound, they are frequently attacked and raped.

    Ambassador Haley had no direct answer to these problems other than continuing to argue for them within and without the U.N. Noble but ineffective.

    I have a simple and direct answer: teach these women to shoot and then arm them with handguns. I’ll bet the women won’t hesitate to use them to protect themselves and their children. Potential rapists will think twice (or several more times) before attacking the women.

    Of course, a proposal such as this will bring howls from the left and all sorts of theories about how badly it would turn out. Realistically, some down-side things would happen, but would it be worse than the status quo? Absolutely not. And being self-reliant and protecting themselves would have a major, positive psychological impact on women for which there is little positive happening in their lives. Remember, guns have done more to make women safe that all the feminist movement in the world.

    My suggestion for this sort of direct solution to a violence problem is equally lost on New York’s governor who won’t allow teachers in New York schools to be armed for fear that the students would be caught in a crossfire. He would prefer that a shooter be allowed to fire at will without any opposition. It doesn’t take a genius, which Cuomo definitely isn’t, to realize that many more student s would be killed by an unopposed shooter than would be injured in crossfire.

    The best real-life answer to Cuomo and the anti-gun left is the recent shooting in a Texas church. In a room packed with parishioners, a gunman opened fire and the incident was over in six seconds! Six seconds! An armed parishioner took out the shooter and several others had drawn their weapons but did not fire, either because they did not have a clear shot or the incident was over before they could shoot. If a police officer had been sitting outside in a patrol car, he could barely have gotten out of the car door before the incident was over.

    An armed populace is a safer populace and gun free zones only protect the criminal. 

  • 02/13/2020 10:32 AM | Anonymous

    By Richard Rossi

    Many of us believe that the anti-gun groups and the media have no actual knowledge of how firearms function. One would believe that theory because of the way the media communicates their agenda to the citizens in our country. On the contrary, I believe they know very well what they are saying.

    Take for example the term “ASSAULT WEAPON”.  True, knowledgeable gun owners know, very well, that is a contrived term. It was, of course, made up for a specific purpose; to invoke emotional support for their agenda. This label plays directly into getting support after any mass shooting event where a semiautomatic rifle was used. I have not believed, for some time, that they are so uninformed about firearms that they don’t truly understand that there is a difference between an Automatic rifle and a Semi-automatic rifle, when they label both as “Assault weapons”.

    Let’s take this a step further. When you listen to national news media reporting involving police activity, they never use the term Assault Weapon when referring to LEO”s armed with “Black Rifles”. They somehow - and I believe intentionally - do not use the term “assault weapon” when talking about these stories. I have heard on many news stories that police armed with rifles are searching the area. Think about that for a minute…

    Furthermore, you will notice that these “assault rifle” stories hit immediately, as the event is unfolding, even if details are not known or unclear about the incident. They need to get a jump on the story to invoke emotional support and outrage. Facts don’t matter, at this point in time, nor is clarification usually made later, as long as it gets broadcast that another mass-shooting with an assault rifle has happened.

    Let’s examine the term “Mass Shooting.” A more appropriate and accurate term, in my opinion, would be “Mass Murder”. However, this wording also does not fit their agenda; they need to include the reference to the weapon in the headline, for obvious reasons. The focus is very simple; one must remove the blame from the individual and place it on the weapon. How can people actually believe that anyone or anything other than the person is solely to blame for these murders? The media wants us to believe that, if we take away an object, the event will not occur. It does not work that way and it never will.

    While I blame the media driven agenda for this attack on our 2nd Amendment Rights and Freedoms, we must share some of the blame. While the media was exonerating the individual for his actions, law-abiding gun owners sat quietly and watched. I am sure many of you are as frustrated with this anti-gun movement as I am. However, we need to be positive and speak-out and speak loudly. Get involved and “talk” with your elected officials at all levels of Government. Change can happen if we work together and are active.  

  • 02/13/2020 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    By Tim Andrews, S.C.O.P.E. At-Large Director

         Do we really have a Second Amendment? Good question and I’m amazed I’ve never read or heard anyone ask that fundamental question. I even googled the question, and the only thing that came up was the text of the Second Amendment and some academic pro and con debates.

         The United States Constitution is the premier law of the land. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the constitution. The right to keep and bear arms is number two, and the common thread of the first ten amendments is that they all pertain to the rights of the individual. We also have two Supreme Court rulings supporting an individual’s right, at least as it exists in the home.

         Yet, despite this, we have literally thousands of laws on the books, both on the federal level and state levels, restricting an individual’s right, and in many cases outright banning an individual’s right to possess certain firearms, including firearm accessories. Many will argue the government has the power to regulate issues pertaining to the Bill of Rights; the “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” argument. I would agree to give the government the power to regulate for the common good. The question is, where’s the line? When does regulation become a violation of our Second Amendment? What regulation is acceptable?

         To answer that question, I would argue that regulation begins and ends with criminals and criminal use of firearms and I’d start with someone who’s convicted of a violent felony. If you are convicted of a violent criminal offense you should forfeit your right to possess a firearm. However, it’s also important that Fifth Amendment due process rights are protected so individuals are not unduly prosecuted. I would also argue that any law-abiding citizen who possessed or purchased a firearm legally cannot be prosecuted retroactively.

        We can all agree the very nature of criminal behavior is that they don’t obey laws; whether it’s jaywalking or murder, criminals are not deterred by laws. The trouble is, many of the thousands of gun laws on the books are not targeted at criminals or criminal use of firearms; they’re clearly aimed at law-abiding citizens.

         A few examples are, gun-free zones, which criminals laugh at. They more accurately should be referred to as killing zones. What better place to commit murder than a location where the criminal knows no one else is armed? Then there are bans on firearms, magazines or other accessories. Again, criminals will get what they want. Only law abiding citizens, the ones whose rights are supposedly protected by the Second Amendment are impacted. These are only a small sample as there are many other laws, like them, that not only violate Second Amendment rights but they also violate our right to protect ourselves and our families. Regulation of the Second Amendment should focus on criminals not law-abiding citizens.

         Gun control has always been about people control going back to the black codes that were intended to control freed slaves following the civil war. Then, there was the National Firearms Act of 1934 that, among other things, effectively banned automatic firearms. This was the beginning of the slippery slope when bans became acceptable. The cliche “slippery slope” aptly applies to gun control, just witness how acceptable bans have become with so many.

         So again, I ask, do we really have a Second Amendment? With the influx of red flag laws, do we have a Fifth Amendment which is supposed to guarantee due process rights?

          Given the magnitude of the Bill of Rights, what many constitutional scholars refer to as the supreme law of the land, it’s troubling how easy it is for legislatures to circumvent them. Just look at the restrictions and bans we’ve experienced in New York. And when we have sought relief through the courts, we’ve been met by activists’ courts that distort the intentions of the founders or the courts viewed the constitution as a malleable document that doesn’t really mean what it says.

    Later this year the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the city of New York pistol license law. It could be a landmark decision for gun rights, but the wild card is Chief Justice Roberts, so time will tell. The silver lining is President Trump, who is changing the federal courts with a record number of appointments. If the president is reelected and a GOP majority is reelected in the Senate, he could change the courts for generations. That may very well be the Second Amendments' last hope.

    Until then, it still begs the question, do we really have a Second Amendment?  

  • 02/10/2020 11:33 AM | Anonymous

    By Jay Chambers

    Jay Chambers is a pro-free speech business owner based in Austin, Texas. Having lived through several natural disasters and more than a few man-made ones (hello 2008), he believes that resilience and self-sufficiency are essential in this increasingly unpredictable world. That’s why he started a business! Jay writes over at Minute Man Review.

         Superior reliability, ease of manufacture, and popularity among Islamic terrorist groups: those are some of the things that come to mind when you ask anyone what they think of the AK-47.

         More than forty years ago, right before the Soviet-Afghan War, the Kremlin started supplying the Afghanistan government with AK-47s, among other Warsaw pact weapons. These automatic rifles were plentiful, thanks to their ease of manufacture and reliable design.

         The CIA (and other players who didn’t like the idea of the Soviet having significant control over the outcome of the war) did the same. They provided the insurgent mujahideen with armaments as well, but they didn’t give AR-15s. Instead, they gave them Chinese-made rifles patterned after the same AK-47s their hostile government counterparts are equipped with.

         Fast forward to a few years ago (and up to this date), members of Al-Qaeda and ISIS (at least those fond of filming themselves) are brandishing the very same AK-47 rifles given to their fathers and grandfathers by the Soviet and U.S. cold war players from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

          No one could have predicted that the low-maintenance rifle well known for its ease of manufacture and frustratingly high levels of reliability would become the symbol of insurgency and terrorism that we know of today.

         But how did it get to this point? Why is it that of all the automatic rifles invented within the last 100 years, it’s the AK-47 that earned the kind of notoriety it is known for today? If you find yourself asking the same questions and you want answers, stick around and read through this post.

    A Quick History Lesson

         Before it became the quintessential terrorists’ assault rifle, through much of the cold war era, the AK-47 rifle had developed a reputation as the weapon of choice for insurgents, by communists. Anyone looking to take part in a revolutionary movement against their government was expected to have an AK-47. Purpose-wise, it was a far cry from what the rifle was primarily designed for: as a tool for the government.

         The man behind the creation of the AK-47, the late Mikhail Kalashnikov, is considered a genius by many of his countrymen. Born in 1919 to parents in a peasant province in Siberia, Kalashnikov was reportedly fascinated by the inner workings of the crude machines accessible to him in his childhood. As a young adult, he worked as a railroad clerk.

         In 1938, just before the Second World War, Kalashnikov joined the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic’s Krasnaya Armiya (more commonly referred to as the Red Army). Designated as a tank mechanic, he was assigned to man one of the T34s of 24th Tank Regiment.

         When his training was over, he started to exhibit a high level of mechanical expertise by designing modifications for Soviet tanks. Not long after, he was promoted to tank commander. Things were looking up for the mechanic.

         In 1941 during the Battle of Bryansk, Kalashnikov’s tank was hit by a shell from the Nazis forces. He was badly wounded and had to be hospitalized. That meant he would never be sent back to the front line.

         Rumor has it that during that time, all he could think about was the StG-44, the German military’s standard issue automatic rifle. It was far more effective than theirs in the battlefield, and that fact brought about a compelling desire for him to act – to help his comrades in battle by coming up with an automatic rifle design that will surpass the enemy’s.

         Depending on who you’d hear the story from, Kalashnikov would either go on to form the team responsible for building the first working prototype of his automatic rifle design – or he would do it all himself. Regardless, it would take him around five years to finish producing it.

    The Cold War Era

         In 1947, Kalashnikov would join his rifle in a firearms design contest launched by the Soviet Union’s Defense Ministry. The winning design was going to be adopted by the Red Army. Kalashnikov’s Automatic, Avtomatni Kalashnikova in their native tongue, won that competition. Immediately after, it received the military designation AK-47.

         But contrary to what most people (even some self-confessed gun experts online) think, the original design wasn’t anywhere near as reliable/low-maintenance nor was it as easy to manufacture as any of the AK-patterned rifle models we currently have on the market.

         All the positive attributes the AK-47 is known for today resulted from years of countless testing, troubleshooting and fine tuning. Consequently, these strengths would lead to the rifle’s unprecedented popularity (and its infamy, eventually) – chief among which is its ease of manufacture.

         Fine-tuned to become an extremely easy-to-use and low-maintenance automatic rifle, the AK-47 has fewer moving parts especially when compared against its greatest rival, our very own AR-15. This makes for lower production costs and lower barrier to entry particularly in regard to mass production.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eQLFVpOYm4

         In the late 1950s, the Soviet started licensing other like-minded communist governments, providing them assistance for the manufacture of AK-47s and other derivative designs. A few years after this licensing, factories were churning out AK-47s non-stop. 

         The sheer number of manufactured rifles, coupled with the deliberate government corruption within the states stockpiling them and the eventual dissolution of the Warsaw Pact made it impossible to regulate distribution. 

         From the ‘70s to ‘90s, a huge amount of surplus AK-47s were stolen from military arms depots, some were smuggled to countries outside of the Eastern Bloc, and others were just given away to any group that wasn’t friends with America or its anti-communist allied countries.

    The AK-47 Today

         The effects of the unregulated distribution of these surplus communist-manufactured rifles from decades ago can still be observed to this day. 

         Case in point, it’s not uncommon to see drug cartel members in Mexico carrying AK-47s while going about their daily business. And going back to where this post started, members of Islamist terrorist groups ISIS and Al Qaeda also carry them.

         What this all boils down to is in the end, it’s the AK-47’s strengths as a shooting platform that led to its negative reputation. If you’re a responsible gun owner and you happen to own one, you’re probably not affected by this. 

         But if you don’t own an AK-47 and you’re considering legally purchasing one but you’re having second thoughts because of all its bad rap, keep in mind that in the end, a firearm is just like any other purpose-built tool that man can call upon, for better or for worse.


  • 01/23/2020 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    By Rob McNally, At Large Director

    On November 4, 2019, a Cattaraugus County Supreme Court jury of 12 local residents stood up for this country’s right to selfdefense. The jury, overseen by the Honorable Judge Ronald D. Ploetz, handed down the not guilty verdict after only 45 minutes of deliberation.

    The trial began October 30 with the prosecution putting on the case of felony Assault against Damien Marvin, a Salamanca resident. Testimony for the prosecution’s case attempted to point to Marvin as instigating a confrontation that began at the Villagio, a restaurant and club in Ellicottville, during an employee Christmas party on December 1, 2018; Marvin and his fiancée were attending it. The prosecution attempted to portray Marvin as the instigator who allegedly became jealous after two brothers, Brandon and Bryan Janesz, had been talking to Marvin’s fiancée.

    The defense, led by Benjamin Smith of the Cattaraugus County Public Defender’s Office, presented additional facts that pointed to the Janesz brothers, both in their 40’s, behaving as bullies and attacking Marvin, 26. The brothers attacked Marvin, not just once but three separate times, as the club management was trying to calm the situation and remove all three parties from the location.

    Part of the defense’s case presented facts that revealed the Janesz brothers attacked Marvin inside the club, which prompted their removal. Then, they waited outside the club door for Marvin’s removal, where they continued to instigate a confrontation against Marvin, both verbally and with fists. During the last of which, they reportedly ran a distance of 58 yards as Marvin was attempting to leave the scene. They then knocked Marvin to the ground, pummeling his head and face. According to testimony, Marvin once again backed away. When Brandon Janesz attempted to rush Marvin for a third attack, Marvin had already drawn his lawfully carried and possessed pistol and commanded Janesz to stop, three times, alerting Janesz at the same time that he had a gun. As Marvin perceived the threat persisting, he fired a single shot at Janesz which struck Janesz in the abdomen and ended the attack.

    The jury agreed with Marvin’s actions by acquitting him of all charges

    What remains to be seen is whether or not Marvin and his family will have to undergo further persecution through a civil suit by the Janesz. This is, frankly, almost always a secondary threat to criminal prosecution these days. Even if a case is clearly made and accepted for self-defense in such a situation, all believers in the Second Amendment and our rights for self-defense must be prepared to defend ourselves against criminal charges and then against a lawsuit for monetary damages.

    While Marvin’s conduct was judged by his jury to be right and proper, there are those who will insist that because he fired at an unarmed man, he was wrong no matter what the circumstances. The jury in this case understood the lunacy of this belief and found the proper and lawful verdict in acquitting him.

    We all must continue our defense against this state’s love of gun control efforts that make this state less safe - not safer. This case seems to confirm that.

    While we had members of this organization present during the trial, the attendance was woefully low. An action alert was published to the four surrounding counties of Allegany, Chautauqua, Erie and Wyoming in addition to Cattaraugus County over a week in advance of the trial. Turnout from even Cattaraugus County members was disappointing. We went into this effort without the need for political rant, signs, T-shirts or showmanship. We wanted to simply show support for the defense and did so, but not nearly to the level that would have been appropriate.

    This case also identifies the need for our members to educate all citizens on the power of Jury Nullification. In most states if not all states, the law prohibits the jury from being informed during their instructions on their right to this power. Simply stated, Jury Nullification gives the jury the ability to find a verdict of not guilty when their belief is that the law being enforced is unconstitutional in its very existence. That is not to say this is the situation in Marvin’s case. We don’t believe anyone would disagree with the presence of an assault law that protects the citizens from such conduct. However, in the case of gun controls such as Red Flag laws, mandatory storage laws, clearly unconstitutional pistol permit laws that require the state’s permission before purchase and a myriad of others that exist in this state, Jury Nullification can be a very useful tool for the citizens being oppressed.

    Jury Nullification is and should be routinely taught and preached. Instead of seeking ways to avoid such duty, as citizens, we must learn that participation in a jury is a valuable means of discarding clearly unconstitutional laws that are forced upon us by a hierarchy of public servants who seem to believe they know what is best for us as ‘mere’ citizens. This is just another means of the checks and balances within our constitutional form of government and it puts power back into the hands of our citizens, where it rightly belongs. We must all strive to educate ourselves and others on all aspects of our Constitution or we stand very dangerously close to losing it all. 

  • 01/23/2020 2:02 PM | Anonymous

    By Harold Moskowitz

    The American Revolution had been successful but the new nation was deeply in debt. Loans from France, Spain, and the Netherlands had to be repaid. During the war, national and state bonds had been issued. According to the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, the nation owed 43 million dollars in 1783, and the nation owed 77.1 million dollars by 1791.

    Alexander Hamilton was President Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury. One part of his plan for placing the nation on a sound financial footing was repayment of both the national and state war debts. The federal government would redeem all of the bonds in order to establish a good national credit rating.

    To raise money for bond redemption, Hamilton proposed an excise tax on whiskey. The law required national registration of all whiskey stills. The owner of the still had to pay the tax. Farmers living on the western frontier converted their grain to whiskey because it was less expensive to ship than the grain. The whiskey was also more valuable than the grain and allowed for a profit after deducting shipping expenses. Kegs of whiskey were used locally as money. Cash was very scarce in frontier areas. The barter system was used extensively.

    The small-scale western farm distillers paid a tax of nine cents per gallon. Large-scale eastern distilleries paid six cents per gallon with further tax breaks for correspondingly larger amounts produced. The requirement of paying the tax in cash was a huge burden for the frontier farmers, not for the large commercial distilleries in the East.

    Protests immediately broke out in North Carolina, Kentucky, and especially in western Pennsylvania. Many war veterans among the protesters saw the tax as a continuation of the anti-excise tax problem the colonists had faced under British rule. It was viewed as taxation without representation. As isolated frontiersmen, they felt unrepresented by Congress. Cash payment of the tax was a requirement that seemed to open the door to government intrusion into their domestic lives. Furthermore, the tax was considered an abuse of federal authority. They rejected it for wrongly targeting a group of people who, due to their location and circumstances, relied on distilling grain for generating a profit. This perception was accurate.

    This is exactly what Hamilton had planned. He represented the interests of the wealthy business community. Business owners needed assurance that the national government would not only pay its debts but that it also could use military force when needed to enforce its tax laws. Hamilton’s plan was to raise revenue while provoking an armed rebellion by the fiercely independent frontier farmers. When that occurred, military force could be used to end it and to punish the leaders. The authority of the government would be established.

    The first resistance in western Pennsylvania was in September, 1791. Sixteen men assaulted a tax collector. They cut his hair, tarred and feathered him, and left him in the woods. Protests against the tax were held. There were mass meetings to draft petitions to Congress to repeal the tax. In the fall of 1792, several men ransacked the office of the regional supervisor for tax collection. President Washington issued a proclamation condemning the tax resistors. In September, 1792, a U.S. Marshall arrived with federal court summonses for more than sixty distillers. This resulted in a twenty-five minute gun battle in which one resistor was killed.

    That incident led to five hundred resistors facing off against ten soldiers from Fort Pitt. At one point, a large group of armed men came close to deciding to attack the city of Pittsburgh. In 1794, President Washington asked state governors to raise a militia for suppressing the revolt.

    An army of slightly less than 13,000 men was mobilized. Washington personally led the militia which was larger than any army he had led during the Revolution. He was accompanied by Hamilton. They captured twenty suspects. Ten were eventually tried for treason. Two were convicted because the definition of treason was expanded specifically for the trials. The altered definition now contained “combining to defeat or resist a federal law is the equivalent of levying war on the United States.” President Washington pardoned both convicted men in 1795. The excise tax on whiskey distilling was repealed in 1802 under President Jefferson.

    The “Whiskey Rebellion” was provoked for the purpose of establishing the authority of the new nation’s government. The independent-minded frontier farmers were pawns in Hamilton’s scheme. Perhaps firearm owners should be alert to the possibility that at some point a “revolt” might be instigated by the government for the purpose of mass gun confiscation. 

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A 2nd Amendment Defense Organization, defending the rights of New York State gun owners to keep and bear arms!

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