Our Interview with Emily Miller

EmilyGetsHerGun_CoverNot only did we have the chance to meet Emily at her book signing, but she was also kind enough to join us for an interview after we finished her book.  We focused on questions we thought would help readers interested in helping to support gun rights and other freedoms in a world that seems to be tangled in red tape. If you haven’t read her book, Emily Gets Her Gun but Barack Obama Wants to Take Yours, you can read our review here (and then you should read her book!)

FFP: We love the last line of your book: “A gun is just a tool. The fight is for freedom.” It’s exactly what Freedom Forge Press is all about—preserving and extending freedom for individuals.

Emily: I was struggling to write  the last line. One day, I was running outside to clear my mind, so I thought, “what is the big picture here? Is this about guns?” and it struck me, the Second Amendment isn’t about guns, it is about preventing government tyranny. And we’re witnessing a period in which the federal government has invaded all parts of our lives — our health care, spying from NSA, persecuting through the IRS, taking more taxes to have more spending in Washington. Grabbing guns is part of this whole Obama philosophy of taking power away from the people and putting it into Washington. Whether people individually choose to arm themselves is less important than preventing the federal government from taking over our lives.

FFP: So should everyone have a gun?

Emily: People ask me what guns do I like or recommend. I repeatedly say: owning a gun is a huge responsibility, not one to be taken lightly. It is much more  more responsibility than having a dog. A gun is a lethal weapon—you have to train, store it safely, know where it is when you are home or away. Not everyone wants that responsibility, but those of us who chose to get a gun should not have to fight through red tape set by the government to exercise this right. Personally, I feel much safer having a loaded gun by my bed, but it’s not for everyone.

FFP: Would you say that the right to defend oneself is a natural right? Not one granted to citizens by a government?

Emily: Yes, I put that in my book. I am a Christian. So were the Founding Fathers. When they wrote the Bill of Rights, they believed we had certain rights from God,  which the government had to respect. A lot of people have this backwards. They think the Constitution gives us these rights as opposed to knowing that we, as human beings, were given certain rights by God.

One of these rights is self defense.. That’s why I printed the Second Amendment in the front of my book. It’s short. It’s simple. It’s not complicated: “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.” That’s it.

So if the government infringes on this right, as we have done already in ways like prohibiting felons and drug addicts and the mentally ill from owning gun, it was because as a society we decided these limits made us all safer. But none of the gun control laws — like banning guns, or requiring a reason to get a carry permit or registration – has ever reduced crime. The simple reason is that criminals don’t care what the laws are — that’s why they are criminals. Do you think any criminal is going to go through the 17 steps that I did to register a  gun in DC? Of course not.

In the end, all the gun-control laws on the books and the new ones in the states from 2013 have to get sorted out by the courts, and I believe you’ll find that they violate the Constitution.

The problem is that the courts take a long time. It took 30 years for the courts to overturn the handgun ban in D.C.

This goes to show how easy it is to take away a constitutional right and how hard it is to get it back. It’s so easy to take away a constitutional right. It took less than six months in Colorado to change the laws in a state that is historically pro-hunting, rural and pro gun with things like like arbitrary magazine size  and so-called universal background checks. These laws are not stopping any criminals. They aren’t going to go to a dealer to get NICS check before transferring a gun.  It’s the law-abiding citizens who will follow them.

And while the lawsuit filed against Colorado is very strong, the citizens there are stuck living under those new laws until it is resolved. They did a great job with the recall elections this summer, but still it didn’t change the laws.

FFP: What can the average citizen do to help [the trampling of individual rights]?

Emily: Stay educated from really good resources.  Journalists are required to source their information first hand and get second sources.  Don’t use random blogs and forwarded emails to get your information. I see this strain of conspiracy theories that really don’t help anyone — like Homeland Security buying up all the ammunition or the Newtown murderer really using a handgun. These are internet rumors that don’t help change the real problem that citizens need to address.

There are real, genuine things going on infringing on the Second Amendment. In California, there’s a ban on traditional lead ammo in hunting, so the price of ammo is going to go through roof; steel ammo is banned, so supply is going to go down, availability is going to go down for everyone who hunts. I wish Second Amendment advocates had been more able to stop this before it became law.

I know there is a bias in the mainstream media, but The Washington Times gives straight news on gun issues. So do other conservative print media outlets, and Fox News for TV.  But you can also get information from the advocacy groups emails like NRA, Second Amendment Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Gun Owners of America.

There are so many attacks on the Second Amendment right now that people really need call their congressman and get active on the grassroots level. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were not able to get their agenda to 60 votes last year, but they will keep trying until they do. Pro-gun people need to support those who are getting whacked by political ads paid for by Mike Bloomberg, pressuring them to change their vote.

FFP: You mention this in your book, but do you think people should just vote with their feet, moving to gun-friendly states if they are so inclined?

Emily: Maryland has seen a huge amount of people leave after the recent gun restrictions became law. A lot of them moved to Virginia and saw Terry McAuliffe get elected and are now frustrated with that.

People have different reasons for staying, like having a job. I understand people don’t want to live under governments that don’t have the same views as them. But personally, I’d rather see people stay in those states and fight for change than just leave. My expose on D.C.’s gun registration scam has already forced the city to change the laws twice. You can make an impact if you fight back.

I’d rather live in Virginia and be able to easily exercise my Second Amendment rights, but I also think that fighting and winning for everyone to get their rights reinstated is the ultimate goal there. We all want to bring America back to the intention of the Founding Fathers.

FFP: How do you recommend speaking to liberals or someone who is against guns about gun rights?

Emily: I know how it is extremely frustrating to talk to anti-gun people. This is what I suggest:

First, when dealing with someone who is black-and-white anti-gun, they are going to throw emotional stuff at you and they’ll focus on gun tragedies and the rare mass shootings from the headlines. Their argument isn’t factual. So the way to disarm that is to meet them on an emotional level before anything else. Say: ‘I know, isn’t it horrible what happened in Newtown, those poor children, it breaks my heart.’ Because that is how you really feel, but you need to say it. Be genuine. Then it breaks down the barriers, so they don’t feel like you’re a cold-hearted person who wants to go shoot people. This disarms them a bit, and then you have the opportunity to give them some facts.

There are three facts people can hear to change their minds: First, no gun control law has ever reduced crime. You can look at the two-year study by the Centers for Disease Control or the Harvard study.

Second, more guns does not lead to more gun crime. Gun ownership is the highest it’s ever been — with over 300 million guns in this country and about half the household reporting a gun in the home. However, gun crime rate has gone down continually for 20 years. The murder rate from 1992 to 2013 has gone down 50 percent. Non fatal shootings have gone down 75 percent.  Third, mass shootings have not increased—just because in the past year there have been people talking about it in the media, it’s not fact. Congressional Research Service did a study looking at 30 years of mass shootings and concluded that although they haven’t decreased, they haven’t increased either.

Over the course of 30 years, mass shooters kill 18 people a year. Even though you hear about them all the time, it seems more frequent because of the news coverage; it’s not increasing. In studies, it’s proven that mass shooting events are completely unavoidable. No one sees it coming. These severely mentally ill are completely unpredictable, but we do need better treatment. I also believe in making it easier to put people inpatient mental hospitals when they are a threat.

Finally, give the anti-gun people something actionable that they can do. Tell them to fight to get the mental health records into the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background-check System]. So many states are not doing this, and every state needs to. Their records need to be put into the system so gun dealers can know not to sell to the mentally ill who have been adjudicated or forced inpatient.

The world is broken. Unfortunately, people do want answers to all things that are sad and awful in the world. Why can’t we cure cancer? Why did someone get into a car crash? You always want to find an answer to things that are uncontrollable. Part of life is accepting that bad things can happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just part of life.

We can look at the mother of the Newtown shooter and say she should have had him in more treatment, but she didn’t know he was violent. None of his doctors knew he was violent. It’s hindsight. It’s hard to say to people, and this is why I won’t talk to people about this who are anti-gun, but as much as you feel so strongly about these types of bans, they think they will solve the problem, but it’s not going to. It’s been proven over again. Every time we make a new gun control law, crime does not go down in those places.

There is evil in the world. We can fight it where we can. I wish that day, there had been a police officer parked at front when the shooter showed up, but there was no reason to suspect a shooter that day, so we’re left in that uncomfortable place. It’s that bad things happen in the world.

FFP: Do you believe teachers should be allowed to have concealed-carry permits to have guns in the classroom?

Emily: The NRA had supported this idea. For me, it goes back to the teachers. I don’t think you want to put that onus on the teachers. If they want to be, if they’re trained, that’s fine, but I don’t think overall we should put the onus of safety on the teacher. They have enough to do.

But we have this great program, a Clinton program actually, where we put former law enforcement and armed guards in schools, and it’s become defunded over the years, but I think it’s something to look into. Over half the schools in this country have armed guards. Schools are a major place where we want to have protection, especially over vulnerable children. An armed guard’s presence alone can deter crime. It’s a great program and should be considered. I think every community should have the right to armed guards at schools.

Most offices have armed guards. Schools should have the same right.

FFP: In your book, you mention many veterans who get into legal trouble—civil and criminal—for having ammunition or weapons somewhere, like at the bottom of a travel bag, just because they didn’t know the gun laws. What can people do to help these veterans, who volunteered their lives for ours, and who now have a legal mess because of a legislative mess?

Emily: There are so many more cases like Sgt. Corrigan or Spc. Meckler, who I write about in my book. A lot of people don’t want to go public. It does change your life when you’re featured in a newspaper story. I’m grateful to those who told me their stories and gave permission for me to use them in my book.

They’re the ones who did the thing that needs to be done, which is tell others so they don’t make the same mistakes. I was so proud of those guys. The chairman of the city council read aloud my stories in a hearing about a new law that would have let them get civil disposition. I emailed each of them afterwards, telling them that the laws changed because of you, and that was so admirable to come forward with your stories. I thank those vets so much for what they’ve done so that someone who gets caught in one of these bizarre laws in DC doesn’t have a criminal record.

I’m covering a story now about someone – Mark Witaschek– who is charged with possessing unregistered ammunition in his house. He’s facing two years in jail! There’s no way these laws can hold up in court, and they are being challenged.  I’m glad these guys have come out publicly so more people are aware of these crazy laws and that pressures the courts to rule that the registration requirement and the lack of carry laws is a violation of both the Heller decision and the Second Amendment.

 

Emily Miller is the Senior Editor for Opinion with The Washington Times.  You can (and should!) like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and of course check out her Washington Times articles.

Emily Gets Her Gun is published by Regnery Publishing, Inc.

De Blasio’s Unbridled Corruption Play

deblasio_Fraud3New York City has itself a new mayor. And the first thing he is going to is tackle the city’s biggest problem of…horse drawn carriages?

De Blasio’s campaign website lists “A Humane City for New York’s Animals” as 14th in an overall list of issue priorities.  But at a press conference Monday, De Blasio said, “We are going to get rid of horse carriages, period,” bumping the issue up to be one of the first tasks he undertakes as mayor.  The escalation of priorities deserves scrutiny.  Let’s put De Blasio to the side for a moment and take a closer look at some players in the horse drawn carriage opposition “industry.”

One of New York City’s biggest advocates for banning horse-drawn carriages has been a group called New Yorkers for Clean Livable And Safe Streets (NYCLASS). Sounds like a decent group, right? Everybody likes clean, livable, and safe streets! Animals seem to be an afterthought in the organization name, but at NYCLASSleast they found room to clarify on their website tagline “Get political for animals.”

NYCLASS is a 501(c)4 non-profit “social welfare” organization. We’re assuming the IRS didn’t give this group the same flack in issuing their non-profit status the same way they have with other groups recently.

Steve NislickThe group’s founder, Steve Nislick includes his bio on the website as a member of the NYCLASS board of directors. Steve is “an avid equestrian,” “animal lover,” and “proud rescue dad of a former NYC carriage horse.”  Lovely titles–that is exactly the kind of  background suggesting someone would create a non-profit organization concerned with clean livable and safe streets that also advocates for animal rights.  If only that were true.

Steve Nislick seems to have left a bit out of his bio.  Both of the other board members listed a three paragraph bio on the website. Let’s help Steve a little bit since he seems to have forgotten about spending the past four decades at Edison Properties, a New Jersey-based real estate property development and investment firm.

Steve Nislick - Edison Properties But it seems that Mr. Nislick wasn’t always as slick at covering his connections to real estate development when it comes to the ongoing dispute over horse-drawn carriage rides in the city.

In 2009 Michael Gross published an article on his website after finding a 5-page pamphlet supporting a horse carriage ban, signed by none other than Steve Nislick.

In the article Gross quotes from the Nislick pamphlet that banning horse-drawn carriages would be “‘a windfall for the carriage industry from the sale of its multi-million-dollar stables alone.’ Nislick writes, before getting to his real point. ‘Currently, the stables consist of 64,000 square feet of valuable real estate on lots that could accomodate up to 150,000 square feet of development. These lots could be sold for new development.‘”

HMMM!  So the CEO of a real estate development and management company suddenly finds himself to be an emphatic friend of animals. The same CEO with nearly all of his company’s business interests in the City of New York. The same CEO whose company owns several storage and parking businesses situated in the same West Midtown area as the stables for the horses that power New York’s iconic horse-drawn carriage industry. And the same CEO who founded a social welfare organization that just happens to support a candidate who wants…well…what he wants. Neat, huh?! What a coincidence!!!

Besides putting his energy behind NYCLASS, Nislick also contributed the maximum $4,950 for an individual campaign contribution, held a fund raiser on Dec 13, 2010 for De Blasio, and in his board role at NYCLASS would have approved expenditures of some $770,000 for attack advertisements against De Blasio’s primary opponent Christine Quinn.  Sounds like a lot of effort to get to 14th place on the mayor’s list of priorities.

Let’s put Nislick back in his stable and return now to New York’s new mayor. De Blasio claims on his campaign website that carriage horses suffer “abuse” and  “inhumane treatment” which must be immediately banned in favor of “electric, vintage-replica tourist-friendly vehicles.”

But the New York Post reports that it looked into investigations completed by the city that might provide some evidence that there is widespread abuse or inhumane treatment of carriage horses. It found both the city health department and the ASPCA conducted investigations that determined no serious violations existed in terms of safety or health of the horses. The carriage industry hired a veterinarian from Cornell University to examine its horses. His report found “45% of the 130 animals inspected were “fat,” 50% were in good condition and 5% would be classified as thin. The thin horses were not unhealthy, just thin.” As far as finding any evidence of maltreatment of animals, there isn’t any. So what is the justification for government involvement?

May we humbly suggest, that if tourists wanted to be driven around the city or Central Park in electric, vintage-replica tourist-friendly vehicles, that an enterprising individual would be providing the service already.  Maybe Steve Nislick could have taken his 3/4 of a million spent on political activities and used it as seed money to start such a business.  He then could have seen for himself if the market wanted electric, vintage-replica tourist-friendly vehicles. When his business enjoyed undoubted success, he could have put the horse drawn carriage industry out of business and bought the property he coveted at a bankruptcy auction.

But instead, Nislick’s answer is to find a political opportunist in Bill De Blasio and legions of polyezniy idiots of liberal and progressive activists supporting causes like animal rights, social justice, and environmental activism to use as his and try to use the power of government to achieve his goals. The resulting loss of freedom impacts tourists, consumers, and the owners and employees of the current horse drawn industry.

And it’s important to remember that the existing business–despite being despised by political opportunists–are real people. Horse drawn carriage operators in the city accounts for more than $15 million in economic activity and provides nearly 300 jobs and stables for 200 horses. What about their freedom to operate their business without being badgered by idiot politicians who can’t find something better to do with the public’s time?

We’ll point out that Democrat Bill De Blasio doesn’t have a monopoly on this bad idea.  His Republican opponent in the mayor’s race, Joe Lhota, is reported as supporting replacing the horse drawn carriages with electric carriages also. It goes to show that neither party is immune from putting forward freedom killing bad ideas and pretending that government knows best or has the answers to life’s ills.

Business owners attempting to purchase political power within the colossus of government in order to achieve their business goals through force is not capitalism. This is corporatism and “crony capitalism,” better known as crapitalism. But it is not what one would expect to find in a society that values freedom, market competition, or free markets.

It’s what one would expect to find in a banana republic run by a despotic dictator where the dictator’s friends are rewarded for their loyalty and support. And where the dictator’s enemies are punished in order to give spoils to the supporters. (Kind of reminds us of how our current president does business, who commented on Oct. 25, 2010: “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”).

We hope this effort to demonize one of New York’s tourist industries fails. The logic and politics behind the movement to end the horse drawn carriages are based on fraud, corruption, and kind of smell a lot like a steaming pile of the stuff that comes from the horses the mayor and his ilk are trying to forcibly retire.

Freedom to Defend Yourself: Recent Events from New York and Florida

As New York was digging out from a significant snowfall, a Greenwich Village building superintendent was clearing snow from his truck. In broad daylight a man approached, pulled out a gun, and stole the truck.  Fortunately the victim was not physically harmed.

But wait, wasn’t the recently passed SAFE Act demanded by Governor Andrew Cuomo and hastily passed by the New York legislature designed to make it “SAFE’r? The politicians even thought REAL hard and put “safe” in the law’s name in order to make it extra effective.

But contrary to the beliefs of opportunistic politicians in the State of New York, their law didn’t have the desired affect of keeping criminals from getting guns.  This reveals an arrogant flaw in the way people think who want to give the government more power. Passing laws does not turn evil people into good people. Thinking otherwise is foolish.

The only thing the SAFE Act did for the victim in this case was to legislate a tactical advantage for a criminal over a law-abiding citizen who did not have the legal means to defend himself. Would a carjacker, arming himself with a gun, really stop to make sure he only had the requisite number of bullets in it?  No more! Of course not.

AK47Turn now to Florida where a man was severely beaten by three armed home invaders who entered his property.  The homeowner was able to get his AK-47, and began shooting at his attackers, killing one and chasing the other two out of his house.

What if the Florida man actually lived in New York?  Or what if anti-gun fanatic Michael Bloomberg had been successful in buying enough Florida state elections to export New York’s lunatic gun laws to Florida? Again in this situation, the intruders were armed. Criminals seeking to invade homes, steal property, and beat homeowners probably don’t care if they have an unregistered gun, or even a gun with 9 rounds in it instead of 7.

The freedom to defend yourself and your family is fundamental. That is why the Second Amendment exists. Government at the local, state, or federal level has no business restricting the freedom of law-abiding citizens to legally own firearms in the interest of self defense.

The Greek philosopher Demonax the Cynic once remarked, “probably all laws are useless; for good men do not need laws at all, and bad men are made no better by them.”

These two recent news stories well illustrate this point.

Second Age of Reason: Because We’re Smarter Than That

Freedom Forge Press is calling this New Year’s for a national resolution—a commitment on the part of every individual to launch a Second Age of Reason.

What does this entail? It means using reason, facts, and logic to make decisions and weigh issues. It means not allowing emotion to lead to rash decisions or hate. Why? Reason is unbiased, nonpartisan, and brutally honest. It is the ultimate check and balance, the ultimate tool and weapon given to us at birth—something so powerful it can bring down tyrants and disempower corrupt politicians.

For too long, politicians and those using politicians for their own self-interest have been dividing America, keeping us separated intentionally.

The first Age of Reason was characterized by a proliferation of newspapers, journals, pamphlets, and other writings meant to be shared, discussed, and debated. With the prevalence of social media and Internet access, our era is similar—only many of us are squandering the resources we have. Instead of getting to the next level of Candy Crush, why not research an important issue or engage in a calm, rational discussion with a friend? Instead of simply sharing an incendiary picture on Facebook, why not read a variety of articles on the topic and form a well-rounded opinion in preparation for an intelligent discussion on the subject?

It seems our world is a strange mix of Orwellian oversight and Brave New World-esque hedonism. We’ve given away so many rights, whether it’s agreeing to a “privacy policy” or allowing the TSA to search our internal organs for contraband—all under the guise of protectionism. And when the “real world” becomes too frustrating, complicated, or unpleasant to deal with, it’s so easy to ignore reality by scrolling down a Twitter feed or commenting on a funny video on Facebook. It’s easy to get riled up about an issue based on a thirty-second news clip that doesn’t provide any depth of information—and then make important decisions, such as which party to support or which candidate to vote for, based on low, or even no, information. And that’s exactly what the politicians are counting on.

While we’re busy arguing over whether Phil Robertson should be fired from Duck Dynasty, Congress is busy passing legislation that really just ensures their jobs—and salaries—will continue for the next few years. Most politicians don’t care whether the legislation they pass has any positive long-term consequences; they just want to perpetuate their jobs and get the pork for their state while the getting’s good. For career politicians such as these, it’s best that we’re kept in the dark, entertained by the latest smartphone and pacified by fear of the next terrorist attack.

What politicians fear the most is an educated populace. What happens when the population becomes educated and informed? People stop hating each other. Republican and Democratic citizens realize they have been manipulated, often by their own party, all in the interest of keeping a divided population. When the population is too busy arguing with each other, it is too busy to criticize its own government. Like an excited group of students at a pep rally, these factions—labeling themselves as “Democrats” or “Republicans”—feel the need to vote for and defend candidates based on an emotional response, often hatred of the other candidate. Add reason to this equation, and you have a politician’s worst nightmare. Stop being angry at each other and criticize the heart of our problems: corrupt politicians, waste, fraud, abuse, pork, cronyism, and bribery. When we use reason to find these atrocities, we get to the heart of our problems, and that’s the first step to finding solutions.

So today, on the start of a new year, we challenge each individual reader to help us begin a Second Age of Reason. We ask each of you to pledge that you will not be manipulated by fanaticism or hype, that you will research things that sound too good—or too terrible—to be true. To research things that seem too convenient, to double-check facts that seem too simple to be telling the whole story.

What then? After you’ve become informed on the issues, don’t be afraid to speak out. When you hear others over-simplifying issues, misstating information, or spreading incendiary falsehoods, speak out about it. Don’t be afraid of contradicting popular beliefs, but rather, be confident in your knowledge, be proud of spreading reason, and be part of forging a solution to problems.