Political Coercion in the Windy City

Several sources are reporting that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel penned a letter to the CEOs of Bank of America and TD Bank. The letter encourages the banks to stop providing banking services to gun manufacturers unless they begin supporting government gun control measures.

Where do we begin?

First, guns are constitutionally protected. So for an elected official, a mayor of one of America’s major cities, to be engaging in this behavior goes beyond the pale. A reasonable question is why would Emanuel want the banks to stop providing services only if manufacturers refuse to support government gun control proposals? Why not just encourage the banks to shut off services to gun manufacturers until they stop production and sale of weapons to any entity other than government agencies?

We’ll tell you why. Because the mayor knows that what he’s doing is wrong. Guns are legal to manufacture and sell to individuals, and the process already requires a background check to search for previous violent criminal behavior that would disqualify a person from owning a gun. But he knows that as a constitutionally protected right, he can’t stop the manufacture and sale of weapons to individuals. At least, not without getting individuals to willingly give up their rights. Rather than expend political capital on seeking a gun ban, Emanuel employs a Machiavellian strategy of trying to get the banks to willingly apply pressure to coerce gun manufacturers to stop selling their products (legally!) to civilians.

Why Emanuel? Why Chicago’s mayor? As it turns out, Illinois (not Chicago) has four gun manufacturers based within the state borders: ArmaLite, Lewis Machine and Tool of Milan, Rock River Arms of Colona, and Springfield Armory of Geneseo.

We assume Emanuel, like most other politicians, has an agenda of securing a political future rather than actually fixing problems. Let’s assume the banks give in and gun manufacturers are brought to their knees and agree to stop selling their products to civilians. This would play well in a variety of political theaters: an Illinois governorship, a senatorial campaign, perhaps even a White House run in 2016 (note other politicians with presidential aspirations include the governors of Maryland and New York, both of whom recently launched anti-gun rhetoric at a screech-level decibel).

But voluntarily giving the government what it wants is far easier than passing a law, or, worse yet, the government taking what it wants by force.

Assuming Emanuel were successful in his bid to politically terrorize gun manufacturers, and assuming other banks didn’t fill the void (perhaps not wanting to become political targets themselves), it would be easier to achieve a goal of making weapons unavailable to the public.

It would also be easier if gun manufacturers willingly adopted “gun control” by not making their products available to non-government customers.

And it would be far easier to get people to accept government “gun control” on their own and voluntarily turn in their weapons rather than deal with such pesky things as constitutional rights and trying to amend the Constitution.

We hope Bank of America and TD Bank’s answer is a resounding, “NO!” Attempting to coerce private banks to kiss the mayor’s ring and implement “gun control” via back door and under-the-table tactics is disgraceful. Chicago’s mayor has disgraced himself and the city he represents. But he’ll likely not be held accountable for such behavior.

We hope gun manufacturers understand the role they play in the private lives of citizens. They provide a tool that is used in sports, hunting, and most importantly, self-defense. It is legal. It is constitutionally protected. And if the mayor should come calling hoping that they will willingly stop selling a legal product to a law-abiding public, we hope that answer is also a resounding, “NO!”

And lastly, if the mayor should come to law-abiding citizens, asking them to turn in their lawfully purchased and owned weapons, we hope the answer they give is a clear and resounding, “NO!”

It’s far easier for the government to take away its citizens’ freedoms with a willing and cooperative public. But the time has come when We the People must put our foot down and say, “NO!”

No, you can’t take away our freedom and our rights.

No, you can’t coerce us to give them up willingly.

No, you cannot come to the back door attempting to sell what you would dare not sell at the front door.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Apply for a Permit

As a kid I played baseball for a company-sponsored baseball team in the spring.  During the games sno-cone, pretzel, or ice cream vendors would come by selling treats.  They were all very unorganized, very delicious, and very unregulated.  Somehow I and my fellow ball players and their families managed to survive season after season without a single case of food poisoning.  As it turns out, snack vendors prosper when they’re not killing off their customers or making them sick with contaminated products.

This sort of free-for-all in rural Pennsylvania in the late 1980s, with its raw, unpolished marketplace, with its lack of formal licensing, with its voluntary participation by vendor and customer, must have caused nightmares for a group of government officials in Multnoma County, Oregon.

You’ve heard of these guys, right?  This is the group of officials who threatened 7-year-old Julie Murphy with a $500 fine because she did not possess a $120 temporary restaurant license in order to operate a lemonade stand from which she hawked her lemonade at a price of 50 cents per cup.

Officials hid behind the classic “rules is rules” argument that I hear all too frequently these days.  The city was just trying to regulate health codes and can’t pick and choose when to enforce rules. One official was quoted as saying that they certainly understand the point of having a neighborhood event to raise revenue, but that the public health must come first.

Is the public so unable to fend for itself that its very safety is threatened by a 7-year old trying to sell lemonade?  The long arm of the law and its muscle must surely be flexed in order to protect an unsuspecting populace from the wiles of a business savvy 7 year old who no doubt intended to spread E coli throughout the community, one 50-cent cup of lemonade at a time.

The local government officials have a point.  The water in the lemonade might be contaminated.  The plastic cups are certainly not environmentally friendly if not recycled properly.  No doubt the stand must have caused some traffic pattern disturbances.  But freedom is not without its risks.  And voluntary participation is key.  If you fear your local lemonade stand proprietor, then your choice is simple: keep driving and don’t buy.  Mistakes in a free society can and do happen.  But mistakes are just that—mistakes.  They’re not opportunities to enact layer upon layer of regulation in a vain attempt to regulate away all of life’s risks in order to appease the interest group with key voter demographics or campaign cash.  Clearly a balance must exist between the right to pursue happiness by running a lemonade stand and the collectivist notion of “the greater good.”

That’s why Freedom Forge Press was created.  We’ll gather the stories like this from around the country (and world) and tell it like it is in an effort to promote maximum freedom and individual liberty as the birthright of all mankind.  These are not gifts of government but inherent rights we possess by being humans.  Governments exist to secure and protect rights—not to create them.  Think of the danger in this.  A government that creates and bestows rights to its citizens is a government that can surely take these same rights away.

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