Federalize Everything!

Stolen from the Wall Street Journal

My comments follow the article... -amp

Prosecutor's Strategy Scrambles Gun-Control Alliances

By David S. Cloud

Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

RICHMOND, Va. -- David Schiller says he can make a federal case out of just about anything involving guns. He's right.

For the past two years, Mr. Schiller has used his powers as an assistant U.S. attorney to transfer mundane arrests by local police here to the federal court system. His zealous pursuit of almost anyone caught violating even the most obscure federal gun law has sent 200 people to prison, which Mr. Schiller's supporters say helps explain a dramatic drop in the city's homicide rate.

Now this seemingly simple idea -- federalizing firearms cases -- is scrambling alliances in the national gun-control debate. Mr. Schiller's campaign, dubbed Project Exile, is backed by both the National Rifle Association and some ardent gun-control advocates, including a few big-city mayors. Congress wants to implement Project Exile in other cities, but the Clinton administration is loath to divert money and attention from its own antigun initiatives to one backed by its nemesis, the NRA.

The battle over Project Exile heats up when Congress returns from its summer recess to finish work on next year's budget. Supporters will lobby hard for more money, and some Republicans see a chance to embarrass the president if the administration opposes a get-tough solution on one of Mr. Clinton's pet issues.

A career prosecutor, the 43-year-old Mr. Schiller didn't mean to get in the middle of a political storm, but his relentless evangelizing has made him a minicelebrity here and a thorn in the side of Justice Department officials in Washington.

"Some people think Schiller's nuts," says Richmond defense attorney David Boone. "Is he overzealous? Absolutely, but he's like the Lone Ranger: He's on a mission."

For years, Congress has been expanding the reach of federal gun laws, making it relatively easy to bring these cases. But few prosecutors took the bait until Mr. Schiller started using the little-noticed laws to prosecute not only well-armed drug dealers, but middle-aged wife-beaters who happen to keep a gun in the closet. The mandatory federal sentences are stiffer than those generally given in state courts.

Has it made a difference? Throughout the 1990s, Richmond was one of the country's most violent cities, but now things are improving. There have been 39 gun-related homicides in Richmond so far this year, 49 fewer than last year at this time. Violent crime has been falling nationwide, but Mr. Schiller claims to be altering criminal behavior on the street. "What we're finding is that a lot of dopers are now being arrested without any guns on them," he says.

Mr. Schiller and his boss, U.S. Attorney Helen Fahey, have gone to Washington repeatedly to plead with senior Justice Department officials for more prosecutors and agents, but with little success. "We could do more cases if we had more help," says Ms. Fahey, a Clinton appointee.

Kent Markus, Attorney General Janet Reno's top aide on gun violence until leaving last month to teach law, dismisses Project Exile as "assembly line" prosecutions that bleed resources from other law-enforcement priorities, such as organized crime and high-level drug trafficking. "I don't think there's any empirical evidence" that Richmond's falling murder rate is related to Project Exile, says Mr. Markus.

Richmond officials applaud Mr. Schiller's efforts, but worry about the long-term social consequences of such draconian measures. "There's got to be solutions other than Exile," said Police Chief Jerry Oliver, a supporter of the program. "As an African-American male I'm dismayed at what we have to do to maintain safety."

The NRA embraced Project Exile as the embodiment of its antigun-control doctrine: Get tough on crime, not guns. "It says with deadly accuracy that guns are for the law-abiding," asserts NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, who is lobbying lawmakers to expand the program to dozens of cities. "That hasn't been said anywhere else in the country, and it is changing criminal behavior in Richmond."

Mr. Schiller disagrees with the NRA on gun control and worries that its backing for his program could overshadow its accomplishment. But the group's support was key to getting the program off the ground. At first, Richmond's conservative business community was lukewarm about it, Mr. Schiller says, because of early NRA hostility. When he asked for an endorsement, he says the NRA denounced him as an antigun zealot from the "Clinton-Reno empire."

A subsequent appeal through a friend of a friend of Mr. Schiller's brought a closer look from Mr. LaPierre. Since then, the NRA has spent more than $25,000 promoting the program, including a sizable gift to a nonprofit foundation that publicizes Project Exile's harsh consequences on radio, television and billboards. For balance, Mr. Schiller also sought out Handgun Control Inc., whose chairwoman, Sarah Brady, called Project Exile's results "impressive," though not a panacea.

Other odd alliances are forming as well. In June, NRA President Charlton Heston joined forces with Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, a pro-gun-control Democrat, to seek Project Exile funding for his city. But the Philadelphia U.S. attorney's office worries that trying Project Exile in a city with seven times more people than Richmond is impractical and might swamp the courts.

Nevertheless, last month the Senate approved an amendment by Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter requiring the Justice Department to spend $1.5 million on five prosecutors and 10 investigators to prosecute gun cases in Philadelphia, which averages over 400 murders a year. New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a pro-gun-control Democrat, secured $800,000 for a similar effort in nearby Camden.

The NRA bought a full-page ad in USA Today earlier this month, prodding President Clinton to support the Philadelphia appropriation: "Instead of giving us another press conference about more gun-control laws," it said, "give us one city. Let us try crime fighting our way -- the Project Exile way."

The ad annoyed Mr. Rendell, whose White House lobbying efforts received a polite but noncommittal response. Still, he says, "If it stops only six murders a year, I've got to be for it. . . . The White House may distrust the NRA, but I've got to overlook that."

In Richmond, Mr. Schiller works on a shoestring. He has merchants pass out black cards warning, "An illegal gun gets you 5 years in federal prison." He hands out laminated cards to the police explaining the basics of federal gun statutes. For example, it's a federal crime to carry a weapon while possessing illegal drugs. "Most suspects will deny dealing but readily admit using," the card reads. "That's all we need to make a federal gun case."

Just ask Shuler Cox, 19 years old. He was arrested with a small amount of crack cocaine and marijuana -- and a .45-caliber semiautomatic in his car. A federal jury convicted him of drug and gun charges. Now, despite an otherwise clean record, he's facing seven years in a federal penitentiary. "When I turned 17, I got into the drug scene, and I just thought that having a weapon by my side wouldn't let nobody get to me," explains Mr. Cox, who nevertheless claims the gun wasn't his and is appealing.

On the other hand, some dangerous offenders are now off the streets. Melvin "Bug" Smith, a 22-year-old member of a gang called the "Bottom Group," was pulled over on a routine traffic stop and ended up getting 16 years for drug and firearm convictions. Once he was behind bars, witnesses came forward and implicated him in five murders. He was indicted on those charges by state prosecutors earlier this month.

--- Cue cards for cops


Always ask if the suspect uses drugs, i.e., cocaine, heroin, marijuana.

Most suspects will deny dealing but readily admit using and that's all we need to make a federal gun case.

Federal Gun Possession Crimes:

Carrying during drug possession
Convicted felon (state or federal)
Fugitive who has fled another state
Under indictment for a felony
Subject to a restraining order
Drug user or addict
Mental defective
Illegal alien
Dishonorably discharged
Prior misd. domestic violence
Obliterated serial number
Sawed-off weapon
Stolen gun (if defendant knows)

=end of WSJ article=

"For years, Congress has been expanding the reach of federal gun laws, making it relatively easy to bring these cases. But few prosecutors took the bait until Mr. Schiller started using the little-noticed laws to prosecute not only well-armed drug dealers, but middle-aged wife-beaters who happen to keep a gun in the closet. The mandatory federal sentences are stiffer than those generally given in state courts."

Kinda says it all. Congress has been expanding the reach of federal thugs relentlessly for years. It seems this particular over-reaching little Nazi-in-training has merely taken this mushrooming fungus of federal rules and regulations and decided to use them to his own political advantage. Note those talking points for cops above. It is by no means exhaustive. The feds can take a case and run with it for an unimaginable number of reasons. Got a hole in your backyard that was once meant to be a pool, but didn't work out? Better not fill it! You'll have a bunch of enviro-thugs pounding down your door (with plenty of other asset confiscators in tow to make sure they get a cut of anything you own that is not nailed down) at 2AM, when you are most easily subdued, and hopefully disoriented enough to reach for one of those evil weapons so they can fill you with enough holes to make you look like so much swiss cheese.

It's all very legal in the u.s. of a these days, though it's quite immoral as well. You can be killed by a bunch of wanna be ninjas wearing black camo suits and masks to hide their faces. I'm not surprised they'd want to hide their faces as they probably don't want their mothers to know what kind of evil thugs they really are. Of course it's all quite legal. Doesn't matter if you are dead afterwards, and the warrant (if they even bother with such a formality) wasn't wasn't really for you, but rather was meant for the fellow next door, or across the street, or even across the city. If you try to defend yourself, you are just a dead man. I suppose it's supposed to be better to let the BATFkgb break down your door, step on your kitten, hold your trembling wife and children at gunpoint while they tear your house apart. Doesn't really matter if you've done anything wrong, because this is Amerika where you are guilty (or dead) until proven innocent by some bureaucrat who happens to wear a judge's robes even though he probably hasn't actually read the constitution since grade school.

Remember well folks. Who is supporting this expanding use of federal law-abusive powers? The vernable NRA. These are the same people who support background checks on gun owners, the 1968 gun control act, the 1934 gun control act, and too many various gun control ordinances and laws too numerous to mention. Where the hell are they? They sure aren't defending the first ten amendments to the constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights! I know of two excellent pro-2nd amendment cases that have made it all the way to federal district court that totally invalidate brady, 1968 and 1934 all in one bold stroke! See U.S. v Dalton and U.S. v. Rock Island Armory, Inc.,No. 90-40025.They are both right here on my website. Read these decisions and then consider whether or not the NRA is interested in your rights, or your money! Without Handgun Control Inc, the NRA wouldn't have much reason to exist. They certainly wouldn't be able to pull down the huge amount of cash they extort from gun owners every year without actually doing anything to really roll back the tide of legislation that is overtaking us every single day.

Don't look for the Republican congress to save you either. They've had control of congress for how long? Have you seen any really strong pro-gun legislation proposed this legislative session? How about the last session? I didn't think so. We have on the other hand seen an expansion of the number of people who can no longer own or posess a firearm. We've seen the ungodly Brady Bill remain the law of the land, its contravention of the constitution notwithstanding. We've seen ever more restrictions on the number and types of weapons that can be imported put in place by the executive branch, led by an admitted liar and adulterer. He has no moral authority to lead, yet the congress sits there and twiddles thier thumbs, while worring about polls and the fact that the media won't give them the prime time press they crave.

Some will claim that the Pervert in Chief would surely veto any pro-gun bill they present him with. So what? Give it to him anyway. Draw a line right there in the sand on the potomac. Let the people know exactly where you stand on the Constitution and the bastardation of same that has passed for "lawmaking" for far too long.

Of course, it is useless to think that those spineless creatures who call themselves republicans would stand up and be counted upon to support the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and common decency. They are too busy voting pork for their districts and making the world safe for lobyists and international bankers. Too bad the Libertarians can't get 2 seconds of media coverage without talking anything substantive without some talking head attempting to making them all look like kooks for having a principled stand on personal responsibility and personal liberty. Guess it's a pretty kooky thing to want to life free without some jack-booted government thug breaking down your door because you forgot to dot an 'i' while filling out an unconstitutionally required form when you bought a shotgun to protect you and your family from thugs whether they carry badges or not.

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