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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#Anti-Walker #Marshfield #Mayor #Chris #Meyer #StandsWithBarrett, #AgainstWalker On #NRA #GunIssues

Here is and article on this Anti-Gun Agenda that be found at

"Its detractors say it is anti-gun, its members say it is only against illegal firearms, but, as the debate grows about the national organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Milwaukee mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett is emerging as one of its highest-profile members.

The group, organized in 2006 by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino, featured Barrett on its website this week, posting a video address from the mayor in which he portrayed himself as a freedom fighter.

In his presentation, Barrett stressed the group's founding principles, which officially are to oppose all federal efforts to restrict cities' rights to access, use, and share trace data - a process by which a gun is tracked to its initial retail sale - to protect communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, and to support all local, state and federal legislation that targets illegal guns.

To groups such as the National Rifle Association, nothing could be further from the truth. In a fact sheet posted on its website, the NRA says not one of the group's proposals directly targets criminals or illegal guns.

'Instead,' the NRA contended, 'its agenda is a direct attack on law-abiding gun owners and is designed to increase restrictions on those who choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights.'

MAIG's website boasts of 500 members, but, as the NRA ramped up its public opposition, 76 mayors, including seven in Wisconsin, had resigned as of Nov. 17, according to the NRA website.

Barrett is not among them, obviously, but apparently neither is Rhinelander mayor Richard Johns, who is listed as a member on both the NRA and MAIG sites. Johns did not immediately return phone and email messages from The Lakeland Times Friday or over the weekend, but in September he defended his membership in an interview with Wausau's WSAW TV.

Besides Barrett and Johns, six other Wisconsin mayors belong to MAIG.

For both political figures, how the public perceives the group could be critical to their futures. As Rhinelander's mayor, Johns' constituency is strongly pro-gun rights.

The stakes are even higher for Barrett. As a candidate for governor who will likely face another Milwaukee County but pro-gun candidate in next year's general election - Milwaukee County executive Scott Walker - the way the rest of the state perceives Barrett on the gun rights question could be decisive...

In his website video, Barrett says he's proud to stand with other mayors to address the issue of illegal guns.

'This is an issue of national importance,' Barrett said. 'As mayors we are the ones who receive the phone calls from our police chiefs to tell us about a murder. We are the ones who attend the funerals, who make calls to the family members who have lost a son or daughter to senseless violence in our communities.'

Congress needs to take action, Barrett continued, because the issue is national as well as local.

'Many of the guns that are used to commit crimes in Milwaukee and throughout the country are not purchased in our communities,' he said. 'They cross city boundaries, state boundaries and many times travel thousands of miles before they are used in a crime. For us to stem the tide of violence, we need to do everything we can to stop the illegal guns from moving throughout this country.'

All that said, Barrett emphasized his support for gun rights.

'This is not an attack on hunters,' he said. 'This is not an attack on sportsmen. I support the Second Amendment, as do all mayors who are involved in this effort.'

As the video ended, Barrett said he was waging a war for liberty.

"I am fighting for freedom," he said. "I am fighting for the freedom of a grandma to sit on her front porch. I am fighting for the freedom of a 10-year-old boy or girl to play on a playground and not have to worry about gun violence."

The NRA, a frequent Barrett critic, paints an entirely different portrait. In October it accused him on its website of trying to erode constitutional freedoms by proposing a slew of new regulations for Milwaukee, including the mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms, banning prohibited persons from being within 1,000 feet of a business selling firearms, mandatory background checks for anyone who enters a business that sells firearms, and mandatory background checks to use shooting ranges.

You decide.

While the NRA and MAIG have opposing world views, it's easy to see how each persuasion plays out in the real world. Parsing the two groups' positions on a set of specific federal gun proposals and statutes, and the consequences of enacting or repealing them, gives tangible context to the more theoretical arguments about guns and freedom.

For example, MAIG helped lead a successful effort to defeat the so-called Thune Amendment in Congress, which, the mayors asserted, would have interfered with the rights of states to control their own public safety laws.

The Thune amendment would have allowed people who hold legal concealed carry permits in their home state to exercise that right in other states with concealed carry permit laws.

Such reciprocity didn't make sense to the mayors, because, they said, some states set rigorous standards for obtaining a concealed carry permit, while others don't.

"The Thune Amendment requires states to honor concealed weapon carry permits from other states, even if the individual carrying the weapon would otherwise be ineligible to do so," MAIG stated in a release this past summer. " . . . The state with the most lax conceal-carry requirements would effectively set the policy for the entire nation."

The NRA says the MAIG position strips law-abiding travelers of the right to self-defense.

"MAIG's opposition to the rights of law-abiding concealed carry permit holders - persons who have submitted to additional training and background checks - proves that MAIG is not targeting 'illegal guns,' but is simply opposed to law-abiding people carrying firearms for self-defense, currently allowed in 48 states," the NRA fact sheet states.

MAIG has also opposed the existing Tiahrt Amendments, which it says make it harder for law enforcement officers to pursue criminals who buy and sell illegal guns.

"The amendments restrict cities, states and even the police from fully accessing and using Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) gun trace data which can show where illegal guns are coming from, who buys them and how they get trafficked across state lines, require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to destroy certain background check records within 24 hours, and block ATF from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory checks to detect loss and theft," MAIG states on its site.

The NRA challenges the mayors' motives when it comes to collecting and sharing trace use data, calling their position a smokescreen. According to the NRA fact sheet, it's all about improper use of sensitive gun trace data in civil lawsuits.

"Tiahrt does not prevent law enforcement from using firearms trace data in criminal investigations," the fact sheet states. "What Tiahrt does prevent is data abuse in lawsuits such as the ones brought by cities like New York, Boston and Chicago, whose mayors are all part of MAIG. These bogus lawsuits were an abuse of our judicial system and served simply as an attempt to either bankrupt gun makers or force them to submit to regulations on guns that legislatures refused to enact."

What's more, the NRA says the mayors have targeted gun shows and are pushing new restrictions, such as requiring occasional sellers to run instant background checks.

"These regulations are directly aimed at private transfers of firearms between law-abiding people and family members," the NRA states. "A Federal Firearms License holder must conduct a background check on every firearm sold, regardless of the venue. The vast majority of firearms sold at gun shows are sold by licensed dealers."

Less than 2 percent of firearms used by criminals come from gun shows, the NRA argues, citing a Department of Justice report, and federal law allows for law-abiding persons to sell a firearm to another law-abiding resident from their state.

"The effort to restrict these sales at gun shows is a veiled first step to outlawing all private transfers between law-abiding people, whether they occur at a gun show or between family and friends," the fact sheet states.

But gun shows are a serious problem, MAIG responds

It referred to an ATF study, which showed more than 10,000 guns trafficked at gun shows - about 30 percent of all criminal trafficking - and the ATF concluded, MAIG stated, that "gun shows and flea markets are a major venue for illegal trafficking."

Watch lists

The NRA also denounces MAIG for supporting a measure to prohibit any person listed on a secret "terror watch list" from buying a firearm.

MAIG says, essentially, it's astounding such a prohibition doesn't exist. Right now, the group states, federal law prohibits nine categories of dangerous persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, though individuals on terror watch lists are not among them.

According to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report, individuals on terror watch lists tried to buy guns and explosives 963 times during a five-year period, and on 865 occasions the FBI was unable to block gun and explosive sales to suspected terrorists, the website states.

For the NRA, such a prohibition would pose a serious threat to Second Amendment rights.

"The 'terror watch list' was created as a security tool," the NRA fact sheet states. "It has secret standards for placing a name on the list and no mechanism for removing a name from the list. In almost all cases, a person has no idea he or she is included on the list."

The NRA compared the terror watch lists to the Transportation Security Agency's similar "no-fly" list.

"That list has contained many people who should not have been listed, including the late Sen. Ted Kennedy," the NRA stated. "A secret government list should never be used to deny a person his or her constitutional rights."

Finally, MAIG has announced opposition to an amendment to require Amtrak to accept firearms in checked baggage, as commercial airlines do. The amendment passed the Senate overwhelmingly, though MAIG maintains lifting the ban could lead to railway terrorist attacks.

Again, the NRA demurred.

"In MAIG's view, legal gun owners should be treated as if they pose the same risk as terrorists, and locked, unloaded firearms should be treated as if they are terrorists' bombs," the group stated. "No issue more clearly demonstrates that MAIG's opposition is to legal firearms, and has nothing to do with illegal guns."

Earlier this year, The Washington Post reported in October, the mayors petitioned the Obama administration for broad gun reforms, including the creation of a federal interstate firearms trafficking unit, giving ATF agents greater discretion to conduct criminal investigations at gun shows, and mandatory gun stamping, in which guns contain a second, hidden serial number.

The report was not released to the public.

The mayors in Wisconsin who belong to MAIG, besides Barrett and Johns, are Edward Monroe of Ashland, Dave Cieslewicz of Madison, Thomas Ratzlaff of Park Falls, Al Richards of Saint Francis, Larry Nelson of Waukesha, and Kristine Deiss of West Bend.

Wisconsin mayors who joined but have since resigned, according to the NRA website, are Andrew Halverson of Stevens Point, Dave Ross of Superior, Ronald Kruegerm of Watertown, James Schmitt of Green Bay, Thomas Taylor of Franklin, Jeff Speaker of Brookfield, and Tom Kennedy of Beaver Dam."

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