Fast and Furious

Fast and Furious
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

It started during the George W. Bush administration. Back then it was termed “Operation Wide Receiver.” The program later became known as “Gunwalking” and ended up being labeled “Fast and Furious.” An ill-conceived scheme from its outset, it eventually cost the lives of an unknown number of Mexican citizens and one U.S. Border Patrol agent.

US-Mexico border fence. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The ill-conceived gun distribution project employed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) allowed, even encouraged, licensed firearms dealers in the U.S. to sell large quantities of weapons to straw buyers. These individuals were known to be conduits for weapons that would end up in the hands of Mexican drug dealers. The scheme had as its ostensible goal the eventual arrests of Mexican drug lords and the collapse of their cartels.

Fast and Furious was supposed to make detection, arrest, and prosecution of drug lords easier. It relied in part on cooperation of law enforcement agencies in Mexico even though their rampant unreliability was no secret. At one point in the program’s life, a monitoring of its results showed that approximately 700 weapons had been recovered out of over 2,000 that had been allowed to be purchased and quickly transferred to Mexico. And no interruption in drug trafficking occurred.

Criticism of the operation rose rapidly among ATF agents and the legal U.S. gun dealers who cooperated with U.S. authorities. The guns sold in the program were used in crimes committed on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. In 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed and weapons that were made available to criminal gangsters via Fast and Furious were found at the scene of his death.

Spurred to take action after the death of Agent Terry, the U.S. Congress and the Department of Justice began investigating this growing fiasco. When Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder refused to cooperate with a legitimate inquiry in 2012, he became the first sitting member of a presidential Cabinet to be formally cited for criminal contempt of Congress. Simultaneously asked about this incredible program, President Obama invoked “executive privilege” and refused to cooperate with the congressional probers. These high U.S. officials were obviously hiding something.

The entire scheme seems now to have been created to have many guns in the hands of killers, drug lords, et al. and to become a stimulus for Congress to enact stricter gun laws for all Americans. The current Department of Justice is planning to reopen an investigation of Fast and Furious and its predecessors. This is long overdue.

The early years of the Obama administration featured Rahm Emanuel as the president’s Chief of Staff. He’s the man who famously stated, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” To that revealing assessment should be added what seems to have been the Obama/Holder policy, “If no crisis exists, create one.”

The U.S. government’s war on the ability of Americans to defend themselves must cease. Anti-Second Amendment partisans seem willing to stop at nothing to overcome the people’s right to defend themselves. The conduct of Obama administration officials including the president must fully become known. Agent Brian Terry’s death and the deaths of hundreds in Mexico should not be forgotten. And scheming to abolish the American peoples’ right to keep and bear arms must cease.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


The Job of Police

The Job of Police
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

The horrific shooting spree in a Florida school has led to widespread discussion about what local police officers did and did not do to impede the killer. Much of the commentary about this incident has revolved around the notion that police officers have a duty to protect the citizens in their community from harm. In numerous cities and towns throughout the U.S., decals appear on the sides of police vehicles announcing that the police exist “To Protect and Serve” the local people. This is an erroneous concept.

Erroneous? Yes. Consider that no police force or any of its members are ever held responsible if someone is killed or harmed within their jurisdiction. You or I can’t sue the local police if some criminal attacks us and causes us harm. If I follow an attack that harmed me with a suit aimed at the police (and the jurisdiction that hires them), it would get me nowhere. Why? Because the job of police is not to protect me or anyone else. The police can’t be held accountable if harm comes to me or to you. Police are never sued for negligence if a criminal harms someone. That fact ought to be drummed into every American’s consciousness.

If the police aren’t responsible for protecting the people, who does bear that responsibility? The answer, very simply, is each person. And how do ordinary persons protect themselves from criminal activity? The quick answer is he or she has to be armed and must know how to use whatever weapon is chosen to fill that need. Another answer, though impractical for most, would have citizens hire bodyguards who would be armed.

John W. Whitehead of the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute has regularly pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has more than once ruled (such as in 2005 with the Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzalez decision) that police have no responsibility to protect members of the public from harm. The men and women who serve as police officers frequently do seek to stop an individual committing criminal activity but they are not required to do so. The responsibility to stop a criminal from attacking you lies with yourself.

Which brings us to the absolute right of a citizen to be armed. If it’s not the job of police officers to see to it that no criminal attacks you, that responsibility is yours. And any impediment to you having the means to protect yourself is absolutely wrong. The Founders of our nation knew this and their awareness that led them to add the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment, wrongly considered by many to apply only to citizens who serve in a militia, applies to virtually everyone.

Should the right to be armed be denied to someone who has already used a weapon for a criminal purpose? Yes. How about the mentally disturbed and those taking medication for suspected mental problems? Yes again. How about children who don’t know how to use a weapon or aren’t aware of the dangers posed by weapons? Parents should be held responsible for their children. And a suitable age must be established for youthful weapon possession.

In the wake of the Florida shooting, clamor for doing away with private ownership of weapons is again being raised. Such demands are incredibly wrong and will, if enacted, lead to more crime, even the governmental crime known as tyranny.

In no way is this author promoting any move toward abolishing local police forces. They have an important role to play in keeping society orderly. But, as must be made abundantly clear, it is not their job to “protect” citizenry from harm. If they do so without cancelling the rights of law-abiding citizens, fine. The most certain way to insure that police do not present a problem is keep jurisdiction over them and their activity in the hands of local authorities.

Should teachers be free to have a weapon while in a school? Of course. Should schools and other places be deemed “gun-free zones”? Absolutely not! Such a labeling of schools as gun-free will invite criminally minded and mentally deranged to go to schools where there are no guns to stop them from creating mayhem.

There should be no restrictions on the ordinary citizen who wishes to protect himself and his family from a criminal. And there should be a reversal of the attitude that has people relying on police for such protection.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Explaining the School Shooting

Explaining the School Shooting
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Opinions about why the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred have come in a flood. Even more suggestions and demands have been offered about what needs to be done to keep such a tragedy from ever happening again. Practically all have missed a telling point that appeared in an obscure political cartoon.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Formulanone, public domain.

The poignant message arrived in what really wasn’t a cartoon. To merit that designation, there would likely be a caricature of the targeted subject, maybe even a photo of the person featured with a wry or compromising smile followed by appropriate commentary. No, what I’m referring to is a very few words published in an obviously solemn type style. Its words follow:

Dear God: Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?  – Concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in your schools.  – God

Whether a daily mention of God in school would have kept Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people can’t be known. But there are numerous other cultural changes over the past 50 years that should be factored into whether there will be more tragedies like the one just headlined in Florida. These, too, should not be ignored.

I think of broken families, the widespread abandonment of instruction about moral absolutes, violence featured in movies and video games, drugs administered to the young that lead to distorting their reality, and intense focus on the mass shooters that can easily result in copycat crimes. With the general breakdown of moral principles, I sometimes wonder why there aren’t even more splurges of violence.

Of course, there are many who blame the gun used in such a crime. But no gun ever jumped up from a table or escaped from a gun rack to perform by itself. Someone put it to use. The late Bob Lee, my deceased good friend, once wrote, “Blaming guns for crimes is as senseless as blaming pencils for misspelled words.” He was correct.

I’m a great admirer of the Constitution of the United States. Among its Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments that are considered by many as a portion of the original Constitution itself) there is the very sensible and needed Second Amendment. In part, it states, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Proper authorities and due process should take that right from someone who has abused it. Take it from someone who is mentally sick – yes. Keep it from young people who don’t know how to use it – yes again. But taking guns from law-abiding, sensible people isn’t the answer. Criminals will always find ways to obtain a gun in our free country. And, as the erosion of moral standards continues, there will be more, not fewer, mass shootings.

John Adams served as our nation’s second president. The Bill of Rights had already been added to the Constitution when he held the office. He had no difficulty accepting the full Constitution as the supreme law of our land. But he knew it wasn’t enough, that even it didn’t guarantee the freedom and tranquility decent people desire. He believed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Because so many Americans are not “moral and religious people,” shootings such the recent tragic event in Florida occur.

No matter how admirable it may be, a Constitution won’t prevent a repeat of the horror just witnessed. It won’t erect a barrier between ordinary citizens and those who are sick, criminally bent, or depraved. John Adams was correct. A return to exposing young people to the need for religion and morality would surely diminish – maybe even terminate – the type of horror just visited on the children and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Gun-grabbing: Faulty Logic Allows Hypocrisy to Reign

Gun-grabbing: Faulty Logic Allows Hypocrisy to Reign
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Each new report about killings committed by a person wielding a gun brings new cries for restricting, even canceling, the right of the people to keep and bear arms. After the mass killing in Orlando, Florida, dozens of U.S. congressmen swarmed into the House chamber and staged a unique sit-in demonstration as they demanded passage of new laws. But their demands focused on making more difficult the plight of a law-abiding citizen to possess a weapon.

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) trying to convince demonstrators to use logic after the mass killing in Orlando, Florida (Flickr photo by Gage Skidmore, some rights reserved).

In the midst of their boisterous and truly childish demonstration, several produced photos of the 49 victims of the rampage. Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) confronted the demonstrators with a dose of pure logic. Above the self-serving din emanating from the anti-gun legislators, he insisted, “Radical Islam killed these poor people.” Had he an opportunity to add to his statement, he surely would have told the sit-in crowd that the guns used in Orlando massacre didn’t take themselves to the scene of the crime. Nor did those guns pull their own triggers and fire bullets into the 49 victims. Gohmert was urging the use of logic. But he failed completely and the sit-in continued. The anti-gun demonstrators weren’t interested in logic.

On September 11, 2001, hijacked commercial airliners slammed into New York’s Twin Towers. Close to three thousand died in the worst terrorist attack ever committed on American soil. Most of the victims of that sensational crime died because the buildings collapsed crushing the occupants. No guns were used to kill those innocent people. The weapons were two airplanes. Without doubt, this was a unique criminal act.

If crusaders within the anti-gun campaign movement followed their illogical campaigning, they would have called for banning the use of airplanes. But no such demand was ever voiced. The horrible deed was caused by people who guided those planes into the two buildings. Just as the guns used in Orlando, San Bernardino, Fort Hood and other crime scenes didn’t take themselves to the locales where they were used, select the targets, and pull the triggers, those guns were activated by people. And the airplanes that brought down the Twin Towers were also guided by people. The king of logic employed by Congressman Gohmert after the Orlando shooting didn’t escape the minds of gun grabbers in the wake of the tragedy in New York. They were willing to blame persons then, but not when a terrorist uses a gun to kill his victims.

Most would-be gun grabbers blame guns for crimes. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one who would like to cancel the people’s right to be armed. But he makes an exception for himself. The NRA notes that Facebook has banned acceptance of ads for firearms, ammunition, and even weapons used for self-defense. Yet Zuckerberg spent $16 million to equip his residence with security measures including numerous armed guards. While travelling in Germany, he hired armed bodyguards to watch over him as he went jogging. The NRA noted that the message Zuckerberg has sent amounts to “Don’t do as I do, just do as I say.”

At the bottom of outpourings of many would-be gun grabbers, hypocrisy reigns and logic is absent. But the right to keep and bear arms remains. Let’s keep it that way.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.