Senator Dean Heller Called for Congressional Hearings into the BLM Attack on Cliven Bundy’s Ranch

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller on Friday called for congressional hearings into how the Bureau of Land Management handled the stealing of cattle around Cliven Bundy’s Bunkerville ranch, which turned into an armed stand off between the BLM and militia groups and launched a new debate about the federal government’s 85 percent ownership of Nevada land.

“I want to find out who’s accountable for this,” said the Nevada Republican on a Las Vegas political talk show, where Heller appeared for the first time on live television with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Heller said he hoped he and Reid could agree on holding hearings, but the Senate majority leader didn’t respond to the suggestion, making it unclear if Democrats who control the Senate would agree to such a public examination.

Heller’s staff said he would push for hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which the Nevada senator sits on, when he gets back to Washington, D.C., after the Easter break.

Heller said he wanted to look into why the BLM needed “200 armed men,” including snipers, to monitor the theft, which was cut short on April 12 when the BLM backed down from a fight.

Nevada’s two senators were questioned on KSNV-TV, Channel 3’s “What’s Your Point?” by hosts Jeff Gillan and Amy Tarkanian.

The day before the TV appearance, Reid said “Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists.”

On the Friday show, Reid defended his characterization of the supporters, repeating his lies that some had carried automatic weapons and put women and children in the line of fire.

“If there were ever an example of people who were domestic violent terrorist wannabes, these are the guys,” Reid said.

Senator Heller objected, saying he didn’t agree and that most were regular folks, including grandmothers, veterans and Boy Scouts.

“I have a very different view,” Heller said, sitting next to Reid. “… What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.”

Reid countered: “If they’re patriots, we’re in very big trouble.”

Heller said he wondered why the BLM sent an army of armed men to steal Bundy’s cattle.

“There was no army,” Reid muttered, although neither man raised his voice during the tense exchange.

Last week, Heller and GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval both criticized BLM tactics, which included tasing one of Bundy’s sons and having him arrested.

Bundy, whose family homesteaded the land in the 1870s has a right to use it. The government claims that Bundy owes $1 million in federal grazing fees for the last 20 years.

Heller said cattlemen “have lost over half of the range land they’re able to run on in the last 30 years.”

Heller said the situation could grow worse if the federal government decides to list the sage grouse as an endangered species.

“Wait until the sage grouse comes,” Heller said, predicting more public lands versus environment battles to come.

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Fox News Covers Latest Skeptic Climate Report from NIPCC

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Obama Budget Lays Groundwork for Universal Gun Registry

Friday, April 4, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before a House appropriations subcommittee on behalf of his department’s proposed budget for FY2015.

Apparently, Holder didn’t think anyone would read his written submission, because he all-but-admitted that Obama intends to implement a Universal Gun Registry by executive fiat.

He also asked Congress to help fund so-called “smart gun” technology, which would prevent a gun from firing unless the shooter is wearing an accompanying bracelet or ring.

“Smart guns” are a Dumb Idea

Given that “smart gun” technology only works about 80 percent of the time — according to the New Jersey Institute of Technology — gun owners almost universally consider this a “dumb” idea.

Even police have rejected the “dumb gun” approach for themselves.

Currently, there are no such guns on the market in the United States.  One gun store did briefly offer an Armatix .22 caliber earlier this year, but public outrage forced them to pull the handgun from the shelves.

Holder pushes a Universal Gun Registry

This year’s Obama budget shows how the administration is trying to quietly create the infrastructure for a universal gun registry.

In proposed “Program Increases” for the FBI, Holder has this to say:

“This program enhancement will double the capacity of the existing NICS [National Instant Check System] system.  These expansions are vital in ensuring that the NICS system can support a Universal Background Check requirement, which is expected to double gross NICS transactions.”

Huh?

It may have escaped the Attorney General’s notice, but the Democrat Senate defeated his Universal Background Check requirement.

So, in effect, Holder’s asking for $100 million and 524 personnel to implement a program Congress rejected.

But that’s not all.

Holder seeking more BATFE agents to copy to 4473 forms

In the section on BATFE “Program Increases,” Holder demands $51.1 million and 255 agents and other personnel for enforcement and inspections.

In case anyone has forgotten, these are the people who are going to the FFL’s in connection with “annual inspections” — and physically copying all the 4473′s and bound book entries.  GOA has reported on these efforts before, and one can read first-hand accounts from gun dealers here and here.

So under Holder’s proposed budget, many more 4473′s would be copied and fed into BATFE’s de facto registry.

At the same time, Obama’s illegal Universal Background Check — implemented, presumably, by executive fiat — would ensure every gun transaction would have to go through an FFL.  And this, of course, would guarantee that every American gun owner would have a 4473 which can be copied.

Think about it.  With Republicans expected to take the Senate this fall — and Obama stymied legislatively — he has every incentive to go “full tyrant.”  And that, apparently, is exactly what he intends to do.

But GOA has no intention to sit back and let Holder take away our Second Amendment rights.  They have drafted legislation to prohibit BATFE from copying 4473′s — and to require it to destroy any 4473′s it currently has.

GOA recently alerted everyone that an import ban on certain ammunition could be forthcoming from the BATFE.  Well, it’s official now — the BATFE just declared that Russian-made 7N6 5.45×39 ammo is armor piercing.  This lawlessness represents another reason that Congress needs to cut t he BATFE’s budget.

Please contact your Congressman and demand that the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill contain language to prohibit BATFE from compiling a national gun registry by copying and retaining the 4473′s of every American.

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We Fight For Freedom

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Judge Rules BATFE “Jumped the Gun”

The BATFE’s methods, management, and merit appear to all be under close scrutiny by just about everyone these days.

In Washington, the House Oversight Committee is again demanding facts related to numerous botched investigations. Those well-known “investigations” have cost lives, “lost” thousands of dollars in cash and resulted in hundreds of illegally-obtained weapons going to Mexican drug lords. Along the way, BATFE agents also lost some of their issued firearms- including fully-automatic rifles.

In California, both Ares Armor and EP Armory seem willing to fight following BATFE raids on both companies. Those raids apparently came after the companies refused to turn over customer records and some inventory. The “inventory” was only brought into question after the BATFE’s seemingly abrupt reversal of the classification of 80% complete MSR lowers of polymer. At some undetermined point, those polymer lowers became instead of “blanks”-the classification both the BATFE and the firearms industry consider those same parts when made of metal.

NEWS UPDATE: Yesterday, Ares Armor announced it was enacting a new secure encryption system to protect its customer information. Citing a pair of court decisions saying that computers and software could be included in an investigation, the Fifth Amendment protects the encryption key under the right against self-incrimination.

A U.S. District Judge in Washington has now joined the growing ranks of critics.

U.S. District Judge John Bates has issued a ruling that says BATFE “jumped the gun” in classifying a device as a “firearms silencer” without sufficient review. Bates is blistering in his criticism of the agency and its decision-making processes.

“In any agency review case, a reviewing court is generally obligated to uphold a reasonable agency decision that is the product of a rational agency process,” U.S. District Judge John Bates writes.

“This is not a high bar,” he continues, “But in this case, BATFE fails to clear it.”

Ouch.

The ruling comes after the BATFE’s classification of the Stabilizer Brake from Innovator Enterprises as a “suppressor” rather than its intended purpose as a “muzzle brake”.

If you’ve fired a rifle with a muzzle brake, or been next to someone firing one on the range, you’re painfully aware of two undesirable characteristics-increased muzzle flash and a significant, sometimes painful, increase in noise levels.

Innovator Enterprises felt they’d addressed both problems. Noise wasn’t diminished, but some gases were redirected forward-away from the shooter. They were careful to stipulate the goal was not to diminish the sound, just redirect a portion of it away from the shooter.

Innovator Enterprises requested an opinion letter from the BATFE classifying their device as a muzzle brake, not a silencer. With the muzzle brake classification, the device could be offered as an unregulated part. Without it, the process wouldn’t be worth it.

Six weeks later, Innovator got a letter from the BATFE- and a surprise: the BATFE had classified the Stabilizer Brake a suppressor. In response, Inovator sued in federal court in Washington, hoping to have the BATFE determination overturned.

After examining the case, Judge Bates agreed with Innovator and overturned the Classification Letter. His dissection of why he overturned the BATFE is merciless.

This letter, he wrote, “contains hardly any reasoning, and makes no reference to prior agency regulations or interpretations that support its conclusion.” Instead, Judge Bates called the BATFE letter a brief and informal document and “a non-binding statement of the agency’s position on whether the Stabilizer Brake is a silencer.”

As such, he wrote, it “will not bear the force of law as applied in future classifications of different devices.”

He then took particular exception with how the BATFE made their decision, especially with their failure to use state-of-the-art sound measurement devices to make their determination, despite stating clearly in their letter that they had that capability. Instead, he wrote, they based their ruling “solely on the physical characteristics of the device.”

Judge Bates then bites – deeply- into the BATFE and its decision-making process.

For example, there was his examination of the characteristics test applied by the BATFE:

“Even if this general approach of relying ‘solely’ on physical characteristics were sound, the agency did not perform a scientific or rigorous comparison of physical characteristics. Instead, it consulted a list of six characteristics that are allegedly common to ‘known silencers,’ and then, if the submitted device has some (unstated) number of those characteristics (here, three out of six was enough), it is a ‘firearm silencer.’

“But where did that list of six characteristics come from? The agency never explains whether those six characteristics are present in all (or most?) silencers. The agency never explains whether there are other common characteristics that do not appear on its list. And the agency never explains how many characteristics in common are necessary to be classified as a ‘firearm silencer.’ What if a device has an ‘encapsulator’ and an ‘end cap; – is it a silencer? What about a device that is attached to the muzzle of a rifle, and is full of “sound dampening material,” but has none of the other five physical characteristics-is it a silencer? The agency’s approach leaves Innovator (as well as other regulated parties, and reviewing courts) guessing.”

(NOTE: The parentheses are the judge’s, not our interpretation of his remarks.)

The ruling went on to remind the BATFE that having “a tail, grey skin and four legs” didn’t make an animal an “elephant” or a child’s bicycle a motorcycle because it had “three characteristics of motorcycles: two rubber tires, handlebars and a leather seat.”

He didn’t stop there. He went on to point out that a Bud Light is not a Single-Malt Scotch because it is “frequently served in a glass container, contains alcohol and is served in a tavern” any more than a hockey puck is a “rubber bullet” because it has “rounded sides, is made of vulcanized rubber, and is capable of causing injury when launched at high speeds.”

“Learning that one object has three characteristics in common with some category,” he wrote, “may not be very helpful in determining whether the object in question belongs in that category.”

“Put another way, BATFE argues that knowing whether the device actually diminishes the report of a portable firearm is irrelevant to determining whether the device is “for diminishing the report of a portable firearm.” 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(24). It marshals an example in support of this “purpose” interpretation: a pillow might have some mild success at “diminishing the report” of a firearm, and “[b]ecause it could be an effective silencer, then Plaintiff’s interpretation would lead to the absurd conclusion that pillows were silencers . . . thus requiring a special NFA license to manufacture or possess them and requiring the payment of a tax.”

And Judge Bates wasn’t finished. “To make matters worse,” he wrote, “other agency guidance uses a different set of characteristics- the six characteristics in the Classification letter appear not to be an exhaustive definitive list.”

He then sent the matter back to the BATFE for further review-and granted Innovator a summary judgement on its claim because the BATFE had failed to “articulate a satisfactory explanation” and “examine the relevant data” in classifying the muzzle brake a “firearm silencer.”

Using Judge Bates’ comparative critique of the flawed-logic used by the agency in its decision, you could draw the conclusion that possessing three characteristics of a competent police officer (a badge, gun, and arrest powers) wouldn’t qualify an individual (or group of similar individuals) to mount complicated investigations where a scrupulous attention to detail, an adherence to the rule of law, or an unswerving dedication to public safety during those investigations were essentials.

Maybe it’s just me, but this ruling makes another compelling argument that BATFE is an agency in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul.

–Jim Shepherd

http://www.shootingwire.com/features/228649

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Sig Sauer Sues BATFE for Calling its ‘Muzzle Brake’ a Gun Silencer

NEWINGTON — Gun maker Sig Sauer has filed a civil suit against the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claiming the federal agency wrongfully classified a “muzzle brake” Sig designed to reduce recoil, as an item “intended only for use” when making a silencer.

Sig claims that gun silencers are “subject to burdensome legal requirements” and by calling its muzzle brake a part for a silencer, the federal agency is subjecting it to “economic injury.”

“If classified as a silencer, no market exists for the subject device given that it will not silence, muffle, or diminish the report of a firearm and yet it would still be subject to the burdensome requirements set forth above as if it really is a silencer,” Sig argues through Manchester attorney Mark Rouvalis and Virginia attorney Stephen Halbrook.

BATFE Director B. Todd Jones is named as defendant in Sig’s lawsuit and has 21 days, after being served, to respond to the civil action, dated April 7.

Sig claims it designed the muzzle brake which “effectively reduces recoil and muzzle rise when a shot is discharged” and as such, it’s not subject to regulation under the federal Gun Control Act.

“Accordingly, it will be highly marketable to consumers and will generate profit,” according to the suit.

If classified as a silencer or muffler, “no market would exist for the device,” because consumers would not subject themselves to the “required burdens” associated with silencers, to buy a device that doesn’t perform as a silencer, Sig claims.

Silencers are subject to specific marking, record keeping and transfer restrictions, according to Sig.

The Newington gun maker’s suit, filed in the U. S. District Court of New Hampshire, states that it submitted a rifle, with its muzzle brake, to the BATFE on April 4, 2013 for evaluation. The device is described as 9.5 inches long and permanently attached with a weld to a 6.5 inch barrel, making the overall barrel length 16 inches.

The BATFE responded, by letter dated Aug. 26, 2013, that the device is constructed as a silencer component commonly referred to as a “monolithic baffle stack,” the suit states.
“Welding it to a barrel does not change its design characteristics or function,” Sig says it was informed by the BATFE.

In a Sept. 6, 2013 followup letter, Sig asked the federal regulatory agency for reconsideration, while reporting that sound meter testing proved the device amplified, not muffled sound, when a gun with it was fired. It also included evidence showing the device offsets and corrects recoil of a firearm when attached, Sig claims.

By letter dated Feb. 21, the BATFE stuck to its original finding, stating that Sig’s device is a part intended only for use in making a silencer. In its subsequent lawsuit, Sig tells the federal court the BATFE did not dispute its evidence showing otherwise.

Due to the BATFE’s “erroneous” classification of the device as a silencer, Sig has and will continue to suffer economic consequences, it tells the court. The BATFE failed to “articulate a satisfactory explanation for its classification and “failed to examine the relevant data,” the suit claims.

The federal agency also failed to address Sig’s contention that there are similar devices on the market that are being transferred without being treated as firearms, Sig claims.

Sig asks the court to set aside BATFE’s determination as unlawful, to declare that its muzzle brake is not a part only intended for use in silencers, and to award it costs and damages.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?aid=%2F20140409%2FNEWS%2F140409722

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Judge Andrew Napolitano Natural Rights & The Patriot Act

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Federal Judge: BLM Engaged In A Criminal Conspiracy Against Ranchers

Court Opinion Exposes BLM’s True Intent Against Cliven Bundy

by Kit Daniels

For over 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management engaged in a “literal, intentional conspiracy” against Nevada ranchers to force them out of business, according to a federal judge whose court opinion exposes the BLM’s true intent against rancher Cliven Bundy.

BLM agents who impounded Cliven Bundy's cattle.

BLM agents who impounded Cliven Bundy’s cattle.

In his opinion of United States v. Estate of Hage, U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones reveals that after late Nevada rancher E. Wayne Hage indicated on his 1993 grazing permit renewal that by signing the permit, he was not surrendering his family’s long-standing water and forage rights on the land, the BLM not only rejected the permit but also conspired for decades to both deny his family’s property rights and to destroy their cattle business.

“Based upon E. Wayne Hage’s declaration that he refused to waive his rights — a declaration that did not purport to change the substance of the grazing permit renewal for which he was applying, and which had no plausible legal effect other than to superfluously assert non-waiver of rights — the Government denied him a renewal grazing permit based upon its frankly nonsensical position that such an assertion of rights meant that the application had not been properly completed,” Judge Jones wrote. “After the BLM denied his renewal grazing permit for this reason by letter, the Hages indicated that they would take the issue to court, and they sued the Government in the CFC [Court of Federal Claims.]”

And at that point, Jones explained, the BLM refused to consider any further applications from Hage.

“The entire chain of events is the result of the Government’s arbitrary denial of E. Wayne Hage’s renewal permit for 1993–2003, and the effects of this due process violation are continuing,” he stated.

Judge Jones continued:

In 2007, unsatisfied with the outcome thus far in the CFC, the Government brought the present civil trespass action against Hage and the Estate. The Government did not bring criminal misdemeanor trespass claims, perhaps because it believed it could not satisfy the burden of proof in a criminal trespass action, as a previous criminal action against E. Wayne Hage had been reversed by the Court of Appeals. During the course of the present trial, the Government has: (1)invited others, including Mr. Gary Snow, to apply for grazing permits on allotments where the Hages previously had permits, indicating that Mr. Snow could use water sources on such land in which Hage had water rights, or at least knowing that he would use such sources; (2) applied with the Nevada State Engineer for its own stock watering rights in waters on the land despite that fact that the Government owns no cattle nearby and has never intended to obtain any, but rather for the purpose of obtaining rights for third parties other than Hage in order to interfere with Hage’s rights; and (3) issued trespass notices and demands for payment against persons who had cattle pastured with Hage, despite having been notified by these persons and Hage himself that Hage was responsible for these cattle and even issuing such demands for payment to witnesses soon after they testified in this case.

By filing for a public water reserve, the Government in this case sought specifically to transfer to others water rights belonging to the Hages. The Government also explicitly solicited and granted temporary grazing rights to parties who had no preferences under the TGA [Taylor Grazing Act of 1934], such as Mr. Snow, in areas where the Hages had preferences under the TGA.

It is necessary to note that under the TGA, according to Red Canyon Sheep Co. v. Ickes (1938), a rancher whose cattle had previously grazed in the area based upon adjacent land, water rights on the land, etc., has a right to a grazing permit over others who apply for a permit to graze the area without having previously grazed there.

So in this instance, Hage would have priority over Snow for a grazing permit, but the BLM willfully ignored this court ruling.

And after the agency filed for a public water reserve, according to Judge Jones, the BLM “sent trespass notices to people who leased or sold cattle to the Hages, notwithstanding the Hages’ admitted and known control over that cattle, in order to pressure other parties not to do business with the Hages, and even to discourage or punish testimony in the present case.”

“For this reason, the Court has held certain government officials in contempt and referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” he wrote. “In summary, government officials, and perhaps also Mr. Snow, entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also of their vested water rights.

This behavior shocks the conscience of the Court and provides a sufficient basis for a finding of irreparable harm to support the injunction described at the end of this Order.

So in other words, the BLM willfully attempted to destroy the Hage family’s livelihood because Hage dared to assert his existing rights to the land which his family has held since the late 19th century.

And unfortunately the BLM is attempting to do the exact same thing to Cliven Bundy.

“Has Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuted any federal officials for criminal activity and violation of the Hage family’s constitutionally protected rights? No,” William F. Jasper, senior editor of The New American, wrote on the subject. “Has Sen. Harry Reid denounced this lawlessness and criminal activity by government officials and call upon President Obama and Attorney General Holder to protect the citizens of his state from the depredations of federal officials under their command? No.

“With attitudes such as those expressed above by Sen. Harry Reid, it is almost a certainty that the recently defused Bundy Ranch standoff will be replayed again — and in the not-too-distant future. And the outcome could be much less amicable for all concerned.”

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Mark Levin gives his take on the Dispute between Cliven Bundy and the Federal Government

Mark Levin lays out the most thoughtful and in-depth analysis I’ve heard yet on the dispute between Cliven Bundy and the federal government. In short, Levin calls it an abuse of power and believes the BLM should stop referring to the land as a conservation area and allow Bundy’s cattle to continue grazing on the land just as it has for the last 100 years or so.

Click here to access the recording: http://therightscoop.com/in-depth-mark-levin-gives-his-take-on-the-dispute-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/

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