Author: Phil Watson

Friedman’s ‘Pencil Story’ and the Second Amendment

Friedman’s “pencil story” eloquently outlines the amazing concept of freedom. In the pencil story you have a right to engage in (or refuse) a monetary transaction with another party. The concept of freedom can be applied to many real life situations. As with other freedoms, you do have the right to defend yourself, and you do have the right to defend others.

Guns are nothing new. The gun pre-dates the Television, Cars, Airplanes, Telephones, Computers, the Internet, Electric Power, Space Travel, the Lightbulb, the Cotton Gin, the Steam Engine, the Printing Press, and probably countless other inventions. It is a story that dates back to China, the birthplace of gunpowder. The invention made its way into the Middle East, Europe, and Africa via the ancient Silk Road.

An Austrian plastics expert named Gaston Glock had the most influence on the modern gun in recent memory. His concepts in light firearm design led a trend that made personal defense easy and more convenient for people of different physical strength and ability levels to defend themselves.

But there are those who will always attempt to limit as many types of freedoms as possible. Whether it be the size of your soda, car, or your gun, these limitations all suffer the same flawed logic. Either not understanding, or refusing to accept self-defense and self-determination as a right, they’ve made proposals to deal with their own flawed world view. Gun control in the U.S. is has an ugly history, one that’s deeply seeded in racism, xenophobia, and class warfare. A fact anti-gun politicians and lobbyists purposefully avoid mentioning.

Gun ‘buy backs’ appear to be a growing ‘gun control’ trend administrated and lauded by big city technocratic mayors like New York’s Michael Bloomberg, and Seattle’s Mike McGinn. A modern gun ‘buy back’ usually implies that guns are not fit for the likes of free individuals. The concept of the modern gun buyback is indeed quite presumptuous on its face. How can a government ‘buy back’ something it never even owned to begin with?

The concept of gun ‘buy backs’ are actually nothing new. Haile Selassie, (AKA  Ras Tafari) ran perhaps one of the most clever gun buybacks on record. Upon returning from a banquet in his honor with Selassie, the war lord Dejazmach Balcha found his army deserted after selling off all their guns and weaponry to Sellasie’s rival army. After a successful ‘buy back,’ Selassie enjoyed a long reign as the Emperor of Ethiopia.

Second Amendment freedoms are just as relevant now, as they were at the time our republic was formed. Make no mistake; the America we all love and even sometimes take for granted is free because we’re armed. For those that still seek refuge from freedom, countries that enjoy the most gun control often also enjoy the highest violent crime, murder, and suicide rates—let alone other serious side effects of gun control—government crimes against humanity, and civil unrest.

Multiple studies have shown that hundreds of thousands of people per-year defend themselves with a gun in the U.S. alone. As a free people, we do have the right to defend ourselves and each other as individuals. Crime has consistently dropped with the introduction of concealed carry laws. Youth homicides are actually at a 30 year low. The areas with the highest amount of gun control now have the dubious distinction as victim disarmament zones, and subsequently often suffer under a high violent crime rate. Mass public killings almost always take place in so called ‘gun free zones,’ an inconvenient fact anti-freedomists and hoplophobes have no answer for.

Like Friedman’s pencil, a gun may have a price in the market just as it has in times long ago on the Silk Road; however, freedom and the right of self-defense are priceless. As Colion Noir put it, “Take away the ability to protect ourselves in a world where evil does everything it can to deprive us of life, and you take away our right to life.”

Washington State Gun Owners Have Advantage in Constitutional Chess Match

In 2010 the Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago resulted in incorporation of the 2nd Amendment to individual states under the 14th Amendment as equal protection under the law.

Although less commonly referred to than the Heller decision in the popular lexicon, the McDonald decision no longer allowed gun bans or unconstitutional “gun control” measures to be instituted or excused under the guise of health, safety, state’s rights, or any other logic. The case was brought by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and argued in court by Alan Gura, the same attorney that shepherded the Heller case to victory in 2008. Like Heller, McDonald opened the flood gates to challenges of gun control laws as unconstitutional, applying the same reasoning of the Heller decision to the entire nation.

Voters in Washington State will likely see two initiatives pertaining to guns and gun rights in 2014. The dueling initiatives are as different as the people that divide pro-gun and anti-gun movements. A group formed by local proponents of gun control and Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, named the “Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility” (WAGR) is sponsoring initiative measure 594 (I-594). Their group is now gathering signatures for I-594, an 18 page initiative that would make private transfers and sales of firearms a crime without a NICS background check, expand the state’s current handgun registry, and impose other regulations.

An alternative proposal, I-591, has been proposed by “Protect Our Gun Rights | Yes on 591.” The group “Protect Our Gun Rights | Yes on 591” is comprised of gun rights activists in Washington State. The changes I-591 would make to the current Washington State law is two lines. The first line of the I-591 initiative focuses on the confiscation of firearms. Firearms confiscation without due process has been most notable recently in California, and resulted in subsequent legal action. The second line of I-591 focuses on regulation surrounding “background checks” and “transfers” of firearms.

The operative language of I-591 reads as follows:  “It is unlawful for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens without due process. It is unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.”

In aligning the operative language of the initiative with the McDonald decision and 14th Amendment equal protection under the law, the voters of Washington State could eliminate overly restrictive and possibly unconstitutional laws with the stroke of a pen, instead of waiting years or even decades for lengthy and expensive court and legislative battles to end.

The strategy of the gun control movement hasn’t evolved much. Court decisions such as McDonald, Heller, Ezell, and Moore that limit the government in curtailing the constitutionally protected civil right to keep and bear arms haven’t discouraged them in proposing and passing new restrictive laws in many states. Some of these laws are already the subject of lawsuits. It is unclear how many of these lawsuits that aim to preserve Second Amendment Rights will be successful, and how long that could take to transpire.

I-591 has already been endorsed by the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Association, Washington Arms Collectors, Washington State Gun Owners Action League, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Hunters Heritage Council, and the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association.


[Reposted with permission from; featured image licensed from, credit: ZargonDesign]

Questions of Honesty and Accountability Plague Democrats in Races for State Auditor, Secretary of State

Honesty and accountability in government commonly rate as the biggest deciding factors for voters all over the country and in Washington State.  Accountability and transparency appear to have taken a back seat on the national level with the Department of Justice refusing to disclose information to Congress over the Fast and Furious government gun-running scandal, as well as its challenges in federal court to voter identification laws. As Governor Gregoire fights the Freedom Foundation in State Supreme Court over public records requests, we appear to be a microcosm of the nation as a whole here in the Pacific Northwest.

Votes deciding what our political direction should be locally and nationally must be made again this year as citizens are again being inundated with political ads. A few political tiffs that caught this writer’s attention this week were from the Montana Secretary of State race in parallel with the Washington State Auditor and Secretary of State races.

The race for Washington State Auditor took a sharp turn from being relatively quiet when local businessman and State Auditor candidate James Watkins recently released a campaign website about his opponent, The website outlines State Representative Kelley’s history of involvement in not just one, but many bizarre lawsuits. When given a chance to clear the air, Rep. Kelley took the ball and went home, refusing to appear at a televised debate with Watkins.

Brad Johnson recently released the website, slamming Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch on the subject of voter fraud. The website addresses and refutes McCulloch’s assertion that voter fraud does not exist and her staunch opposition to a voter identification law. Endorsed early on in the race by Washington State’s retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed, Johnson pledged to fight voter fraud and made that a cornerstone of his campaign.

Washington State voters face a Secretary of State choice between experienced Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman — a proponent of keeping the voting system accountable to the people — and former State Senator Kathleen Drew. Drew focuses not as much on securing our votes here in the Evergreen State, but on things like voter pre-registration of 16 and 17-year-olds and mischaracterizes voter fraud prevention on her website as “efforts to suppress or discourage any groups or individuals from voting.”

With trust and accountability a large factor determining elections could Kelly, Drew, and McCulloch could all be on the outside looking in after voters make their decision in November? Only time will tell.


Phil Watson blogs on, the Director of Special Projects at the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Executive Director for the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights. Connect with Phil on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Watson: Friedman’s Support for Gun Rights Championed Freedom Over Tyranny, Liberty Over Misery | Friedman Day 2012

Our freedom is under attack, constantly.  Freedom comes under attack in the media, in our courts, in schools, in our own halls of government, even in our own homes and streets. Milton Friedman was a guiding light for the advocates of a free and just society and was also the tireless advocate of lower income and less advantaged. He clearly outlined many times his beliefs on what constitutes freedom and how lucky we are to live in a free society. Policies he advocated will always be an inspiration and give direction to those struggling to protect the rights of free society.

Friedman was a supporter of gun rights and the right of self-defense. He praised John Lott, the current leading academic scholar for his work in support of the Second Amendment. “This sophisticated analysis yields a well-established conclusion that supports the wisdom of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution rather than of those who would limit the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry guns.… Lott has done us all a service by his thorough, thoughtful scholarly approach to a highly controversial issue.”

With the Aurora Colorado shooting fresh in everyone’s mind, those that wish to curtail our freedom should take note of the principles of freedom. Limits on freedom have consequences. Those that wish to take advantage of those that are not free and not able to resist usually do so simply because of that fact. Governments that wish to abuse their power against the public historically have turned to gun control laws before the force of tyranny is unleashed on the general public.

The reasons we have the Second Amendment are embedded in our own independence as a country and as individuals, and we are not the only country that has that tradition. The freedom to own firearms within our constitution served to protect the population against those that desire to take our freedom away. We should never forget the most horrific regimes are always the most aggressive towards regulating individual rights.

Reasons behind “gun control” are not always sinister, but sometimes terribly misguided and absurd. Take Michael Bloomberg for example. The head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently came under scrutiny for suggesting law enforcement officers go on strike until we get more gun control laws passed. Making that suggestion as Mayor of New York City is a felony in the State of New York. Bloomberg has been on the wrong end of many other oddball public policy positions recently suggesting that the big apple ban large soft drinks, happy hour, fatty foods, and limit the availability of baby formula to newborn children and mothers. It is safe to say that Mr. Bloomberg falls outside the mainstream.

The shooting in the Aurora Colorado move theater was not unlike many other mass shootings in recent memory. The shootings that occurred at Luby’s, Columbine and Virginia Tech share a commonality with the Aurora movie theater as they all happened in so called “gun free zones.” Aurora City Code makes it illegal for anyone to carry a firearm on the premises of a posted “gun free zone” even if that person has a concealed carry permit. Evidence that “gun free zones” are a breeding ground for all kinds of crime is overwhelming and rarely headline news in the mainstream press. Depending on what facts you want to cite, between 2,100 and 6,800 people use their guns in self-defense every day in the United States alone; unfortunately, that fact is rarely applauded or reported by political commentators.

To those that truly hate freedom there is always some new boogeyman to be attacked. The ‘gun show loophole,’ ‘assault weapons,’ ‘high capacity magazines,’ and now ‘online ammunition’ are only the latest in this coordinated attack. The constant meme of the ‘gun show loophole’ is actually an organized attack on freedom designed to strike at the very heart of the gun rights freedom movement. Firearms and ammunition used in these crimes were not purchased at gun shows.

So called ‘assault rifles’ that are supposedly only used by criminals actually account for a fraction of the crime in the country and far less crime is committed with rifles or shotguns. Most rifles in circulation could be classified as an ‘assault rifle.’ The thing that makes an ‘assault weapon’ are not the specifications of the rifle, it’s the person operating it. The Smith & Wesson semiautomatic rifle used by the movie theater shooter is most commonly used for hunting, target shooting and home defense. The same goes for the Remington Model 870 pump shotgun. The two Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic pistols are commonly used by both police and civilians for personal defense. After the “assault weapons ban” expired there was not an increase in crime. Neither the Luby’s or Virginia Tech shootings involved a single rifle or shotgun. The “AK-47’s” Obama crassly addressed in his recent speech were curiously absent in not only these, but almost all other recent crime. The thousands of AK-47’s and other weapons recently given by Obama’s own administration to Mexican drug cartels in the Fast and Furious scandal were curiously absent from his speech.

‘High capacity magazines’ and ‘internet ammunition sales’ are just more boogeymen for freedom haters to decry. The fact that these exist and people use them for legitimate purposes is enough to drive any freedom hater crazy. But much like the gun show boogeyman, the actual problem perceived by the freedom haters isn’t actually what they hate, it is the political and individual freedom we have that they truly despise.

On Milton Friedman’s birthday let us celebrate all of our freedoms and why we still have them.

Phil Watson is Executive Director of the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights. (


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