Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
“Michael Bloomberg created this group to further his personal agenda of public disarmament,” explained SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “But within the ranks of his organization, our research has found several politicians who have been convicted of various serious crimes, thus making it impossible for them to finish their terms.
“We discovered,” he said, “one mayor convicted of perjury and embezzlement, another who was convicted of attempted child molestation, and yet another who was convicted of assault and racketeering. There was one who was convicted on bribery, fraud and money laundering, and another who was convicted of domestic violence.
“In short,” Gottlieb said, “many of these elitist politicians can no longer own firearms. The crimes they were convicted of suggest they are public enemies rather than public servants. No wonder they want to take guns from law-abiding citizens!
“Perhaps Bloomberg should worry about background checks on his colleagues, rather than law-abiding gun owners,” he suggested.
On April 25, 2006, 15 mayors worked with Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to set up the organization to restrict guns.
The group said it wanted to make cities safer by cracking down on illegal guns, because mayors “have a responsibility to protect their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable.”
They say they want trace data for law enforcement efforts, and they want lawmakers to fix gaps and loopholes in laws “that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.”
The group boasts that it has grown to more than 725 mayors in 40 states.
Gottlieb reported the research conducted by the foundation found “a far higher rate of criminal activity within the ranks of the MAIG than among the ranks of more than eight million citizens who are licensed to carry concealed firearms in 49 states.”
“While Michael Bloomberg has been campaigning to turn gun owners into criminals,” Gottlieb said, “the criminals in his own ranks were engaged in such activities as tax evasion , extortion, accepting bribes, child pornography, trademark counterfeiting and perjury. One was even convicted of assaulting a police officer.
“And these people have the audacity to smear law-abiding gun owners as potential criminals, simply because they exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” he concluded. “He should pay more attention to what his friends are up to than worry about the gun owners he’s been trying to demonize.”
The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation’s oldest and biggest group to focus on the constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, the foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters. In addition to the precedent-setting McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court Case, SAF has funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, Conn.; New Orleans; Chicago; and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners.
One of the latest fights was in Alameda County, Calif., which changed the rules as three businessmen were trying to open a gun shop. The foundation sued the county for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of three businessmen by wrongfully denying them permits to open a gun shop.
The foundation was joined by the Calguns Foundation, California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees and businessmen John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga and Gary Gamaza.
Gottlieb said the three formed a business partnership with the intention of opening a gun store in Alameda County. When they began the process of getting permits to open their shop, they were advised of a requirement that gun stores not be located within 500 feet of any school, liquor store or residence.
But then during the process, the county changed the limit.
“It is clear from the county board of supervisors’ behavior that they have gone out of their way to prevent three businessmen from opening a gun store in their jurisdiction,” Gottlieb stated. “This is a violation of their rights of equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and cannot be allowed to stand.”
The foundation also recently argued a pair of California cities and the state’s Department of Justice improperly confiscated firearms during investigations and then refused to return them to their owners – even after the subjects of the inquiries were cleared.
That case, on behalf of gun owners Douglas Churchill and Peter Lau, alleges the cities are engaging in “deliberate theft of personal property.”
“We saw this sort of property theft following Hurricane Katrina,” Gottlieb recalled in a statement, “and we took that case to federal court and won. Government agencies simply cannot seize private property and refuse to give it back by playing bureaucratic games.”
Other cases the SAF has handled in recent months:
SAF sued the state of California over a “vague” gun ban over a case in which a man twice was jailed and then cleared. The focal point is the definition of an “assault weapon.” The statute’s definition of weapons is so “vague and ambiguous,” the group contends, that one man was arrested on two different occasions for violations but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. “It’s an insult to be arrested once for violating a law that is so vague and ambiguous that law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between what is and what is not a legal firearm under this statute,” said Gottlieb, “but to be arrested and jailed twice for the same offense is an outrage.”
In New York, the organization has asked for a summary judgment that would strike New York City’s $340 triennial fee for just owning a handgun. The legal brief explains that under U.S. Supreme Court rulings “the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense is a part of the ‘core’ of the Second Amendment’s protections.” The case, brought by SAF, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and individuals including an electrical contractor, a paramedic, CPA and woodworker, argues, “The city’s $340 fee is inherently prohibitive and serves the impermissible purpose of discouraging the exercise of constitutional rights. While the city can charge a nominal fee to defray costs, the $340 fee is not nominal, and has never been calculated to defray costs.”
The organization has sued New Jersey and officials and judges over procedures that allowed them to refuse firearms permits for a kidnap victim, a man who carries large amounts of cash for his business and a civilian FBI employee who fears attacks from radical Islamists. The permissions were denied on the grounds people had not shown a “justifiable need.” “Law-abiding New Jersey citizens have been arbitrarily deprived of their ability to defend themselves and their families for years under the state’s horribly crafted laws,” said an SAF spokesman. “The law grants uncontrolled discretion to police chiefs and other public officials to deny license applications even in cases where the applicant has shown a clear and present danger exists.”
The SAF filed a case on behalf of an honorably discharged veteran from the Vietnam War and names as defendants Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Jefferson Wayne Schrader. The question is whether the state of Maryland can deprive an individual of the right to possess a weapon over a misdemeanor. Schrader had been convicted of misdemeanor assault relating to a fight involving a man who previously had assaulted him in Annapolis. But he was denied the opportunity to receive a shotgun as a gift or to purchase a handgun for personal protection.
SAF filed a claim against Maryland for a man who alleged the state was violating the Second Amendment by refusing to renew his handgun permit. Raymond Woollard originally was issued a carry permit after a man broke into his home during a family event in 2002. Woollard’s permit was renewed in 2005 after the defendant in the case was released from prison. But state officials later refused to renew the permit, even though the intruder now lives some three miles from Woollard.
SAF sued Westchester County, N.Y., because officials there were requiring that residents have a “good cause” to ask for a handgun permit. The federal lawsuit alleges the requirement conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to “keep and bear arms.” Individual plaintiffs in the case are Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.