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Essay on Project Safe Neighborhoods

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by WAGCEVP, Feb 13, 2004.


    WAGCEVP Active Member

    May 26, 2003
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: cindy hill
    To: info@wagc.com
    Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 10:30 AM
    Subject: Essay on Project Safe Neighborhoods

    Dear Friends,
    I released the following essay today into the public
    domain; I hope that you enjoy reading it, and feel
    free to forward, post, or publish it with appropriate
    author credit. Thank you.
    Cindy Hill, Esq.

    The Criminals Among Us:
    Project Safe Neighborhood and The Patriotic Throwing
    of Stones

    Cindy Hill 2004

    George Bush, John Ashcroft, and John Kerry, hunters
    all, agree: law-abiding Americans should be able to
    possess firearms. It is a sentiment which many
    Americans leap to share, including the nation's
    largest firearms-advocating organizations like the
    NRA. To speak of "law-abiding Americans" makes us
    feel good. It sounds patriotic. It sounds morally
    righteous, as does the growing inverted outcry,
    founded in the so-called war on drugs, that criminals
    should pay for their foul deeds.

    Let he among us who is a law-abiding American lock the
    first jail cell.

    I am sure there are some law-abiding Americans out
    there, just as there were persons without sin at the
    time Mary Magdelene was being stoned for tearing off
    her shirt on public television. Law-abiding citizens
    are as common as those who attend mass every day rain
    or shine, floss after every meal, and never, ever,
    snack before dinner. Which is to say, abiding by the
    law is a laudable goal, and like most laudable goals,
    we tend to fall short of it to varying degrees.

    At some point in life, most people exceed the posted
    speed limit (speeding, reckless endangerment, careless
    and negligent driving), steal a lipstick from a makeup
    department (misdemeanor theft) or a gnome off the
    principal's front yard (felony theft) as a teenager,
    drink a couple of beers at their cousin's wedding and
    then drive home (misdemeanor or felony DUI), break a
    window and take off without 'fessing up and paying for
    it (disorderly conduct, felony destruction of
    property),or buy a stereo way too cheap off a street
    vendor or their brother in-law (felony accessory after
    the fact of theft; felony possession of stolen

    Yet nearly everyone who has committed such acts would
    declare with great moral impunity, "I am not a
    criminal." The functional definition of "law-abiding
    American" in our popular lexicon, then, would seem to
    be "one who hasn't been caught", rather than one who
    commits an unlawful act.

    The strength of this functional definition is
    illustrated by the fact that, although most persons
    who are caught and charged with minor crimes voice the
    exact same protest ("But it's not like I'm a
    criminal!), those who have not been caught take great
    delight in tightening the thumbscrews on those who
    have. Over the last fifty years, with an exponential
    increase since the advent of the retributionist war on
    drugs, ticketed infractions have become misdemeanor
    crimes, misdemeanor crimes have become felonies,
    felonies have developed mandatory jail sentences, and
    people in jail have lost the ability to earn good time
    for early release or to qualify for parole.

    Many of these escalations have occurred without a
    single change in the written word of the law. In my
    childhood, spanking kids - often with the belt, or, I
    seem to recall, the wooden spoon or hairbrush - was an
    ordinary form of discipline in well-respected,
    well-educated, upper and middle class households.
    Without a single new anti-spanking law being placed on
    the books, the usual "wait until your father gets home
    incident" of the Wonder Years days now results in
    felony domestic violence charges and the potential
    removal of the children from the family by social
    service entities.

    Some would say this particular interpretive change in
    the law is good, as children should never be spanked.
    Since we have not yet raised a generation of people
    anywhere in the western world without spanking, the
    jury is still out. Whatever its eventual cultural
    outcome, parents no longer are able to decide what
    acts in their household so offend their notions of
    appropriate behavior that physical conditioning is
    necessary. The government has already decided. By
    sheer coincidence, this leaves parents with only one
    real fall-back: depriving kids of television for some
    period of time (regardless of whether their miscreant
    behavior involved licking the frosting on the cake
    intended for the church supper, or killing the cat
    with gasoline and a lawnmower), which merely serves to
    make tv all the more valuable in kids minds.

    I will confess that I am prone to unAmerican thoughts
    in this regard: the urge to see Janet Jackson and
    Justin Timberlake taken over someone's knee and given
    something to cry about after they so cogently
    demonstrated why it is that the Muslim world doesn't
    jump up and down with joy at the imposition of
    female-denigrating American entertainment into their
    living rooms is overwhelming. But, there I go, guilty
    of thought-crime.

    The cultural conversion of spanking your kid to a
    felony crime is but the tip of the criminalizing
    iceberg. Moral righteousness has become the new
    American caste system. People who live in
    half-million dollar McMansions and drive cars that
    cost more than a house should can differentiate
    themselves from those who are "other", not on the
    no-longer-politically-correct bases of race or class
    or ethnicity, but on their moral superiority. "I
    wouldn't let my child play with those kids," they now
    say, not because those kids are black or poor, but
    because their parents don't make them wear bicycle
    helmets even in the driveway, or gave the son a
    pocket-knife for his twelfth birthday. People like
    that, clearly, should be put in jail. The jails that
    have become one of America's largest industries. The
    jails that hold the most incarcerated populations in
    the world. The Soviet gulag, the South African
    tyranny of apartheid, have nothing on us when it comes
    to jailing criminals, criminals like those other
    people, the ones who should be in jail.

    Riding high on the tide of American lust for criminal
    blood, George Bush and John Ashcroft, with the NRA's
    blessing, have recently embarked on an intensive
    jailing campaign entitled "Project Safe
    Neighborhoods". "It's not a new law," they explain.
    "We're just enforcing a law we've long had on the
    books." The law in question is the Gun Control Act of
    1968, a statute which purportedly keeps guns out of
    the hands of criminals. Project Safe Neighborhoods is
    an announcement of federal government policy to
    enforce this law 100%, no exceptions, or as the
    brochure they are distributing states, "no second

    Despite the open possession and use of firearms by a
    large number of Americans since the founding of the
    colonies about four hundred years earlier, the federal
    government in the late 1960's felt a sudden compelling
    urge to outlaw gun ownership by certain segments of
    the population. Given the political climate of the
    time, they couldn't come straight out and prohibit
    blacks, native Americans, and war protesters from
    having guns. But they could list certain undesireable
    character traits, traits most commonly possessed by
    blacks, Indians, and other miscreants, and get away
    with banning guns from people with those traits.

    These prohibitions include people with felony
    convictions - excepting, of course, anyone with
    white-collar crime convictions, as we couldn't have
    people who bilk public funds or embezzle millions of
    dollars in working-people's pensions deprived of their
    inalienable right to quail hunt with $10,000 shotguns.
    And "felony" as the gun control laws define it
    doesn't include many white suburban type crimes, like
    DUI's. Nor does it include convictions for which
    defendants with the money to successfully pursue
    expungements or pardons or otherwise secure the
    forgiveness of the court systems.

    Despite the media outcry of disbelief that anyone
    could try to buy a hunting rifle without realizing
    he's a convicted felon, the question of just who
    counts as a "criminal" under this law is pretty damned
    complicated. A middle class white working Joe,
    regardless of his prior entanglements with the
    criminal justice system, had every reasonable
    expectation that no one would consider him a
    "criminal", until now. Or can I say "damned" in

    What's most interesting to the couple of folks left
    like myself who are still intrigued with the concept
    of civil liberties, is the number of prohibitions in
    the 1968 Gun Control Act which challenge our already
    obscure notions of who is a "criminal". For example,
    the list of "prohibited persons" includes those who
    are "known drug users". This has nothing to do with
    whether or not a person was ever caught, charged, or
    convicted of a drug crime. A person's criminal record
    has a few little slots on it where law enforcement and
    other public agencies can insert bits of information
    aside from criminal charges (yes, even those for which
    they were found not guilty) and convictions. Such
    information typically includes the person's aliases,
    known affiliates, tattoos, tics, scars, and other
    pertinent information. Like "known affiliate of gang
    members", "known to be armed" (does this appear on
    brave hunter Cheney or Scalia's record, one wonders),
    and "known drug user". Such assertions by law
    enforcement officers, often made on the basis of
    carefully gathered intelligence, at least equal in
    accuracy to that which determined there were weapons
    of mass destruction in Iraq, become legal fact. So
    according to the Gun Control Act of 1968, with it's
    100% Project Safe Neighborhood enforcement, guys with
    long hair and Harley Davidsons (obviously pot-smokers)
    are "criminals", even when they - like us - haven't
    been caught.

    Known drug users are not the only non-caught
    "criminals" swept up in this nationwide movement to
    make our neighborhoods safe from crazed Middle
    Easterners on suicide missions. Anyone who has been
    dishonorably discharged from the military is a Project
    Safe Neighborhood criminal. This would include those
    dishonorably discharged due to their homosexuality.
    Anyone who has renounced their American citizenship is
    a prohibited person, though it's unclear whether my
    drunken ramblings the night Reagan was elected, or my
    very Irish comments upon seeing Tony Blair's smiling
    face at Bush's ranch in Texas, count or not.

    Anyone who has ever been "adjudicated mentally
    defective" is a Project Safe Neighborhood criminal.
    In 1968, this was meant to include the hundreds of
    thousands of Americans who had been officially
    declared "feeble-minded" under eugenics programs.
    These programs, targeting not only blacks and Indians
    but Irish and French Catholics and other "gypsies",
    were all the fashion in social services until the Nazi
    program ruined it all by going beyond the forced
    institutionalization, removal of children, and
    sterilizations which were the hallmarks of American
    programs through the 1940's. Remnants of these
    programs continued in the segregated south through the
    1960's, and on American Indian reservations through
    the 1980's. The primary crime of most of these
    "criminals" was not buying into the idea that they
    should be good steady factory workers and dedicate
    their lives to the accumulation of material wealth and
    purchase of consumer goods. The folks in the
    McMansions have a difficult time getting along if the
    labor pool won't do it's part.

    If only those stones being thrown had strings attached
    to them, we'd all be sinking in the net of our
    hypocrisy, weighted down at the corners by our
    gas-guzzling SUV's and all those bicycle helmets and
    pocket knives. It's like a feeding frenzy in which we
    are both the sharks and the bloody prey. Even the
    handful of crazed civil libertarians turn on
    themselves, declaring that Project Safe Neighborhoods
    is nothing to get excited about, since guns, like
    spankings, are bad.

    As if gun ownership itself were not merely the
    symbolic tip of yet another iceberg. "Criminals" in
    America, by varying definitions, can no longer receive
    FMHA mortgages. They can not get federal and many
    state student loans. They can not receive government
    grants, contracts, or work in public buildings - even
    as a contracted janitor. They can not get visas or
    travel to other countries. They don't pass background
    checks for a growing list of jobs. They can't
    volunteer in their own children's schools. The list
    grows, until it's hard to imagine how, once branded
    with the scarlet letter "C", one can ever make a
    living other than by turning to crime. We are
    outlawing the once fundamental American protestant
    concept of redemption. Once you commit a crime - or
    at least, once you're caught and convicted - you
    better not ever attempt to go to school, start a
    business, buy a house. Just stay in jail so we don't
    have to deal with you. Don't worry about the cost,
    the crowding, we'll just build more.

    As a liberal, vegetarian, tv-less follower of an
    alternative religion, I hate to turn to the
    Constitution for my concluding point. Spouting
    selected remarks of our Venerable Fathers has become
    the hallmark of the conservative right, and usually is
    offered to support an argument that life should go on
    forever in some facsimile of a fabricated reality
    combining Leave it to Beaver and the English
    countryside in the Summer Before the War, when
    everyone was white and Christian and heterosexual and
    it never rained on weekends. Yet here it goes:

    The folks who wrote our Constitution, who founded this
    country, were criminals. They were guilty, one and
    all, of treason, at the very least. Most participated
    - either in person, economically, or vicariously - in
    smuggling, tax evasion, and deliberate acts of mass
    murder of guys in red jackets. In addition to those
    crimes which were recognized in their time, they
    nearly to a number participated in common acts which
    today we'd find appalling: slave trade, not permitting
    women to own property or be educated, and the physical
    discipline of children ("spare the rod, spoil the
    child"). They probably drove carriages whilst drunk
    on illegal rum, and took various substances through
    snuff on which we had not yet declared war, English
    troops and ships being a lot easier to shoot cannons

    The reason our founders inserted strenuous protections
    against the tyranny of the state in our criminal
    justice system within our Bill of Rights is that they
    had a real good sense of what it was like to commit
    crimes. Under our Constitution, even if you commit
    crimes - as we all do - you do not become a "criminal"
    unless the government has proven, beyond a reasonable
    doubt, with lawfully obtained evidence, to the
    satisfaction of twelve of your impartial peers, that
    you should be so deemed. Our founding fathers
    understood, wisely, that committing crimes is the
    norm, but being branded a criminal is something else

    Project Safe Neighborhoods, like its big brother the
    Patriot Act (one and two, soon to be joined by a new
    layer called the Protect Act, if Ashcroft and his
    Brethren have their way), dispenses with the niceties,
    the "technicalities", which our Constitution imposes
    as obstacles to being declared a criminal. This opens
    the door to equality for all: every single one of us
    can be functionally deemed a criminal for any number
    of purposes, without a lot of fuss and bother.

    Don't you feel safer now? Just put on your bicycle
    helmet, and remember to duck. Those stones just keep
  2. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    In origin, leftist extremist so-called "gun control" laws are all about disarming blacks and recent immigrants.
  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Elder

    Jan 1, 2003
    DFW Area
    Exactly. A point that is rarely brought up. The laws were passed with the understanding that they would never apply to "decent white folk." Texas passed the first of its gun control laws back in the late 1800s to prevent freed slaves from carrying pistols.

    Of course with the passage of time it became impossible to administer these laws as originally intended, and these days it's almost impossible to even admit their roots.
  4. whm1974

    whm1974 Senior Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    By diffantion every american is an "unconvited felon" and anyone can
    be "adjudicated mentally defective"

    Nice way to get a defacto gun ban.

    Bill Meadows

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