The Many Lies of “Protect”MN, Part XX: Alinsky RSVPed

A little bird forwarded me this email from “Protect”MN to its mailing list.  I’ll add emphasis:

You are Invited!

What: A house party fundraiser with Protect Minnesota

When: Monday, November 25, 5:30-7 p.m.

Where: [Redacted] Fremont Ave., Minneapolis [And no, it’s not North Fremont.  Or north of 38th Street South.  If you catch my drift – ed.]

Why: To raise funds for a new campaign to change the conversation around gun violence prevention

 How: By creating a strong new campaign, we will be able to overcome those promoting a culture of gun violence

With comments from: Richard Carlbom, former campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families at 6 p.m.

Co-hosted By:

[Cohosts redacted]

Co-host levels available:

$250 – $500

Suggested minimum contribution: $40

And so the Carlbom era of gun control in Minnesota begins.

Before Richard Carlbom, the gay marriage debate in Minnesota was between people who believed in principle that marriage was a gender-blind civil right, and people who believed that it was a religious institution intended for the creation and raising of future generations.

After Carlbom, it became a battle between good, compassionate people who cared about rights, and evil bigots.

And that’s what the anti-civil-rights movement – and its highly-paid consultant, Carlbom – wants to do with the civil right of self defense; frame it as a battle between people who represent a “culture of violence”, and people who believe that with enough laws, we can create a violence-free utopia.

Like Chicago.  Or Washington DC.

“Protect”MN and Carlbom want the uninformed and gullible to conflate “armed self-defense” with gun violence; to lump people like this, this, this, this, this, these and thousands of others in with gang-bangers, thugs and spree killers.

The Many Lies Of “Protect”MN, Part XIX

I was going to title the piece “Rep. Heather Martens:  Her Lips Are Moving” – but now that Protect MN has hired Richard Carlbom, the PR father of gay marriage in Minnesota, I have to upgrade my approach.

Because while Representative Martens has never made a substantive true claim in all her years of working for victim disarmament in Minnesota, it’s time to start tracking Carlbom by the same standards.

An email went out to “Protect”MN supporters the other day.  Here was the money quote:

Click here to sign the petition urging our lawmakers to renew the Undetectable Firearms Act before it expires on December 9…

… Guns without a certain amount of metal can slip by metal detectors in public places. There is no reason responsible gun owners would need to have unconventional weapons like these. The Undetectable Firearms Act keeps guns that evade critical security measures off the streets. The law is set to expire on December 9. We urge legislators to renew the Undetectable Firearms Act to keep these dangerous guns away from airports, courtrooms, and other public places.

Now, the fact is that no such weapons have ever been produced.

And not only does every single gun owner know it, but so do the Feds.  Neither the Departments of the Treasury or Justice have ever enacted any regulations pursuant to the “Undetectable Firearms Act”…

…because there’s nothing to regulate.


The “Undetectable Firearms Act” is an utterly empty gesture.  It affects no crime.  It affects no manufacturing.  It is yet another empty gesture that groups like “Protect”MN flop in front of their ill-informed followers to give their shapeless concerns some rallying point.

I responded to the petition:

It’s not. This is empty legislation – even the feds have not bothered to enact any regulations due to this “act”, because *it refers to weapons that don’t exist*. There ARE no “undetectable firearms”.

“Protect”MN is lying. Again.

I think that sums it up.

MinnPost: Heather Martens’ PR Firm

The MInnPost is an organization I’d very much like to respect. It includes a raft of people I’ve considered good reporters.

But over the course of Minnesota’s gun debate over this past session – brought on by Minnesota DFL legislators launching a raft of authoritarian gun bills, including at least one that called for confiscation of certain firearms – the MInnPost has shown a very crafty bias toward the anti-Second-Amendment crowd. From Erik Black’s series suggesting that the Second Amendment was just too complicated for modern people, to the fawning coverage the entire publication gives Heather Martens (“Executive Director” and one of very, very few actual members of “Protect Minnesota”), down to Doug Grow’s apparently pre-written slime job on Representative Hilstrom’s compromise “good gun bill” during the past session, the MinnPost has supported the orthodox anti-gun line to a fault.

Why is that?

It might be this:

I’m not sure, but a $50,000 grant from the rabidly anti-gun Joyce Foundation might have something to do with it.

No, correlation doesn’t equal causation. The fact that the MinnPost threw all sense of objectivity and journalistic detachment to the wind this past session on the gun issue and getting a nice-sized grant from a group that has bankrolled anti-gun groups around the country for over a decade could be purely a coincidence.  And it’s not like opposing the Second Amendment doesn’t come along with the left-of-center beliefs most of the staff hold. 

But when I read Doug Grow’s “coverage” of a post-session wrapup party for “Protect Minnesota“, the piece had the faint whiff of “PR” to it.

Given the outcome of the legislative session, the tone of Tuesday night’s meeting sponsored by Protect Minnesota was surprising.

Heather Martens, who leads the organization that long has been a force for advocating for stricter gun-control laws, urged the 23 people who attended the North Minneapolis meeting to think about the “successes” that came out of the session.

On first blush, that may seem like a hard thing to do, given that gun-rights organizations got all they wanted: No universal background checks, no limits on magazine capacities, no assault rifle bans.

It’s simple. There were no successes. Heather Martens – who has never, not once, uttered or written an original, non-numeric statement about firearm policy that wasn’t a lie – and her “group” were, er, shot down at every turn.

But “Protect Minnesota” doesn’t exist to convince people. It exists to manipulate the media – and, via them, the people.


Confederates! With Guns! Defending Slavery!  

Which may be what led to this next statement by Grow (with emphasis added):

And by the end of session, cowed legislators refused to even have a floor vote on anything resembling major gun-law change.

That’s just wrong.

The legislators weren’t so much “cowed” as organizing behind Deb Hilstrom’s Good Gun Bill (Ortmann’s in the Senate). Half of the House, comprising reps on both sides of the aisle, co-authored her compromise bill.  And when the backroom “negotiations” between the metro DFLers (who were carrying Heather Martens’ water to the point that one, Rep. Alice Hausman, let Heather Martens do her job for her) broke down, the bills were scuppered from the floor by a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and responsible outstate DFLers.

But that doesn’t fit the “big bad NRA!” narrative, does it?

History Is Written By Those With The Printing Presses

Grow carries on his stenography for Martens (emphasis added):

Martens told the group there was victory in the bipartisan support for $1 million to fund a law that requires the state to file data with the feds on those who should be prohibited from owning firearms.

The law requiring the state to file the data was passed in 2009 but was never funded, essentially making it useless.

Will Grow mention that it was a DFL legislature that scuppered that funding? The metrocrat Democrats didn’t want a bipartisan-backed background check to give the impression that it worked better than actual harassment of the law-abiding citizen.

“But Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln…”

Grow feels obliged to list the outcome of the tiny group’s self-therapy session:

The successes:

Phone-banking (more than 1,000 calls to legislators sitting on the fence).

Legislators reported that constituent calls ran at least 50:1 against the DFL’s bills.

Media coverage was complete.

Yeah, the suspense was killing us on that one.

That’s what Heather Martens does – get friendly media coverage. She’s the Larry Jacobs of the gun issue – the one, single, sole person that every Twin Cities “journalist” calls for the left’s take on guns in Minnesota.

We’ll come back to that.

“Wait – That Was Your “Intellectual” Argument?”

One of the other “Successes”, according to Grow:

Finding a “visceral” message, one that appeals to the emotions as well as the intellect.

I got a laugh there.

Emotion is the only message Heather Martens’ group has! Talk with any of her group’s “members”, I dare you. You’ll get a broadside of anger and grief over Sandy Hook (but never, ever Chicago, or any other crime scene where the kids don’t look like the children of NPR executives) – and not even the faintest whiff of an “intellectual” message.

Although, as always, I do invite Heather Martens on the NARN to make that “intellectual” case. I’ve been asking for nine years, now.

You Don’t Do Business Against The Family

As Martens via Grow noted above, one of their “successes” was “complete” media coverage.

Now, there’s no surprise there. Most of the media editors and producers in the Twin Cities support gun control. Other reporters, I suspect, haven’t the depth of knowledge on the issue to know that pretty much everything Heather Martens has ever said on the issue is a lie.

But Doug Grow’s piece – really, his entire history covering Martens for the MinnPost – has been at a level of obsequious fawning that outstrips the rest of the media.


Well, I’ve got a theory.  And remember – it’s just a theory.  I’ve got nothing but circumstantial evidence to back it up. 

But do you remember way up above, where we pointed out that the MInnPost gets big bucks from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation?

Guess who else is bankrolled – to the tune of “most all of its budget” – by Joyce?

This might not be “conflict of interest” for Grow, in any actionable sense of the term. But I’d think that identifying the fact that both Doug Grow’s and Rep. Martens’ jobs are paid for, in whole or part, by a non-profit supported by liberal plutocrats that is the single major funder of anti-gun organizations might have been worth a mention. 

Again, correlation doesn’t equal causation.

But given the complete abandonment of any sense of balance or concern for fact on the part of the MinnPost in covering the Second Amendment issue – not to mention Grow’s obsequious. fawning, toenail-painting coverage of Martens and her “group” this session –  “causation” doesn’t seem like a big stretch.

Baghdad Heather

It’s been my contention for quite some time that Heather Martens – “Executive Director” and likely sole steady member of “Protect Minnesota”, and unelected Representative from House District 66A – has never, not once in her entire career as an anti-civil-rights pundit, made a single original statement that was substantially true.

Martens (center) adjusting the leashes on Jane Kay of “Moms Demand Action” (left) and Rep. Paymar (even farther left, but to the right of the picture) last week.

Martens’ weekend press release about last week’s legislative actions didn’t just continue the pattern: it was an epic howler that deserves to be sent to every state legislator, with a goal of getting Martens laughed out of the Capitol by everyone that cares about the truth:

NRA Lobbyists Fail — Background Checks Move to House Floor

Yesterday, the Minnesota Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee passed H.F. 285, a bill that would ensure background checks for all pistol and assault weapon purchases at gun shows. The bill passed 10-8 and will head to the House floor. Despite only covering gun shows, Rep. Paymar, the chair of the committee, has vowed that H.F. 285 will ensure that universal background checks are debated on the House floor. Click here to read the whole story.

How many ways is this story wrong?

What “NRA Lobbyists” “failed”?:  While the NRA has sent a rep to put in an appearance at one hearing, all of the heavy lifting against the DFL’s gun grab bills was carried by the MInnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance – which, unlike “Protect Minnesota”, is an actual grass roots organization with thousands of actual members, hundreds of whom came out to support civil rights over this past month while “Protect MN” managed, on a good day, maybe a dozen.  Martens is lying.

With More “Failures” Like This…:  Martens’ posting is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig.  Gun-show background checks – which are useless in preventing crime, would have saved not a single life at Newtown or Virginia Tech, and are only a burden to the law-abiding citizen – are the very last of the measures with which the extremist DFL metrocrats marched into battle last month.  The Metrocrats and Martens have been decisively rebuked by bipartisan majorities on…:

  • Ugly Guns Untouched: Banning “Assault Weapons” – which proved useless in preventing crime from 1995-2005.
  • Citizens Not Hamstrung In Face Of Violent Criminals: Restricting magazine sizes – again, useless in preventing crime of any type, much less mass killings.
  • The Law-Abiding Citizen Prevailed: Making Minnesota’s carry permit laws more niggling and onerous – from the effort to run applications past unelected police chiefs rather than elected sheriffs, to eliminating recourse for unjust denials, the DFL tried to make law-abiding carry permittees – among the safest constituencies in all of Minnesota, with a violent crime rate a couple of orders of magnitude below the general public (including metro DFL activists)
  • Success Has Many Fathers: Failure Is An Orphan: Most importantly;  a bipartisan majority of the entire House, including many DFLers, signed on to a bill specifically targeted as a rebuke to “Protect Minnesota” and the extreme Metrocrat left.  Half of the House, over 100 total members from both parties, co-authored the Hilstrom bill; Paymar’s bill had eight.

And all of this with a DFL legislature that is fundamentally disposed to support Martens and her organization’s agenda.

Viewed against that context – which, naturally, neither Martens nor her sycophants in the regional media will never provide – the conclusion is inescapable; “Protect Minnesota’s” 2013 agenda been a complete failure.

But Martens has successfully defended her title as least truthful lobbyist on Capitol Hill.  So at least there’s that.


The DFL/Media/Anti-Gun Hot Tub Party

When you’re a conservative, distrust of the media – like most large institutions – is part and parcel of the job.

You probably accept that, for whatever reason – from systemic bias to cultural confirmation bias to being paid off by George Soros – that the media has a comprehensive bias toward the left.

And you notice it on some issues more than others.   For example, you notice that anti-gun groups – for example, “Protect Minnesota”, led by Representative Heather Martens (DFL – 66A), a woman who has never, not once, uttered a substantively accurate or true original statement about guns or the Second Amendment – gets breathless, slavish coverage from the Twin Cities media, whose mania for “balance” obscures, in their coverage, the fact that the pro-Second-Amendment movement includes thousands of actual activists, while Martens’ group and the other antis muster…

…well, Martens and about a dozen of her pals.

And it doesn’t take a political rocket scientist (?) to notice that while their groups have virtually no electoral clout, Martens is apparently a big enough cheese among DFLers on Capitol Hill that she gets treated like, well, a Representative herself.

So after the hearings broke up last night, I watched who went where for a bit.

After he got done with the media, Rep. Paymar lit his afterburners and ran for the bleachers to meet Representative Martens and Jane Kay from Action Moms:

Kay, Martens and Paymar, talking about how much clout they have when those Million Moms finally show up. Someday. Honest.

DFL stenographer and former Strib columnist Doug Grow – now with DFL PR shop MinnPost – painted Jane Kay’s toenails:

Grow, Kay

Hey, maybe his story about last night won’t be pre-written!

And at the end of the night, you had pretty much every anti-gun activist in town gathered with the DFL PR coalition:

Grow, Kay, Nick “I’m Not The DFL’s Monkey” Coleman (from “The Uptake”), a staff guy and Martens talking, presumably, about what a bunch of wingnuts their opposition are.

Us gunnies? We had the fun down front:

Second Amendment attorney David Gross mixing it up with an anti who claimed we should “learn our history”, that firearms confiscation had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The anti, by the way, reportedly had walked up to the child of one of the GOCRA members in attendance and said “You’ll grow up to be a better person than your father” at a hearing last week. These people ooze class, don’t they?

Same as it ever was.  Back next week.

Doug Grow, Narrative-Fluffer

I was down at the State Capitol yesterday for a press conference, as Representative Deb Hilstrom (DFL Brooklyn Park) introduced the gun bill/s we talked about yesterday.

The bills, as we noted yesterday, would exert the state to solve actual problems – close gaps in the background check system, add mandatory penalties for using guns in crimes or possessing them illegally…

…y’know.  Controversial stuff.

At the presser, I saw a big group of legislators from both chambers and both parties lining up to support Hilstrom’s proposal.  Reps, Senators, Democrats, Republicans – it was probably the most bipartisan assembly I’ve seen that wasn’t in the lounge at the Kelly Inn after hours.

Not just legislators; guys in uniform.  They weren’t just there for the fun of it – guys in uniform never are.  No, they were from the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.

And I saw media.  Oh, lord, did I see media.

And Heather Martens was there, naturally; where there is truth about the Second Amendment, Martens will be there.  To lie.  And lie and lie and lie (note to the media who bothered to speak to her; she has uttered not one substantial word of truth in her years at the capitol.  Ask me).

And the “groups” she represents put out a call for their “membership” to turn out in force to oppose this bill – probably remembering the hundreds of Second Amendment supporters who turned out daily to oppose the DFL’s gun grab bills a few weeks ago.

We’ll come back to them.

One person who was not there was Doug Grow, from the MInnPost.

To be fair, I haven’t seen Grow in person in over 20 years; I might not recognize him.

But judging by the story he wrote about the conference, and the bill itself, even if Grow was there, his story was pre-written, and would have appeared in exactly the same form had Mothra emerged from the Supreme Court chamber shooting flame from wherever Mothra did whatever he did, since I never watched the movie.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, has discovered again that there is no comfortable middle ground when the subject is guns.

At noon at the Capitol, Hilstrom, standing with Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek and Rep. Tony Cornish, the gun-toting legislator from Good Thunder, introduced a gun bill that she said “can bring people together’’ on the volatile subject of guns.


Scare quotes.

No, no bias here.

The Astroturf Consensus

Grow, like most of the Twin Cities mainstream media, labors under the delusion that there’s a large, organized mass of people supporting gun control, and that they were out in force yesterday.

Her words were still echoing in the Capitol when critics, who had hoped for much stronger actions from the Minnesota Legislature, lambasted the effort of Hilstrom and a bipartisan group of 69 other legislators to “close gaps’’ in current state gun law.

“This is just a band-aid over a huge problem,’’ said Jane Kay of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, an organization formed in the days following the mass shooting of school children in Newtown, Conn.

Only in America can a two-month old pressure group with fewer members than there were legislators standing behind Hilstrom get the breathless adoration of the media.  Which is what “Moms Demand Action” and “Protect Minnesota” both are; astroturf checkbook advocacy groups funded by liberal plutocrats with deep pockets – with “membership” numbers in the single digits.

Provided they share the goal of fluffing the left’s withering narrative on gun control.

Of course, Grow wasn’t the only offender; Pat Kessler of Channel 4 asked Hilstrom why the bill included no universal background check which, he asserted, “70% of Minnesotans oppose”.

The correct answer – the polls ask people about background checks without explaining the consequences of those checks as the DFL and Governor Messinger Dayton currently propose them; they will result in a de facto gun registry, which is a necessary first step to universal confiscation.

More on gun-related media polls in another piece soon.

The Pre-Written Story

But Grow himself is the real problem here.  His piece, while short on the sort of insight that actually engaging people on both sides of the issue might have given it, is long on  evidence that Grow wrote the story long before yesterday’s press conference.

There’s the inflammatory reference to every leftymedia member’s favorite boogyman:

 The bill has the support of the National Rifle Association, presumably because it does nothing to require background checks on all gun sales and because it does nothing to restrict sales of military-style weapons or even the quantity of rounds in ammunition magazines.

Well, no.

The bill has the support of gun-rights organizations because instead of wasting time and effort putting niggling restrictions on the rights of the law-abiding that didn’t affect crime in any way the first ten years they were tried, they actually address the real problem; criminals, the insane, the addled, and the holes in the data the state sends to the Feds for the background check system.

(And while the NRA makes a nice, recognizable, stereotyped boogeyman for the lazy propagandist, the NRA actually has very little to do with the day to day heavy lifting of the gun rights movement in Minnesota.  It’s the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance that turned out 500 or more people a day to attend the gun grab hearings a couple of weeks back.  Grow either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t want people to know that.  You know where my money is).

More evidence that Grow wrote the story entirely off of DFL and “Protect Minnesota” chanting points?

Despite the fact that it’s a bill that authors hoped would unite people, it seems to be dividing. Yes, there was a mix of Republican and DFL representatives standing with Hilstrom, Cornish and Stanek. But there were no law-enforcement organizations represented at the news conference where the proposal was unveiled.

That’s false.

Here’s the video of the press conference: 


See all those guys in uniforms?

Scroll in to 1:12.  That’s Sheriff Rich Stanek, Hennepin County Sheriff, speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.

Either Grow is lying, or he wrote the entire story with no knowledge of the facts of the story.

Short On Fact, Long On Jamming Words Into Peoples’ Mouths

Grow follows by saying…:

There also were no DFL senators, though presumably the bill will be as attractive to outstate senators as it appears to be to many outstate DFL representatives.

Grow throws that in there as if it’s a substantive fact related to the bill itself.  It’s not.  While most outstate legislators no doubt remember the DFL debacle of 2002, it’s also more than plausible Tom Bakk wants to keep his powder dry.

In other words, presence of no DFL senators is a non-factor, unless you’re a low-information reader.

Grow next swerves through fact – and in so doing, undercuts his own premise.  I’ll add emphasis:

Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, and the chairman of the House public safety committee, has indicated he has no desire to have the bill heard by his committee. Paymar is pushing a bill that would require purchasers of guns at flea markets and gun shows to go through background checks.

Yet, given the large number of co-authors with Hilstrom, there likely are ways for the bill to weave its way through the legislative process.

Yes.  There are a large number of co-authors; so many they had to submit it not one, not two, but three times to get them all on.  Over half of the House is signed on as authors of the bill.

Michael Paymar wants to thwart the will of the representatives of over half of Minnesota’s voters?

Putting Thirty Shots From An AR15 Into A Strawman

Finally, Grow takes his whacks at some of the legislators who’ve violated the DFL’s narrative:

[Representative Tony] Cornish, usually a lightning rod in the gun debate, said he was taking a different role regarding the fate of this bill.

“Several of my statements (in the past) have been controversial,’’ he said. “Today my role is to be a peacemaker.’’

No sooner had he said that than he uttered a statement that raises the hackles of those hoping for stronger gun measures.

“I want to thank the NRA for helping (on the bill),’’ he said. He went on to say that the bill “contains nothing for gun owners to fear.’’

Er, who’s “hackles” got “raised”, here?  And why?

Was it the involvement of the NRA?  Your dog whistles aren’t our problem.

Or was it the quote about gun owners having nothing to fear?  Is that the actual goal, here?

Hilstrom, in her seventh term, refused to talk about her true feelings of the bill. Rather, she kept speaking of the importance of “passing a bill that will solve real problems.’’

She did point out that she never has sought the endorsement of the NRA and that in the past she has received a “C,’’ “D,’’ and “F’’ from the NRA.


So what?

If she’s doing the right thing – which, for a majority of Minnesotans, is “solving problems”, rather than attacking the law-abiding gun owner – then I don’t care if she’s a life-time “F” rating.  And I don’t care about her true feelings; I don’t care if she’s being used as an escape hatch by the DFL to get out of the embarassment of the Paymar/Hausman gun grab bills.

Guess Who!

Finally:  I owe the Twin Cities media an apology.  I’ve said that Larry Jacobs is the most over-quoted person in the Twin Cities media.  And he is.  David Schultz is right up there.

But in the “single-issue” category, Heather Martens – “Executive Director” and, near as we can tell, one of less than a half-dozen members of “Protect Minnesota” (and de facto representative of House District 66A) and a woman whose entire body of public assertions is lies, dwarfs them all:

Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, derided the bill as “NRA-approved.’’

Boo!  Boogeyman!  Hiss!

Listen, MinnPost-reading dogs!  There’s your whistle!

“Any bill that fails to address the gaping holes in our background check law falls far short of the public’s demand for the right to be safe in our communities,’’ Martens said in a statement.

And there’s another lie.  The bill does address the gaping hole that exists in the background check laws.

No, not the misnamed “gun show loophole”, which is another media myth.   The real gap is  the data that the state isn’t sending to the feds; the Hilstrom bill fixes it.

GOCRA’s Mountain, Grow And Martens’ Molehill

Leaving aside the fact that Grow got pretty much everything in this story wrong – and wrong in a way that suggests not only that he wasn’t at Hilstrom’s press conference but that he wrote the whole thing straight from chanting points long before Hilstrom took to the microphone – the most pernicious thing about Grow’s story is that it tries to create the impression that there’s a genuine battle between two titanically-powerful sides to this debate.

There’s not.

In terms of legislators?  A bipartisan sample of over half of the House is on board co-authoring Hilstrom’s bill(s).  A thin, runny film of metro-DFL extremists is backing the Paymar/Hausman/Simonson gun grab bills.

In terms of the public?  Last month, GOCRA put out a call for people to come to the Capitol.  And they did.

No, really:

“Protect Minnesota” and “Moms Demand Action” put out a call yesterday for people to come out and protest against Hilstrom’s bill.

Here they are:


Well, not literally.  But no, other than Heather Martens, nobody showed up.

There are literally more DFL legislators co-authoring Hilstrom’s bill than there are members of “Protect Minnesota” and the “Moms Demand Action” put together.

How Can You Tell Heather Martens Is Lying?

Her lips are moving.

More below.


The Strib’s longtime outdoor writer Dennis Anderson wrote an excellent profile of state representative Tony Cornish over the weekend.  Cornish, with the departure of Pat Pariseau and Linda Boudreaux from the Legislature, has taken on the role of key defender of the Second Amendment in the Legislature:

In St. Paul, however, where he’s the face of gun rights at the Capitol, he’s sometimes less popular, even downright loathed, particularly this legislative session, when a minor blizzard of gun bills has been introduced.

Not to worry, Cornish says confidently, he and other Republicans have enough votes, along with those from rural DFLers, to block any proposals that gun-rights advocates oppose.

“They won’t pass,” he said.

A one-time city cop, deputy sheriff, conservation officer, police chief and, yes — speaking of big guns — Army tank commander, Cornish legally packs what he advocates, either a .40 caliber Glock on his hip — if he’s wearing a sport coat — or a Smith & Wesson in his pocket.

“After being shot at a couple of times and receiving a number of death threats, and never knowing whether I might come across someone I arrested years ago,” he said. “Well, I guess after 36 years as a peace officer, I’d just feel bare without it.”

Plain-speaking, Cornish seems at times a throwback among legislators, reminiscent, in his forthrightness, of Charlie Berg, the onetime DFLer, onetime Republican, mostly independent lawmaker from Chokio in west-central Minnesota.

Sometimes underestimated, in that respect he’s also not unlike the outwardly wacky but ultimately effective retired Sen. Bob Lessard of International Falls.

Of course, every time the “G” word pops up in the Twin Cities mainstream media, the media beat a path to the door of Heather Martens, “Executive Director” (also likely only actual member) of “Protect Minnesota”.  Maybe the editors insist, and she’s the only anti-gun person in their collective rolodex.

The media seems to be unaware of the simple fact that every single substantive declaration about the gun issue, that Heather Martens has ever made, beyond the gurgitation of the odd statistic, has been a lie.

Every single one.

Without exception.

I have been documenting this in this space for over a decade now.

And Dennis Anderson’s piece, like every piece of coverage Martens has ever gotten in her misbegotten public life, is more of the same; I’ll add emphasis to the most dissociative of Martens’ lies:

” [Cornish says the] …background-check system needs to be improved, but it’s complicated and it will cost money,” he said. “If we mandate upgrades to the system, we’ll have to get it right, and it’s going to cost money.”

Heather Martens of Protect Minnesota, a group that would like to see gun laws tightened, wants Cornish to go further.

“We just don’t agree with him, and we don’t think he operates in good faith,” Martens said. “He believes guns are an unlimited right, no matter how many people die. We believe gun deaths can be prevented and that prevention is warranted.”

Martens is ranting – and she’s counting on the public to be both stupid and gullible too.

Cornish, like every single significant pro-Second-Amendment figure, anywhere, believes that there are limits:  criminals, the insane, the chemically-addled, at a fair and clear statutory point, must not get guns.  People who use guns to commit crimes must be punished.  People who get carry permits must know the laws and know how to handle their guns without hurting themselves or others.

Those are limits.  Those are gun controls that, unlike anything Heather Martens says (or hands off to the legislature), actually work.

Cornish disagrees. Background checks on gun sales between private parties? “No.” Restrictions on modern sporting arms, or what commonly are called assault-style rifles of the kind he uses to hunt coyotes? “No.” Prohibition of high-capacity magazines? “No.”

“None of those will reduce crime,” he said. “And none of those bills will pass. We’ve got the votes to block them.”

Thank God for Tony Cornish.

And in the Almighty’s own way, thank God for Heather Martens.  The harsh, incoherently-gabbling, upper-middle-class elitist pathological liar symbolizes the myopia and hypocrisy of the gun control control movement as capably as anyone since Carl Rowan.

The New Representative From 66A, Heather Martens!

Aren’t the Democrats the ones who complain that their opposition is in the back pocket of lobbyists?

We’ll come back to that.

We’ll also come back to this:  until redistricting last February, I spent close to two decades in the old House District 66B, which was represented by long-time DFLer and teachers union mouthpiece Alice Hausman.

Hausman, speaking at an event for which she apparently couldn’t find a lobbyist to substitute for her.

Republicans in the district used to call her “Alice The Phantom”, because she was rarely seen out and about in the district, except for the odd photo op.  Redistricting put her in 66A – but she’s the same Alice Hausman she ever was.

Like I said, we’ll be back.


I went to the Capitol last night.  As usual, the number of pro-Second Amendment people dwarfed the number of orcs – in the overflow room I was in, it was 100 to about five, and that was much closer than it usually gets.

While all of the Republicans on the Public Safety committee stayed through the full three days of testimony, a variety of the DFLers picked up and left the hearings.

Hearings for the bills their people were introducing.  Representative  Hilstrom, Savick, Schoen,  Simonson and Slocum were largely absent from the morning’s testimony – at least, testimony from opponents of the gun grab bills.  I’m going to hazard a guess they’re present for the votes.

But more egregiously, Representative Hausman was absent for the readings of both of her gun grab bills – the magazine capacity bill and the “assault weapon” grab.   Which is not uncommon in the House; Reps have busy schedules, and it’s not uncommon for other representatives to fill in for them.

So who read Hausman’s gun grab bills?

Heather Martens, “executive director” (and, likely one of about three actual members, and that’s being charitable and assuming that they don’t actually charge to be members) of “Protect Minnesota”.

Heather Martens, exploiting an earlier crime victim in front of the Minnesota House.

(No, I’m not kidding.  The late Joel Rosenberg used to tell stories of going to “Citizens for a “Safer” Supine Minnesota meetings – Martens had to rename the group again after what was left of CSM’s credibility evaporated a few years back – where Martens presided over a table with nothing but Second Amendment activist ringers.  Not a single actual gun-grabber showed up for these meetings)

Martens – who, as has been noted in this space for the past decade, rarely if ever says a single truthful or factual word about the gun issue in public – read both of the bills to the committee for the record.  It’s the job the Representative is supposed to do.

This was brought up to Michael Paymar, the committee chairman.  He said it was fairly common for people to fill in for Representatives in front of the committee.

Which may or may not be true, but I’m going to hazard a guess that those people who fill in are almost never registered lobbyists.

I say “almost never”, because it’s against the House of Representatives’ purported “Permanent Rules“:

2.39 EXECUTIVE BRANCH OR LOBBYIST PRESENCE IN COMMITTEE. No House committee, division or subcommittee shall permit any member or staff of the executive branch, registered lobbyist, or lobbyist principal, to be seated at the committee table with members of the House during official proceedings of committees of the House.

“Presenting a bill to the committee” certainly counts as being “seated at the table with members of the House”.

So the facts are these:

  • Representative Hausman was absent – according to staff, off doing non-House business – during the introduction of not just one but both of her gun grab bills
  • Both of her bills were read by a registered lobbyist
  • If a Republican had done this, there’d be an uproar
  • BONUS FACT:  After all of the DFL’s whinging about “model bills” last year, in an attempt to impugn ALEC, all of the DFL’s gun grab bills are cribbed from legislation in other states, and are pretty obviously not just model bills, but really stupid ones

So there you go, District 66A. Your voice has been given over to a special interest group.

Are you proud today?

The Strib’s News, Six Weeks Faster, Part II: Heather Martens Is Lying

As we noted on Tuesday, the Strib’s coverage of the fact that over 100,000 Minnesotans have carry permits (six weeks later than it was covered in this space) had good news and bad news.

The good news?  Larry Oakes, the Strib reporter, did a decent job of finding some sources on the pro-gun side.  Like a few Strib reporters before him – Conrad DeFiebre was the first – he seems to have tried to do a fair job.

And maybe it’s that urge – and reportorial “duty” – to be fair that pushed Oakes into his mistake, and the bad news; Oakes took Heather Martens seriously.

That may be a form of “good news” in a sense; fifteen years ago, there were a couple of anti-gun groups, and a slew of Metrocrat DFL legislators who would queue up to bash on the Second Amendment and its supporters.  Now, Martens is pretty much the best anyone can manage.

And as this blog has been showing for most of the past decade, if Heather Martens says it, it’s a lie.  Or, in this classic example published by a very gullible and uninformed Minnesota Public Radio, fifteen lies in a row with barely a breath.

But here’s where it gets serious:  Oakes writes…:

State data shows that since the law took effect, permit holders were convicted of 882 non-traffic crimes, including 66 assaults, two robberies and two killings. Many were committed with guns.

I don’t know the “66 assaults” or “two robberies”; I’m going to dig into those.

I’ll show you why in a moment.  Let’s focus on the “two killings”.

I had  a hunch where the “two killings” numbers came from.  I called Mr. Oakes at the Strib.  And he confimed – he’d been pointed to the numbers at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension by Martens.

The BCA doesn’t go into a lot of detail about what killings are what – but let’s presume that the “two killings” are not the two justifiable homicides in Hennepin County over the past couple of years – the Grumpy’s shooting, where a bouncer shot and killed a patron that was threatening him (and cut him!) with a knife, and the Evanovich shooting last fall, where a good samaritan killed a mugger who’d just pistol-whipped a woman in the parking lot of a Cub foods on East Lake, and then drew on the samaritan (who shot first, taking out Evanovich and ending a bit of a crime wave on East Lake).  HenCo attorney Mike Freeman – no fan of civilians with guns – ruled both of those shootings justifiable.  So those are of no use to Heather Martens or any anti-gunny.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, other than these two, there have been two other shootings involving carry permittees, and the BCA records seem to line up with them.

The first “killing”, if my sources are correct (and they pretty much always are) was a 2010 suicide; a man in Duluth who had pled guilty a week earlier to sexual assault.

There are a couple of interesting details about this case, though:

    • For starters, his permit should have been yanked when he pled guilty – in court, that moment – if not when he was arrested for felony sexual assault.  So if the man – Brock McCarthy was his name – ever had a permit, he shouldn’t have when he killed himself.  That’s if the system worked as it is supposed to.
    • He shot himself in his home.  His permit was irrelevant.
    • It was a suicide.  Not a murder.  While suicide is a tragedy (that, in this case, was connected to another awful crime), it’s different than killing a second or third party who doesn’t want to get killed.

While suicide is a tragedy, one needn’t have a carry permit – or a gun – to do it. People without permits – or guns – do it all the time.  The only difference with gun suicides is that it’s rarely about “seeking attention”, like cutting one’s wrists or taking pills. It’s about wanting to check out, now. Tragic? Sure. A rap on carry permits? Nope. Fishy to present as a “killing”, in the sense of a person killing another person?


The second killing was one Michelle Rae Wilson, who killed her boyfriend in 2008 in St. Paul.  Wilson was convicted of second-degree murder.  I’m familiar with the case; my friend the late Joel Rosenberg covered it extensively.  It was a fair cop.   It was also in her home – the carry permit was irrelevant.

(On the off-chance that the other homicide was the shooting at Nye’s back in 2005?  The permit-holder was using a pre-“Shall-Issue” permit, one of the ones issued with the full police discretion that, Heather Martens would have you believe, made them safer than the ones we’ve had for the past nine years).

Martens’ point was to try to impugn carry permittees – as Oakes’ next quote made clear:

Martens said it debunks the notion that all permit holders are law-abiding.

Let’s shoot that strawman in the face.  Nobody said “all” permittees were law-abiding.  Merely much more law-abiding than the general public.

As Oakes, to his credit, allows Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance boss Andrew Rothman to note:

Rothman responded that permit holders commit much less than their share of crime, citing as an example that though one in seven Minnesotans has a DWI on their record, only one in 545 of the state’s permit holders got one after getting a permit.

“No one ever claimed permit holders would be perfect,” Rothman said, “but the numbers show (they) are consistently orders of magnitude more law abiding than the general public.”

Indeed, as we’ve shown in this space, even in a bad year, carry permittees are a couple of orders of magnitude safer than the general public.

Let’s look at Minnesota statistics.  Leaving out the two justifiable homicides and the suicide, there has been one unjustified murder carried out by someone who had a carry permit in 10 years.   There are over 100,000 carry permittees.  Divided over ten years, that yields a murder rate of .1 per 100,000.  The murder rate in Minnesota averages around 2/100,000.  Carry permittees are 20 times safer than the general public.  So far.

And in terms of danger to the public?  From 2003-2010, there were 1107 murders in Minnesota (give or take a few – I did the math in my head).  That’s an annual murder rate of about 2 per 100,000.  Against that, we have one non-justifiable homicide carried out by a permit-holder.  That boils down to an annual rate of .002/100,000, meaning a typical citizen is just shy of three orders of magnitude less likely to be murdered (unjustifiably, anyway) by a carry permittee than by a non-permittee.

We’ll look into the “robberies” and “assaults” later.

Whatever the overall affect on society, Easton, the Twin Cities gun instructor, said he thinks that carrying has made him a safer member of it by giving him what he perceives to be “a sense of grace.”

“When you’re carrying a gun, you can’t afford to get accused of causing trouble, so you let things roll off your back,” he said. “You wave with all five fingers.”

Very, very true.

So there are two lessons from Larry Oakes’ story:

  • The Strib is making an effort to cover the issue relatively fairly.
  • On the other hand, if Heather Martens opens her mouth, she’s lying.

I think that sums it up well.

Shot In The Dark: The Strib’s News, Six Weeks Faster

Via Power Line, I see that the Strib has noted the fact that 100,000 (currently 103,000) Minnesotans have carry permits

…which was first reported in this space on May 31; well over 1z00,000 Minnesotans currently have active carry permits.

The Strib is finally on the story – and there’s good news, and there’s bad news.

The bad news?  They – in this case. reporter Larry Oakes – still can’t resist a bunch of the usual clichés:

[A carry permittee named Pat Cannon] not a vigilante. He’s not a nut. He’s just another average Minnesotan who has acquired the power to kill.

Why do I suspect the Strib newsroom is the only place, besides a DFL meeting (PTR) that “Vigilante” or “Nut” would have been suggested?   I mean, you get used to it when the MSM talkes about gunnies – this sense that underneath it all it’s just a little “off”.

But here’s the good news – Oakes balances things out relatively fairly:

[Permit training instructor Evam] Easton said the permit holders he knows “are lawyers, real estate agents — especially women who have to show houses alone — landscapers, a video engineer, a network technician, a radio show host [Quite a few of the, actually – Ed.], a couple of legislators, a mediator who talks divorced couples through sticky situations … a lot of typical, average careers.”

And to his credit, Oakes finds a couple of “experts” who are not completely ludicrous on the subject:

“America has long had a gun culture, but now it’s becoming a carry culture,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”

Winkler traces the roots of the shift to fears spawned by the social and political upheaval of the 1960s.

“People began to see the gun as something for personal protection, not just hunting,” Winkler said. Meanwhile, as gun-control advocates pushed to get handguns banned in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, the NRA “changed overnight” in 1977, Winkler said, from stressing support for hunters to focusing like a laser on the right to bear arms.

Those factors helped trigger a handgun rights movement that swept the country, and by 2011, 37 states adopted so-called “shall issue” permit laws, taking away officials’ discretion to deny permits to people who are of legal age, sound mind and have no criminal history.

Not a bad whack at history for an MSM piece, all in all.  And it’s perhaps a sign that the Twin Cities media is growing in office ever so slightly that Andrew Rothman is getting as many calls as some of the more risible antis:

Rothman said it’s no surprise that a greater proportion of permit holders live where the gun culture is generations deep.

“If you grew up in Minneapolis, it’s easy to believe that guns are just plain trouble,” he said. “But you don’t have that out in the country, and the square miles are huge. If you have a dangerous situation, the police can be 30 minutes or an hour away.”

And Oakes does in fact manage to get outside the traditional envelope of media sources:

[A woman], a 40-year-old professional from the Twin Cities, asked that her name be withheld for the same reason she started carrying: A man with a violent history is stalking her.

She got a restraining order, but even the judge who signed it told her it wouldn’t necessarily protect her. So both she and her husband got permits and carry.

“I don’t want to ever have to use it, and I would rather not have the responsibility,” she said.

So so far I have to give kudos to Oakes.

And I can’t fault Oakes for his editorial drive to lend some balance to what has, so far, been a favorable story about Minnesota carry permittees.

But I saw the next section head…:

A mixed record

…and my Martensdar went off.

“Martensdar” is that feeling any Minnesota Second Amendment activist gets when Heather Martens is about to be cited as an expert source in the Twin Cities media (see also: Jacobsdar, Daveschultzdar).

And lemme tell you, my Martensdar is one finely-tuned machine:

The law “has not been a net benefit to our society in any way,” said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota — Working to End Gun Violence. “They promised that if lots of people had guns everybody would be safe. Here just [recently] we had a 5-year-old child killed while sleeping on a couch. I think we were sold a bill of goods.”

Maybe Oakes is new to the guns beat.  Or maybe – this is actually the most likely – he can’t find another anti-gun “expert” in the Twin Cities.  It’s plausible that Oakes doesn’t know the single fact anyone needs to know about Heather Martens.

So here it is:  If Heather Martens says or writes something about guns, it’s a lie.  

This blog has been documenting Heather Martens’ serial perfidy for almost a decade.  Her “Group” (it’s not a group), “Protect Minnesota”, has just changed its name, because after almost a decade nobody took her seriously under the old name, “Citizens for a “Safer” Supine Minnesota”.

And she’s in traditional form with the statement above, with two toxic lies in one paragraph:

  • Nobody, but nobody, “promised that if lots of people had guns everybody would be safe”.  We showed with a preponderance of evidence that we’d be safer – and we are.  Violent crime is down in Minnesota – especially the parts with the strongest gun culture.
  • The five year old was not killed by a carry permittee.  He was killed by a juvenile (you need to be 21 to get a permit, and 18 to buy a gun legally, which I’m pretty certain the gun involved in the murder was not) on a block that was in effect a self-contained criminal enterprise, among a group of a adults among which one might suspect few would qualify for a carry permit (due to criminal records), in a city that was, and remains, hostile to the law-abiding gun owner.

But that’s not all.

There’s some even more misleading information in Martens’ contribution to Oakes’ piece.

More on Thursday.

Open Letter To Channel Nine News

To: News Department, KMSP-TV (“Fox Nine”)
From: Mitch Berg, very occasional viewer
Re:  A Warning

To whom it may concern,

I don’t watch a lot of TV news – but for whatever reason, I do wind up watching your morning news; it does carry a fair amount of local news, and yeah, I like Marler’s weather.  So sue me.

But I had your 9PM news on last  night.  I noticed that you had jumped on the national “Trayvon Martin” bandwagon with both feet.  That’s understandable – it bled, so it led.

I could go over some of the points of your coverage that were, er, squishy – but that’s really not why I’m writing.

I noticed that you were very prominently using Heather Martens as a source for your coverage.  Martens, you note, is the “Executive Director” of “Protect Minnesota”.  If you check a little bit, you might also find she may very well be the sole member of “Protect Minnesota”; if there are half a dozen members, you might want to try to vet them, because I’ll lay odds that most of them are ringers from the Second Amendment movement.   The late Joel Rosenberg used to tell stories of going to Heather Martens’ meetings and finding that every single person at the gathering other than Martens was a Second Amendment activist.    At any rate – it’s not a “group”; it’s a checkbook advocacy front.  It’s also the third name Martens has been through in the past ten years.  For most of the past decade, “they” were “Citizens For A “Safer” Minnesota”; before that, they were something like “Gun-Free Minnesota” or “Minnesota Without Guns” or something like that; I’ve forgotten, but let’s be honest, so have you.  They keep getting shredded in the marketplace of ideas;  they keep having to change their name.

Anyway, my point is this – if Heather Martens says it, it’s most likely wrong.  I was going to say “it’s most likely a lie”, and that is the truth, but I’m trying to be all calm and measured here.

No, seriously; have me on one of your debate segments – if she’ll agree to come on against me.  I’ve shredded everything she’s said and written for a decade now.  There is not even a faded patina of fact in a single utterance she makes.

Just saying – while there are lots of things to be written about the Trayvon Martin case, and even some about Minnesota’s proposed Stand Your Ground Bill (although most of your other sources on that subject are also lying hacks), Heather Martens is not the one you should be going to to find them.

Presuming, of course, “covering the news” is your goal, rather than “fluffing the narrative”.

I just thought you should know.

Have your people call my people – or the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, of course – if you ever want the whole story, complete with real facts.

That is all.

Crimes And Misdemeanors Against Fact

Yesterday, I tackled a Strib op-ed by Jim Backstrom.  Backstrom, the Dakota County Attorney, wrote the latest in a long string of fact-challenged diatribes against the rights of the rigorously-law-abiding gun owner.

Now, Backstrom – who is not just an elected public official, but one in charge of enforcing the law by prosecuting accused criminals in Dakota County – has been misrepresenting facts  when it comes to the law-abiding gun owner for years.

Of course, we do have a First Amendment.  Freedom of Speech means freedom to lie like a sack of crap.  And as a general rule, I support the idea that the best way to respond to bad, stupid, misleading, lying speech is by responding with the truth, and more of it.  And I’m not changing that.

But I do have two questions:

Professionalism:  If a doctor were to go in the Star/Tribune and not just declare that, research notwithstanding, smoking cigarettes is in fact good for you, what would happen?  Would she be castigated?  Shunned by her fellow physicians?  Accused of professional malfeasance?  Have her records gone over by dogs trained to sniff out whackdoodelry?

Have her professionalism questioned for giving advice to the public that is directly counter to fact?

So why is it that Jim Backstrom – the chief prosecutor of one of Minnesota’s larger counties – is allowed, as a matter of professional integrity, to misrepresent Minnesota criminal law?  Because as I pointed out yesterday, that’s exactly what he did in yesterday’s op-ed, and in many before it.

Is there no requirement, legal or professional, that lawyers, especially lawyers who are public officials and officers of the court, refrain from actively and blatantly misrepresenting the laws they are charged with enforcing?

(Of course there is no legal requirement; I’d suspect that the same court decisions that allow cops to lie to suspects to trick them into giving information applies to county attorneys lying in the newspaper to the sheeple they’re responsible for herding).

Shouldn’t there be?

I mean, other than the next Dakota County attorney’s election?  Although as a point of principle, DakCo residents should take umbrage at a county attorney who lies about the law.  Even you liberals; if he misrepresents laws about self-defense, who’s to say the next one won’t be, I dunno, Voter ID?

The Same Old Song To The Same Old Beat: And yet again, the Strib prints without question or serious comment the opinion of someone who is simply empirically wrong about the subject.  On subject after subject, it’s been the Strib’s op-ed stock in trade for decades – and on none more than on the law-abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves.

The Strib continues to print the fact-less ravings of Heather Martens, Wes Skoglund, David Lillehaug, and of course Backstrom, without fact-check, without “gatekeeping”, without question, apparently for no other reason than (save Martens) they are big important (liberal) public officials.

Now, does anyone think the Strib would continue to publish, without question, op-eds from the doctor that claimed smoking was good for you?  Or would the circular-file his submissions after a while?

If that doctor were a powerful DFLer, apparently not.

Heather Martens: Fifteen Lies

I try to be civil.  I really do.

But it needs to be said; Heather Martens is a liar.

Maybe not in every single area of her life.  She may well be perfectly good, ethical human being in some areas of her life.  I don’t know.

But it is an unassailable fact that virtually everything Heather Martens has ever written about guns, gun laws, gun owners and the Second Amendment is wrong; it seems improbable that she’s unaware of how much of her oeuvre is just plain not so.

Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio ran a “commentary” column by Martens (entitled, I kid you not, “Bill would encourage citizens to shoot first, even when they could walk away instead”) that may be the richest single trove of concentrated untruth in one place since Baghdad Bob strode the stage.

Lie #1: HF1467 Legalizes Murder!

[Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder] wants to legalize a kind of murder.

It’s hard to count the number of ways this statement screams “stupid”.

  • Current law “legalizes” defending oneself with lethal force – under certain, rigidly-delineated circumstances.
  • For that matter, the concept of self-defense is a part of Western legal thought going all the way back to the Bible.  It’s broadly and correctly recognized as the second-worst possible outcome – but it’s been legal, within limits, pretty much forever.
  • Cornish’s law changes nothing about that “legalization”; as we’ve noted in the past few days, it only removes some of the ambiguity from the current law, and gives legitimate self-defense shooters the benefit of the legal doubt.

Either Martens is trying to scare people into submission, or she’s an idiot.

Reading this next bit, I could easily go both ways (emphasis added).

Lie #2: HF1467 Will Legalize Shooting People For No Reason!

I’ve read Martens’ piece at least half a dozen time as this is written. And every time I think “This is the most cynical lie of the bunch”, I remember some other part of the article that’s even worse.

But this one may be the dumbest – or most craven – lie of them all:

House File 1467, which ought to be called “Shoot First,” (sic)

[But it’s not.  Which doesn’t stop Martens from calling it “Shoot First” for the rest of the article.  I get it – rhetoric is rhetoric.  But it leads her down a factual dark alley later on – Ed]

will be heard in the House Public Safety Committee this Thursday. It would allow the killing of anyone who enters another’s yard, even when the person is unarmed and posing no threat; and it would allow the killing of anyone in a public place who seems threatening — again, even if the person is unarmed, and even if walking or driving away is a safe option.

Cornish’s law “allows” no such thing.  Self-defense with lethal force in Minnesota will still rest on four links in a chain; you…

  • …must not be a willing participant
  • You must reasonably fear death or great bodily harm (and “Great Bodily Harm” means “seriously maimed”; limbs, eyesight, brain damage.   “He seems threatening” won’t cut it.
  • Lethal force must be reasonable.  “If the person is unarmed and poses no threat” doesn’t come close.
  • You must make reasonable efforts to avoid using lethal force.  This is a gross ambiguity, entirely dependent on County Attorney discretion, and Cornish’s bill adds some black and white to the law.

And the fact is that if your case is missing any of those four elements, you are screwed.  And should be. And Cornish’s bill doesn’t change that; as I pointed out Wednesday, it merely removes some ambiguity from current law.

Martens should know this; she’s been getting her head handed to her on this subject for a solid decade.  That means she’s lying.

Lie #3: The Out Of State Rabble Will Kill Us!

Martens tries to address some of Cornish’s proposal’s technicalities

Also buried in this bill is a loosening of concealed-carry permit laws to recognize all other state’s pistol permits in Minnesota, even states with lax background checks that issue permits valid for life.

“Lax Background checks?”  All states use the same federal government system.

Notwithstanding that, it is a fact that there has never been any empirical link between  a state’s acceptance criteria and their carry permittees likelihood to commit crimes.  None.

Lie #4: It’ll Be Easier To Buy Guns!

Martens claims..:

It also makes it harder for local law enforcement to prevent prohibited purchasers from getting permits to buy guns,

On this Martens is 180 degrees removed from reality.  While Cornish would make a “permit to purchase” a handgun expire after five years, rather than one – it would also require them to be reviewed and if necessary rescinded for cause during those five years.

Current has no such provision.


Lie #5: It’ll Hurt WomenandChildren!

Martens claims that Cornish’s bill…:

…limits law enforcement’s ability to confiscate weapons in domestic violence situations.

This is just face-palmingly dumb.

The bill bans confiscations after disasters, and establishes consequences if government oversteps its authority.

Domestic Violence is never mentioned in HF1467.

Not only that, but the bill requires the state to provide more data to the Federal database against which background checks are run

(a) When a court places a person, including a person under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, who is charged with committing a crime of violence, into a pretrial diversion program before disposition, the court must ensure that information regarding the person’s placement in that program and the ordered expiration date of that placement is transmitted as soon as practicable to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. When a person  successfully completes or discontinues the program, the court must also report that fact as soon as practicable to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

2.19(b) The court must report the conviction and duration of the firearms disqualification imposed as soon as practicable to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System when a person is convicted of a gross misdemeanor that disqualifies the person from possessing firearms under the following sections:

…meaning that “Domestic violence” convictions, among others,  will be more likely to turn up on Carry or Purchase Permit applications than under current law.

Lie #6: Everything You Do Is Deadly!

Martens’ selective cognition is especially on display in this next lie:

The Shoot First bill (sic) includes the words “self-defense,” but it uses obscure legalese and a bizarre redefinition of the common word “domicile” to make the bill apply to much more than self-defense. “Domicile” is redefined to include not just a person’s home, but also the “curtilage” (fenced yard), “appurtenances” (outbuildings or garages), and even occupied cars (or conveyances).

OK, that was actually factual; it may have been the first fully factual significant statement in Martens’ article.  It may well be the last.

It is a fact that Cornish’s bill expands a person’s “domicile” to include their yard, their garage, their car and the like.  This is a good thing.  Because while Minnesota’s “Castle Doctrine” law gives the citizen certain presumptions while in their home, those presumptions end at the door – which is why some ignorant but hopeful homeowners say, sometimes-but-by-no-means-always jokingly, “if someone tries to attack you on your porch, shoot him and drag him inside!”.  It will prevent absurdities like being convicted for failing to retreat into their house if they’re attacked in their garage.

Still, kudos to Martens; she managed one true fact.

The lie comes next:

If someone enters “by force or by stealth” — in legal terms, that means as little “force” as turning a doorknob or opening an unlatched gate — then the person is “presumed” to intend to badly hurt someone. In court, a presumption cannot be rebutted, so no evidence would be allowed that showed the dead person had entered the yard by error, by invitation of the homeowner, to rescue a drowning child, or for any other reason.

True, more or less.

Of course, there’d be the little matter of showing that lethal force was justified, and that the property owner had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm.  Absent both of those, the property owner will more than likely be convicted of some sort of homicide.

(And it’s interesting to watch people like Heather Martens come up with scenarios that reflect their view of their fellow human; that an otherwise law-abiding citizen would sit in his back yard inviting strangers into his yard to “legally” shoot them to death.  Huh? How many moons orbit Heather Martens’ world?)

A Brief Divergence Into Facts – Which Prove Cornish’s Case, And Undercut Martens’, Anyway

Martens writes:

The main rationalization for this bill is the false claim that Minnesotans can’t legally defend themselves [it’s a strawman, of course; nobody said any such thing.  Merely that there are ambiguities in the law that would be well rationalized before a law-abiding citizen’s life is ruined – Ed] and that even if someone invades a Minnesotan’s home, the homeowner must run away. In fact, self-defense is legally protected in Minnesota; we already have “Castle Doctrine.” Here are three examples from recent years:

(For those of you who take Martens seriously, I’ll emphasize the bits that lead you to where she undercuts herself).

Minneapolis: Vang Khang shot two police officers who had invaded his home by mistake. Khang was not prosecuted and collected over half a million dollars from the city.

Coon Rapids: Gerald Whaley shot and killed an unarmed teenager who entered Whaley’s home, apparently believing it to be a vacant house. Whaley was not charged.

Rockford: Eric Cegon shot and killed his partner’s ex-boyfriend, who was armed and breaking into the couple’s home. Cegon was not charged.

One wonders if Martens thinks the cases above were mistakes; Khang’s home was assaulted by a SWAT team carrying out a no-knock raid on the wrong house.  Don’t think Khang was in the right?  How often do you think you can shoot cops and have it stand up in court.  The Cegon case was a blazingly legitimate shoot (I covered it when it happened).  And the Whaley case (I’m not intimately familiar with it) was dismissed by a county attorney who has shown himself not to be especially friendly to citizens and self-defense.

And all three are a digression – because, as I emphasized, all three occurred in the citizens’ houses.

So what if Samantha Simons’ (Eric Cegon’s girlfriend) ex boyfriend had cornered the two, and their child, in the garage rather than the bedroom?

Probably  nothing; Wright County is good GOP territory; the law-abiding can catch a break.

Proponents of Shoot First (sic) laws have no examples of Minnesotans who have been sent to prison for defending themselves.

Had they lived in Susan Gaertner’s Ramsey County at the time?  Gaertner would have had every means (and likelihood!) of prosecuting them for murder, because they didn’t retreat as fast and far as they could.  She might have lost – but Cegon and Simons would have had to prove their innocence in court, against the full weight and budget of the Ramsey County Attorney’s office, even though the shoot was in every possible way legitimate.

And that is, in fact, just plain wrong.

Lie #7: State Boundaries Make A Difference

Martens mixes up her laws in the next bit:

But in states that passed Shoot First laws [I keep asking lefties who use that terms – “does it make sense to you to shoot second when your life is legitimately in danger?  They never, ever answer – Ed] (over law enforcement’s objections), [to be accurate, “big law enforcement” is a political, not ethical, organization] unintended consequences abound.

But will Martens favor us with any?

As Paul A. Logli, president of the National District Attorneys Association, pointed out, such laws “basically giv[e] citizens more rights to use deadly force than we give police officers, and with less review.”

That is a completely absurd statement, presented without the faintest support; police in every jurisdiction have deadly force rights that are vastly more lax than private citizens.

There are some states who passed “Make My Day” laws which moved some presumptions of innocence in favor of citizens…

but not in Minnesota. Because Minnesota’s criteria for legal self-defense aren’t changing; not under Cornish’s bill, or any other!

In Minnesota, the associations of police chiefs, peace officers and county attorneys all opposed Shoot First (sic) in 2008, when it was rejected by the House Public Safety Committee.

And I showed where at least one of them – Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom – was a liar in doing so, too.

Lie #8: If I Repeat A Strawman Over And Over, It Becomes Fact!

Undeterred by the fact that Minnesota has no “Make my day law“, and Cornish isn’t proposing one, Martens presses on with a trail of irrelevancies:

One consequence of Shoot First (sic) laws in other states has been the shooting of unarmed people in incidents that go uninvestigated or unprosecuted. For example, Jason Rosenbloom of Clearwater, Fla., was in his neighbor’s yard – unarmed and wearing a T-shirt and shorts — when the two were disputing how much garbage had been put at the curb. Kenneth Allen shot Rosenbloom once in the stomach and once in the chest. There was no investigation.

And this could have happened for a lot of reasons; facts in the case that Martens doesn’t know (or bother) to report, vagaries of Texas law, even error on the part of law enforcement (it happens).  We don’t know…

…and it’s irrelevant, because the criteria for legal self-defense in Minnesota aren’t chanaging.

Lie #9: The Biggest, Reddest Herring There Is!

Martens continues:

Another consequence has been to encourage people to take a life, even when they face no danger. Joe Horn of Pasadena, Texas, called 911 from inside his house when he saw two apparent burglars leaving his neighbor’s house. The 911 operator told Horn to stay inside. But Horn said, “The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it,” referring to the passage of Shoot First (sic) in Texas. “I’m going to kill them.” He did, shooting both men in the back, and he was cleared by a grand jury because of the Shoot First (sic) law. Afterwards, Horn himself told the Houston Chronicle, “I would never advocate anyone doing what I did. We [human beings] are not geared for that.”

Maybe it’s not a lie – provided that Martens truly believes Minnesota is somehow governed by Texas law.

I don’t know the details of the Horn shooting – and it’s for damn sure that Martens doesn’t, not really – but reading the text of HF1467 that Martens herself quoted above, and Minnesota law, shows that Martens is just raving; Horn was outside his “domicile” as defined in the bill; if you shoot two people in the back, the odds are good that they presented you no danger of death or great bodily harm, and lethal force (under Minnesota law, present or proposed!) would not be reasonable!  It doesn’t look like the kind of shooting that’d fly in a Minnesota court.

Martens either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t want you to know it.

Diversion Into Illogic: All Killing Is The Same!

Martens next indulges in the logical fallacy of “questionable cause“:

Horn said it well. Normal people don’t take another person’s life unnecessarily. People who are inclined to do so are considered sociopaths. Shoot First (sic)laws encourage normal people to act like sociopaths, and provide a way for sociopaths to kill with impunity.

“Sociopaths kill.  The Cornish law makes it (ostensibly) easier to kill in self-defense.  Therefore, self-defense shooters are like sociopaths”.

You don’t even have to approve of the Second Amendmente, like guns, or believe in self-defense to see that this is just plain twaddle.

Lie #10: We Don’t Need To Match No Steenking Causes And Effects!

Martens continues to romp and play in the world of law:

According to an Orlando Sentinel article, in the first five months Shoot First (sic)was in effect in Florida, 10 central Florida people were shot in cases where Shoot First (sic) came into play. All but one of the people shot were unarmed.

Unmentioned – quite possibly because it’s inconvenient to her case, but more likely because she’s parroting chanting points from a  national anti-gun group; no details about any of those ten shootings.  Were the “unarmed” people ex-spouses stalking ex-wifes?  Were they in a kitchen, surrounded by knives that were one thrust away from becoming a deadly weapon?

Is an unarmed ex-boyfriend harmless and innocent because he’s not carrying a weapon?  Ask your local feminist advocate.

We don’t know whether the ten casesd Martens cited were legitimate or not.  Martens wants you to think they weren’t – but she doesn’t know.  And in any case

Lie #11: Minnesota is not Florida!

Minnesota is not adopting Florida law. no matter now much Martens tries to obscure the difference!

Lie #12: Minneosta’s current system is the model of uniformity!

Martens continues babbling about Florida:

A clear result of the Shoot First law (sic) in Florida is wide disparity in the way cases are handled by different police departments. In some shooting cases, there was no investigation at all, while in others, detectives investigated for up to 20 hours. Uninvestigated cases in Florida and Texas included ones in which drunk or disoriented people went to a stranger’s door and were shot.

Which is, by the way, exactly how things work in Minnesota.  A shooting – any shooting – in Ramsey County will be investigated to a fine sheen, and will almost inevitably result in an arresat.  A shooting in Kandiyohi County that looks like a legit self-defense case will likely be off the books before the ink is dry.

Lie #13: If Only We Banned Anger!

I almost feel too sorry for Martens to continue – but principles are principles!

In Shoot First (sic) states, disputes between neighbors have turned deadly.

As they do in Chicago, where civilians gun ownership is still effectively banned.  And in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, where it’s strongly legally discouraged.  And in Newark, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Flint, which have more restrictive laws that Minnesota has now.

“Shoot First” laws don’t kill people – people do!

Lie #14: The Law Is Still The Law!

Martens steers for the big conclusion:

People can now shoot others over small provocations.

As we’ve shown, over and over – no, they can’t. It is simply not true.  Under Minnesota law, self-defense with lethal force does, and shall continue, to require reasonable fear of mortal danger, and must be reasonable under the circumstances.  This remains utterly unchanged.

For the last time;  all Cornish’s bill does is remove ambiguity in favor of people whose self-defense shootings are blazingly, obviously legitimate.

That is all.

Not A Lie, But Just Stupid

Martens closes:

Any legislator who votes for Shoot First (sic) places a very low value on human life.

Heather Martens places no value whatsoever on honesty and integrity.

It’s nothing new – except, perhaps, to Minnesota Public Radio.

So Before We Go…:

Why does Minnesota Public Radio publish crap like Martens’ chain of lies – which is all she ever has to say about the issue of firearms – without question?

Chanting Points Memo: “The GOP Is Legalizing Murder!”

It’s perhaps a sign that Minnesota is becoming at least incrementally less “blue” over time, that Rep. Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill is, er, drawing fire only from the most  extremes of the Twin Cities left.

But being the Twin Cities, the extremes get disproportionate coverage from the regional media.

And so as HR1467 works its way through the process,  likely to a floor vote in the fairly near future, it’d probably be useful for you, the Real American who supports Second Amendment rights for the law-abiding citizen, to get a jump ahead of the Extreme Left’s chanting points, to help you respond effectively when you run into it among your crazy aunts, the mailroom staff in line at the cafetria, your worthless professor, or wherever.

With that in mind, I’d like to walk you through a few of the Extreme Left’s chanting points about the “Stand Your Ground” bill – either memes they’ve used already, or ones that my 24 years’ experience in this field tells me will pop up eventually – and provide you with some responses.

Because I’m a helper, that’s why:

“If HF1467 passes, a murderer will be able to claim “self-defense” to get immunity from prosecution”:  Well, no – at least, not as a function of the Cornish bill.  It’s not unusual for murderers to claim self-defense;  the guy who shot St. Paul Police Sergeant Jerry Vick six years ago tried it.   Of course, most such attempts come a-cropper;  the standard for self-defense…

  • …one cannot be a willing participant
  • There must be reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm
  • The use of lethal force must be reasonable
  • The shooter must make reasonable efforts to avoid the use of lethal force…

…is already a pretty high one.  Imagine what it’d take to meet that standard, under any circumstances (whether self-defense is an affirmative defense or if the state must disprove it); a killer would have to find a victim with whom they had no history of animosity; they must set up a situation where that victim appears to attack the perpetrator with lethal force (and remember – planting weapons on a body is a very risky proposition, and if you don’t know exactly why, then there’s probably a good reason not to tell you), and to create the impression that they had tried hard enough not to shoot…

…in other words, they’d have to want to plan the “perfect crime” to kill their intended victim and claim self-defense – which is both equally feasible under current law and First Degree Murder.   Cornish’s bill does nothing to make psychopathic killers’ jobs any easier.

And let’s be honest; the number of killings that start as planned hits is infinitesimal.  The vast majority of murders are crimes either of passion, depravity or stupidity; wives shooting husbands, drug dealers killing each other, morons blasting people at bars.  Not planned assassinations.

Go over the story of any random murder committed from passion, depravity or stupidity – say, a gang banger shooting another gang banger  (let’s call them Josh and Taylor, respectively) outside a nightclub.  Let’s say Josh and Taylor get into a fight over colors, turf and drug sale territory and adjourn to the parking lot, where Josh shoots Taylor, and flees the scene.   Upon arrest, Josh tries to claim self-defense.  But…

  • …there’s a club full of witnesses who report that they were arguing, pushing and shoving, and threatening each other.  Under MN law, you have to strenuously avoid participating in the fight.
  • Witnesses, and possibly surveillance video, shows that Josh drew his pistol after Taylor took a swing at him with a beer bottle; fear of Death or Great Bodily Harm is not reasonable.  They also show  the shooting was not”reasonable” to protect Josh’s life, and that from the moment they left the bar Josh was aggressively pushing toward, not away from, the late Taylor.

So sure – Josh could claim self-defense.  The police at the scene would likely have all the evidence they needed to render that claim a bit of black comedy on Josh’s way to prison.

Just like under current law.

“It’s a “Shoot First” Bill!”: I’m not sure if anti-gunners even think about this one at all.  Has it occurred to them that, in a situation where one reasonably fears death or great bodily harm, that “shooting second” would be a really, really awful idea?

Do they honestly believe that the penalty for being the unwilling target of a lethal attack should legitimately be death?

Or do they just not think that hard about their chanting points?

“Claiming “Someone gave me the stink eye” will get you off the hook for murder“.  Only in a world where every investigator and prosecutor is a gabbling moron.

What this particular meme – and yes, “Spotty” from Cucking Stool used it, word for word – really means is the extreme left thinks, or wants the public to think anyway, that the Cornish bill will put an end to the investigation of killings, provided the shooter claims self-defense.

Anyone wanna put some money on that bet?

Killings – and shootings, and for that matter drawing and brandishing of firearms – should always be investigated.  Even if it’s a potential victim shooting a Level Eleventy Sex Offender who attacks her in a parking lot at the office while he’s wearing only a “Scream” mask and carrying an assortment of meat cleavers and chainsaws; the cops and prosecutors must go over the incident to make sure it was legitimate.  Nobody argues that, and Cornish’s bill doesn’t even try.  It merely says that someone who appears to have a solid case for self-defense – if the shooter legitimately appears to be…

  • …an unwilling victim…
  • who reasonably feared death or great bodily harm…
  • in a situation where lethal force was reasonable, and…
  • who did a reasonable job of trying to avoid killing anyone…

…should be considered innocent until proven guilty, rather than forced to prove they’re guilty-with-an-explanation – bearing in mind that if any of those four criteria are in question, it’s really not an issue at all.

“It says people can kill people who walk in their yards!” – Well, no.  Currently, if you shoot someone in your home – as in, between your front and back doors – there’s a presumption that that person was up to no good – provided there’s a reasonable fear that person is trying to kill you, etc, etc.  Cornish’s bill expands that presumption to the rest of your property – your yard, your garage, your car. A rapist in a woman’s garage is no different than a rapist in your house; there’s no rational reason for the law to treat them differently.

There are plenty of reasons to disagree with Cornish’s bill; all of them are based on a political, or emotional, rather than ethical, agenda.

Which will bring us to Heather Martens’ piece at MPR.  More at noon.

Feeding Frenzy Time

Heather Martens – formerly of “Citizens for A “Safer” Supine Minnesota”, now with some other astroturf group that is, most likely, a re-branding of CSM, wrote a “Commentary” on Minnesota Public Radio today in re Rep. Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill (HF 1467).

Here’s the “Commentary“.

Here’s the bill.

I’ll have a piece out on it tomorrow.  Actually, I’ve found 15 serious outright lies – as in, statements that are 180 degrees divergent from reality – and 2-3 major logical fallacies so far.  So much, in fact, that I may break the piece up into, well, 15-18 pieces, running every half hour all day tomorrow.

The piece is that bad.

And there is just no way I should have all that fun by myself.

So I’m going to do something I haven’t done in years; I’m going to sound the horn.

Bloggers, Tweeter and Facebookers; it’s time for a good old-fashioned feeding frenzy; a Blog Swarm on Martens.  And on MPR for printing a “commentary” that can’t pass even the most rudimentary fact-checking, as part of what is seeming more and more like an editorial position to start pushing for more gun control.

If you write a piece – a blog post, Facebook update or Tweet – about Martens and MPR, leave a note in the comment section.  I’ll post a “Carnival of Truth” tomorrow recapping everyone’s efforts.

This One’s For Heather Martens and Wes Skoglund

Just to set the stage for the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which should be coming out in the next couple of weeks.

Check this out:

Wow. Lookit all those guns – most of them fully-automatic weapons. And that ain’t the half of ’em.

Here’s the other half:

Not just fully-automatic weapons by the dozen! Not just big ones – two M2HB .50 caliber machine guns, another with the WWII aerial barrel, Russian and German water-cooled Maxims, and a Pearl-Harbor-vintage Browning water-cooled M1 .50, an even dozen Tommy guns, and a few AK-series that seem downright prosaic in comparison – but a flamethrower.

Why, with all those machine guns, this guy must have killed hundreds of people out in the street!

Well, no. It’s the gun collection of the late Charlton Heston, who never killed a guy that didn’t come back to life for the second take.

I’m wondering if the estate will lend it to the MOB for “MOB Day At the Range”, coming soon to a firing range near you?

Tragedy, Yes. A Challenge, No.

Charlie Quimby may be the Twin Cities’ generally least-insane leftyblogger, but it doesn’t mean he’s not prone to some wishful thinking:

After all, Minneapolis has a ripe current case that provides a provocative example of the ambiguities surrounding self-defense claims.

Now, Charlie’s been debating the proposed changes in Minnesota’s self-defense laws wtih Joel Rosenberg for a few weeks now – but if he thinks this case is “ambiguous” – well, he’s learning. A few more weeks with Joel might help.  And so for the second day in a row,I’m gonna go after something he’s written.
Let’s be clear on a few things.

As we’ve talked about on this blog many, many times, there are four criteria that the accused must achieve to the satisfaction of a jury (or, preferably, to prosecutors before any charges are filed) to claim self-defense.  I’ve you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know ’em, and may skip ahead.  They are:

  1. You can not be a willing participant in the scuffle
  2. A jury must believe that you feared death or great bodily harm.
  3. A jury must believe you made reasonable effort to disengage – whatever that means to the prosecutors, judge and jury (which was one of the points of Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill).
  4. That jury must believe that lethal force was appropriate.

That’s it.

Oh, and if you use a gun outside your house or place of business, you should have a concealed carry permit (although illegal carry might not be used against you in a self-defense claim).

Finally, if you’ve taken a concealed carry training class (I do endorse my arma mater, Joel Rosenberg’s class), there are, let’s just say, certain standards of behavior you need to follow after using lethal force in self-defense.

Now, let’s remember; the debate is about the rights of law-abiding gun owners who follow the rules; not about the “rights” of people who are too criminal, impaired or stupid to follow the law.

Tyeric Lessley believed it was life or death.

In town to celebrate his fiancée’s birthday, the 22-year-old and his two cousins were leaving a downtown Minneapolis club early March 17 when they crashed into a pickup on Washington Avenue S. Lessley got out and started to walk away, but Darby Claar went after him.

So let’s add up the pros and cons of Mr. Lessley’s case, and his career as poster boy for the law-abiding gun owner who’d benefit from Tony Cornish’s bill – and in so doing, let’s take every element of Quimby’s story at face value.    On the one hand, Mr Lessley was apparently not a “willing participant”.  On the other, the story doesn’t mention if he’d had anything to drink at “the club” (the legal limit to carry a gun with a permit in Minnesota is .04) – which begs the additional question, did he have a permit?  I’d suspect not, or Heather Martens would have held a press conference – but, as it happens, evidence appears later:

Lessley’s family claims racial epithets were shouted and punches thrown. As Lessley stumbled to the ground, he pulled out a .44 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun and fatally shot Claar in the chest. Within minutes, a random twist of fate shattered two families.

So did Lessley “reasonably fear death or great bodily harm” from a guy armed with his fists, and “is lethal force appropriate” in dealing with a guy who evidences no actual weapon (wouldn’t brandishing the gun have worked)?  Both of those are questions for trial.  But, again, the more interesting question is “was Lessley carrying legally, with a Minnesota permit?”

Evidence to contrary follows:

Lessley planned to turn himself in because he had no doubt the shooting was in self-defense, relatives said. Before he did, a SWAT team arrested him at his aunt’s house. It wasn’t until Lessley saw a news report on a jail television that he realized Claar, 32, was dead.

If you’ve had any of the training that’d qualify one to get a permit (and to legally have a firearm under the circumstances in this story), the following would have been repeatedly beaten into your head, to the point where you repeat it in your sleep:

  1. If you ever even DRAW your pistol, you call the cops; from the scene if possible, from as close by as is prudent if there is continuing danger.  Even if you didn’t fire a shotEven if all you did was scare someone off with a gun.
  2. If you did  shoot; when the cops arrive, show them any evidence.  And then lawyer up. And don’t consent to a search. And say nothing else without your lawyer holding your hand and, preferably, moving your tongue by remote control.
  3. Do not run to your aunt’s house.  Do not assume that it’ll go away.  Even if you never fired a shot – to say nothing of pumping a .44 slug at point blank into someone’s chest.

If you learn nothing else in concealed carry training, you learn this.

So I’ll say this without fear of rational contradiction; Mr. Lessley was not a legal carry permit holder.  I can’t speak to his motivations for carrying a .44 on a night of clubbing – and either can Charley Quimby – but he was certainly not the law-abiding, honest, trained, competent citizen that the Minnesota Personal Protection Act and the Cornish/Pariseau bill are designed to protect.

Lessley is the father of three children. He recently received an Applebee’s employee of the month award because of his rapport with customers.

I feel for the guy – on many levels (levels which will be revealed in an episode of “Twenty Years Ago Today” in about ten months).   It’s a shame one of his customers hadn’t been one of Minnesota’s certified carry permit training instructors.  It woulda saved everyone a lifetime of heartache.

He was charged with intentional second-degree murder. Lt. Amelia Huffman, head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide unit, said she’s not surprised he would argue self-defense.

“But in this scenario, we had only one person who was armed with a weapon of any kind,” she said. “There are no other aggravating factors that I believe would lead a reasonable person to feel they were in a situation in which they would be likely to lose their life.”

And while I feel for Mr. Lessley, that might seem to be that.  It’s an ugly, stupid situation.

And as an indictment of the behavior of the law-abiding, trained permit-holder (or citizen at home), it’s really a non-sequitur.

Why Should A Right Not Be A Right?

The course of the Minnesota Monitor has been an interesting one.

The MNMon is, and has always been, a bald-faced propaganda site, funded by “liberals with deep pockets” – after a year of official denials and stalling huffing and puffing, Eric Black admitted that there was some George Soros money in the mix.

When they started under original editor Robin “Rew” Marty, the Mon had a recent-college-grad-ish earnestness about it; it was a genial, sloppy production prone to dumb mistakes, but they seemed at least to mean well and to try, in most cases, to do a credible job. Paul Schmelzer, former “Media” reporter and one of the Mon’s few genuinely good writer/reporters, took over as editor (seemingly briefly), around the time Eric Black jumped from the Strib and classed up the joint for a bit; for a few months, the Monitor’s material was a source for discussion rather than derision.

And then, about the time Black bailed to go to the MNPost, they hired former City Pages editor and Daily Mold blogger Steve Perry. I and a fair chunk of the the local RealAmericansphere has been scratching our heads watching the hilarity ever since. Perry seems to have brought over a bunch of the City Pages less stellar exiles, and changed the site’s focus from semi-original reporting to screechy polemics seemingly copied word for word from pressure-group press releases and topped off with a dollop of shrill, giggly, usually ignorant commentary.

In other words – Soros et al have finally hired a genuine, respected journalist to run the Monitor – and he’s basically turned it into a rantblog.
If it were a good blog-with-a-different-name-and-lots-of-money, there’s at least a chance someone could have written something better than this comically-bad piece by Heather Maartens “Anna Pratt” on the Heller case.

The scare strikeout is (like, let’s face it, all scare strikeouts) very much on purpose; there is nothing about this piece (like the Monitor’s “coverage” of Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill), that doesn’t look like it wasn’t directly cribbed from a Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota press release.

When is a right right and when is a right… wrong? In this case, when does one’s “right to bear arms” also trespass on the rights of others?

This could only be written by someone who has not the faintest clue about this nation’s moral, intellectual, political or social history. It’s a symptom of this nation’s catastrophic ignorance about the humanities of our own history.
The answer is “Rights don’t trample on other peoples’ rights”. Your right – or Anna Pratt’s right – to free speech doesn’t trample mine. I have no right not to be offended or nauseated by someone else’s speech – but I do have the right to respond with better speech. Not that it takes much.

The law-abiding, responsible exercise of your God-given rights, by the very nature of “Rights” (as opposed to “privileges” and “entitlements”) can not “trample” anyone else’s rights.

Rights have responsibilities and limitations; we have free speech, but we may not yell “I’m lighting my farts” in a crowded theater; we may worship freely, but if your poisonous snake kills someone’s child, you might have some ‘splaining to do. Abusing ones’ right to keep and bear arms has serious consequences; ironically, it’s the Second Amendment movement that’s moved to make those consequences more sure and severe, while the anti-gun left has steadily sapped them.

But I digress.

I’m talking about the Supreme Court controversy regarding the constitutionality of the handgun law in Washington, D.C., where nary a gun is allowed, excepting those of police officers.On Tuesday, March 18, arguments for and against Washington D.C.’s handgun ban were presented in a federal appeals court.

Ms. Pratt? That “Federal Appeals Court” is called the “Supreme Court of the United States”.

I never, ever thought I’d say this, but…go ask Jeff Fecke how to read and fact-check your stuff? OK?

This comes after a lower court’s 2-1 vote last year took issue with the ban.

On the other hand, the “lower court” was a US Circuit Court of Appeals, which isn’t really all that “lower” by court standards.

Now, to be fair, I’m not sure if Anna Pratt (like Dan Haugen and Andy Birkey before her) is completely oblivious to the actual law and history involved, or if she’s just cribbing off a press release from Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota (whose ignorance of law and history is a matter of documented record) – but while the flubs above might be a result of bad reporting and fact-checking, the below is just plain made up from whole cloth.

That would reverse nearly 70 years of legal precedent.

And there’s the tell; this “article” is cribbed from CS“S”M.

Teaching moment, Anna: there is not 70 years of legal precedent. There is one case, US V. Miller, from 1939, which is open to widely-varying interpretations, which has only been mentioned in five subsequent cases, and which is notable in that neither the defendants nor their lawyers were actually able to show up at the SCOTUS hearing. To claim Miller is a clear precedent is the sort of wishful thinking that most of us shy away from, and that Heather Martens takes as her stock in trade.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which hasn’t gotten such play since 1791, states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”Heather Martens, president of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota (CSM), which lobbies for a public-health approach to prevent gun deaths and injuries, asserted in an email that a decision favoring the right to carry guns could “set off a deluge of legal actions across the country challenging every gun regulation there is, no matter how reasonable.”

Let’s take Heather Martens at her word – which, given that virtually everything she’s ever said on the subject has been a lie, is a bit of a gift.

So what?

The laws – as Pratt herself notes further down in the crib article – are doing no good anyway! Why not challenge them?

CSM is part of the Protect Minnesota campaign, a coalition of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, who are working to ensure background checks for gun purchases and safe gun use.

The “Protect Minnesota campaign” – like every anti-gun group in Minnesota, includign the “Million Mom March”, which might muster five or six “moms” for a protest these days – is an astroturf, checkbook advocacy group, and any Potemkin “gun owners” that are part of it are sock puppets, pets kept on the leash by “groups” like this.

Across the state, gun deaths and injuries are on the rise, according to campaign information.

Well, that sounds bad, doesn’t it?

Of course, it’s utterly meaningless; the deaths and injuries are being caused by criminals. And the Constitution doesn’t protect criminal activity!

But the Constitution would seem to be the least of Martens‘ Pratt’s concerns:

The Supreme Court debate recycles an old issue and as such, it is standing in the way of resolving firearm-related violence.

BAD Supreme Court! Get out of the way and quit interpreting the constitution!

Attention, Anna Pratt – “recycling old issues” is what the SCOTUS does!
I’m not sure who Anna Pratt is – but if Steve “Mister Furious” Perry’s goal is to turn the Minnesota Monitor into the dumbest rantblog in the state, she’s gonna be a great help!

CORRECTION: Foot pointed out that I, too, got a level of jurisprudence wrong. Fixed it. Suppose Anna Pratt will do the same?

Why Is Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom Lying?

There are people you expect to lie through their teeth about Second Amendment issues.

Heather Martens, the president-for-life of Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota?  You know she’s lying about Second Amendment issues when her lips are moving.  It’s her job.  No surprises there.

Wes Skoglund – the former Rep from South Minneapolis who famously claimed on the floor of the House that reforming the state’s concealed carry laws would result in legally-armed gang-bangers and permittees talking Wes Skoglund through Minneapolis?  The guy’s practically deranged about the issue – “lying” is the least of his issues.  (Dissociative behavior might be closer).

But Jim Backstrom, the tough-on-crime County Attorney from Dakota County (the southeast metro)?  A poster-boy for good, conscientious county prosecution?  A county attorney for whom I’ve expressly proclaimed admiration?  One would not expect him to write something chock-full of misleading claims and just plain hysterical buncombe more worthy of Wes  Skoglund than one of Minnesota’s most respected county attorneys.

Which is why it’s hard to explain Backstrom’s op-ed in the Strib last week, which has launched a lot of ill-informed but vigorous head-nodding in the local Sorosphere.  If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect it was ghostwritten by Heather Martens.

Or at least, if I were a gun owner in Dakota County, I’d hope it were.  Sorta.

Let’s take a look:

The Legislature is considering a significant expansion of our law regarding the authorized use of deadly force. Not only is this expansion unnecessary, it would be harmful to efforts to prosecute dangerous criminals who commit violent crimes.

When talking about “the bill”, it will be handy for the curious reader to be able to refer to the bill.  Read it here; I’ll also paste it below the fold.

The proposed law would allow the use of deadly force to resist or prevent any reasonably perceived threat of substantial or great bodily harm or death in any location and when responding to a reasonably perceived felony or attempted felony in a person’s dwelling or occupied vehicle.

Right, pretty much.  Backstrom doesn’t bother telling the reader that “resonably perceived” means “would convince a jury”, of course, but we’ll let that slide for now.  

It eliminates the duty to retreat, authorizes meeting force with superior force, creates a presumption that the response is “reasonably perceived” whenever someone enters a dwelling or occupied vehicle by force or stealth, and expands the definition of “dwelling” to include decks, porches, fenced-in areas and tents.

Backstrom is, at the very least, being misleading here. 

Once again – under Minnesota law, claiming self-defense requires that…:

  1. You’re not a willing participant in the altercation
  2. You have a reasonable fear of death or “great bodily harm”. 
  3. You make a reasonable effort to disengage
  4. The force used is reasonable

“Reasonable” and “Great Bodily Harm” are both legal terms, meaning “would convince a jury” and loss of limbs/eyesight/bodily functions/becoming crippled for life, respectively. 

There is no “duty to retreat” – merely to make “reasonable” efforts to get away from the threat (criterion 3, above).  What is “reasonable”?

Whatever your attorney can convince the jury.  And “unreasonable” is “whatever the prosecutor can convince the jury isn’t reasonable”. 

Someone beats your door down.  You come out of your bedroom with a gun.  You’re standing in the hallway by your kitchen as you see someone charge with a knife.  Do you shoot?  Or do you try to run through your kitchen and out your back door, with someone chasing you with a knife? 

You have one second to make that decision; run, or shoot? 

The county prosecutor – Jim Backstrom in this case – has weeks, even months, to decide whether you “should” have retreated, and whether or not to file charges.  He or she can judge your actions while sitting in their cozy office in Minneapolis or Hastings, while having lunch at the Oceanaire, wherever.  The county prosecutor can contruct their argument to try to sway the jury as to the “reasonable”-ness of your claim over the course of weeks or months, at taxpayer expense.  Along the way, he or she can (and will) try to influence the jury any way he or she can; race, gender, previous associations, all are fair game. 

Your attorney will try to argue, of course – at immense expense to you.

The jury – in a nice, cozy jury room, with bathroom breaks and armed guards keeping them safe – gets to take all the time they want to decide on the “reasonableness” of a life or death decision that you had exactly one second to make.

The Cornish bill merely gives the law-abiding home owner who meets all four criteria of legal self defense the legal cover, by taking away the prosecutor’s discretion to say “the defendant should have run away!”. 

As to “opposing force with greater force” – again, that takes away the prosecutor’s discretion to say “the attacker only had a knife; shooting him with a .45 automatic was not reasonable”. 

Supporters see these changes as merely affording law-abiding citizens the right to stand their ground and protect themselves when confronted by dangerous criminals. In truth, this proposal greatly alters the standards associated with the legal authority to use deadly force and will have some significant unintended consequences.

This proposal creates a subjective standard of reasonableness rather than the objective standard in current law.

What on earth  is Backstrom talking about?

There is no “objective standard of reasonableness” under current law!  It’s all up to a jury! 

 The issue becomes what was in the mind of the person using deadly force, rather than how a reasonable person would react under the same circumstances.

This is pure doubletalk.  The four criteria involved in a claim for legal self-defense, whether modified by Rep. Cornish’s bill or not, are all about the shooter’s perceptions – “what was in the mind” of the person – and whether the action was “reasonable” (in the mind of a jury). 

Such a law would in essence allow people to shoot first and ask questions later whenever they believe they are exposed to harm, regardless of how a reasonable person would respond under the circumstances.

This is more double-talk.  The Cornish bill does not change the citizen’s responsibility to follow the four criteria above.  It merely modifies the criteria, slightly, to give the genuinely law-abiding citizen a stronger legal standing, and more-clearly define the prosecutor’s options in trying to undercut a claim of self-defense.

It wouldn’t be a Heather Martens piece without a “Wild West” reference…

We’d be returning to the days of the Wild West, when two gunmen could face off in the street and the winner could walk away without fear of consequences, under a claim of self-defense. Such lawless frontier days should remain in our past.

…but this isn’t Heather Martens.  This is an ostensibly-responsible county attorney. 

This is irresponsible hysteria-mongering of the most contemptible order.  Nothing about the Cornish bill changes the citizen’s legal obligation to act responsibly – to act reasonably.  The Cornish bill merely codifies more clearly what is considered “responsible” – or, more accurately, what it enjoins prosecutors from trying to persuade juries is “irresponsible” in an otherwise legal case of self-defense.

Do we really want cases of road rage to result in a shooting death, when the surviving party could have stepped on the gas and driven away?

This is misleading, and – again – hysterical.  See the first and third criteria of a self-defense case; one must not participate in a fight (say, a “road rage” incident), and one must step on the gas to try to get away, under current law.  Nothing about Rep. Cornish’s bill changes this – merely that if someone comes into your car swinging, you’re allowed to presume that he’s not there to discuss things like a grownup.

This expansion of the right to use deadly force would apply equally to criminals as to law-abiding citizens. It would create viable self-defense claims in situations like bar fights.

This is worse than callow hysteria-mongering.  This is an outright lie.  Nothing about the Cornish bill would change the injunction against being a willing participant – which scuppers the whole “criminals in bar fights” argument.   

 It could allow rival gangs to shoot at one another with impunity.

Again, this is a lie.  No jury would find a shooting in furtherance of a crime – gang activity, blasting away at their rivals in public – either “Being an unwilling participant” (criterion 1),  or a “Reasonable use of force” (criterion 3).  If any gang-banger walks because of the Cornish bill, it’d be purely because they drew an incompetent prosecutor. 

With no duty to retreat, anyone could claim they were responding to a threat of serious harm and were therefore justified in killing a person.

“Anyone” can already “say” anything they want.  A jury has to believe it.  It would seem that Jim Backstrom wants the citizen to believe the police and the state’s prosectutors (and jurors!) are helpless to tell the difference between legitimate use of force and criminal thuggery!

Current Minnesota law concerning the right of self-defense and the justified use of deadly force adequately protects our law-abiding citizens. 

Where “adequate” means “subject to the caprice of county attorneys to play word-games with juries over the citizen’s decision to shoot rather than run away from an otherwise-reasonably-deadly threat” – or “subject to the semantic difference between “substantial” and “great” bodily harm, which is adequately clear for a lawyer writing an op-ed in a cozy suburban office, but not so much for someone reacting to someone charging at her in the dark”.  And where the price of “inadequacy” might be jail for an honest person.

Do you feel like banking your freedom on that? 

The taking of a life should be a last resort. It should not be encouraged as a first response unless the danger is reasonably apparent to us all.

There is nothing about the Cornish bill that would make shooting a “first response”; it merely makes an otherwise law-abiding shooting easier to justify.   

We should not return to the days when shootouts were commonplace and few or no questions were asked of the last man standing.

Either County Attorney Backstrom has very little faith in this state’s cops and prosecutors, or even less in the law-abiding Minnesotan. 

I’ll take votes. 

James C. Backstrom is the Dakota County attorney and president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association.

And in that capacity, I’ll be soliciting his comments on this piece, via email or – preferably – on the NARN this weekend.

The show’s in Eagan.  Deep in the heart of Dakota County.  It shouldn’t be out of his way.

I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE:  I’ve requested an interview with Mr. Backstrom:

This is a media request.

I’m Mitch Berg.  I’m a talk show host with the “Northern Alliance Radio Network”, at AM1280 the Patriot.  I’m also a blogger, at “Shot in the Dark” and “True North”.

I have taken serious issue with County Attorney Backstrom over his op-ed in the Star-Tribune last week:

I am requesting the opportunity to interview Mr. Backstrom about what I consider to be *seriously misleading claims* in his article. 

I would like to offer Mr. Backstrom the chance to appear on my radio show during the 2PM hour this coming Saturday, March 13, to discuss his op-ed and my questions about it. 

If he’s not available for this interview, I’d like to request an interview, either by phone or email, regarding some of the claims he makes in the Star-Tribune.

I’ll eagerly await Mr. Backstrom’s response.


Mitch Berg
Northern Alliance Radio Network
AM1280 The Patriot

Shot In The Dark (
True North (

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The Wages of Staying Home

All of you Republicans who sat out the 2006 election because Mark Kennedy voted for Ethanol subsidies,or Norm Coleman voted for ANWAR, or Tim Pawlenty called a “tax” a “fee”?

Bad things happen.

Big, bad things like the Mass Transit Subsidy “Transportation” bill, of course – and slightly smaller things, like the DFL’s universal gun registration bill.

Joel Rosenberg explains:

It’s HF 3324. The companion bill — same language — in the Senate is SF 2989 . Buried in jibber-jabber about “assault style weapons” and the usual gun grabber gibberish, this is nothing more or less than a permanent gun registration scheme for the state of Minnesota. If this bill becomes law, every time a handgun or supposedly scary rifle is transferred — even between two private parties — the state would keep a list of who bought it, and who sold it, and when.

The DFL believes they can get away with this because – well, they can. They won a majority in both houses, and it’s almost veto-proof. With the aid of a couple of Republicans in Name Only – “Republicans” but not conservatives, people who crave the approval of the likes of Lori Sturdevant – the DFL pretty well gets its way.

And not only do they get to romp and play in your wallet, and your schools,and your businesses, but they get to do what they want in your gun locker. Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota – a group with maybe ten members, run by one Heather Martens – has an inordinate amount of sway with the DFL.

Joel explains the way this bill is going to work:

Got an old revolver that your buddy has an eye on? No, you couldn’t just ask to see his carry permit or purchase permit and hand it over — or even loan it to him for a couple of weeks.

Nope; the two of you would have to go down to a gun shop — if your local gun shop hasn’t been zoned out of business you might not have that much of a drive — hand it over the the clerk,, have him book it in, and pay the clerk to run a background check on your friend. Your friend who, by the way, already has either a carry permit or a purchase permit, and who already has gone through a criminal background check that can be repeated — under current law — by the authorities any time that they please.

And it gets worse. If there’s a glitch in the NICS system, and your friend doesn’t get immediately approved, the clerk can’t just give your own gun back to you; he’s got to run a background check on you — which, of course, you have to pay for — before he can.

And the state gets to keep records of that transaction forever. Forever.

The answer, of course, is to get on the line with your state legislators – now – and tell them not to support this fascist travesty. Be polite; write your spiel down beforehand, if need be. But contact them.

Especially if your Senator or Rep is a wobbly Republican.

Oh, yeah. And if you’re a Second Amendment supporter who is thinking about staying home in November because Tim Pawlenty went to the Arctic? Grow up; real life isn’t about getting everything you want; it’s about making sure you show up to drive the compromise the right way.