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By Larry Pratt

January 9, 2004

Near the Canadian border in Boundary County, Idaho during August of 1992, the federal government went berserk. At Ruby Ridge Randy Weaver suffered the loss of his wife and son -- neither of whom had committed a crime -- to government agents.

The feds brought about an even worse debacle in Waco the next year, and other less breathtaking abuses of power have occurred with disturbing frequency.

Both tragedies stemmed from enforcement of unconstitutional laws for alleged crimes that had harmed no one.

Randy Weaver, in collaboration with Sheriff Richard Mack, has taken a look back at the ten years following the tragedy he suffered at the hands of renegade federal agents. They have produced a new book entitled Vicki, Sam, and America: How the Government Killed all Three.

From Weaver's vantage point, the problem has not been addressed, and America continues to suffer under the yoke of unaccountable power exercised beyond the limits of the U.S. Constitution.

Weaver looks at the federal criminal justice system and finds that it has too often done what it tried to do to him. Namely, the system often acts to cover up the misdeeds of agents who have broken the law. Lon Horiuchi was the FBI sharpshooter who killed Weaver's wife while she was holding a baby in her arms. The federal government attorneys argued that Horiuchi could not be tried in an Idaho court because he was a federal agent, and thus not subject to state laws. In other words, the feds view themselves as above the law.

Since Horiuchi's act was arguably murder, the Boundary County prosecutor had wanted to try Horiuchi for Vicki Weaver's death. The prosecutor finally got a federal court to OK the prosecution of Horiuchi -- but shortly thereafter he lost his reelection bid by eight votes! (Keep this one on file for those who say that their vote does not count.) The new prosecutor declined to continue the action against Horiuchi. The irony is that the new prosecutor was later forced out of office for perjury.

In any case, the federal government's argument that their employees are above the law gives a new meaning to the old TV show about federal agents, The Untouchables.

The government had targeted Weaver because he had insulted some Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents. While this is not against the law, Weaver found that the law was no protection. The BATF subsequently entrapped Weaver into breaking a victimless and unconstitutional gun control law -- sawing off a shotgun barrel just slightly below an arbitrary length pleasing to federal bureaucrats (sixteen inches).

Weaver compares the attempt to make him a criminal (he was subsequently exonerated by a federal jury) with the predicament of New Hampshire State Representative Howard Dickinson. Dickinson was made into a federal criminal as wrongly as was Weaver.

Dickinson had inadvertently left a revolver in a bag that he had as carryon luggage at the Manchester, NH airport. When the bag went through the passenger screening X-Ray machine, the gun was found and Dickinson was an instant criminal. Lack of intent was not important. The head of the Transportation Safety Administration wanted to throw the book (two years in jail) at Dickinson for violating his gun control law.

To their credit, FBI agents exonerated Dickinson after a thorough investigation. He had clearly been guilty of nothing more than an inadvertent mistake. But still the TSA wanted to throw the book at him. Finally the feds settled on a $5,000 civil fine.

One has to ask -- what would have been the harm if Dickinson had boarded the flight with his gun? Since he was unaware he had it, it is hard to see what danger his fellow passengers would have been in. And if he had discovered the gun in flight? The only negative outcome would have been for a terrorist who tried to hijack the plane: Dickinson might have been able to save himself and a planeload of passengers.

If Dickinson had managed to get on board one of the September 11 flights, would the passengers have been endangered by Dickinson? What if the pilots that day had ended up with guns in the cockpits, would the day likely have ended the same as it did with the death of thousands of defenseless victims?

Weaver makes the point that gun control led to September 11.

I am reminded that one of the clearest examples of the acceptance so many of us have of being defenseless thanks to gun control laws was a last conversation between a passenger on Flight 97 and his wife. The flight crashed in a field in Pennsylvania following a desperate struggle between some of the passengers and the hijackers.

One of the passengers told his wife that he and some others were about to try to subdue the hijackers. Her last words to him were: "Please, wait for the authorities."

Clearly, waiting for the authorities to protect us can be hazardous to our health, but using a gun for defense may make us a criminal. Welcome to the Brave New World of Gun Control where we become criminals when we use guns to resist (or be prepared to resist) criminals.

� 2004 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved

Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.

Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The GOA web site is: Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at:   E-Mail:








"Weaver looks at the federal criminal justice system and finds that it has too often done what it tried to do to him. Namely, the system often acts to cover up the misdeeds of agents who have broken the law. Lon Horiuchi was the FBI sharpshooter who killed Weaver's wife while she was holding a baby in her arms."