Internet & GunsSubmitted by Misfit4Peace on Sun, 11/09/2008 - 10:46
NOVEMBER 4, 2008
NannyNet Down Under
Kevin Rudd pushes Web censorship.
Why can't Canberra keep its hands off the Internet? First the competition
watchdog investigated ad sales on Google. Then came a probe into eBay's
proposed new billing system. Now Kevin Rudd's government is pushing a plan
to subject Australian Web surfers to a mandatory nationwide filter on
The government plans soon to start a real-world test of technologies with
which Internet service providers would block obscene or illegal content
before it reaches subscribers' desktops. This is the latest step in a push
for the kind of national filter Mr. Rudd suggested during the campaign last
year. If the test succeeds and the filter wins legislative approval next
year, illegal materials such as child pornography would be banned for
everyone, while a second, voluntary, filter would block the merely
objectionable, such as explicit pornography, for users who opted in.
Australians aren't clamoring en masse for mandatory filtering. It does,
however, fit with Mr. Rudd's social conservative streak. It's popular with
some religious groups and the Family First party that holds a key swing vote
in the narrowly divided federal Senate. Mr. Rudd's predecessor, John
Howard -- another social conservative -- also toyed with the Web filtering
idea, though never on such a scale.
The idea raises troubling free-speech questions in a country without a
formal protection of speech written into the law. Already some supporters
are proposing that the list of banned Web sites could include some content
that would remain legal in offline formats such as magazines. There's been
discussion of applying such a filter to gambling sites, too. Opponents fear
a slippery slope.
The proposal also raises serious economic concerns. Filter technology slows
data transmission speeds -- the more effective the filter the slower the
transmission. According to a recent study by the Australian Communication
and Media Authority, a government agency, the technology most effective at
blocking illegal content slowed transmissions by more than 75%. This would
hurt an increasingly Internet-dependent economy, and negate Mr. Rudd's
ballyhooed 4.7 billion-Australian- dollar ($3.2 billion) plan to connect 98%
of homes and businesses to high-speed broadband Internet service.
Filtering would also be expensive. The government would offer a one-off
subsidy to service providers to install the filters, for which Mr. Rudd is
budgeting A$44.2 million over four years. Providers would then presumably
have to pay for day-to-day operations -- meaning subscribers would foot the
Australia is not China, and Mr. Rudd's proposed filter is not Beijing's
Great Firewall of Internet censorship. Australians will have a chance to
debate the proposal and their elected representatives will have a say in
whether to implement it. Democratic governments can and do stand up for
social norms by banning obscene materials.
That doesn't necessarily make this particular method of blocking obscenity a
good idea, however, and Australians must also weigh the dangers of applying
a heavy regulatory hand to new technologies. If not, Web surfers Down Under
may find themselves getting a whole lot less Internet than they bargained
© 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/liberty_ outlook
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. DE: Gun purchase 'glitch' examined
Posted by: "Mark Laythorpe" firstname.lastname@example.org xntryk1
Thu Nov 6, 2008 8:06 am (PST)
The News Journal
November 4, 2008
Gun purchase glitch examined
Delaware's small-arms advocate shocked
by DSP lack of recordkeeping purge
By Lee Williams, lwilliams@delawareo nline.com
DOVER -- Delaware State Police stopped Alvina Vansickle from
purchasing a .22-caliber pistol for self-defense because she was too old and
a woman, said Superintendent Col. Thomas MacLeish.
The outrage that followed led to the revelation that Delaware State
Police had been keeping lists of gun buyers for years; state law requires
them to destroy these records after 60 days.
Without so much as a traffic ticket, the 81-year-old Lewes resident
should have sailed through the mandatory state police background check when
she tried to buy a Taurus revolver from Charlie Steele's Lewes gun shop last
Problems started after Steele made the required phone call to state
police for approval of the firearms transaction.
An employee in the state police Firearms Transaction Approval Program
noticed Vansickle's age and gender, and brought the sale to an immediate
Vansickle's application was then routed to Sgt. Benjamin Nefosky, who
heads the firearms approval unit.
According to MacLeish, the transaction was halted over concerns "based
upon age and gender."
"To be very honest with you, we have a legal obligation under the law
to do approvals," MacLeish said. "We also have an obligation to make sure
we're safe, and paying due diligence."
MacLeish said the initial call taker "was concerned this individual
never purchased a weapon before. Age and gender caused her to take caution."
As to whether age and gender are included in the state statute as
legitimate reasons to reject a firearms purchase, MacLeish stated, "No, they
"I believe there was caution taken on behalf of the call taker," he
said. "It was done without malice."
Vansickle's purchase was eventually approved -- 10 days after the
initial application -- after she and the dealer were interviewed by police
about the purchase. A normal delay is three days.
The sale eventually went through.
Word of the delay rebounded around Delaware's small-firearms
community, eventually making its way to Dave Lawson, a retired state police
lieutenant and firearms instructor. Lawson spoke to his former colleague
Nefosky about Vansickle's dilemma, Lawson said.
Lawson said what Nefosky told him revealed there was a much larger
problem in the firearms approval unit than keeping a small-caliber revolver
out of the hands of an 81-year-old woman.
Lawson said Nefosky told him he searched seven years of firearms
transaction records to see if Vansickle had ever bought a gun before.
"I was totally drop-jawed," Lawson said. "I asked him how far back the
records went. He didn't know. He didn't care. He felt she was possibly a
threat because of her age, a threat to herself or her family. That's what
the implication was. He was concerned that never having bought a gun before,
why would she want one now, at 81?"
Lawson served in the State Bureau of Identification as a lieutenant,
which includes the firearms approval section and other specialty units. He
knew the law. Nefosky's concern about Vansickle's age and sex, he said,
should never have come into play.
Lawson also knew the gun records should have been destroyed.
In an interview with The News Journal, MacLeish claimed all paper
firearms records are destroyed every 60 days.
The electronic records, however, are another story.
"Our review of our electronic records indicated we had a glitch in the
system, back to August 2005," he said. "They have since been purged."
John Thompson is president of the Delaware State Sportsmen's
Association, the local affiliate of the NRA.
Several people told him of Nefosky's delay, and expressed their
outrage about the list of gun owners maintained by the Delaware State
Legally, he said, Vansickle's reasons for wanting a firearm are moot,
and he knew the lists were a problem.
"This suggests two violations: one is denial without cause, and the
other is keeping records of gun purchases," Thompson said. "Under statute,
the Delaware State Police are required to destroy any purchase records that
involve approvals. Now they're maintaining lists of gun owners, which we
think is inappropriate. We did not create this system to allow this to
Vansickle's civil rights were violated, he said.
Retired Dover police captain John Sigler is president of the National
Rifle Association, a position once held by legendary actor Charlton Heston.
"I was literally shocked that such an event would occur in the state
of Delaware," he said.
Both Sigler and Thompson pointed to the recent Supreme Court decision
District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court found that the Second
Amendment protects an individual's right to possess firearms for personal
use, such as self-defense.
Sigler brought the goings-on in his home state to the attention of Bob
Dowlut, NRA general counsel.
In a letter to MacLeish sent Aug. 28, Dowlut and the NRA requested two
separate investigations: one to focus on Nefosky's denial, "and all other
transactions of similar scope and nature." According to the letter, the
second investigation should focus on who's responsible for keeping lists of
gun owners in the state.
MacLeish said two internal investigations "have been initiated by
myself, by the division."
Dowlut copied his letter to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who declined to
comment for this story.
Vansickle's husband, who has legally purchased several weapons over
the past several years, spoke on her behalf about the delay.
"Apparently, they thought she might shoot herself with it," said J.R.
Vansickle, 83. "She has a clean record. There was no reason to turn her
down. I lost both legs through diabetes. I'm in a wheelchair. We're an
elderly couple. She wanted the gun for self-defense in our home."
The state police firearms unit was established as a result of the
Brady Law, which took effect in 1994. According to state police, during 2006
and 2007, the unit processed 21,304 transactions, which have resulted in 711