Meddlesome Democrats Want Federal Action On “Stand Your Ground” Laws

In theory, the police powers have traditionally been reserved for the states in our federal system of government. Police powers are those concerned with the health, safety, and welfare of the people. Intrusion by the Federal government into these areas which have been traditionally reserved to the states has grown over the last century. And now, a group of meddlesome Democrats want to intrude even more.

Yesterday, a letter was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for the Justice Department to gather more data on justifiable homicides where the Stand Your Ground defense was invoked. This effort is led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the House. Other signatories include Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).

From TheHill:

The group is also seeking data on other variables of such killings, including their location, information about who in the altercation was armed, the kind of weapons used and reasons they were justified.

“We believe this information would prove extremely useful in helping to evaluate the laws that govern the use of lethal force and in quantifying the impact of such laws on public safety and civil rights,” the lawmakers wrote to Holder…

The lawmakers are also asking the Justice Department to sponsor research through the National Institute of Justice related to trends in justifiable homicides and state-by-state analyses of the impacts of different variations of “stand your ground” laws.

Durbin, citing existing research, said the laws have led to increased violence.

The letter includes a request to order research by the National Institute of Justice into instances of “lethal force by individuals have been issued a concealed carry permit” and whether such use of lethal force resulted in any prosecutions. They also are demanding research into whether variations in concealed carry laws have a “statistically significant impact on the incidence and outcome of uses of lethal force.”

In my opinion, this letter should be seen as not only an attack on self-defense laws but also on our Second Amendment rights. Given who is spearheading this attack, Dick Durbin and Elijah Cummings, you have to wonder if it is really about public safety and civil rights and not about midterm elections and energizing black voters. That, and protecting gangs such as the Black Guerrilla Family in Baltimore and the Latin Kings, Conservative Vice Lords, and Gangsters in Chicago.

Cummings Issues Mealy-Mouthed Statement On Lawsuit Against Holder

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has stayed true to form and issued a statement accusing Republicans of playing politics.

Cummings Issues Statement on Issa Suit Against Attorney General Eric Holder

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 13, 2012) – Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement after Chairman Darrell Issa announced plans to file a federal lawsuit today against Attorney General Eric Holder for documents related to the subpoena on Operation Fast & Furious.

“It seems clear that House Republican leaders do not want to resolve the contempt issue and prefer to generate unnecessary conflict with the Administration as the election nears,” said Cummings. “Unfortunately, the American public suffers as House Republicans disregard the real work that needs to be done.”

I guess the best thing that you can say about Rep. Cummings is that he is consistent in his defense of Eric Holder and the Obama Administration. Cummings give truth to the Emerson quote that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds; adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines”.

The Stooge Also Rises*

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) plays the stooge in Project Gunwalker well. Situated as he is as the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (and former Chairman), he has used his position to deflect criticism of Eric Holder, to impede the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, and to seek to undercut the authority of Chairman Darrell Issa at every step. His own recommendations based upon the scandal are nothing but bald-faced attempts to impose more gun control on the American people.

By contrast, when you look at the history of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate, both Sen. Sam J. Ervin (D-NC) and Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN) worked together to find the truth of the matter. Some of the most damaging testimony against the Nixon Administration came out of questions from Sen. Baker. The point has been made many times that no one died in Watergate as opposed to the two federal LEOs and an estimated 300 Mexican nations who have been killed with weapons from Operation Fast and Furious. You would think that many deaths, Ranking Member Cummings might actually want to know the truth.

Mr. Cummings’ latest foray is to attempt to minimize the damage to Eric Holder and his politicized Justice Department from the leaked wiretap authorizations which show that senior DOJ knew and approved of Project Gunwalker. Cummings attacks Chairman Issa for asking for the wiretap authorizations, for leaking information that shows the complicity of senior DOJ officials, to question a possible contempt citation, and to generally undercut Issa.

His statement released yesterday:

Washington DC (June 7, 2012)—In light of public statements today by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa that he never issued a subpoena to the Justice Department demanding copies of wiretap applications relating to Operation Fast and Furious, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings issued the following statement:

“The Chairman has been demanding these wiretap applications for months and even threatened to hold the Attorney General in contempt for not providing them, yet today he claimed he never wanted them in the first place. It makes no sense to hold the Attorney General in contempt for withholding documents that Chairman Issa claims he never requested. These changing demands raise fundamental questions about the investigation and suggest that it is designed to promote an election-year political agenda rather than obtain needed information.

During a hearing today with Attorney General Eric Holder, Chairman Issa tried to backtrack from his previous demands for wiretap applications relating to Operation Fast and Furious by stating: “We did not request any wiretaps under seal.” Explaining the basis for his claim, he argued: “I’m the person who signed the subpoenas.”

In contrast, on May 3, 2012, Chairman Issa publicly released a draft Contempt Citation, arguing that the Attorney General should be held in contempt of Congress because he “refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas related to Operation Fast and Furious.” The Contempt Citation explicitly cites the Attorney General’s failure to turn over the wiretap applications that Chairman Issa subpoenaed:

“The wiretap applications document the extensive involvement of the Criminal division in Fast and Furious, yet the Department of Justice failed to produce them in response to the Committee’s subpoena.”

Moreover, the Chairman and his staff have been demanding copies of the wiretap applications for more than a year in correspondence with the Department, and the Department has made clear repeatedly, including in letters on June 14, 2011, February 1, 2012, and May 15, 2012, that federal law prohibits it from doing so and that such disclosures could compromise ongoing investigations and prosecutions like that of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murderers.

For example, in his letter to Chairman Issa on May 15, 2012, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote:

“As the Committee knows well, the sealing and disclosure of materials relating to electronic intercepts authorized under federal law are governed by a federal statute and a court sealing order, both of which prohibit the Department from disclosing the materials that the Committee seeks. Indeed, disclosure of these materials in violation of these provisions, including by Department personnel to the Committee, is punishable as a criminal offense.”
The federal wiretapping statute, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 19, 1968, provides for up to five years in prison for the unauthorized disclosure of wiretap communications. The statute also prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of wiretap applications made by law enforcement officials to federal judges, who must seal them to protect against their disclosure. The statute states:

“Each application for an order authorizing or approving the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication under this chapter shall be made in writing upon oath or affirmation to a judge of competent jurisdiction. … Applications made and orders granted under this chapter shall be sealed by the judge.”

It remains unclear whether Chairman Issa will withdraw the Contempt Citation based on his statements today.

 Cummings is nothing but a stooge for Eric Holder and Barack Obama. Unfortunately, he plays his role well.

* The title is a play on the title of Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises. Sean Sorrentino’s travelogue of his trip to Slovenia and his mention of Hemingway stirred the association.

Grassley Dismisses Cummings’ Attempt At A Whitewash

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today dismissed out of hand the attempt by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the other Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to exonerate senior Department of Justice officials involved in Operation Fast and Furious.

“The idea that senior political appointees have clean hands in these gunwalking scandals doesn’t pass the laugh test, especially considering we’ve seen less than 10 percent of the pages that the Justice Department has provided the Inspector General. They ignored the warning signs and failed to put a stop to it or hold anyone accountable. Lanny Breuer is a senior political appointee, and he admits to knowing about gunwalking as early as April 2010. Documents turned over late Friday night indicate he was still discussing plans to let guns cross the border with Mexican officials on the same day the Department denied to me in writing that ATF would ever let guns walk. He stood mute as this administration fought tooth and nail to keep any of this information from coming out for a year. It will take a lot more than a knee-jerk defense from their political allies in Congress to restore public trust in the leadership of the Justice Department. The American people want to see those who failed to act be held accountable.”

 In his release he pointed to documents which show senior officials not only knew about it but were involved. They can be seen here and here.

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from’s Katie Pavlich who calls them as she sees then with regard to the behavior of the Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Although Cummings claims he wants to bring justice to the Terry family for his murder, which was a direct result of this recklass (sic) program, he has done the opposite by using the scandal to promote new gun control measures, implying ATF should be given more power and as a chance to blame President Bush for using the “same tactics” that were used during Fast and Furious for other programs during his time in the White House. During Bush-era “gunwalking” programs, the Mexican government was informed and cooperating with ATF to interdict and follow guns into Mexico. During Fast and Furious under President Obama, Mexican officials were left in the dark as 2500 guns were delivered to the hands of ruthless cartel members thanks to DOJ and ATF officials.

Note to Cummings: Your cover-up is showing.

The Minority Report Released By Cummings

Here is the full Minority Report released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.

You will note that significant effort is put into “Bush did it” claims and that the personnel recommendations note that those involved on the ground have either resigned or be reassigned.

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Preemptive Strike By Cummings And Democrats On Oversight Committee

In what can only be considered a preemptive strike in advance of Attorney General Eric Holder’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has released a report from the committee minority staff that blames Project Gunwalker entirely on the ATF Phoenix Field Division. It explicitly exonerates senior DOJ officials including Holder and Lanny Breuer.

From Cummings’ press release:

Cummings Issues Report Detailing Five Years of Gunwalking Operations in Arizona

Comprehensive Report Finds No Evidence that Senior Officials Approved Controversial Tactic

Washington, DC (Jan. 31, 2012)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a 95-page minority staff report entitled “Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona.” The report describes the results of the Committee’s year-long investigation into the actions and circumstances that led to multiple gunwalking operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2010.

According to a letter Cummings sent to Committee Members accompanying the report, “this report tells the story of how misguided gunwalking operations originated in 2006 as ATF’s Phoenix Field Division devised a strategy to forgo prosecutions against low-level straw purchasers while they attempted to build bigger charges.”

The report finds that this strategy failed to include sufficient operational controls to stop these dangerous weapons from getting into the hands of violent criminals, creating a danger to public safety on both sides of the border. Rather than halting operations after flaws became evident, ATF’s Phoenix Field Division launched several similarly reckless operations over the course of several years, according to the report, also with tragic results.

Cummings’ letter noted that he instructed his staff “to focus on the facts we have discovered rather than the heated and sometimes inaccurate rhetoric that has characterized much of this investigation.”

“Contrary to repeated claims by some, the Committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically-motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama Administration political appointees at the Department of Justice,” Cummings wrote in his letter. “The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee indicate that it was the latest in a series of reckless and fatally flawed operations run by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division during both the previous and current administrations.”

The report sets forth ten constructive recommendations intended to address specific problems identified during the course of this investigation.

As might be expected from the rabid anti-gunners composing the Democrat side of the committee, many of their “constructive recommendations” are calls for more gun control. They include continuing and expanding the multiple semi-automatic rifle reporting requirement, repealing the Tiahrt Amendment, enactment of a “dedicated firearms trafficking law”,  and more money for ATF.

The New York Times’ Charlie Savage has a long story on this effort by the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee to shield Holder and other DOJ officials. After three paragraphs trumpeting the Democrats’ conclusions and so-called exoneration of Holder, even the Times has to admit the timing is suspect.

Still, because the report was written by Democrats, the political impact of its conclusion exonerating high-level officials of wrongdoing may be limited. Its publication comes two days before Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is to testify before the committee.

In the Times article, there is significant discussion of the letter sent by DOJ to Sen. Chuck Grassley on February 4, 2011 which falsely denied any gun-walking took place. It seems to cast the blame for the false claims on Patrick Cunningham, the former head of the U.S. Attorney for Arizona’s criminal section. Cunningham, you may recall, has elected not to answer questions from Committee investigators and has pled the Fifth.

Cummings Keeps Pushing It Was All A Local Problem Meme

Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee keeps trying to push the meme that Operation Fast and Furious was a local operation out of the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division that went horribly wrong. In a letter today to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), he pushed to have former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson appear at the same hearing as Attorney General Eric Holder.

Our staffs have already conducted transcribed interviews with Mr. Melson and the former Deputy Director of ATF, William Hoover. During those interviews, these officials expressed serious concerns about the controversial tactics employed by the Phoenix Field Division of ATF as part of this operation. They also raised concerns about the manner in which the Department of Justice responded to congressional inquiries. Both officials also stated that they had not been aware of the controversial tactics being used in Operation Fast and Furious, had not authorized those tactics, and had not informed anyone at the Department of Justice headquarters about them. They stated that Operation Fast and Furious originated within the Phoenix Field Division, and that ATF headquarters failed to properly supervise it.

Mr. Cummings certainly has his job cut out for him if he intends to be the Obama Administration’s designated obstructionist into finding the facts of Operation Fast and Furious. As for Melson, he seems to have been bought off rather cheaply with the transfer to DOJ which allows him to keep his full pension. Of course, it is you and I as taxpayers who are footing the bill for that payoff.

Deliberately Obtuse

Ranking Minority Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is being deliberately obtuse in his criticism of the Committee’s subpoena of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 12, 2011)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a statement in response to a subpoena issued by Chairman Darrell E. Issa to the Department of Justice for tens of thousands of pages of documents.

“As I have said all along, Fast and Furious was a terrible mistake with tragic consequences,” said Cummings. “The Committee is right to investigate what went wrong and why, but we must do so in a fair and responsible manner.”

“This subpoena is a deep-sea fishing expedition and a gross abuse of the Committee’s authority. It demands tens of thousands of pages of highly sensitive law enforcement and national security materials that have never been requested before and are completely unrelated to Operation Fast and Furious,” said Cummings. “Rather than legitimate fact-gathering, this looks more like a political stunt.”

The 22 categories of subpoenaed documents include:

•weekly reports to the Attorney General that are completely unrelated to Operation Fast and Furious and contain some of the nation’s most sensitive law enforcement and national security information;
•communications between the Department of Justice and the White House press office about White House press events; and
•documents related to confidential informants who provided information about the operations of a leading Mexican drug cartel, the production of which could put the lives of those informants and their families in grave jeopardy, according to the FBI.

The Department of Justice has produced thousands of pages of documents to the Committee and continues to produce documents on a regular basis. Ranking Member Cummings has asked the Department to cooperate fully with the Committee’s investigation.

Would those be the same documents delivered to the committee that have been so utterly redacted that they look like a black inkspot?

Mr. Cummings obviously believes his job is not to serve the American people in the search for the truth but rather to protect the Obama Administration in this investigation. As Dave Hardy noted regarding the subpoena, it is “specific enough to show the committee knows details about who wrote to whom.” I think Mr. Cummings does understand just how bad those details are and is doing his damnedest to prevent their exposure.


Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Carolyn McCarthy say they want to give ATF more tools to stop smuggling and straw purchases. More tools? Reading their release you can’t help coming to the conclusion that the only tools in question are the aforementioned representatives.

Straw purchases are already illegal. Smuggling of arms is illegal under the Arms Export Control Act as Dave Hardy makes clear. Possession of a firearm (or ammunition) by a felon is a felony in and of itself. If a drug cartel or other organization is conspiring to buy guns by using straw purchasers, you have RICO as a tool to combat it. This bill is nothing but a means to get some airtime and glowing accolades in the New York Times and Washington Post.

The other thing of note in this release is where it says that they have released the testimony of Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson given on July 4th. You have to ask yourself if this was to build support for their bill or to alert Eric Holder and his minions in the DOJ just what Melson had to say. My guess it is the latter as Rep. Cummings has been a synchophant of the Justice Department throughout the whole investigation.

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced the “Stop Gun Trafficking and Strengthen Law Enforcement Act.” The legislation establishes a dedicated firearms trafficking statute to empower law enforcement to keep high-powered firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals, including Mexican drug cartels.

“This legislation gives law enforcement the tools they need to do their job,” Rep. Maloney said. “It prohibits the transfer of a gun when an individual knows the gun will be transferred to a person who is prohibited by law from carrying a gun or to a person who intends to use the gun illegally. This is a sensible solution to a severe problem and will ensure that weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals– and drug cartels– by specifically prohibiting firearms trafficking in the criminal code.”

“We have to move beyond the all-or-nothing rhetoric of the current gun debate and work toward common-sense measures to help our law enforcement authorities combat the Mexican drug cartels without infringing on anyone’s right to own a firearm,” Cummings said. That’s exactly what this bill does.”

“Straw purchasers represent a significant problem in the United States. It is long past time that we take concrete steps to fight back against these individuals who funnel weapons into the hands of criminal and terrorist organizations. I’m proud to join Representative Maloney in taking this step to make our country safer,” Rep. McCarthy said.

“This legislation will provide Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms with the tools to keep illegal firearms from making their way into the hands of convicted felons who move guns across the southern border, utilizing a network of straw purchasers in the United States. These straw purchases act as an intermediary party for organized crime networks and the cartels by purchasing guns on their behalf”, according to Chris Schoppmeyer, FLEOA’s Vice President for Agency Affairs. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) is the largest professional police organization that represents over 26,000 federal agents and officers from 65 agencies in the United States Government, including the ATF.

“This legislation would give law enforcement a strong, new tool to fight the gun trafficking that feeds lethal violence in Mexico, and American communities as well. There is no Second Amendment right to supply drug gangs with the firepower of an army,” said Dennis Henigan, Acting President of the Brady Campaign. “Mexican families, and American families, have the right to live in peace. That’s what this valuable legislation is all about.”

“The U.S. civilian gun market is stocked with military-grade weapons—both domestically manufactured and imported—and has extraordinarily weak controls on their sale. This has transformed the United States into a virtually unregulated bazaar of military-style firearms. Traffickers can stock up on their weapons of choice: AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles and pistols, 50 caliber sniper rifles, and high-capacity armor-piercing pistols. The ‘Stop Gun Trafficking and Strengthen Law Enforcement Act of 2011’ is a crucial step in meeting the United States’ responsibility to address cross-border gun trafficking,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a national non-profit gun violence prevention organization.

The Members released testimony by Acting Director of ATF, Ken Melson, which was obtained as part of the Oversight Committee’s investigation of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, stating that law enforcement officials “absolutely” need a firearms trafficking statute to effectively attack these criminal trafficking rings. Additionally, the Members released a letter from the Mexican Ambassador to the United States that stated his support for firearms trafficking legislation.
As a part of the Oversight Committee’s investigation of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, law enforcement agents on the ground have warned Congress that the lack of a dedicated firearms trafficking statute means that criminals who supply Mexican drug cartels with weapons of war are typically charged with mere paperwork violations – dealing in firearms without a license – and often only receive a sentence of probation.

This legislation is narrowly tailored to fill that void and help law enforcement stop illegal firearms trafficking.