Sophisticated drug tunnels found in desert

Drug Tunnel found in 2012Reuters is reporting that the San Diego Tunnel Task Force has found two different sophisticated drug smuggling tunnels in the desert between Mexico and a warehouse facility in San Diego, complete with ventilation systems and railways.

Enabled by our War on Drugs, well-designed tunnel systems that travel underneath the U.S./Mexican border enable the transport of large quantities of drugs between countries.  Tunnels usually connect with innocuous-looking buildings to avoid unwanted suspicion.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said of the incident that “going underground is not a good business plan”.  In actuality, going underground is the only business plan to avoid the expensive and ineffective drug enforcement laws instituted within the United States.

The report said that in the past eight years, the feds have uncovered at least 80 different cross-border smuggling tunnels – California and Arizona serving as the more popular entrance points into the country.  This, of course, only scratches the surface of the true physical network of drug-enabling systems into the U.S.

For every tunnel found, dozens more exist.  How much money does it cost to plan and execute surveillance programs that seek to uncover drug tunnels?  When virtually any middle-school aged student can get their hands on drugs, we must ask ourselves: is it worth it?

Is it worth it?

AZ bill did not give businesses a license to discriminate

Arizona Gay RightsAlthough Arizona Governor Jan Brewer eventually vetoed the hotly-contested bill that would have given businesses the right to use “religious freedom” in a court of law, the bill was completely misrepresented as legislation that would legalize discrimination.

The media’s attempt at improving their ratings by stirring up maximum controversy worked, and worked well.  The legislation was widely referred to as the “anti-gay” bill, described as a piece of legislation that would essentially give businesses a license to discriminate against homosexuals.

Naturally, instead of reading the actual text of the bill, emotionally-charged people jumped on-board the media bandwagon and began fighting against a bill that was entirely misunderstood – at best, and intentionally misrepresented – at worst.

This bill did not legalize discrimination.  In truth, the bill was much more simple and instituted very little actual change to discrimination lawsuits in the state.

Arizona law allows certain religious institutions to claim “religious freedom” as a legal defense in a court of law.   AZ 1062 would have expanded the use of “religious freedom” to include individuals and businesses – or any legal entity recognized by the state of Arizona.  This bill would have equalized legal religious protections.

Removing the emotional element from the debate, this bill was in no way “anti-gay”.  If Governor Brewer signed the bill into law, businesses could still get sued.  The new law would allow them to legally use the  “religious freedom” defense, but the decision remains in the hands of the jury.  Guilty verdicts remain very possible.

Like our tax system, loopholes exist today in current discrimination law that already allow any business to discriminate against any person, for any reason.  However, regardless of established law, discrimination lawsuits are expensive and rare.  No business wants to spend months fighting off discrimination lawsuits with high-priced attorneys and negative publicity.

Discrimination is bad for business.

This was a hotly-contested, politically-polarizing, completely and utterly meaningless piece of legislation that successfully got people’s attention for, honestly, no good reason.

The law did not give businesses a license to discriminate. Businesses could still get sued. Businesses would still need to spend resources for defense attorneys in court. This law MAY have given the business a slightly better shot at winning, but the money it takes for a business to fight off discrimination lawsuits remains steep.  AZ 1062 would have removed none of that, and regardless of the legal outcome, businesses never truly “win” a discrimination lawsuit.  The free market ultimately wins that decision.

Law or no law, no business wants to get sued, period.

Arizona ranked best concealed carry state

download (1)Guns and Ammo magazine ranked Arizona the best state to carry a concealed weapon based on several factors, such as legal requirements to carry, application fees, and license reciprocity with other states.

Utah came in 9-points behind Arizona in second, followed by Wyoming, New Hampshire and Vermont rounding out the top 5.  Washington D.C., one of the nation’s worst areas for gun crime, came in dead last.

Arizona does not require a concealed carry license for state residents to own or carry a firearm – open or concealed.  The state’s licensing fees are among the lowest, as are the state’s training requirements before residents can obtain an optional handgun license.

Although well-publicized gun crimes have heightened the political atmosphere in favor of tightening gun laws, states have generally loosened restrictions on gun ownership over the past decade.

Earlier in the year, Guns and Ammo ranked Arizona as the best state for gun owners, citing the border state’s relaxed laws on ownership and the absence of any licensing requirements.  Once again, Washington D.C. brings up the rear with the most restrictive gun laws in the nation.

Arizona fights federal gun control with new Senate bill

Gun1As the federal government continues to use high-publicity tragedies to burden Americans with increasing gun control, the State of Arizona has approved a new measure that would make it a crime in the state for gun dealers to enforce any government law, act or regulation.

The new law’s Purpose statement reads, “Prohibits public servants and federally licensed firearms dealers from enforcing any U.S. government act, law, statute, rule or regulation. Establishes an offense for U.S. government officials, agents or employees to enforce firearm-related acts, orders, laws, statutes, rules or regulations. Allows the Attorney General (AG) to defend Arizona citizens prosecuted by the federal government for a firearm-related violation, and declares certain firearm-related laws and regulations unenforceable in Arizona.”

A similar law was passed last month in the Arizona State House, and such measures puts Arizona along side 15 other states that are considering the same types of measures to prevent increasing federal government regulations from effecting state citizens.

Both the Senate and House bills passed along party lines in the state.

 

Arizona voters reject bill that would solidify two-party system

landscapeArizona residents gave third parties some good news last November as state residents rejected Proposition 121 that would have excluded any third party from the general election in the state of Arizona, a result that the Libertarian party says is proof that informed voters are generally supportive of challengers to the status quo.

From the Chairman of the Arizona Libertarian party, Warren Severin:

“It started as an uphill fight and it stayed that way, all the way. And, we won!” Severin said.

“Mid-summer of 2011, an ex-mayor of Phoenix decided that what was good for California surely must be good for Arizona. So, he began a ballot initiative to amend the Arizona Constitution to replace much of Arizona’s election code (‘Title 16’) with a top-two system. Unlike a legislative change, a constitutional amendment is the way to get something implemented so that it isn’t easily reversed a few years down the road, when folks figure out it was a bad idea. And, a ballot initiative is a sneaky way to implement a Constitutional amendment. Instead of requiring a two-thirds majority to pass in the legislature, it takes a mere 50 percent of voters at the polls.

“There was serious money, by Arizona standards, behind the duplicitously named ‘Open Government Committee’ and their Proposition 121. Overall the committee spent over $1.3 million to get the measure on the ballot and publicize it.

“Arizona’s major media outlets, including the Arizona Republic, lined up behind Prop 121, running favorable editorials and letters to the editor throughout the campaign.

“The pro publicity was extremely effective. In November 2011, one year before the election, Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy conducted a poll to gauge the support for such an initiative. The poll showed that voters who had an opinion were 2:1 in favor of the initiative.

“Opposition to Prop 121 started with a heads-up email from then-LNC chair Mark Hinkle to me, the Arizona state chair, noting that a top-two ballot proposition had been filed with the Arizona secretary of state the day before. Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, quickly made contact with the Arizona LP (AZLP) to offer his help. A joint meeting of the AZLP and Arizona Green Party (AZGP) boards was quickly convened in my living room. Richard Winger flew in for the meeting. At that meeting, it was agreed that AZLP and AZGP would join forces in opposition to the proposition. While we would not speak for each other, we would at every opportunity reinforce our joint opposition, and we would collaborate on opportunities to do so. We very quickly found another ally, the League of Women Voters of Arizona.

“There was tight communication between these groups for the duration of the fight. All opportunities for speaking and written opposition were quickly communicated among us. We all took every opportunity, whether online or in the printed press or public speaking. Winger provided documentation and historical context. Before long, the press took note that there was tightly knit opposition. In Arizona, the secretary of state publishes a booklet of pro and con statements about the various resolutions, mailed to every voter. The AZLP alone was responsible for three separate statements in that booklet.

“Reinforcements began to arrive. Meetings with local Tea Parties were fruitful. Mark Rogalski, a local activist lawyer, joined the team. Mark successfully petitioned the secretary of state to have the wording of Prop 121 on the ballot and in the voter guide changed to something fair to both the proponents and opponents.

“This was critical to informing voters of what they were voting for. Wording that favored proponents in the California and Washington ballot initiatives may be the biggest reason they passed in those states.

“Americans for Responsible Leadership, a group of conservative Arizona business leaders, formed a group called Save Our Vote Arizona. This group and Michael Liburdi provided legal counsel during the summer. Court challenges were launched on two fronts — the constitutionality of the proposition in regard to Arizona’s ‘single subject’ rule for ballot propositions as well as the legitimacy of the signatures on the petitions. Although both actions failed, they raised public awareness.

“Local Ron Paul supporters began to see the detrimental effects that Prop 121 would have on the broader Freedom Movement and took up the fight against top-two.

“Christina Tobin and her Free and Equal Elections Foundation were valuable. Christina herself made a tour through Arizona in opposition to Prop 121, speaking at the Goldwater Institute and a host of other venues all across the state.

“By late summer unofficial polls rumored that Prop 121 might be in trouble. Then, the icing on the cake — in October, Save Our Vote Arizona put $400,000 into a final anti–Prop 121 mail advertising campaign.

“On election day, the results were profound. The proposition that had started a year earlier with 2:1 voter approval lost by a 2:1 margin, despite the fact that the proponents outspent the opposition by 3:1. We all pulled together with good communication and cooperation, and the electoral process performed as it should. Sometimes I think the system might just work.”