Personal Sovereignty and the Guns of New York

Scott Greenfield emailed me to ask if I enjoyed the exchange with personal-sovereignty proponent Bernard Weckmann (EDITH’s husbandhere. In fact I do. Weckmann is monomaniacal and essentially delusional—he thinks that the Australian Government formed a corporation called BERNARD WECKMANN when he was born, and that any document referring to him in uppercase letters refers to this corporation, so that if the government files papers with his name in uppercase letter he can ignore them and deprive the government of jurisdiction. (Woe betide Weckmann and the other “personal sovereignty” hobbyists and hucksters when the government discovers 21st-century typography.)

Engaging with Weckmann (or WECKMANN) is probably a violation of Rule One. But there is always a grain of truth in delusion, and Weckmann’s delusion is no exception. It is born of practical experience: he stopped registering his car; a magistrate wanted to impound his car for three months; he denied the magistrate jurisdiction; two years later the car is still impounded. Along the way Edith got arrested. Weckmann still doesn’t have his car, he and Edith haven’t been compensated for their lost time and property, and nobody has been punished for all the wrongs done to them. But she’s not in jail, he’s not in prison, and he has ginned up liens against the cops (not publicly filed, so without effect) so to Weckmann personal sovereignty works.

It is true that “the government has pledged its citizenry as collateral, by selling their future earning capabilities to foreign investors, effectively enslaving all Americans”—that’s an accurate description of the government borrowing money from overseas to be paid back by future tax revenues—but that borrowing did not require the formation of 300 million uppercase-named corporations or “strawmen,” and the citizen, his future earnings pledged, cannot simply opt out. There is no government-formed BERNARD WECKMANN corporation (Weckmann offers no proof that there is), and the courts will exercise jurisdiction over whom they want regardless of acquiescence. Weckmann extrapolates from his own picayune experience to the entire legal system, but the inalterable truth is that there are are many people who have diligently made all of the personal-sovereignty arguments (UCC, admiralty, fringed flags) and wound up incarcerated or dead.

Ethically, the decision to enforce a law should be based on whether the enforcer is willing personally to use violence against the violator. Arrest and prosecution are the use of violence—if there is not violence backing the decision to arrest and prosecute, the accused can just walk away. If a police officer (or a prosecutor) doesn’t think that violence would be an appropriate response to the violation, she shouldn’t be supporting the use of violence by prosecuting.

The lesson of Edith’s non-incarceration, for those who still cling stubbornly to the truth of the matter (which is that the law is what armed men enforce, through violence, with impunity) is this: that the armed men are not always willing to use violence to enforce every law.

What government officers are not willing to enforce is not the law, so if Edith violates a statute and law-enforcement officers decline to prosecute her, that statute is not the law, at least at that time and place. If Edith’s behavior (whether “sovereign” or simply “crazy”) made it less likely that the police would bother with her, then it worked: she effectively nullified the law (as applied to her then—there’s no guarantee that someone else would get the same result elsewhere, or even that Edith would get the same result twice). 

Which brings us to this. In New York:

Assault-rifle owners statewide are organizing a mass boycott of Gov. Cuomo’s new law mandating they register their weapons, daring officials to “come and take it away.”

New York officials estimate that there are a million EBRs (“evil black rifles”—a more-accurate description than “assault rifles”) in the state; the new law there requires them to be registered by April 2014. 

I asked the question here if those who support outlawing EBRs would be willing to point the gun themselves at a peaceable EBR owner to deprive him of his property. The one guy willing to is (ironically) so frightened of guns that he’s willing to use one to get rid of them. 

To force New York’s EBR owners to register their guns, it’s going to take cops and prosecutors willing to apply violence to them—in other words, hoplophobic cops and prosecutors unsympathetic with the EBR owners. There may be a few such prosecutors, but I doubt that there are enough such cops or prosecutors to make much of an impression on New York’s EBR owners.

If the gun owners decline to participate, this law is DOA.

The Gonzalez Flag

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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11 Responses to Personal Sovereignty and the Guns of New York

  1. Joe Pullen says:

    Question 1 – how do they know for sure you still have the gun if it was never registered and you don’t disclose you have one?

    Question 2 – pending answer to Q1 how exactly do they plan enforce the registration without violating the 4th?

    • Michael Stuart says:

      First, they know you have one–you effectively registered when you did your NICS background check.

      Second, the details of that transaction, including the weapon’s serial number, are recorded on the form 4473 you and the dealer filled out when you bought the weapon.

      Those forms are to stay with the dealer…unless he goes out of business, upon which they’re sent to the ATF.

      Or, they could just go to the dealers and round up the 4473’s.

      Without violating the 4th? When did they STOP violating the 4th?

  2. Franklin Bynum says:

    Aligning (at least your sympathies but probably more) with a right-wing extremist movement listed with the Southern Poverty Law Center is pretty far out there, Mark.

    • Mark Bennett says:

      That’s an unusually foolish reply, my friend.

      First, I’m not aligning my sympathies with any movement. The sovereigns are delusional, and I’ve angered them by saying so. Bernard Weckmann calls me an ignoramus and a thug; I’ve actually had sovereigns try to use lawfare on me (have you?). Still, I sympathize with Bernard and his ilk as human beings in error as, I know, do you.

      Second, SPLC doesn’t call the sovereigns “right-wing.” “The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs’ origins.”

      Third, “listed” with the SPLC doesn’t mean anything. The SPLC is not an arbiter of what is true and what is not, any more than you or I.

      The government has borrowed money profligately; the repayment will come out of our children’s incomes; our children will have to spend more than a third of their lives working to repay this debt; they did not consent to this deal; the only way they can escape this involuntary servitude is either to not work or to permanently expatriate. If you replaced “the government” with “the plantation owner” you would call our children “enslaved”; that the government is the plantation owner doesn’t make it less so.

      It may seem to you, a left-wing authoritarian, that everyone who disagrees with you is right-wing. In truth not everything antigovernment is right-wing. the political spectrum has more dimensions than that. There are, in addition to lunatics like the sovereigns, many egalitarians, minarchists, and anarchists on the right, on the left, and in the “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” center.

      We will not always have a President who talks a good leftist game. I suspect that your trust in government was less under GWB, and will diminish again when the right wing is back in power. When it does, I’ll still be here for you.

      • Mike Paar says:

        Our children won’t be held for the debt. I predict that sooner than later income tax on the rich will increase substantially. Remember, taxes were at more than 80% during the years 1945-1965. The poor can’t pay the debt and the middle-class will eventually vote their bank account.

      • Tam says:

        They could tax “the rich” (even assuming a fairly liberal definition of “rich”) at 100% and it wouldn’t run the government for a month.

      • Michael Stuart says:

        The debt is designed to be unpayable, ever, and lead to total bankruptcy.

        This is key to imposing “austerity”, and maintaining a financial forever-war in which our taxes go predominantly to banks, paying interest on money conjured out of thin (digital) air.

        It’s a con; a very obvious one when you understand the source of this “money”.

        And the debt cannot be paid–make no mistake. It is not the nominal $16 trillion; it’s closer to $200 trillion, when one considers all the unfunded liabilities.

        Already today we spend almost $500 billion/year on interest payments alone–and that is while interest rates are at historic lows.

        Bump them from 1 or 2 percent, to 5 percent–and the interest alone will consume almost all tax revenues.

        It is mathematically impossible to even begin repaying the principle.

        It WILL crash; they will default, either outright or more probably by printing the debt (and the dollar) out of existence.

  3. Love that you end with a pic of that ridiculous flag. I especially liked when I saw it hanging in JUVIE Court. It is a great message to preach to kids who are in trouble already.

  4. Mike Paar says:

    Are there any other laws that cops and prosecutors have refused to enforce? I can’t think of any. With raises and promotions riding on convictions I’m quite certain they’ll enforce any law that is created. I remember thinking the seat belt law wouldn’t be enforced. Then I watched as it was enforced rigorously with some badged clowns even arresting offenders. Hoplophobic? Damn, if nothing else you increase my vocabulary…

    • David Pemberton says:

      Well, British prosecutors won’t charge ‘mercy killers’ with murder.

    • Michael Stuart says:

      Ah, they’ll enforce petty laws on safe victims with gusto.

      This one’s different. The atmosphere is different; the heat’s been turned up much too quickly and the frogs have noticed they’re boiling–and they’re hopping mad.

      This law isn’t about seatbelts.

      Any cop with a healthy sense of self-preservation will realize the potent combination of righteous anger…and the tools to express it.

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