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TKO: Liberty Belles Trounce Million Moms

TKO: Liberty Belles Trounce "Million Moms"

by Marian Hollenbeck
Director of Media and Public Relations for Liberty Belles

March 26, 2002

Marian Hollenbeck

You would think that a forum being held at a college in Los Angeles (arguably, but hardly so, Gun Control Capitol of the West) with the topic "Gun Ownership vs. Gun Control - Which Is Safer?" would present a safe haven for the emotional rhetoric of gun-controllers like Charles Blek and impressionable youngsters like Jennifer Mendoza.

However, when a debate is sponsored by a Libertarian group such as Students For Individual Liberty, the emotionalism that works so well with the gun-control True Believers and collegiate skulls full of mush is just so much raw meat to be tossed before hungry tigers.

L.A. Harbor College in Wilmington, California was the setting for this debate this past Wednesday, and there was a "standing room only" crowd. When there is the promise of podium-chewing action between the biggest anti-gun female group in America and an up-and-coming activist group that focuses on women's support of the Second Amendment, it's not likely those on the stage will outnumber their audience.

Mr. Charles Blek of "Million Mom March".

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Taking the side of the Second Amendment were wife and mom Anna Zetchus Raetz, spokeswoman for Liberty Belles, and Randy Herrst of the Center For The Study Of Crime. Both came armed with confidence, statistics, and knowledge of the Constitution.

On the side of gun control were Charles Blek of the Orange County Citizens For Prevention Of Gun Violence (and husband to Million Mom March general Mary Leigh Blek) and Jennifer Mendoza, an L.A. Harbor College student in favor of gun control, armed only with emotion, sound bites, and in Miss Mendoza's case, unsourced statistics. Miss Mendoza is a very sweet, pretty young lady, but she smiled nervously throughout the proceedings and was unable to provide any backing for her claims. Mr. Blek seemed visibly apprehensive that the story of his son's murder by armed gang members, along with a few simplistic claims that more gun control is needed, would not be nearly enough to convince anyone that gun control would reduce violent crime.

Each of the speakers were permitted about ten minutes each for opening statements. Mr. Blek was on deck first, talking about his son's murder and a new two-prong approach to responsible gun ownership. The first prong: The acceptance of California State Police Chiefs Association's paper on gun ownership as "our Bible", and secondly, addressing gun violence with a "public health approach".

In addressing what he called the Five Most Common Stock Answers he received from pro-Second Amendment dissenters, his arguments against such answers were more personal opinion than anything substantive. When told to "lock up the criminals", Mr. Blek argues that it's an insult to him to suggest he does not wish criminals to be locked up, and argues the "disingenuousness" of NRA's non-support of California's 10-20-Life bill as evidence, somehow, that the NRA is the organization that does not wish criminals locked up. When confronted with the argument, "It's not the gun", Mr. Blek points out the dangers of "acting-out teenagers" possibly using the gun without addressing how *exactly* an "acting-out teenager" somehow makes an inanimate object like a gun culpable for what that teenaged individual chooses to do with it. His argument against those who hold to the notion of the Second Amendment is basically that it all depends on what the definition of "well-regulated" is. (I doubt the Founding Fathers were frantically looking for a loophole to include in the Bill of Rights to make it easier for those like Mr. Blek to encourage the government to create twenty-thousand or so laws to "regulate" gun ownership as Mr. Blek sees fit, as much as it may surprise him.) He sneers at the warnings of "slippery slope" as just so much table-pounding, and the argument about "convenience" he dismissed with: "May I suggest that's all a matter of context. The true inconvenience is having to bury your own dead child." (Perhaps Mr. Blek would like to discuss "context" with fine ladies such as Mary Carpenter and Carma Lewis, if he or his fellow organizations ever have the nerve.)

Anna Zetchus Raetz,
Liberty Belles Spokeswoman.

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Anna Zetchus Raetz was a most lively and invigorating follow-up to Charles Blek, eschewing emotionalism and Mr. Blek's dangerous misinterpretation of "common sense gun control" in favor of outright common sense. " Gun control, speaking of disingenuous, seems like a really odd term to me, because a gun, if you want to control it, it's really not such a difficult thing to do. If you put it into a drawer, it probably won't remove itself or go out on any mad rampages on its own. So it does require an individual to come and then take that gun and do something with it. So gun control ultimately is people control, because we're not talking about what we're going to do about an inanimate object."

She spoke of the crucial and unique role of the Second Amendment as a part of American culture. "All governments inherently are going to be in some way evil, but the government that has been designed where it is to be controlled by the people is an anomaly in the world. The government that bases and predicates the rights for its people from an ethereal, untouchable, unalienable, uninfringeable source is very unique in international and political history." The first *real* enactment of gun control came into our formed nation after the Civil War, where many of those who were not comfortable with the freeing of slaves hoped to restrict the Constitutional rights of the new citizens - ergo, the establishment of gun control in this country is racist in its conception.

Anna's statements as to the empowerment of criminals via gun control were most compelling. "A lot of people that are against guns are people who wouldn't trust themselves with guns. I hear that from a lot of people....And of course I'm not going to say to the person, 'Well, because you can't control yourself, I don't know if the person down the street can control himself, so because you might not be able to control yourself and the person down the street, I don't know if *he* can, I'm going to control both of you so that I can be safe.' But meanwhile, because I live in a neighborhood where no-one can control themselves, [the criminals are] going to take control, because we have now offered it up to he who wants it the most - he who wants the power the most, he who wants whatever it is. We have made ourselves willing subjects...Nothing makes me more nervous than a gun-free zone. Because if *I* know it's a gun-free zone, someone *else* knows it's a gun-free zone. Now I know *I'm* not going to do anything in a gun-free zone except stay away from it, because I don't want some lunatic coming in knowing it's a 'Fire-Back-Free Zone'. It's free of anyone who's going to stop he who is going to become the most powerful person."

Anna Zetchus Raetz at podium.
From left to right in rear: Jennifer Mendoza, Randy Herrst, moderator, Charles Blek.

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She finished sharing two anecdotes with the audience - one of an Israeli woman who drew a gun and shot dead a terrorist who was attempting to set off a bomb in a crowed supermarket, and a father who protected his son from two armed robbers in his son's place of employment. "*That's* gun control!" she quipped to the approving audience.

It was difficult to watch pro-gun control student Jennifer Mendoza following Anna's extemporaneous poise. Miss Mendoza prepared for a week on her position, yet it all sounded curiously like a Brady Campaign or Million-Billion-Actually-It's-A-Few-Ten-Thousand-Moms-And-Their-Henpecked-Partners Student Study Guide Of Sound Bites. No sources were listed for her statistics. No evidence suggested that those solutions she proposed would ever work. I wondered if those who indoctrinate on campuses for the anti-gun groups decided to abandon mention of the Kellermann study whenever possible, because this very nice young lady was left with nothing but a rather practiced call for background checks, age-limit raising, and gun education without suggesting how this can be successfully implemented to reduce crime or accidental shootings. The pro-gun control advocates must be feeling very comfortable in their positions still think that stuffing a young lady's head with emotionalism and non-substantiated rhetoric will hold up in a legitimate debate. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The final speaker was Randy Herrst of the Center For The Study Of Crime. Calm and matter-of-fact, he presented statistics as well as personal experiences of defending himself utilizing a firearm - without having to injure anyone. The tragic irony of Charles Blek's support of gun control was evident when Mr. Herrst started comparing the gun ownership freedom in Seattle, Washington with the gun control laws in New York City, where Matthew Blek was murdered. Mr. Herrst stated there would be a 75% chance that Mr. Blek's son would be alive today if he had been in Seattle, seeing as their laws permit the defense of oneself and fellow citizens with a firearm and New York City's laws empower the criminal over a law-abiding citizen like Mr. Blek's son. If I were in the situation where someone like Mr. Blek's son was being assaulted, and I had been carrying a gun legal or illegal, I could assure you that his son would be alive today."

Randy Herrst,
Center for the Study of Crime.

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Mr. Herrst then addressed the "gun control" and "safety law" issues by quoting John Gotti's infamous Mafia hit man, Sonny "da Bull" Gravano. "Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I'm a bad guy, I'm always going to have a gun...Safety locks? You pull the trigger with a lock on, and I'll pull the trigger. We'll see who wins."

The question and answer session following the presentation became an impassioned and heated battleground for arguments on both sides. Mr. Blek felt it necessary to take a question from the audience directed to Miss Mendoza, who gamely stated, when pressed, "Everything Mr. Blek just stated would be my response."

Anna answered a question from a "fence-sitter" in the audience who expressed her appreciation of responsible gun owners, but feared those who were not responsible: " If I already obey the law, what difference does it make if *I* jump through more hoops to obey the law? We can either maintain power with citizens, or we can give it up and let the criminals take over, like what is happening in England. We don't have to go back in time. We don't have to talk about Hitler disarming Jews. We don't have to talk about any of that stuff. We can talk about today, right now, because it's the same thing. 'Oh, we just want to get rid of the handguns. Well, first we just want to register. Well, now that just because we've registered, we can take all your guns away.' And that's what we've done. And in England, that's what they've done. Now 1 out of every 4 people is a victim of violent crime. 1 out of every 4. Twenty-six percent. And, oh, maybe they just beat you and knock you over the head and steal your stuff. They're still in control. They are the ones in control. And the unarmed bobbies are now a thing of the past. Now the police have to arm themselves, and they have race riots in England. Why? Because people can no longer protect themselves."

Mr. Blek decided to throw aside statistics and take personal issue with Mr. Herrst's statements of Mr. Blek being a paid spokesman: "I appreciate the fact that Randy thinks I'm paid by the responsible gun folks, but I'm not. I'm here as a volunteer. And I would like to be anywhere else but here. About my son, Randy doesn't have a single clue about the circumstances surrounding his death. And yet every time we end up being together somewhere, he feels compelled to talk about it, and the example he gave tonight is blaming the victim. We have a right to be where we are, we have a right to be safe where we are, whether in Seattle instead of New York he'd be safer...I'm sorry, Randy, that's just plain crap."

"I appreciate Mr. Blek's level of intellectual discourse here," Mr. Herrst retorted. He denied blaming the victim at all, rather placing the blame on dangerous gun control laws that make it difficult for people to defend themselves. "I have heard the story of his son's death many times, so I am not totally ignorant of the circumstances. It has been covered in various stories that he and his wife have done, either as editorials or done interviews with media. I can assure you I do know something about it. I also assure you it would have been less likely to happen in a place where people are allowed to carry guns. And I am certain that if it had been happening while I was carrying a gun, it wouldn't have happened."

Without taking anything away from Mr. Blek's tragedy, he seemed to react in a most unusual and unfeeling fashion when countered by members of the audience - a lady who was unable to prevent rape and attack upon her person because of California's waiting period, and a lady whose husband defended himself five times with a firearm without ever having to create a fatality statistic - who wished to share their own stories.

To these stories, Mr. Blek remarked: "We have no quarrel with personal anecdotes."

Anna Zetchus Raetz at podium.
Charles Blek on the ropes.

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To me, that was downright rudeness, considering the fact that he expects everyone to give up their rights without argument because of what happened to his son. What Mr. Blek obviously did not wish for people to realize - and, I'm certain, especially the young lady whom his side indoctrinated so poorly - is that there are many, many more people in this nation who have utilized their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves, their families, and their property to a much greater degree than it has caused harm to unwitting innocents...and they have their own personal testimonies to back them up.

Add to that Anna Raetz chatting up Jennifer Mendoza in her usual friendly fashion and the MMM sign-up sheet of three names for the anti-gun mailing list with two crossed off the role *after* the debate...I can well understand why Mr. Blek "would like to be anywhere else but here."

Folks who are not as easily malleable and putty-brained are not to Mr. Blek's taste, nor do they promise a mindless and emotional mob-jority for the tired rhetoric and the disreputed "statistics" he and his partners and minions have employed for so many years.

May Mr. Blek always find this is so in a medium not dominated and controlled by the lapdog media. Amen.

Marian Hollenbeck is the Director of Media and Public Relations for and can be reached at: