Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Nearly everyone has heard of the
corruption-plagued organization ACORN. Yet many gun owners are
unaware of the organization's strong anti-gun activities and
Q: Who is responsible for the worst
anti-gun law so far in 2009?
A: The Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now-ACORN-perhaps the most notoriously
corrupt organization in American politics.
This unfortunate story begins in Jersey City, N.J., which, like
ACORN, has a long history of corruption and of suppression of
liberty. From 1917 to 1947, Frank Hague was the mayor of Jersey
City. In The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of
Corruption, Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure call him "the
granddaddy of Jersey bosses."
Although he never had any legal income other than his mayoral
salary of $8,500 per year, Hague amassed a multimillion-dollar
His political machine, known as "the organization," made him a
powerhouse in national Democratic Party politics. Like ACORN,
Hague's "organization" perpetrated massive voter fraud.
For example, in 1937, there were 147,000 people of voting age
living in Jersey City, but there were 160,050 registered voters
there. Though impressive for its time, the scale of this duplicity
was tiny in comparison to ACORN's alleged submission in 2008 of at
least 400,000 fraudulent registrations nationwide.
"Boss" Hague held the Constitution in contempt. "I am the law!"
he declared in 1937.
In a 1938 speech to the Jersey City Chamber of Commerce, he
railed, "We hear about constitutional rights, free speech and the
free press. Every time I hear those words I say to myself, 'That
man is a Red, that man is a Communist.' You never heard a real
American talk in that manner."
"ACORN has a strong
interest in supporting the gun-control ordinance at issue in this
case, because it can help reduce the number of handguns in Jersey
City and therefore reduce the level of gun crime in our
In the 1939 case Hague v. Committee for Industrial
Organization, the Supreme Court ruled against a Hague
ordinance that forbade labor unions from holding meetings or
distributing leaflets in public places in the city. Hague v.
CIO is one of the founding cases for Supreme Court use of the
14th Amendment to require local governments to obey the Bill of
The victory of the Constitution over the Jersey City
"organization" helped pave the way, in the long run, for the
current Supreme Court case that will decide whether Chicago and
other local governments must obey the Second Amendment.
Jersey City enjoyed a period of competent government and genuine
reform from 1993 to 2001, with Mayor Bret Schundler. Schundler ran
for New Jersey governor in 2001 but was defeated by James
McGreevey, a determined anti-gun advocate who later resigned in
disgrace after the exposure of his corruption.
The year after Schundler left the mayor's office, Jersey City
reverted to its anti-constitutional habits, participating in a
Brady Center junk lawsuit against lawful firearm manufacturers.
In June 2006, the Jersey City government put itself in the
vanguard of rights suppression, adopting a "one handgun per month"
law. The rights-rationing law applied solely to the one licensed
firearm dealer in the city, Caso's Gun-a-Rama.? NRA Director Scott
Bach, Caso's and the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol
Clubs (ANJRPC) fought back. They brought a lawsuit that argued the
New Jersey state legislature had pre-empted local laws on gun
sales. The New Jersey state law regarding licensing for firearm
owners and police permission for gun purchases had set up a
comprehensive scheme of regulation.
The legislature had determined when and how guns could be sold
in New Jersey, and a city government had no authority to override
the legislature's decisions. After all, local governments derive
all their powers from the state government.
Under New Jersey law, if you want to buy a gun, you need to get
a permit from your local chief of police. According to New Jersey
law, "Only one handgun shall be purchased on each permit, but a
person shall not be restricted as to the number of rifles or
shotguns he may purchase." If you wanted to buy a second handgun,
you would have to ask your police chief for an additional permit.
If the police chief considered a person's repeated requests for
permits to buy handguns to be suspicious, he could refuse to issue
Nobody ever provided evidence that the very few people in Jersey
City who had ever bought more than one handgun in a 30-day period
were engaged in illegal firearms trafficking.
Recognizing that the Jersey City rationing ordinance was
pointless, City Council President Mariano Vega Jr. called it
"feel-good legislation that will probably not reduce crime, but we
have to start somewhere, so I am voting yes."
After Bach and the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol
Clubs sued Jersey City in state trial court, ACORN showed up. Yet
the group did more than just file a friend-of-the-court (amicus)
brief in support of Jersey City. ACORN actually intervened in the
case, becoming a party.
ACORN told the trial court that its reason for intervening was
that "ACORN has a strong interest in supporting the gun-control
ordinance at issue in this case, because it can help reduce the
number of handguns in Jersey City and therefore reduce the level of
gun crime in our neighborhoods."
While some anti-gun groups deceitfully claim that they support
gun ownership, and are only opposed to gun misuse, ACORN was more
frank. Its goal is to "reduce the number of handguns in Jersey
City." That's like intervening in the Hague case and announcing a
goal "to reduce the number of labor meetings in Jersey City."
Among the ACORN legal team was Seton Hall law school professor
Linda Fisher, author of a 2000 article in the Yale Law & Policy
Review praising anti-gun lawsuits.
According to a Dec. 13,
2008, report by NBC17 television in Raleigh, N.C., "ACORN's
initiative . . . may even include a requirement for bullet
In December 2006, the state court judge ruled against the
rights-rationing ordinance. Hudson County Judge Maurice Gallipoli
held that the gun rationing law was pre-empted by the state's
pervasive gun-control system. Further, the judge found, gun
rationing was arbitrary, capricious, irrational and a violation of
equal protection of the law.
ACORN and Jersey City took the case to the appeals court. In the
oral argument, Jersey City's lawyer pointed approvingly to the New
York City law that forbids more than one handgun purchase in a
180-day period. But the appellate court unanimously ruled against
Jersey City and ACORN.
Not to be dissuaded, ACORN and Jersey City then made a final
appeal to the New Jersey Superior Court, the state's highest court.
At this time, the case is still pending.
Yet ACORN and the rest of the gun-ban lobby didn't wait for a
final decision. ACORN lawyer Linda Fisher admitted that rationing
firearms only in Jersey City would just result in handguns being
bought elsewhere. "We would be more than happy if Bayonne or
Hoboken would enact similar ordinances, but in this business it's
one step at a time," Fisher said.
This summer, ACORN got what it wanted. ACORN's involvement in
the Jersey City case helped keep the issue in the news and on the
political agenda. New Jersey's incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon
Corzine--who is widely disliked by the citizens of New Jersey for
breaking his 2005 campaign promises, for raising taxes and for
making the state government more bloated, wasteful and expensive
than ever--decided he needed an accomplishment to tout for his 2009
Because of the structure of New Jersey's Constitution, the
state's governor has far more power than the governor of any other
state. With Corzine's nearly limitless ability to offer inducements
and make threats, the New Jersey legislature narrowly imposed gun
rationing on the state's citizenry.
While the law-abiding citizens of New Jersey are the greatest
victims of ACORN's anti-gun campaign, other ACORN offices have also
been very active foes of the Second Amendment Right to Keep and
The North Carolina ACORN chapter has been lobbying to require
all handgun ammunition purchasers to go through the same background
check as firearms purchasers. Such a law could overwhelm the
state's background check system and result in a wait of many hours
just to buy a box of .22-caliber rimfire ammunition at the local
sporting goods store.
According to a Dec. 13, 2008, report by NBC17 television in
Raleigh, "ACORN's initiative . . . may even include a requirement
for bullet permits."
In Chicago in March 2006, ACORN and its local organizer, Rev.
Robin Hood, participated in an anti-gun rally featuring
prohibitionists such as Mayor Richard Daley, Gov. Rod Blagojevich
and Congressman Bobby Rush demanding prohibition of self-loading
firearms, which Hood inaccurately described as "automatic
The fact that ACORN is widely involved in anti-gun lobbying and
litigation should not be surprising, since some of the
organization's wealthiest donors also fund other gun-ban
George Soros is the kingpin of the global gun-ban movement. In
addition to ACORN, he has also donated to many other gun-ban
organizations. He is the sugar daddy of the International Action
Network on Small Arms (IANSA), the international gun prohibition
lobby, which is run by his former staffer Rebecca Peters.
The North Carolina ACORN
chapter has been lobbying to require all handgun ammunition
purchasers to go through the same background check as firearms
The Bauman Family Foundation has funded both ACORN and
Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group that promotes various
extreme-left causes, such as unilateral military disarmament, the
D.C. handgun ban and many other items on the Brady Center and
Violence Policy Center agendas.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation showers money on ACORN and on the
Appleseed Foundation. In District of Columbia v. Heller,
the D.C. branch of Appleseed filed a brief in support of the D.C.
law banning handguns and outlawing the use of any gun for
self-defense in the home. The New Jersey branch of Appleseed
provided legal assistance to ACORN's anti-gun work.
Another ACORN funder has been the Bank of America Charitable
Foundation, which has also given money to the Appleseed
Last September, ACORN's sleazy modus operandi was put on public
display by filmmakers James O'Keefe III and Hannah Giles. (Giles'
father is the popular pro-gun columnist and minister Doug Giles.)
Using an undercover camera and microphone, O'Keefe and Giles posed
as a pimp and prostitute who wanted to set up a brothel using
underage girls illegally smuggled into the United States from El
They went to ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C.,
Brooklyn, San Bernardino, Philadelphia and San Diego. The
Philadelphia office called the police after the pair left, and said
that O'Keefe had caused a "verbal disturbance." The other offices,
however, provided advice about how to run the whorehouse and
conceal its operations, how to deceive the Internal Revenue Service
and how to smuggle the El Salvadoran victims into the country.
The resulting public furor resulted in the Census Bureau and the
Internal Revenue Service immediately severing their programs to pay
ACORN for "community outreach."
Yet the White House still maintains close ties with ACORN. The
director of the White House Office of Political Affairs is Patrick
Gaspard, who formerly served as National Political Director for the
Obama presidential campaign.
A Sept. 28 article in The American Spectator by Matthew Vadum
calls Gaspard "ACORN's Man in the White House." The article notes
that ACORN founder Wade Rathke wrote that Gaspard once served as
"ACORN New York's political director." (Rathke later retracted the
claim, and noted the political trouble that it was causing
Gaspard.) In any case, Gaspard indisputably served as acting
political director in 2006 for the Service Employees International
Union (SEIU), an organization with such a tight working
relationship with ACORN that some local SEIU affiliates were
actually run by ACORN. According to a July 9 article in the
Washington Examiner, based on disclosure forms filed with the U.S.
Department of Labor, SEIU "contributed $7.4 million between 2005
and 2008 to the national organization, state chapters and allied
groups" of ACORN.
SEIU, like Bank of America, recently said that it has cut ties
Over the years, ACORN has received tens of millions of dollars
of taxpayer funding. Indeed, this year the Department of Homeland
Security granted $997,402 to ACORN for the department's Fire
Prevention and Safety Program. This money has traditionally been
allocated to organizations that know something about fire safety,
such as fire departments, which use the money to distribute smoke
alarms to poor people.
The DHS grant to ACORN was rescinded in October after the bad
publicity. Additionally, there have been efforts in Congress to cut
off all federal funding for ACORN. As of this writing, however,
none of them have become law.
There's much more that could be written about ACORN's web of
corruption and its major and malignant influence in modern American
politics. Websites such as the Capital Research Center, Consumer
Rights League, BigGovernment.com, StopACORN.org and Discover the
Networks have much more detailed reporting on ACORN corruption.
ACORN has many friends in high places. That's no surprise, since
it put them there. Perhaps by this time in 2010, ACORN will have
weathered today's controversies and be just as strong as ever,
working hard against the Second Amendment.
Given the Obama-friendly media's longstanding lack of interest
in covering or investigating ACORN's misdeeds, public pressure to
cut off the taxpayer spigot for ACORN will probably depend on
genuine grassroots community organizers and alternative media.