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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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Second Amendment Ends 2014 On a High Note Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Friday, December 26 2014
The fact that public support for Second Amendment rights has increased so dramatically during a period of ongoing urbanization and leftward drift on so many other socio-political issues is nothing short of astounding.

It's important for conservatives and libertarians, preternaturally pessimistic regarding societal drift from constitutional liberty, to acknowledge and savor positive milestones when passed. 

In that vein, the year 2014 concluded on a positive note for Second Amendment rights advocates. 

First came this December 10 release from the left-leaning Pew Research Center: 

"For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control.  Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership." 

To appreciate the significance of that milestone, consider the magnitude of the flip in public opinion over the past two decades.  When Pew began asking the question in 1993, 57% of respondents said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 34% said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.  By 2000, that disparity had actually increased to a 66% to 29% margin, and even in 2007 stood at 60% to 32%.  By 2010, however, following the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Heller decision affirming the individual nature of the right to keep and bear arms, the margin had narrowed to 49% to 45%. 

That same December 10 survey noted, "Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% say it does more to endanger personal safety."  And in a period of increasing racial polarization, it is heartening that Pew found, "Over the past two years, blacks views on this measure have changed dramatically."  More specifically, blacks' views have converged with whites' views, as "54% of blacks say gun ownership does more to protect people than endanger personal safety, nearly double the percentage saying this in December 2012 (29%)." 

The fact that public support for Second Amendment rights has increased so dramatically during a period of ongoing urbanization and leftward drift on so many other socio-political issues is nothing short of astounding.  It's also a credit to those who have worked so hard over the years and decades to defend that right. 

Good news also arrived from the judicial realm as the year concluded. 

In an issue of first impression before the federal courts, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal law prohibiting a man with no criminal history, but who "was involuntarily committed for less than one month after allegedly undergoing an emotionally devastating divorce" in January of 1986, from possessing a firearm. 

All reasonable people can agree that anyone suffering serious mental or emotional disabilities can rightfully be denied firearm possession, at least for the duration of their illness.  A review of the applicable facts of this case, however, suggests the severity of the absolute, lifetime prohibition in question: 

"In 1985, when Tyler was forty-five years old, Tyler's wife of twenty-three years served him divorce papers.  Prior to filing for divorce, Tyler's ex-wife allegedly ran away with another man and depleted Tyler's finances.  Tyler felt 'overwhelmed' and 'sat in the middle of the floor at home pounding his head.'  According to a mental-health evaluation submitted by Tyler, Tyler was crying non-stop, not sleeping, depressed, and suicidal at this time.  Tyler's daughters became scared and contacted the police.  The police transported Tyler to the sheriff's department, where they contacted Tyler's eighteen-year-old daughter to assist them with the necessary steps to have Tyler receive a psychological evaluation." 

After a two- to four-week treatment, however, Tyler remained in the workforce for two decades, showed no subsequent signs of mental disturbance, experienced no substance abuse and had no criminal history whatsoever. 

Although the Court acknowledged that the government maintains a compelling state interest in denying firearms to seriously mentally disabled individuals, it ruled that a blanket legal prohibition permanently depriving recovered individuals wasn't tailored narrowly enough to satisfy that interest: 

"Tyler's complaint validly states a claim for violation of the Second Amendment.  The government's interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill is not sufficiently related to depriving the mentally healthy, who had a distant episode of commitment, of their constitutional rights.  The government at oral argument stated that it currently has no reason to dispute that Tyler is a non-dangerous individual...  It is certain that there is a non-zero chance that a previously institutionalized person will commit gun violence in the future, but that is true of all classes of persons...  For these reasons, Section 922(g)(4)'s mental-commitment prohibition's application to Tyler does not satisfy narrow tailoring." 

Utmost care must obviously be taken to ensure that citizens who pose a substantive threat are restricted from firearm possession.  Nevertheless, the fact that the Court went out of its way to reaffirm the fundamental nature of Second Amendment rights among those accorded to healthy and law-abiding citizens is additional cause for celebration as 2014 comes to a close. 

Notable Quote   
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?