by Rod D. Martin
October 30, 1998

An election is at hand, and yet again, the vast majority will not vote. Just as they have shown a complete disinterest in the character of the President, they will Tuesday show a total lack of concern for the fate of their country. For them, this is the Seinfeld election: an election about nothing.

It is just as well that such nincompoops won’t vote; and yet it is a sorry commentary on the state of our body politic that so few understand, that so few even care. Another fatal disaster just this month, this time in Taft, California, shows us again just why it is so tragic.

According to the government’s account, four years ago the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) began an investigation into illegal firearms sales by three people espousing anti-government beliefs. Early this month, they concluded that investigation with one of the three suspects dead.

Sgt. Ed Whiting of the Taft Police Department, a Kern County sheriff’s deputy, and two BATF agents sought to take into custody one Darryl Howell, a 45-year-old grandfather, on firearms trafficking charges. Howell owned a surplus store that sold, among other things, guns and ammunition.

According to the police, a struggle ensued, Howell broke away from them, lunged for a .45-caliber handgun, put it into his mouth and fired a single shot. Whiting, we are told, had become temporarily distracted during the scuffle, and, hearing the single shot, instinctively aimed his gun at Howell and fired three more shots into the corpse.

Uh, right.

WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah summed it up perfectly: “Let me see if I have this straight. Four cops, one ‘suspect.’ This wanted outlaw — so dangerous he’s been under scrutiny of federal law enforcement for nearly four years — is confronted not in his home, not on his lunch break, not on his way to work or after he locks up, but during the workday in a store loaded with firearms. Even though he’s not accused of being on PCP or any other drugs, he cannot be physically subdued by four officers. They are unable to persuade him to come along peacefully or handcuff him involuntarily. Instead, he is permitted by these highly trained law enforcement professionals to grab one of his guns. But they don’t shoot him right away. Oh no. They allow him to pick up the handgun, bring it all the way up to his mouth and pull the trigger. Only then, we are told, does one of the officers, who wasn’t paying attention, pump the desperado full of lead.”

Or to put it another way, we have another Waco, only with about eighty fewer corpses.

Waco, after all, was about the same thing: non-threatening people who happened to own guns. David Koresh was a certifiable nut-job, but he was absolutely within his rights — as a federally-licensed arms dealer — to hold and even sell every weapon he possessed. He was on a first-name basis with the McLennan County sheriff, and was generally considered harmless by local law enforcement. Only after two days of a botched assault on the Branch Davidians’ home did the feds decide that Koresh was a child-molester, yet two Texas state agencies had investigated similar allegations up until just two weeks earlier and found no evidence to support such claims at all.

But he got in the way of the BATF, on a crusade to threaten, intimidate, and, all too often, murder anyone who exercises their Constitutional rights. And like Randy Weaver’s wife and now one Mr. Darryl Howell, David Koresh drew the short straw.

One of the BATF agents responsible for Howell’s death sought to justify the incident in the most telling of ways: according to the agent, one of Howell’s friends had actually complained about a ban on “assault weapons” and the actions of President Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. This sort of “explanation” is more reminiscent of Hitler’s SA than one cares to imagine. It certainly justifies ultra-liberal Democratic Congressman John Dingell’s statement that the BATF is a bunch of “jack-booted thugs.”

I dispute the contention that this is an election about nothing. At some risk, we may assume, of becoming the BATF’s next victim, I contend this election is about something very real indeed. Though BATF has been corrupt for a very long time, there can be no question that it’s “accidents” have increased at an alarming rate under this White House. Its politicization has grown and grown, while federal law enforcement’s most ghoulish offenders — men such as Louis Freeh — have been promoted to senior positions. Meanwhile, the President has shown himself to have no character, has accumulated a “mysterious deaths” list longer than Al Capone’s, and has traded millions of Communist campaign dollars for America’s most vital secrets.

Benjamin Franklin said that “they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It is time for Americans to stand, to say the hard things, to do the hard deeds. This election is about our future, and about our freedom. Vote: and make your vote count.