Posted: May 27, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Joseph Farah
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
With a stroke of the pen, one un-elected and unaccountable federal bureaucrat – whose name may not be familiar to you – recently ruled that airline pilots may not keep firearms in their cockpits.
His name is John Magaw, or, as I call him, "No-Draw Magaw."
Magaw's newest job is Transportation Security Administration director.
Last week, Magaw told the U.S. Senate that pilots don't need guns. He told the Senate pilots would be better off concentrating on flying their planes. He told the Senate he is considering allowing pilots to carry stun guns or collapsible metal batons.
Sen. George Allen, R-Va., asked the obvious question about how the tragic and devastating events of Sept. 11 might have been recast without such restrictions imposed on responsible airline pilots, most of whom are trained in the military.
"If they had firearms, if they had a pistol to defend themselves or their plane, would that have made a difference?"
Here is the incomprehensible, elusive, nonsensical response from Magaw: "Well it may have, but that's a lot different today than it was then."
Hello? Earth to No-Draw: Don't the American people deserve a slightly better explanation than that? Don't the victims of Sept. 11 deserve a slightly more thoughtful response? Don't the families of those victims in both the planes and the buildings deserve some straight talk?
Let me tell you a little more about No-Draw Magaw and his career path to what has become a critically important post in this security-conscious age of international terrorism.
On April 19, 1995, Magaw was director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. You may remember that date in history. It was the day the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed.
"I was very concerned about that day and issued memos to all our field offices," Magaw explained. "They were put on the alert."
As a result of that alert, no ATF field agents in the Murrah Building were killed or injured – even though they were the apparent target of the bombing. No one else in the building got any warning, so 168 men, women and children were killed. But no ATF agent got a scratch. Magaw did a great job of protecting his own that day, but he didn't do much to protect innocent civilians.
The next time I heard about John Magaw was a year later. In 1996, Congress passed a contemptible piece of legislation known as the "Gun Free Zones Act." It created a 1,000-foot "gun-free" zone around every school in America – thus ensuring the Columbines to come.
But No-Draw Magaw, still the ATF director, interpreted this law in an amazingly broad fashion – one that betrayed his persona as a gun-grabbing activist rather than a responsible public official serving the best interest of the taxpayers and under the authority of the U.S. Constitution.
Magaw expressed the opinion in writing to at least one member of Congress that "schools," in the case of the "Gun Free Zones Act," included "home schools" that are operated under state law. In other words, Magaw decided it was against the law for home-schooling families to own guns and equally illegal for gun-owners to home-school.
That wasn't the end of the No-Draw Magaw saga. In 1999, President Clinton appointed Magaw to another powerful and sensitive position – coordinating domestic terrorism efforts for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In other words, No-Draw was instrumental in planning national policy to prevent terrorism two years prior to the biggest terrorist assault in world history.
We know now, of course, that Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts were all devoted to rooting out an imaginary threat from Christian, right-wing, anti-government militia types. Islamist threats were systematically overlooked.
Why did Magaw keep getting these big jobs during the Clinton administration? No-Draw was a favorite of the former president. Before getting the job at BATF, he served as director of Clinton's Secret Service. Imagine the secrets such a man will take to the grave.
Of course, that may explain why he got such posts during the Clinton years. What else explains his continued prominence as a virtual dictator of command-and-control-style national security policy during the Bush administration?
Americans may elect new members of Congress. They may elect new presidents. But they can never, it seems, change the names and faces of the permanent federal bureaucracy, which, ultimately has more negative impact on our rights and liberties than all three of the supposedly accountable branches of government combined.
That's the sad state of American self-government today. As many as 95 percent of Americans may back the common-sense idea of guns in the cockpit, but the permanent government can simply flout the will of the people.