Libertarian Candidate for US Senate Seeking to Arm the Homeless

Ann Arbor, MI – A Michigan candidate for US Senate, Brian Ellison, who is expected to be the Libertarian party’s candidate in the November midterm election, set his sights on raising at least $10,000 to buy 20 pump-action shotguns and provide training for homeless people. Ellison is calling his fundraising campaign “Arm the Homeless,” and the drive has already made international news.

Saying that homeless people are “constantly victims of violent crime,” Ellison believes that providing the homeless with firearms to defend themselves would serve to act as a deterrent.

A 2014 study, entitled Violence and Victims, highlights the disparity in violent victimization of homeless individuals versus the general population:

Individuals who are homeless have an increased risk of experiencing myriad social problems including victimization and violence. The prevalence of violent victimization in the homeless population has been estimated to range from 14% to 21% and approximately one-third report having witnessed a physical attack on another person who was homeless. This rate of violence is highly disparate when compared to the general population in which only 2% report experiencing a violent crime.

When Ellison was asked by Michigan Radio if he trusted the homeless people with guns, he questioned why there was judgement and bias against homeless people.

“I don’t know why the homeless are viewed as such a different type of people as the rest of us. I carry a gun with me all the time, and I don’t victimize anyone. I wouldn’t expect that the homeless would use their weapons to fight off the police who are asking them to leave. I think the homeless would use their weapons to protect themselves from being victims of violent crimes,” he said.

“Not only are the homeless constantly under threat from would-be criminals,” said Ellison, “but they are also under threat from governments at various levels that criminalize activities that homeless people rely on for survival.”

Ellison, a veteran who served in Iraq, told The Guardian that he decided to run for office “just to try and make a difference.” While he admitted that his “Arm the Homeless” campaign has shock value— meant to bring attention to his campaign— Ellison said he believes that as a third-party candidate going up against well-funded Democratic and Republican opponents, shock value is necessary to break the media marginalization of third-party candidates. And while the shock value gets publicity, he said the true intent of the campaign is to bring more attention to the high rates of violence experienced by homeless individuals and their dehumanization.

When asked by The Guardian, as to whether he thought his plan was dangerous, Ellison responded with a question of his own.

“Well, are you worried about the police being armed with military weapons?” he asked. “I am. The world we live in is a scary world, where the police who used to dress in short-sleeved shirts and carry a revolver now have long rifles with scopes and bulletproof vests and armoured vehicles.”

“And quite frankly that scares me much more than a homeless person trying to defend themselves with a shotgun,” he said.

Ellison noted that he would aim to “pre-qualify” homeless individuals wanting to receive one of the shotguns, and that no one would be forced to carry pump-action a firearm.

“The first thing that we’re gonna do is ask them if they think this is something that would benefit them. We’re certainly not trying to force anything on anybody,” Ellison said.

In addition, Ellison told Vice that “the idea is to go around and pre-qualify people who we think will meet the criteria by simply having a conversation with them and trying to get a feeling of who they are, whether or not they seem like they’re stable, seeing if they have an ID and if they’d pass a background check.”

On his fundraising page, Ellison pointed out that case law provides that police have no duty to protect individuals and highlighted the recent school shooting in Parkland as an example.

How long can we as a society sit back and allow peaceful citizens of this great country to be targeted for those that view them as weak targets? According to case law in the decision of Warren v. District of Columbia, the police do not owe a specific duty to provide police services to citizens. What this means is that as individuals we can not count on the police to protect us, as they are under no obligation to do so. We saw this recently in the Parkland shooting when Broward County Sheriff Deputies stood outside while a gunman killed 17 students and teachers. I believe it is time we take a stand against the injustice and victimization of the homeless.

Although Ellison originally felt giving away handguns would be ideal, he settled on pump-shotguns.

“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told the Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.”

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Medical Cannabis Patients in Israel Will Now Be Allowed to Drive

Tel Aviv, Israel – The Israeli Health Ministry, on Tuesday, introduced a new amendment that will allow individuals to drive after using medical cannabis, after many patients complained that their freedom of movement was being restricted.

Currently, Israel recognizes more than 30,000 medical cannabis users who have a government-issued permit, but these patients were previously not allowed to drive since the government classified cannabis and all its derivatives as a dangerous drug under Israeli law, classifying anyone with a dangerous drug in their system as being “drunk,” according to Haaretz.

The Israeli permit to use medical cannabis specifically states: “While using the dangerous drug it is completely forbidden to carry out acts requiring concentration, including driving and operating heavy equipment.”

According to a report from Haaretz:

The new amendment, which will come into effect in about 30 days, stipulates that patients will be permitted to drive three hours after smoking cannabis. If they consumed it in the form of edibles or as oil, they will have to wait six hours before getting behind the wheel, while those who also consumed alcohol will have to wait 12 hours after taking cannabis before being allowed to drive.

The amendment puts further restrictions on drivers who use cannabis, requiring them to be under the supervision of the doctor who signed their medical cannabis permit and to refrain from consuming other substances classified as dangerous at the same time. The amendment also limits the cannabis dosage for drivers to 50 grams a month with an active ingredient concentration below 15 percent, or up to 40 grams a month with an active ingredient concentration below 20 percent.

Health ministers had previously refused to make an exception for the medicinal use of cannabis, requiring patients to acknowledge that they understood they were not allowed to drive if being treated with cannabis. Under the new amendment, individuals will be allowed to drive three hours after taking the drug, but critics note that there is no way to enforce the amendment due to being unable to verify when a patient last used cannabis.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Jeff Sessions Wages War on Cannabis]

The amendment decriminalizes patients who had become “offenders against their will,” according to the Health Ministry. Despite the progress, the Medical Cannabis Association, which advances patients’ rights, was critical of the amendment, highlighting the fact that amendment doesn’t apply to many patients using medical cannabis.

“There’s no way to ascertain the percentage level of active ingredients in each and every flower, so there’s no way to determine what active ingredient percentage a patient consumed in the hours before he got behind the wheel,” the Medical Cannabis Association noted.

“On top of that, the number of patients who take more than 40 grams of cannabis a month is significant, as is the percentage of patients who use another narcotic medicine as well. The amendment doesn’t apply to at least a quarter of medical cannabis users,” the non-profit group added.

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VOTE: Is it Right for the U.S. to Interfere in Other Countries Elections?

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WATCH: Rep Backed By Securities Industry Says Cryptocurrency Undermines Gov’t. Control

Washington, D.C. — The House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment (Committee on Financial Services), on Wednesday, held a hearing entitled “Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets.”  During the hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) read a statement that called cryptocurrencies “harmful,” and appeared to accidentally admit that cryptocurrency reduces government control of the dollar.

BitsOnline noted that it’s unclear “whether his most infamous statements during the March 14th crypto hearing were on behalf of, or in the stead of, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY).” Notwithstanding, Sherman spoke assertively while reading the statement.

Sherman began by referring to cryptocurrency as “a crock,” and went on to perpetuate pop culture stereotypes and and fears about the industry, saying, “Cryptocurrencies are popular with guys who like to sit in their pajamas and tell their wives they are going to be millionaires. They help terrorists and criminals move money around the world. Tax evaders. They help startup companies commit fraud, take money, and one percent of the time they actually create a useful business.”

As Sherman continued to rebuke cryptocurrency and those who utilize the technology, he seemingly revealed the real reason government fears widespread consumer adoption of cryptocurrency.

“It hurts the U.S. government in two ways,” Sherman said. “Our contr….” Sherman began, as he appeared he was about to say “our control.” Although he stopped himself prior to uttering the entire phrase, he continued by saying, “…our ability to have the US dollar as the chief means of international finance is what has underpinned our ability to impose sanctions,” illustrating that monetary policy and the dollar are used as a system of control by the U.S. government.

It should thus come as no surprise that the top industries funding Sherman’s election campaigns are securities and investment related entities.

According to a report from CryptoCoinsNews, it was revealed on Reddit that Sherman’s top contributor for 2017-2018 is digital payment processor Allied Wallet- a company that stands to encounter significant competition from more efficient and private payment systems that have been created with blockchain technology. Overall, Sherman received $56,700 from the securities and investment industry.

Bank of America recently acknowledged that cryptocurrencies pose a challenge to their earnings, stating that “widespread adoption of new technologies,” including cryptocurrencies, may compel the company to make “substantial expenditures” in order to compete with such innovations.

Certain members of Congress like Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, showed a better understanding of the technology and its implications.

“This is something that Democrats and Republicans should be celebrating here in Congress not going ‘oh my gosh, this is terrible, we don’t understand it’,” Emmer said.

“I tend to trust people and believe that they’re in these things for good, and that they’re trying to improve their own lives and hopefully the lives of people around them — that old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats. And yet I hear elected officials who don’t have any concept of what we’re dealing with here and how exciting it is, talking about how we got to regulate and create more government infrastructure. I respectfully disagree that that won’t act as a wet blanket on this amazing new technology. I realize there has to be some regulation, but there’s got to be balance,” Emmer said.

Coinbase’s chief legal and risk officer Mike Lempres, Georgetown University law professor Dr. Chris Brummer, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati partner Robert Rosenblum served as expert witnesses at the hearing, which is Congress’ first foray into potential regulatory issues surrounding initial coin offerings (ICOs).

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Under 21 ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Requiring Gun Surrender Clears Illinois Senate

The Illinois State Senate passed HB 1465 on Wednesday, a bill banning the sale of certain types of semi-automatic weapons to individuals under age 21. The bill would also make owning such a weapon below that age a Class 3 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second offense.

The bill deviates from the traditional military definition of assault rifle, requiring the weapon to be capable of selective fire options like three round bursts and fully-automatic, and instead defines it as any semi-automatic rifle or pistol with a belt or magazine fed system capable of more than 10 rounds or featuring a folding stock or the ability to accept tactical attachments such as scopes. The definition also includes some .50 caliber rifles. Those individuals currently owning the weapons would be required to surrender them within 90 days.

According to WAND-TV, the bill passed by a vote of 33 to 22. It previously passed the House, but must go back to the House for reconciliation after lawmakers added an amendment that would allow individuals who owned such weapons prior to the passage of the law to use that fact as an affirmative defense when facing felony charges under the legislation.

[RELATED: Seattle Police Achieve State’s First “Red Flag Law” Gun Seizure]

The amendment was added to attract Republican votes to the bill, but Mahomet Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose told Watchdog.org that the amendment would not necessarily protect owners of the weapons from facing felony charges if they do not surrender them. He believes the bill should have exempted current owners of the weapons from facing charges, rather than just offering them an affirmative defense while under arrest.

“Never mind the fact that you’re an innocent person and you’re in shackles and have been taken to jail and booked and your mugshot is now on TV,” said Sen. Rose.

The Illinois State Senate also passed HB 1467 on Wednesday, which bans bump stocks and trigger cranks in the state, and added an amendment to that bill allowing localities to ban what it defines as assault weapons, potentially creating different gun laws on a town-by-town basis in the state.

In addition, the Illinois House of Representatives recently passed HB 1468, which would impose a 72-hour waiting period on purchases of items defined as assault weapons under the bill. The Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

The Illinois General Assembly is controlled by a Democratic majority. Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would have required gun retailers to be licensed by the state, claiming that to be “unnecessary, burdensome regulation.”

Gubernatorial vetoes can be overturned by a three-fifths majority vote in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly.

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