Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 431, August 19, 2007

"None of the bureaucrats could understand why I was upset."


The Bottom of the Slippery Slope
A Review of JPFO's The Gang

by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

A member of a federal agency notorious for its corruption enters an elevator in the office building where he works. Inside the elevator he encounters another officer, both arms filled with contraband he has stolen from an evidence room. He is taking it out now, to sell on the street.

"I see what you're doing," says the first man, "and I will report you."

"You would!" the second man hisses, drawing his duty weapon. He shoots, blowing the first man's thumb off. Nevertheless, the first officer somehow manages to draw his own pistol and kills the second officer.

Over the days that follow, the agency fires the survivor twice under various false pretexts. He is reinstated on appeal both times. Finally, it begins transferring him every few months to other stations around the country—where he is reviled as a snitch and anonymously threatened by his fellow officers—until he gets tired of it and quits.

The agency?

The infamous federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The contraband headed for the street?

Confiscated guns.

I never read about this astonishing incident in the newspapers or heard about it on the radio or TV. I never even saw mention of it on the Internet. Yet it's only one of many stories that will raise the hair on the back of your neck as you're watching The Gang, a new documentary on DVD produced by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

Politically aware gun owners already know JPFO—and its founder Aaron Zelman—as the most principled and uncompromising defenders of the Second Amendment on the planet today. The organization—which, despite its name, is open to individuals of any religious persuasion or none—has produced scores of books, pamphlets, and other material (including translations of the Bill of Rights in 16 languages so far) in strong support of the idea that a well-armed citizenry may be the only guarantee any nation can have of peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity.

By way of a disclaimer, I have written two of those books with Aaron, The Mitzvah and Hope, both of them novels, focused on the pivotal role of personal weaponry in the everyday life of a free country. Aaron and I are good friends, as well as collaborators, and I happily continue to write for JPFO today, considering it to be one of the best contributions I can make toward the continued wellbeing of civilization.

That said, however, I can assure my readers that I would not be writing this review if I didn't respect and admire the effort and conviction that went into the production of this documentary. You hear people say all the time that "This should be required reading" or viewing or listening, and if I say it myself, it will fall on jaded ears.

Let me say instead, that I had secretly dreaded seeing this movie, worried that I might have to tell my friend Aaron that it was boring or depressing. Instead, to my delight, I found it fascinating and even uplifting. It bills itself as the story of an obscure tax-collecting agency that mushroomed into a billion-dollar arm of the increasingly authoritarian government we're saddled with today. Commissioned, in its beginning decade, with managing the "Noble Experiment" of alcohol prohibition, and following repeal of the Volstead Act, with collecting taxes on legalized alcohol, through the usual process of bureaucratic "mission creep", it eventually wound up enforcing the government's first unconstitutional gun law, Roosevelt's 1934 National Firearms Act.

What I like best about this JPFO documentary is that it pulls no punches. Quite properly, it explains that the Second Amendment was not written into the highest law of the land to protect duck hunting or target shooting, but to make damn sure the people—the "unorganized militia"—have unimpeded access to exactly the same kinds of weapons that the military has, the object being to keep the government under tight control. It makes this point several different times in several different ways, while unabashedly panning over pages of old-fashioned consumer ads for foreign military surplus machineguns and other such hardware.

It's noteworthy that, as a prelude to one of the U.S. government's earliest and most alarming "growth spurts"—Roosevelt's New Deal—military-style weapons like the Thompson submachinegun became, for all intents and purposes, illegal. It's even more noteworthy that even a fascist gasbag like Roosevelt didn't dare an outright ban on these Constitutionally protected weapons, but started by taxing them at a rate nobody during the Depression could afford, and requiring their registration.

Later, as the Bill of Rights grew increasingly more tattered and threadbare, Congress could pass all the gun laws it could get the votes for, and now gun laws can be generated merely by Presidential decree. This parallels the vile process under which a Constitutional amendment was necessary to outlaw alcohol, but didn't seem to be, later on, for drugs like heroin and cocaine, and now new drugs can be banned merely by bureaucratic whim. What we see here, in a nutshell, is the collapse of Constitutional government, abolition of the rule of law.

Our fathers and grandfathers stepped onto the proverbial slippery slope back in 1934 by allowing a blatantly unconstitutional—and therefore illegal—set of gun laws to be passed. Now we have almost reached the bottom with a government agency—an entire government, in point of fact—that believes it doesn't have to obey any law at all, an agency that has become just another gang of street criminals who beat people up, steal their property, destroy their livelihoods, and coldly murder them—and have pistol fights among themselves in elevators.

The Gang does an excellent job of demonstrating that while we the peasantry are being held—on pain of imprisonment or death—to whatever letter of the law the BATFE says is there to be read, the bureau itself has no respect for the law. Its minions are expected to lie, cheat, and steal their way to convictions no matter what laws they have to break, what evidence they have to falsify, or whose lives they have to ruin. The dead giveaway is that the legislation they all enforce today—Senator Thomas Dodd's 1968 Gun Control Act and its various additions and revisions—is a rendition of Hitler's 1938 gun laws.

During the documentary I was delighted to see various illustrious folks some of us may only have read about before now. There are some segments featuring Aaron himself, and others featuring individuals like attorneys David Hardy (who wrote the screenplay) and Monroe Whitesides, author John Ross, firearms expert Len Savage, and Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America. We also hear from a number of the victims of the BATFE's make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of law enforcement.

We even get to see Ted Nugent firing a submachinegun.

Along the way, The Gang touches on the agency's bizarre belief that an individual's interest in the Constitution—or in the clear correlation between gun confiscation and genocide—is "subversive". It also considers events like the notoriously racist "Good Ol' Boys Roundup" party, and the murderous incidents at Ruby Ridge and Mount Carmel.

In the end, it is the unanimous conclusion of all these witnesses and experts that we desperately need to abolish the BATFE altogether—that, in fact, it's probably the only way we have left to save the Bill of Rights. The up-side is that there are about 100,000,000 gun owners in this country, and only a few thousand BATFE agents. If the former can ever learn to work together effectively, then the latter will end up on a street corner somewhere, selling pencils from a tin cup.

Or occupying prison cells.

Buy a copy of The Gang as soon as you can.* The price is $29.95, including postage, and steep volume discounts are available. Run-time is 85 minutes. Persuade your friends to buy copies or buy copies for them. Send copies to your congressmen, your state legislator, your county commissioners, your city council. Let them know that we know that "An armed society is a polite society" and we will accept no substitute.


*Direct purchase link:
JPFO, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
phone: 1-262-673-9745
fax: 1-262-673-9746
order line: 1-800-869-1884

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, or

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