Innovative gun-ownership system goes national

This is the second in a two-part series on estate-planning attorney Dennis Brislawn’s creation of “gun trusts” to protect Second Amendment rights. The first article showed how Brislawn developed his “gun trust system” and began to market his innovative legal approach to complex state and federal firearms laws. This second article explains how Brislawn has taken his concept national, accommodating the needs of many different types of firearms owners.

NEW YORK – Once Dennis Brislawn, an estate-planning attorney in Bellevue, Washington, had developed the concept of using a “gun trust” to protect Second Amendment firearm rights, he resolved to take his model, called Gun Docx™, national.

“Once I had Version 1.0 of Gun Docx™ built, I visited local gun shops to see if they would work with me to educate gun owners about quality gun-trust planning,” Brislawn explained to WND in an interview.

“A few let me in the door and welcomed attorney involvement,” he said. “Several of my gun shop owners liked what I had but were concerned about cost, since a few were providing generic trusts for free or even charging for them. ‘How can you charge $500 for a complete gun trust? Some of my customers can’t afford to pay $500 for the gun trust, not on top of transfer fees and the National Firearms Act (NFA) firearm purchase.’”

As WND reported, Brislawn’s gun-trust system helps gun owners protect their rights amid complex laws and avoid the risk of criminal charges for incorrectly possessing and transferring firearms.

Are you considering arming yourself because of how crazy it’s getting out there? See resources here to help you plan

Attorneys were concerned about being able to provide a quality service for commodity prices. Brislawn explained that his response to the objection was to create options.

“We built an NFA-only, streamlined $97 version of a gun trust for somebody on a budget, like a young adult buying his or her first silencer,” he explained. “Then we created more versions for different gun owner goals and needs, all the way up to the ultra-wealthy gun owner having a multi-million dollar gun collection.”

Gun Docx: Silver and Gold versions

“Knowing gun owners, I guessed that someday I would run into some folks with multi-million dollar gun collections,” he mused. “Well, it happened, and I have helped plan for some pretty amazing gun collections in addition to modest ones. And every one of those gun owners values that collection personally, no matter what it is worth in dollars.

“The more gun trusts I created, the more I started hearing, ‘So, you’re the guy who creates gun trusts. I want to meet with you and talk about gun law,’” he said.

“By then, I had a whole system created with three levels of gun trusts modeled after marksmanship medals, with Bronze being the simplest version, and Silver and Gold versions having more planning choices and advanced planning options and features.”

Brislawn explained his logic in creating a multi-level structure.

“Given competing goals of producing valued legal services and quality documents under budgetary concerns, in some ways we elected to ‘commoditize’ what most attorneys consider ‘legal artwork,’” he explained.

“So, if you’re looking for a multi-state gun trust, the Gold Gun Trust is the ticket,” he explained. “If you’re planning for your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren that you haven’t met yet, then the Gold Gun Trust meets that need. If you want to build in some advanced features such as asset protection, then the Gold Gun Trust is part of a solution set that will include advanced estate planning and possibly LLC planning.”

So today, Brislawn stressed, Gun Docx has a robust menu of choices with different price points and features depending upon complexity, as well as the ability to dovetail with a client’s estate- and asset-protection planning.

“A truly comprehensive gun trust actually owns your weapons and all your ‘gun stuff,’ all the way down to your gun-cleaning kits,” he said. “It has language in it specific to state firearms and gun law concerns.”

Gun Docx™ in layman’s terms

Brislawn put the structure of Gun Docx into simple terms.

“It works like this,” he explained. “You, as ‘grantor,’ essentially own the trust, since you will be the ‘grantor’ setting up the gun trust with the ability to change it.

And, he said, you are a “trustee,” with “the right to administer and possess trust assets, as well as the ‘beneficiary,’ with the right to enjoy your trust assets.”

“Others can be named as trustees and/or beneficiaries, and you have to be careful here, as both federal and state law can introduce some issues that a trust must deal with, too,” he continued. “The gun trust is built around a conventional living trust in which we strip out everything that would be illegal or problematic under gun laws.”

The trust must be built so that it’s valid under state law, he stressed, noting there are some provisions in a normal living trust that don’t work.

“You can tell a client, for instance, ‘If it’s too much trouble to run your living trust, then you can just shut the living trust down and distribute everything.’ With a trust that owns a Title II or NFA firearm, such as a machine gun, that would be a horrible mistake. If you shut down your gun trust, you just killed off the lawful owner (person), with the unfortunate result that you suddenly personally possess contraband!”

He explained that for Title II firearms, such as NFA firearms that include a silencer, a short barrel rifle, a short barrel shotgun, a machine gun and two other categories of special firearms, the gun trust is the “person” that can possess that firearm, construed in legal terms.

“The gun trust has the legal right to possess these weapons to carry out its purpose for Title II firearms. But it can only do so through a person named as trustee,” he continued.

“The trustee for all practical purposes is the gun trust’s brain, arms, hands, legs and feet. All this is done for a beneficiary, a person with the right to ‘enjoy’ trust property. With trust-owned firearms, it is helpful to be both trustee and beneficiary so you can both possess and enjoy. To enjoy, somebody has to be with the firearm who has the power to possess.”

What are the rules?

What firearms can a gun trust possess?

“Any and all firearms that can be legally owned in a state,” Brislawn answered. “Both Title I weapons, including conventional handguns, rifles and shotguns, as well as Title II firearms that constitute six categories of NFA firearms.”

“The ATF agrees and said so most recently in public at the last NRA Convention,” he elaborated. “Trusts commonly own tangible personal property, including firearms in every state.”

“But there is a problem in ‘gun land,’” he warned, “and it has to do with definitions under different parts of the federal gun law and certain state laws.”

The definition of a firearm is different under Title I and Title II of the Gun Control Act, distinguishing conventional from NFA firearms.

To complicate matters further, he said, the definition of a person is different under Title I and Title II,.

“Under Title I, a trust is not a person, while under Title II a trust is a person. This is a problem for the background check system, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used for Federal Firearms License (FFL) firearms transfers and increasingly required for private transfers in gun control states.”

Brislawn acknowledged that the distinctions in federal gun laws are often complicated and difficult for a layperson not trained in law to follow.

“A gun trust as a ‘person’ cannot directly go through a background check under Title I, with the result the gun trust cannot buy Title I weapons,” he pointed out. “You can’t do a background check on a person in their role as trustee or in the name of the gun trust for Title I firearms. It’s crazy, but a gun trust is a person under one part of the Gun Control Act, Title II (the NFA), but not under Title I.”

Brislawn stressed that because of these legal complications, he recommends non-lawyers should consider getting help with gun trusts from a competent lawyer using the Gun Docx™ system or something similar.

“Conventional firearms can be purchased by a trust where a background check is not required, and existing personal firearms can generally be transferred to trust by a written assignment or bill of sale just like any personal item would be to any trust,” he said, explaining how the legal complications of definitions under the federal gun laws can be navigated by a competent lawyer trained on the Gun Docx system.

“If state law requires a NICs background check for a conventional firearms transfer, then good luck, since federal law says a trust is not a person and a FFL cannot do the paperwork,” he said. “This is a real issue in my home state of Washington and it is brewing in several others.”

‘What a clumsy solution!’

Brislawn noted the ATF has had to develop a solution for a transfer of an NFA firearm to a gun trust, since a gun trust is a “person” under the definition in federal law.

“Remember, there is no place to put ‘trust’ or ‘trustee’ on a Form 4473 that is part of the background check when a named trustee goes to pick up a silencer at the gun dealer,” he said. “So ATF has instructed FFLs to do the background check on the person documented as a trustee who is picking up an NFA firearm. The trustee picking up the firearm must then sign a statement that he or she is acting as a fiduciary for the gun trust, which is the ‘real’ person for NFA purposes.

“Wow, what a clumsy solution!” he exclaimed.

Brislawn cautioned that formulating solutions to gun ownership and “sharing” firearms with a gun trust is not a task for novices, even if the novice has a legal degree.

“It illustrates the problems we have due to inconsistent definitions within and between federal and state law,” he continued. “Where I live in Washington, our newest gun control law is unclear whether a trust is a person, and even if it is, you cannot do a background check on a trustee or trust! I tried to do this at an FFL when purchasing a handgun and was turned down as I suspected I would be. The FFL said a background check on a transfer of a conventional firearm to a trust ‘could not be done’ using NICs.”

He explained that gun trusts are useful in situations where people who have never owned a firearm end up owning one, for instance, as part of an inheritance willed to them by a deceased gun owner.

“Most people don’t have experience with conventional firearms, let alone NFA firearms,” he pointed out. “In giving seminars about gun trusts, I am frequently confronted by gun owners who realize that many of the people in their family and their close circle of friends do not understand guns or gun laws.

Gun Docx: FAQs

“I get asked, ‘If you get sick or die, would these people even have a clue what to do in my state with your guns?’

“Obviously, the answer for many people is, ‘No,’” he answered, “and the danger is that uninformed heirs who get guns may want to take possession of those guns to sell them off without considering the legal consequences of doing so.”

Brislawn said a gun owner with a well-designed gun trust can anticipate these problems and devise solutions, anticipating that inheritors of their weapons need to be protected under the law.

“And, by the way, I bet you want these people to sell your guns last if it came to that,” he continued. “I often hear ‘If somebody has to save my life, I would want them to cash out my investments or IRA first, because I want my buddies to get my cool guns.’

“So, provisions in a normal trust that work for stocks and bonds, or for house, your cat, dog as well as your couch and TV, don’t work for guns for lots of reasons.”

He said gun ownership creates pragmatic and legal issues that are different than for other assets like bank accounts or stocks.

“Let’s talk money. Most gun trusts are not liquid, since they own guns; they may not own cash or a meaningful bank account. How do you maintain or ship firearms without selling them off?”

Brislawn said a trust could be made for a beneficiary of a small life insurance policy so the trustee would have funds to protect and transfer the collection.

“Next, it’s important to consider how a trustee could carry out your instructions to pass on guns. Remember it’s designed to hold a personally precious firearm or two or even more,” he said.

“If somebody steps in to help you due to sickness or death, do they know firearms law?” he asked. “How do they learn it to avoid problems with possession, i.e., access to them by others, or transfer, such as a gift, loan or sale?”

He warned that the possession and transfer of a firearm, if done wrong, can land a person in jail, without firing a round.

“Look at the stories out of New York, New Jersey and elsewhere where gun owners voluntarily reported that they accidentally brought a gun into the state and were arrested. It is very easy in parts of our country to accidentally violate possession or transfer laws.” He said.

“One man came in and told me: ‘I have a valuable gun collection and I’m not sure what to do with it,’” he recalled.

“He was a humble man but he was very proud of his gun collection and he wanted to leave the collection to his son,” he continued. “I happened to ask him that day, ‘Tell me about your family. Are there criminal or substance abuse issues with your family?’ He was immediately crestfallen and ashamed to admit that his son had a criminal record that would presently prohibit firearms possession.”

Brislawn said they discussed restoration of gun rights but told him that it would be dangerous for his son to inherit the guns, because the inheritance might result in a felony.z’

“Instead we developed a plan that left the son an income with a legacy gift to a firearms charity,” he said.

“His gun trust established a charitable gift annuity at death,” Brislawn made clear. “The firearms would be transferred to the NRA, who could cost effectively sell the firearms and maximize the value of the annuity which would then pay income to his son for life. At the son’s death, the remainder would be a charitable gift to an NRA gun safety program for kids.”

He said that there were other options, such as appointing some other family member or friend as trustee to take possession of the guns and hold them or to sell them off and hand over the money.

“I want people to talk about gun law and what it means to gun owners and non-gun owners alike,” Brislawn stressed. “There’s too much rhetoric and bad law being created, driven by fear and misinformation, and I got thinking that something should be done, as a community of gun owners, to deal with this.”

Gun law community

Brislawn explained his decision to create GunLawCommunity.com.

“My friend Blaine Millet and I created Gun Law Community for the general public and anybody interested in discussing and considering gun law and how it does and should work in America,” he said. “We connect gun owners and professionals in the industry with lawyers who are all interested in this.

“We believe that we lawyers must lead and reinforce the idea that we are the voice of reason and lawfulness within the gun-owner community,” he continued. “My colleagues and I want to be visible as people to turn to when it comes to gun law and that somebody with legal training has your back. We are not ‘gun-owner whack jobs.’ We are people who are totally concerned with lawful use of firearms.”

Brislawn explained attorneys who use Gun Doc, many who are members of Gun Law Community, help gun owners to create and use gun trusts properly.

“Gun Law Community as a website is not designed to give legal advice,” he said. “It is designed to explain gun-law concepts, to trigger thought and comment, and to help interested gun owners and prospective gun owners to get in touch with a qualified legal adviser in their state.”

“As an attorney licensed to practice in three states, before the federal bar, who has appeared before many different judges, commissioners and agencies, including the IRS, I have represented thousands of people for over 26 some years,” Brislawn said in conclusion. “When it comes to firearms, the risk of getting bad legal advice is not just some fine or loss of money, or even confiscation of the firearm. It might mean the loss of your freedom via jail time and the temporary or permanent loss of the right to possess any and all firearms.”

“The majority of us want to retain and protect our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but with gun ownership comes gun accountability under the law,” he stressed. “Our Supreme Court has stated that our constitutional rights do have certain limits, especially where mine affect yours. I for one want to help all gun owners to become thought leaders in developing what it really means to be a gun owner in this country.”

He said there are many good resources to help gun owners to understand their rights, duties and obligations, and to get trained and manage risk in using firearms.

Among them, he said, are the NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network and the U.S. Concealed Carry Association

“You can learn to shoot with a competent instructor, but having your own attorney helps you protect and preserve everything you own and love, including your firearms. You can find one in the state and community where you live,” he said.

“My takeaway is that we gun owners must work together, as a community, and get a new message out. We are accountable, reasonable and dependable. We protect life. We believe in the law and doing things the right way.”

Brislawn’s background

Brislawn is a partner in the Private Client Law Group at Oseran Hahn, P.S. in Bellevue, Washington. He is licensed to practice in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, admitted to the federal courts and practices before the IRS. With more than 26 years of legal experience, he is nationally recognized as one of WealthCounsel, LLC’s legal systems architects and most recently as the creator of the Gun Docx Trust system.

He is a founding member of WealthCounsel, LLC, where he has authored or coauthored numerous systems and professional presentations such as “Gun Trusts, How Not to Shoot Yourself in the Foot”; “Drafting Gun Trusts” (2011-2015 WealthCounsel, National Business Institute, MyLawCLE, Lorman, state bars and attorney associations); “Probate: Beyond the Basics” (2007 National Business Institute, Inc.); “Asset Protection Strategies for Washington Physicians” (2006 National Business Institute, Inc.); and is a coauthor of WealthCounsel’s “Settlement Counsel, Family Limited Partnership, LLC, and Living Trust Compendia.”

He is currently a team member working with Washington’s Conservation Commission and Office of Farmland Preservation and the Washington State Bar developing programs focused on helping specialty crop growers and family farms with succession planning.
Brislawn is a recipient of the Martindale Hubbell AV Peer Review Rating, ranking him at the top of his profession for ethical standards and professional excellence. He rated a “10,” the highest rating on AVVO, and has been recognized for excellence in a number of publications.

He graduated from Gonzaga University with honors and from the University of Washington School Of Law following his active duty service in the U.S. Army. Brislawn received several U.S. and foreign decorations and awards while in the service, notably Airborne-Ranger, French Army Commando and Expert Infantryman qualifications.


Will Romney jump in presidential race?

(OBSERVER) — There is on the edge of the spectrum a thought awakening that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who ran for President in 2008 and 2012, might get back in the race. It comes naturally to think so. Before the race got seriously underway Mr. Romney met with Jeb Bush to consider their fates. Mr. Romney’s wife Ann went so far back then as to suggest on Cavuto that If Jeb ran, Mitt would stay out, as they both represented a similar center of establishment principles and would appeal to the same donor base. This past week, three of Mr. Bush’s key advisors have slipped away as Mr. Trump has made unprecedented advances in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the three states, as former Governor of Texas Rick Perry has said recently, where the race to 2016 is to be won.

As Mr. Trump rises, and the Real Clear Politics current average has him ahead of the pack in New Hampshire at 28.3 percent, he rises at the expense of Mr. Bush, who is at nine percent in the same poll.

So as the “establishment” candidate, Mr. Bush, is suddenly being viewed as circling the drain, the frantic call goes out to Mr. Romney to enter and save the day.

YOUR READ IT HERE FIRST! AUG. 24, 2015: Big-name Republican to jump in race, challenge Trump?


Many presidential candidates have church-shopped

(USATODAY) — The religious journey of Marco Rubio has more twists than a pretzel. By his account, he was baptized a Roman Catholic, then baptized a Mormon, then got his parents to return to the Catholic Church and to enroll him in parochial school, from which he quickly withdrew — all before he turned 13.

Rubio now attends Catholic churches as well as an evangelical Protestant megachurch that his wife (whom he married in a Catholic ceremony) joined during a period when Rubio himself had drifted away from church.

Pope Francis’ first U.S. visit next month will focus attention on the 2016 presidential candidates’ religious backgrounds, many of which contain almost as many shifts as Rubio’s.

In this, the candidates reflect a big part of the nation they hope to lead, one characterized by looser religious loyalties and what a report this year by the Pew Research Center called “a remarkable degree of churn in the U.S. religious landscape.”


Law schools dominated by Democrat professors

(THE COLLEGE FIX) — Legal scholars educating the next generation of attorneys and judges are mostly Democrats, according to a wide swath of research, a troubling trend that some say hinders academic freedom, unduly influences judicial rulings and scholarly work, shortchanges students, and is antithetical to the notion of diversity.

Republicans – as well as right-leaning women and Christians of both genders – are vastly underrepresented among law school faculties, a trend that spans much of the last two decades, according to a recent study published by a Northwestern University law professor.

Law Professor James Lindgren found that in 1997, women and minorities were underrepresented among law professors compared to some populations, but Republicans and Christians were vastly underrepresented. Today, Republican women remain “almost missing from law teaching,” according to his survey, published in March.


Classified details found in another 150 Hillary emails


WASHINGTON – The State Department has confirmed another 150 emails on Hillary Clinton’s private server contained classified information.

Spokesman Mark Toner confirmed “somewhere around 150″ of approximately 7,000 Clinton emails to be released at 9:00 Eastern Monday were “upgraded” to classified status.

He said, “The information we’ve upgraded was not marked classified at the time the emails were sent.”

Clinton has denied she had any classified information on her private email server but two inspectors general said that was not true, finding four such emails in a random search of just 30 emails.

Clinton’s camp then claimed none of the emails was marked classified at the time.

Sixty-three Clinton emails released in the last few months have since been retroactively marked classified.

The finding of the inspectors general led to speculation that there would be many more Clinton emails with classified information.

That appeared to be proven true on Monday, as the State Department prepared to release the biggest batch yet of Clinton emails.

The former secretary of state said there were 55,000 pages of emails on her server but she destroyed 30,000, claiming they were private.

Clinton’s server has been turned over to the FBI, which is investigating and trying to see if it can retrieve all of her emails.

In May, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release batches every 30 days of the emails Clinton did not destroy.

The House committee investigating Benghazi has subpoenaed Clinton’s emails and the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch has gone to court to obtain them.

As WND reported on Aug. 20, a federal judge ordered the State Department to work with the FBI to respond to the legal demand for details about her practice.

“We wouldn’t be here today if the employee (Clinton) had followed government policy,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said.

The email controversy has caused some Democrats to begin backing away from Clinton’s candidacy for president.

“I just never feel I have a grasp of what the facts are,” Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told Kentucky television station WHAS. “Clearly, she has handled it poorly from the first day. And, there’s the appearance of dishonesty, if it’s not dishonest.”


ISIS embrace of gold could mean government will come for yours

The Islamic State terror organization has recently vowed to take down the U.S. financial system with the introduction of a new gold-based currency system that the jihadist group claims will undo “America’s capitalist financial system of enslavery.”

The terror group announced its war on the U.S. dollar in an hour-long video titled “The Rise of the Khilafah and the Return of the Gold Dinar,” which was released Saturday.

According to the video, ISIS leaders are working to produce gold dinar coins worth the equivalent of $139 and several other denominations of silver, gold and copper coinage marked with Islamic symbols.

The goal, the video said, is bringing down the U.S.’s “capitalist financial system of enslavement underpinned by a piece of paper called the Federal Reserve dollar note which they alone printed and imposed on the rest of the world.”

“One of the great forms of corruption that the world came to witness was the dark rise of banknotes borne out of the satanic conception of banks which mutated into a fraudulent … financial system of enslavement orchestrated by the Federal Reserve in America, a private corporation and system that would, through the use of deceit and force, deprive people of their due by imposing on them the usage of the piece of paper that came to be known as the dollar bill,” the narrator said.

“It is the Federal Reserve banknote that they alone print and would go on to replace gold and silver which Allah created as the standard mediums of exchange for the purchase of goods and services,” he added.

ISIS vows that it will conduct all of its oil trade in gold.

The video contains a historical accounting of the rise of the Federal Reserve bank and the United States’ abandonment of the gold standard. The terror group even included in the video a clip of former Congressman Ron Paul arguing in favor of the gold standard in 2007.

“People’s money being stolen, people who have saved. They’re being robbed. If you have a devaluation of the dollar at 10 percent people have been robbed of 10 percent,” Paul said.

Whether ISIS’s gold experiment will be successful for the terror group remains to be seen, but it’s worth noting that using gold to thwart U.S. wishes in the region is not a new concept in the Middle East. As recently as 2013, Iran accepted payment for oil sales to India in gold to thwart a Western embargo.

The news of ISIS’s gold embrace could spell bad news for U.S. gold bugs and Federal Reserve critics, as it could give Homeland Security officials could take the announcement as an opportunity to target American advocates of a return to the gold standard, gold investors and preppers who often store large quantities of physical gold as a hedge against economic collapse as terrorist sympathizers.

The post ISIS embrace of gold could mean government will come for yours appeared first on Personal Liberty®.


CNN guest: Jesus was ‘undocumented immigrant’

(MEDIAITE) — A pastor appearing on CNN Monday morning gave a novel excuse for why people should stop saying the words “illegal immigrant”: because Jesus was an illegal immigrant.

“Well, not only was Jesus a rebel, but Jesus was an undocumented immigrant himself when he fled to Egypt seeking persecution [sic] in his day,” said Rev. Ryan Ellers in a debate with CNN conservative contributor S.E. Cupp. “So the question becomes [would] we call Jesus himself illegal if he were, you know, in our modern times?”


Obama denies he’s anti-semitic

President Obama

President Obama

President Obama told the Jewish publication, “Forward,” he was personally hurt and bothered by the accusation he’s anti-semitic, saying there’s no cause for the slinging of such slurs and suggesting he’d simply like to smooth ties with supporters of Israel.

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“There’s not a smidgen of evidence” to the claim, he said, the news outlet reported. “Other than the fact that there have been times where I’ve disagreed with a particular Israeli government’s position on a particular issue.”

Obama made the statement as part of his reach-out to the Jewish community to soothe concerns over the nuclear deal he’s pushing with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several Jewish groups oppose the deal, saying it’s nearly a gift wrapped nuke for Tehran. And some in the political arena have come right out and suggested Obama’s deal reeks of anti-semitism.

“I think anything is anti-semitic if it’s against the survival of a state that is surrounded by enemies and by people who want to destroy them,” presidential hopeful Ben Carson said during a recent Fox News Sunday interview. “And to sort of ignore that and to act like everything is normal there and that these people are paranoid is anti-semitic.”

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, said the president’s push for the nuclear deal was like marching Israel to the “door of the oven,” an obvious reference to Nazi Germany days.

Part of the reason Obama’s seen by some as anti-semitic is that, in addition to the nuclear deal with Iran, he’s shown favor to those who aren’t in the friendship camp with Israel while simultaneously snubbing Israel.

In March 2015, for instance, Obama stopped short of congratulating Netanyahu on his reelection win. But as PJ Media pointed, he broke three decades of American silence to call the newly elected Iranian President Rouhani to offer congratulations. Obama also called Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, to offer his congratulations at his re-election success – and that was despite international and State Department accusations of poll rigging.



On NSA and Trump, Rand Paul isn’t afraid to battle giants

In what is perhaps an attempt to revive a GOP presidential campaign that many voters have forgotten about, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is increasing rhetoric about government surveillance, an issue that has made him popular among civil libertarians in the past. The Republican hopeful is also doubling down on condemnations of businessman Donald Trump, who continues to soak up the bulk of the presidential spotlight.

During a stop in Utah over the weekend, Paul visited the controversial National Security Agency data facility in Bluffdale to deliver a lofty promise.

“When I become President, we’ll convert it into a Constitutional Center to study the 4th Amendment! Bulk data collection must end,” Paul said during a photo op at the facility.

While it’s highly unlikely that the $1.5 billion NSA data hub is going to become a constitutional library anytime soon, Paul’s fight against the spy agency’s bulk data surveillance is nothing new.

The Kentucky lawmaker raised his national profile significantly in spring 2013, at the height of public controversy over government spying, with a 12-hour filibuster of the Senate’s confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan.

During that speech, Paul rallied against everything from the U.S.’s drone policy to the NSA’s bulk collection of communications metadata. In a later filibuster, Paul attempted to block renewal of the Patriot Act. And though he was partially successful, lawmakers quickly replaced it with the similarly intrusive USA Freedom Act.

Paul, last year, filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in an attempt to force the White House to stop the NSA’s bulk data collection via presidential order.

The lawsuit, he said at the time, wouldn’t be necessary if he were elected: “The president created this vast dragnet by executive order. And as president on Day 1, I would immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”

“I believe we can have liberty and security, and I will not compromise your liberty for a false sense of security,” he added later.

Paul is completely right that the most intrusive of the United States’ post-9/11 surveillance laws were created by presidential fiat and could be similarly dismantled. But barring his election (followed by what would surely become a fierce power struggle between a Paul White House and hawks in Congress), it isn’t likely that the NSA will face much further scrutiny.

Either way, Paul faces an uphill battle as he continues his anti-surveillance mission.

Just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned an injunction against the government’s data collection, arguing that the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that their constitutional rights had been personally violated by the program.

Add to that the fact that Paul’s presidential opponents routinely accuse him of threatening national security for political gain with his ant-surveillances rhetoric, and his message becomes increasingly difficult to frame for mainstream GOP audiences.

And before Paul ever gets a chance to convince average Republicans that fighting behemoth government surveillance is a worthy cause, he faces the added challenge of remaining relevant as he and the rest of the GOP field continue to be overshadowed by Trump.

Paul, perhaps more than any of his fellow GOP hopefuls, has repeatedly said that he believes Trump would make a terrible president.

On Monday, Paul told Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” that he believes a Trump nomination would lead to the worst GOP presidential defeat since Barry Goldwater’s ill-fated run against President Lyndon Johnson.

While Paul conceded that Trump’s massive polling lead is impressive, he said that the voter anger that has given rise to the businessman’s popularity would be better placed in a candidate with a solid record of advocating for smaller government.

“There is a lot of bluster and anger on Trump’s part, but a lot of his solutions are big government solutions,” Paul said. “I think eventually people are going to come to their senses and say, ‘Oh my God, I liked his angry vitriol. But I didn’t realize he was for gun control, Obamacare, increasing taxes and taking private property.’”

According to Paul, Trump’s positions on eminent domain ought to raise a major red flag for the small-government wing of the GOP.

“He has been a proponent of using eminent domain to take property from small property owners and use it to make business and make money for himself,” Paul said. “There was a case of a woman who had lived in a house for 30 years. He built a casino next door and when she wouldn’t sell, he used the government to take it from her.”

Paul, during a campaign stop on Saturday, borrowed Trump’s now-famous “make America great again” line and spun it to serve his small government message.

“I will spend every waking moment giving power to states and the people,” Paul said. I’m going to make America great again by leaving more money in your community.”

First, however, Paul needs to work on making his polling numbers great again. Real Clear Politics’ national average shows Paul polling at just 3.7 percent — behind Ben Carson (11 percent), Jeb Bush (9.7 percent), Ted Cruz (7.3 percent), Scott Walker (6.7 percent), Marco Rubio (6.3 percent), Carly Fiorina (5 percent), John Kasich (4.7 percent) and even Mike Huckabee (4.3) percent. Trump, by comparison, is holding strong at 25.7 percent.

The post On NSA and Trump, Rand Paul isn’t afraid to battle giants appeared first on Personal Liberty®.


GOP establishment ‘to unleash on Trump after Labor Day’

CNN's Maeve Reston

CNN’s Maeve Reston

The Republican establishment is reportedly about to launch a massive blitz of commercials after Labor Day to take down front-runner Donald Trump in his quest for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

“The hottest conversation that’s going on right now in the donor community among the anti-Trump donors, is how do you take down Donald Trump, and what’s the vehicle to do it,” CNN’s Maeve Reston told her network colleague John King on Sunday.

But party officials are said to be too timid to attack Trump directly.

“There are a lot of donors out there who see it as much too dangerous, obviously, for the candidates, or their allied super PACs, to go after Trump,” Reston said. “So they’re looking to more establishment PACs to potentially take him down in post-Labor Day ads.”

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Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh saw the report, and agrees with the premise “the Republican establishment is preparing to unleash on Trump after Labor Day.”

“Now they aren’t going to do it with their fingerprints on it,” Limbaugh explained. “They are looking for PACs that have no ties to current Republican candidates. They don’t want any fingerprints of the party directly on whatever this smear of Trump is going to be.”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

If the anti-Trump assault does materialize, Limbaugh said GOP leaders are “running a huge, huge risk. It looks to me like the Republican Party is being as obstinate and stubborn as it’s possible to be.”

Limbaugh noted, “There’s a lot to learn from this Trump campaign, this whole Republican primary has beaucoup (many) things to learn.

“If they’re not gonna take even one of them and try to adapt even one thing much less a whole lot of things, then they’re gonna be relegating themselves to minority status for I don’t know how long. Irrelevancy.”