March 2005

Downrange: 03/05

News reports have said a bodyguard who was once assigned to protect anti-gun film director Michael Moore was arrested by New York Port Authority Police in January.

Michael Moore is certainly no friend of gun owners, but this episode also shows him to be hypocrite. He actively campaigns against gun ownership, but he has retained an armed bodyguard — see entry under “Rosie O’Donnell.”

But in this case, it wouldn’t be Moore who would be put at risk. Bodyguard Patrick Burk was reportedly arrested at JFK International Airport when he declared a pistol in his baggage at the ticket counter, as required by law. New York authorities routinely arrest nonresident travelers who do not have a New York firearms license, but who declare firearms as they check in at airports.

According to Gavin de Becker, whose security firm (www.gavindebecker.com) employs Burk, when checking in for the flight, Burk voluntarily advised United Airlines that he was transporting an unloaded, locked firearm in his checked luggage, precisely as regulations require — not “carrying” a weapon. “In this case, a Port Authority officer decided to arrest Patrick Burk on the charge that he is not licensed to carry a firearm in New York City,” de Becker said.

de Becker said, “Patrick Burk is a former Marine who served with distinction in an elite and specialized Marine unit, and he protected, among others, then-President Clinton. Our firm provides protective coverage for public figures and others, and Patrick Burk is a leading professional in his field.”

Despite his former client’s politics, we hope Burk isn’t prosecuted at all. Possession of an unlicensed gun in New York is a felony, and if convicted, Burke would lose his ability to own firearms anywhere in the country. That would be a travesty.

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New Life For Gun-Industry Protection?
In a report detailing 2004 electoral gains, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) says there is strong support for a bill to protect gun makers from lawsuits stemming from the criminal actions of a third party.

Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said the NRA will lobby for the bill’s return this year. If such a bill doesn’t pass, he said, “All of the great American names in the firearm industry will be forced to leave the country or close.”

The NRA wants the bill resubmitted, and it has leverage from a good 2004 election: All but one of the 14 Senate candidates endorsed by the NRA-PVF (Pete Coors in Colorado) were victorious. In the House, among the 251 candidates endorsed by the NRA-PVF, 241 won their races.

Last year, gun-control advocates in the Senate defeated a bill to limit lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, authored last year’s bill and expects to bring the measure up again.


-Todd Woodard