Monday, February 25, 2013

Press Release -- HB402 "Assault Weapon" Ban Tabled



Contact: Mike Blessing, State Chair – 505-249-1248

[ALBUQUERQUE] – The Libertarian Party of New Mexico (LPNM) applauds the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee decision to table House Bill 402, which would have made it illegal for most New Mexicans to own an "assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition feeding device."

"This was a surprisingly sensible decision by committee members, given there's no clear definition of what an 'assault weapon' actually is and because gun bans only serve to disarm the law-abiding public," said LPNM State Chair Mike Blessing. "Furthermore, the ridiculous wording of the proposed law made it virtually unenforceable."

The ban would have exempted several groups of individuals, including law enforcement officers and military personnel. More problematic, the bill would have exempted "a person [who] possesses an assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition-feeding device for use exclusively at a firing range owned and operated by a gun dealer licensed in New Mexico and the assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition-feeding device is located on the premises of the firing range."

"You have to ask what the point of banning 'assault weapons' is if a person is still allowed to own one as long as they claim they're only going to use it at a firing range," Blessing added. "It's idiotic to think this clause could possibly be enforced. If a police officer stopped you while you were initially transporting your so-called assault weapon to the firing range, would you be fined or jailed? And who would be tasked with ensuring people who own 'assault weapons' were keeping them at a firing range at all times? It's ridiculous."

The term "assault weapon" currently enjoys no singular legal definition. It's normally used to refer to the cosmetic features of semi-automatic firearms and can refer to firearms of any caliber. For example, a "military style" semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle may be designated an "assault weapon," whereas a common semi-automatic .22 caliber "hunting style" rifle would not be considered an "assault weapon."

"The LPNM opposes gun control laws at any level and considers them unconstitutional," Blessing added. "The LPNM will continue to vigorously fight to protect the Second Amendment rights of New Mexico citizens."



Established in 1972 by Margaret Mathers in Farmington, LPNM is the third-largest political party in the state. LPNM seeks to preserve personal liberty and freedom by opposing new or more restrictive laws, new or more expensive spending programs, and new or higher taxes. Guided by the Non-Aggression Principle, which opposes the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals, Libertarians promote peace, personal freedom, and unfettered capitalism.

Official LPNM website:

Thanks to Maureen Johnson for putting together this press release.

Copyright © 2013 Libertarian Party of New Mexico, Maureen Johnson and Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Countering Statist False Fronts

Earlier today, I shared a post from the Libertarian Party's Facebook page –

Click the picture to see the original posting on Facebook.

One of the Libertarian Party's goals at this year's Students for Liberty conference was to help students tell the difference between real liberty groups and false fronts whose goal is to trick libertarians into voting for statist candidates.

It turned out that was completely unnecessary. They already knew as much as we did on the topic, if not more.

Some pointed out that when the National Rifle Association endorsed Mitt Romney, the NRA basically told every Republican governor in the country that they could pass "assault" weapons bans, and still count on an NRA endorsement if they ran for president.

Others pointed out that when the NRA called for more government, instead of ending "gun free school zones" which literally advertise a large group of disarmed victims, the NRA made itself irrelevant to the Liberty movement. Many had become supporters of the Gun Owners of America or another group out of disgust with NRA's support of statism.

As experts in marketing, the NRA had done the classic trade show trick of having attractive representatives hand out tote bags to every incoming person. The idea is, obviously, that then people put flyers, etc. in the bag, carry around the bag, and that tricks everyone at the conference into believing that the organization has a ton of support.

Unfortunately for the NRA, Libertarians, libertarians, minarchists, anarcho-capitalists, r3volutionaries, and voluntarists are not that easy to manipulate. In this picture, a student activist has stuffed his NRA tote bag into a Libertarian Party tote bag. Note that the LP didn't hand them out to every incoming person, only to people who requested them at our table.

Copyright © 2013 Libertarian Party of New Mexico and Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Welcome to Obamacare: The Optometrist will see You Now

A disturbing news story caught my attention this week. It illustrates the negative ramifications of health care reform, Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), whatever you prefer to call it.

It's a fact that extending healthcare to millions of currently uninsured people is going to place huge strains on the system. In California, it's suddenly dawning on the powers-that-be that there won't be enough doctors to serve all these new patients.

I know! Shocker, right?

What's actually shocking is California's proposed solution: Allow people with little to no actual medical training to serve as primary care providers. This includes pharmacists and optometrists. Granted, today all pharmacists and optometrists hold doctoral degrees. But it wasn't so long ago that becoming a pharmacist required just a bachelor's degree. In fact, prior to the late 1990s, a high school student could go directly into a 5-year pharmacy program. And while optometrists complete four years of post-graduate education, it's almost all focused on the eyes and vision care.

Here's a quote from a Los Angeles Times article that illustrates my concern about allowing professionals like optometrists to act as primary health care providers:
[California State Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), an optometrist] said he often sees Medicaid patients who come to his La Puente practice because they have failed their vision test at the DMV. Many complain of constant thirst and frequent urination. "I know it's diabetes," he said."
Really? Just because someone failed an eye exam at the DMV and has "constant thirst and frequent urination," this man "knows" the patient has diabetes? This surprises me because, as a nurse, I can think of several other potential diagnoses with these symptoms. These patients well may have diabetes, but I wouldn't automatically leap to that conclusion.

And this is what bothers me about the pending California legislation. I don't think individuals without direct patient care education and experience should be allowed to magically become "primary care providers." I have the utmost respect for pharmacists, but their doctoral education is specific to medication. Ditto for optometrists, but their post-graduate education is pretty much limited to eye issues. None of these folks have experience performing patient exams. 

Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the "Pharm D" or "Doctor of Pharmacy" degree has only been around since the late 1990s. The legislation presumably would grandfather in any pharmacist (or optometrist), regardless of their level of education. I don't know how long optometrists have been required to obtain a doctoral degree, but does it really matter? Do you want an optometrist coordinating your care for, say, lung cancer?

The proposed California legislation would relax restrictions on nurse practitioners and physician assistants, allowing them to practice independently. I find this a much more reasonable solution. In many states, including New Mexico, nurse practitioners have practiced independently as primary care providers for years. Numerous studies support the safety of independent practice by nurse practitioners. I'm sure the same would be true for PAs.

Although the education requirement to become an NP or PA is lower (usually a master's degree) than that to become a pharmacist or optometrist, NPs and PAs have actual medical education. They've studied pathophysiology extensively. They know how to take a medical history -- and know what items should raise red flags. In my experience, NPs and PAs are well aware of when to refer a patient up the ladder to an MD. Partly that's because they've worked in the system and view patient care as a team effort.

The anarchist in me wants to love this proposed California legislation. Let almost anyone with some sort of master's or doctoral degree in the biological sciences act as a primary care provider. Let individuals decide for themselves whether or not they want to trust an optometrist or pharmacist with their general health and well-being.

But the more savvy libertarian in me understands that the proposed California legislation won't give people a choice in the matter. Some people will be forced onto unqualified "primary care providers" because the real doctors will have to stop taking new patients. And when a person's choice in such an important matter is taken away, that's real cause for alarm.

Welcome to Obamacare: The pharmacist will see you now.

Copyright © 2013 Libertarian Party of New Mexico. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Memo to Susana: "The Feds" is Us

I've heard some unsettling new rhetoric being bandied about regarding health care reform. I first noticed it in Governor Susana Martinez' announcement that New Mexico will be expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.
“If we were to expand Medicaid the federal government would pay a higher portion for these individuals' healthcare, and the state would actually save money,” Martinez said. 
Later, during media interviews that questioned her decision, she emphatically repeated, "The FEDS will pay 100 percent of this during the first three years. The FEDS will pay for 100 percent of this."

I've since heard this same rhetoric from other parties regarding Obamacare, in general. One woman I spoke with said, "The state [health insurance] exchanges will be good because the feds will help with the costs" (emphasis mine).

Well, here's a newsflash for Governor Martinez and, um, everyone else: "The Feds" is us. It's every taxpayer in the United States.

It's always scary to hear this insidious type of rhetoric invading the public discussion of such an important issue as healthcare reform. This single, subtle phrase -- the feds -- has been subverted from its original meaning (the federal government) into a description of a discrete and apparently magical entity, a body that somehow exists separate from each one of us.

But in fact, "the feds" is us, in a very literal sense. It's important for people to remember whenever the term "the feds" is uttered in reference to money, it refers to every single taxpayer in America. It's that simple.

In expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, Governor Martinez apparently believes it's OK to redistribute the wealth of other Americans into New Mexico, because that's what it boils down to. If, as she says, "the feds" will pay for 100 percent of our state's Medicaid expansion, that means taxpayers in New York and California, Georgia and Oregon, and all states in between are paying for it.

But it also means New Mexico taxpayers are paying for this Medicaid expansion. Just because our tax dollars are being run through Washington first (hence, becoming "the feds' money") doesn't make it any less a fact. 

Please, my fellow Americans, don't be fooled by this rhetoric. 

Copyright © 2013 Libertarian Party of New Mexico. All rights reserved.