By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)-An honorably discharged Marine and one-time bodyguard to rancher Cliven Bundy insists government has no delegated power to violate his rights in a transcribed statement provided to AmmoLand Shooting Sports News. Despite his protests, Schuyler Barbeau has been incarcerated at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center since his December 2015 arrest.
The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, is posted along with links to other legal documents and numerous reports at LibertyUnderAttack.com. It accuses Barbeau of:
“knowingly possess[ing] a firearm which was not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, as required by law, namely, a particular black, semiautomatic AR-15 5.56mm caliber assault rifle with a 10.5 inch barrel and holographic sight, a rifle having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length.”
There are plenty of smears against Barbeau, notably by those who make a lucrative living off ad hominem insinuations like the Southern Poverty Law Center. There’s also no shortage of gun owners ostensibly “on our side” who will argue this isn’t the right case to back, and they’ll cite Barbeau’s own words and actions, being exploited by SPLC and others, to throw him under the bus.
It’s interesting to note that a year-and-a-half after his arrest, Barbeau remains behind bars awaiting trial on a short barrel rifle possession charge. Compare that to, say, Ted Kennedy’s bodyguard, arrested with two submachine guns and ammunition in Washington D.C. and released on his own recognizance.
Here’s Barbeau’s rationale from a transcribed handwritten note:
STATEMENT OF SCHUYLER BARBEAU
“The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution declares the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet at the same time, Congress has the power to tax and regulate interstate commerce –
There are two kinds of firearms – the 2nd Amendment firearms and the interstate commerce firearms – because manufacturers, importers, and dealers are engaging in commerce, and there's a whole industry and market for firearms, Congress can regulate them. Even tell those businesses that they cannot make certain firearms (i.e. machineguns) for the civilian market, or can require registration before the manufacturer makes certain firearms (i.e. SBR's and suppressors). What I did, after researching the law and Constitution to understand this, was to build my own firearm instead of buying one out of the commerce stream. I am not a business or even engaging in business where Congress would have jurisdiction to impose any requirements or prohibitions on me. I am a private citizen and I made my own gun to use for lawful purposes.
There is no delegated power in the Constitution for Congress to regulate what I do with my two hands in my own home. Congress does not have the power to regulate or prohibit me from making my own gun for my own personal use. Not even the States with their “Police Power” can regulate or prohibit someone making their own gun because the 2nd Amendment extends to the State governments through the 14th Amendment.
The Supreme Court has decided that people making their own guns can still affect interstate commerce because “an object might enter the interstate market and affect supply and demand.” The Judicial Branch has unconstitutionally extended the reach of the Legislative Branch.
How can people exercise their right to keep and bear arms if they cannot make the arms in the first place? How can the people exercise their right to make and keep and use their arms un-infringed upon if the courts are extending Congress' reach and expanding their powers where the Constitution forbids?
The 5th Amendment requires that no person shall be deprived of the life, liberty, and property without Due Process of Law. I made something with my hands. It was my personal property. Now the government is taking away what I created without any due process. Due Process requires Notice of the Deprivation and an opportunity to have objections heard. Think Eminent Domain. There is a serious deprivation of liberty – to make, keep, and use my personal arms – and property – my rifle – because I have never received any due process. Criminal charges and prison is not Due Process.
If I would have bought an AR-15 complete rifle from a dealer, or if I would have bought a lower receiver for my build that was made by a licensed manufacturer – with a serial number – I would have registered it and got my Tax Stamp for the rifle as a Short-barreled rifle, and I wouldn't have built is as select-fire. That's how I read and understand the law's requirements. But I chose to buy and 80% lower because it is not a “firearm” yet, under the law and is not regulated. I machined it myself and built the rifle. Having an understanding of Congress' limited powers in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I read and understood the laws to not apply to me because I am not engaging in business and I didn't buy a “firearm” out of interstate commerce. The 2nd Amendment must still exist and I found it – outside interstate commerce. But the government disagrees, so I must fight, for all of us. There has to be a line and I am trying to make a bold one in the sand.”
Taking this tack is a reason why he has dismissed court-appointed attorneys reluctant to present such a defense. Barbeau, assisted by a pro-bono paralegal, wanted to raise the points so they would be on the record if needed for appeal. *
The judge has reportedly denied Barbeau’s May 24 motions, and is intent on the case proceeding based strictly on the complaint charge, without allowing arguments based on Constitutionality. That recalls another case from years past, that of Hollis Wayne Fincher, convicted on “illegal weapons” charges. That judge would not allow the Second Amendment to be raised in “his” courtroom as a defense.
“The trial is due to begin Monday, June 5 at 9 a.m,” a spokesperson for Barbeau advises. “We are submitting Motions this week to the Court for a continuance based on newly discovered evidence. It will probably be denied but we have to at least try.”
It’s true, based on existing precedents, this case is (putting it mildly) problematic, and as far as prevailing public sentiments go, Barbeau’s past statements do not make him the ideal sympathetic defendant. It’s also true this is but one more example of being set up by a provocateur/informant that established and then betrayed trust, something we all ought to be on guard against. If the provocative words attributed to Barbeau were actionable, we’d have seen criminal charges. They are irrelevant to the core issue. Diverting the focus to the defendant's internet presence serves only to prejudice minds against him as a person, and have nothing to do with the actual charge.
What’s Barbeau supposed to do? Take one for the team?
If you ignore the noise and focus strictly on the Second Amendment, why shouldn’t he be able to possess whatever gun he wants?
Why shouldn’t you?
* A source close to the case says the defense has also received advice from famed trial attorney Gerry Spence, noted for, among other cases, winning a $10.5 M settlement for the family of Karen Silkwood and successfully defending Randy Weaver against murder and gun charges after the Ruby Ridge standoff. At this writing, The Spence Law Firm has not responded to a request for a statement.
UPDATE (from seattle pi)
“Schuyler Pyatte Barbeau was one day into a jury trial in which he was representing himself when he pleaded guilty to possessing a machine gun and a related count, which likely will carry a prison sentence.”
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.