By Jeff Knox
(June 6, 2018) Why are NRA, President Trump, Republican members of Congress, and commentators like Ben Shapiro advocating in favor of so-called Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or ERPO’s? Continue reading No to ERPO
By Jeff Knox
(June 6, 2018) Why are NRA, President Trump, Republican members of Congress, and commentators like Ben Shapiro advocating in favor of so-called Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or ERPO’s? Continue reading No to ERPO
By Chris Knox and Jeff Knox
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, turned ubiquitous talking head on left-leaning cable news and radio, recently published five talking points that he claims shoot holes in the NRA’s (here meaning all gun-rights supporters’) arguments. The points are not at all unique to Mr. Reich, so we thought it would be worthwhile to take a closer look.
Reich’s Point Number 1: Gun laws save lives. Consider the federal assault weapons ban. After it became law in 1994, gun massacres – defined as instances of gun violence in which six or more people were shot and killed – fell by 37 percent. The number of people dying from mass shootings fell by 43 percent. But when Republicans in Congress let the ban lapse in 2004, gun massacres more than doubled.
Reich doesn’t cite a source for his claims because there is no credible source drawing that conclusion. Start with his definition of “gun massacres” being shootings resulting in 6 or more deaths. Despite a rash of those horrible events, massacres, by any definition, remain rare. But because of their horrific nature, they draw media, following the ancient newspaper adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” As a result a the nation fixes its gaze on a single-digit percentage of all crime involving guns, and a fraction of a percent of overall deaths.
With such a small sample size, a difference of one or two incidents has a dramatic impact when presented as a percentage. Thirty-seven percent of 10,000 would be a significant result, but 37% of 3 would be one more – meaningless statistical anomaly. There’s no way of knowing exactly what Reich’s percentages are based on though, because he provides no source, and most tellingly, no real numbers. In short, Reich’s first point is just short of a total fabrication.
Reich’s Point Number 2: The Second Amendment was never intended to permit mass slaughter. When the Constitution was written more than 200 years ago, the framers’ goal was [to] permit a “well-regulated militia,” not to enable Americans to terrorize their communities.
The First Amendment was written more than 200 years ago and the founders’ goal was to protect people’s right to assemble in person, and protect the press – newspapers printed on paper, not to enable the mass propagation of fake news by internet trolls. But few today would argue that the First Amendment does not apply to online communications. The rights recognized by the Bill of Rights are not dependent on technology.
It is also worth noting that during the framers’ time, it was common for private citizens who could afford them to own canons, and even fully-armed warships. The right to arms does not “permit mass slaughter,” and restricting that right does not prevent mass slaughter. Every day over 100 million lawful gunowners don’t kill anyone or terrorize their communities. Restricting their rights will not prevent evil people from doing evil things.
Reich’s Point Number 3: More guns have not, and will not, make us safer. More than 30 studies show that guns are linked to an increased risk for violence and homicide. In 1996, Australia initiated a mandatory buyback program to reduce `the number of guns in private ownership. Their firearm homicide rate fell 42 percent in the seven years that followed.
Once again, Mr. Reich throws around “studies” but fails to mention which ones. We can easily present more than 30 studies that show that gun control laws don’t reduce risks of violence. In fact, in the late 1970s Wright and Rossi produced a study funded by the Carter Justice Department of the available literature in order to determine which “gun control” programs were most effective. They found none. In the mid-2000s, both the Centers for Disease Control and the National Science Foundation did independent reviews with the same objective. Both reviews reached the same conclusion as Wright and Rossi: that there is no clear evidence that any gun control laws have effectively reduced crime.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Reich also fails to mention that murder rates in Australia were declining prior to the massacre that triggered their gun ban and confiscation. The rates went up slightly in the year right after the ban, then resumed their downward trend at a slower pace than previously, and slower than the rate enjoyed in the U.S., where gun laws were being liberalized, and gun ownership was skyrocketing.
Reich’s Point Number 4: The vast majority of Americans want stronger gun safety laws. According to Gallup, 96 percent of Americans support universal background checks, 75 percent support a 30-day waiting period for all gun sales, and 70 percent favor requiring all privately owned guns to be registered with the police. Even the vast majority of gun owners are in favor of common-sense gun safety laws.
Poll results depend on how questions are phrased and asked. A good many Americans support some of the general ideas around gun control, but absolutely reject specific proposals. Rephrase the question about “universal” (sic) background checks to ask whether it should be a felony for you to lend your gun to a friend for target practice, and different answers answers come back, as they did in Nevada and Maine when such proposals were put to voters.
According to Gallup’s polling, Hillary Clinton won in November 2016. But their poll does not count.
Reich’s Point Number 5: The National Rifle Association is a special interest group with a stranglehold on the Republican Party. In 2016, the group spent a record (for them) $55 million on elections. Their real goal is to protect a few big gun manufacturers who want to enlarge their profits.
America is better than the NRA. America is the young people from Parkland, Florida, who are telling legislators to act like adults. It’s time all of us listen.
Gun prohibitionists routinely target the NRA instead of ordinary American gun owners. It’s certainly easier to stir fear and uncertainty about a large organization funded by a faceless industry than to risk humanizing the opposition. Even so, the NRA’s power does not arise from industry money, it comes from millions of individuals who freely choose to defend their rights with their voices, their votes, and their dollars.
Something else worth mentioning is that while Reich and other media accuse NRA of buying politicians with their $55 million in election spending in 2016, labor unions reportedly spent $1.7 billion on those elections.
If those talking points are the strongest assault an Ivy League lawyer can launch against the unfettered right to arms for defense of self, family, home, and homeland, then the Second Amendment should be safe for a while longer. Unfortunately, these and similar points rarely get any sort of honest scrutiny in the media shouting matches, so it’s up to you to call them out every time they pop up again.
By Jeff Knox
(May 4, 2018) The results of the NRA’s most recent Board of Directors election are interesting from top to bottom.
The bad news for most of our readers is that unfortunately Adam Kraut didn’t win a seat. There is still a chance he could win the 76th Director seat, which will be voted on at the Annual Meeting in Dallas though, so if you are planning to attend the Annual Meeting and Exhibits, be sure to find the voting booth and cast your ballot for Adam.
At the top of the ticket was Ronnie Barrett garnering the most votes, which is no surprise at all. Barrett is a rock star in the gun world thanks to his .50 BMG rifles and other innovations. What was a surprise was newcomer Carrie Lightfoot coming in second, beating out long-serving director Wayne Anthony Ross who landed the third place position. Ross has been on the NRA Board since 1980, with only a year or two off in the early ’90s. Fourth place went to another industry rock star, Duane Liptak, Executive Vice President of Magpul Industries. And world champion action shooter Julie Golob rounded out the top five.
NRA voters historically have an affinity for movie stars, politicians, industry executives, incumbents, and minorities – particularly women. They also seem to give added weight to candidates from Alaska over other states, so Barrett, Liptak, and Ross all fit expectations, and while it’s no surprise that Lightfoot and Golob won seats, it is a surprise that they finished in the top five, especially the second-place finish for Lightfoot. It is very unusual for any newcomer to NRA elections to place so high in the voting unless they are a pretty well-known celebrity of some sort. While Carrie is something of a celebrity within her own circles, having founded The Well Armed Woman, with 363 chapters in 49 states, and some 10,500 individual members, a majority of those members probably aren’t voting members of the NRA, so her high finish is a bit of a shocker. Then again, having 10,00 women rooting for you, even if they can’t vote, has to help. Julie’s top-five finish is also not especially surprising. She’s pretty well known, and is a frequent contributor, guest, or subject in various firearms media. Her status as an Army veteran doesn’t hurt either.
I was very tempted to endorse both Lightfoot and Golob, but felt they had a good chance of winning seats on their own, and wanted to focus my energy on getting Adam Kraut elected.
Historically women have tended to do well in NRA elections, beginning with prominent competitive shooter Alice Bull, who served on the Board from 1949 to 1988, and continuing with a number of female directors over the years, including two female Presidents, and a current female Second Vice President. The predominately male membership of the NRA tends to lend a bit of extra support to female Board candidates, as long as they have the experience to support their ambition.
Last year a bona fide female shooting celebrity, six-time Olympic Medalist Kim Rhode, barely made the cut, being elected to a 1-year term that opened up due to the death of a sitting director. That was initially pretty surprising, but closer analysis showed that Kim’s resume’ was a little thin on the activism and education side. This year, with a year of NRA Board participation and promotion to bolster her bio, Kim came in a comfortable, and respectable 11th place, just behind Bob Nosler of Nosler Bullets fame, and a couple of positions ahead of long-time director and competitive shooter Edie Fleeman.
In all, 8 women were elected or reelected to the Board this year, which is pretty “progressive” for a stodgy, good ol’ boys club. And while that 30% representation for women is worth talking about, the real news in this election came at the bottom of the ticket where we find two past presidents barely making the cut, with two other long-time directors just ahead of them, and four other long-time incumbents losing their seats.
It’s not unusual to see an incumbent or two bumped off the board by newcomers, but to have four incumbents fail to make the cut, and two past presidents finish 25th and 26th in a race for 26 seats. That’s a quiet earthquake that probably has the establishment bosses looking over their shoulders.
Past President Ron Schmeitz actually failed to make the cut, but with the passing of R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey in April, a two-year seat came open. Former President David Keene beat out Schmeitz for the 25th seat, and Schmeitz will finish the two remaining years of Ermey’s term. While Schmeitz has had a pretty low profile at NRA over the years, Keene has been a very visible political player, both in and out of the NRA. Before moving up in the chairs at NRA, Keene was the Chairman of the American Conservative Union, host of the annual CPAC conference in Washington, and later was the Opinion Editor of the Washington Times. For him to trail in and barely win a seat is pretty embarrassing.
In positions 23 and 24 were incumbents David Coy and Joel Friedman, and down in the also-rans were incumbents John Cushman – who failed to make the cut last year, but then beat Adam Kraut by 60-some votes at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta to win a 1-year seat – Grover Norquist – who survived a recall effort a couple of years ago – Robert Wos, and Herb Lanford.
Some on and off the Board are placing the blame for the shake-up on NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. These insiders, who spoke on background, say that he has been loading “loyalists” onto the Board so he can be sure he can pick his successor. My sources say that Wayne has insisted that the Nominating Committee include extra nominees to make it harder on the incumbents.
The problem with this theory is that the Board has long been loaded with “loyalists” who simply let Wayne have his way. Even though the Board is supposed to set policy and lay down guidance for Wayne and the other (ridiculously well-paid) staff, the fact is that decisions at NRA come down from the executive offices to the Board, and the Board rubber-stamps whatever they are told to. Wayne knows that his job is secure, but the members of the Board have no such security. They come up for reelection every three years, and they know that all it takes is a word from Wayne, and they won’t be invited back.
It really is irritating to see a Board of Directors with such stellar credentials and experience being herded and manipulated the way this board is, and failing to serve the members who elected them. From last year’s bylaw amendments, which the Board unanimously approved, to the election of Carolyn Meadows, who few Directors believe should be in line for the Presidency, this Board fails to do their job
LaPierre has made some serious missteps of late, on top of many other fumbles over the years, but no one on the Board is willing to challenge him or even criticize him in an open session. That’s a serious problem. Maybe one of the new Board members will finally raise their voices and declare that the emperor has no clothes, and some of the rest of the Board will wake from their stupor and recognize that as the truth. Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.
“Murder Made Me Famous”
By Jeff Knox
(May 3, 2018) Sitting in a fast food joint at DFW Airport, eating a breakfast bowl, waiting for my ride, and thinking about the NRA Annual Meeting I just flew in to attend, I happened to glance up at the TV. Of course it was playing CNN – they pay to be on every TV in every airport in the country – and I noticed a series of almost iconic photographs flashing across the screen. As each picture briefly appeared, I realized that I was treating it like a quiz, trying to name each person pictured, and I was getting most of them, no problem – and that’s a problem. The faces flashing across the screen were all murderers, and I not only recognized almost all of them, I could name them, and describe their crimes.
The photos were being shown as a promo for a series that plays on a cable channel called REELZ. The name of the series is Murder Made Me Famous, and it serves as proof positive that the media is thoroughly corrupt, callous, and driven by ratings above all else.
Here’s the description of the series from the REELZ website:
Murder Made Me Famous is a fact-based crime documentary series that examines killers who gained public notoriety when their crimes generated intense media coverage and made the killers household names. The unnerving psychology behind murder has long been source material for television, books and movies but why do certain killers capture the attention of millions?
Each one-hour episode presents dramatic recreations of the crimes using archival material and insightful commentary from those connected to the case to help unravel the twisted personalities that were thrust into the spotlight.
I was able to name so many of those murderers because I, like just about every other American, have been bombarded with their images and stories for most of my life. The attention given to these degenerates is so pervasive that it’s virtually impossible to get away from it. The saturation coverage, with its speculation and salacious details being rehashed every 15 minutes for weeks after an event, then regularly dredged back up for another look every few years for decades, makes these murderers some of the most recognizable and well-known people in the world. And that fame and notoriety is known to inspire others to seek similar fame by committing heinous crimes of their own.
The dominant media’s wall-to-wall coverage of mass murder events goes directly counter to guidelines published by research organizations including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and American Association of Suicidology. For at least two decades my father, my brother, and I have maintained a policy of avoiding mentioning the names of murderers in our writings, and we’ve called on other media to do the same. Ben Shapiro has now declared a similar policy for himself, and his The Daily Wire news outlet. We adopted our policy because the evidence of fame motivating deviants is very clear and well-established, and we don’t want to be part of the problem. If a murderer is killing people as a way of becoming famous, we don’t want to give him what he’s seeking. More importantly, we don’t want to provide any inspiration for the next loser to who wants to become a household name by shooting, bombing, burning, or crashing his way into the headlines and CNN’s perpetual repetition that they call “news.”
Polls say that fame and celebrity have replaced wealth, power, athletic achievement, even happiness, as the most desired life-goal of the post-Baby Boom generations. Simply “being famous” is now considered a great achievement, even if the fame is based on some negative, embarrassing, or criminal event. From sports fans acting the fool to get their picture on the jumbotron during a big game, to tourists waving through the windows of the NBC during the Today Show broadcasts, it seems that a large slice of today’s culture are willing to do almost anything to see their picture on TV or in a viral video. While the desire for fame is not a new phenomenon, it has never been as pervasive at it is today. That means the media’s obligation to be sensitive and responsible in their coverage of mass murder events has never been so great. It is a responsibility that they ignore.
All of the major news outlets are guilty of exploiting murder for ratings. This new show advertising on CNN, with its outrageous title, goes way beyond careless and callous, and demonstrates just how indifferent the talking head ‘journalists” and their programmers really are. Unfortunately the American public will lap it up, and clips and copies will be floating on YouTube for decades to come, inspiring God only knows what kinds of evil and destruction. But while media like CNN will gleefully continue to blame gun owners and the NRA for the actions of deranged degenerates, they refuse to take the simplest steps to mitigate their own culpability in these atrocities.
When suicide researchers saw a link between heavy media coverage of suicides, and a phenomenon they dubbed Suicide Contagion, where one suicide triggered a series of others, the Society of Professional Journalists, newspapers, TV networks, and other media developed and adopted a set of guidelines for reporting on suicides. Under these guidelines, focus was taken off of the suicide itself, and placed more on the people left behind, and the positive things in the person’s life. The result has been a marked decrease in the frequency and severity of Suicide Contagion.
At its core, a mass shooting event is almost always an elaborate suicide-by-cop. Few perpetrators have any exit plan other than a hail of bullets. It seems reasonable to apply the same rules to mass killings, especially given the evidence that some killers are doing their best to run up a gruesome “score.” Psychologists and psychiatrists, social scientists, and, to their credit, a few members of the media, have called on the Society of Professional Journalists, and all media to adopt the suicide guidelines in hopes of reducing the frequency and severity of mass murder copycat events. So far these calls have fallen on deaf ears, and every time there is a mass-killing that receives heavy press coverage, we know that there will be copycats striking within days or weeks.
It is past time for mass media to stop exploiting murder for ratings. It is time for them to stop naming suspected murderers and showing their photos – over and over and over again. Stop speculating on motives, assigning rankings, and comparing one atrocity to another. And time for them to adopt guidelines such as those petitioned to the Society of Professional Journalists in a petition called the “Don’t Inspire Evil” initiative.
Adopting a few reasonable, sensible changes in the way the media reports on murders would unquestionably save lives without interfering with anyone’s rights. But the media and politicians would rather blame gun owners, and demand we surrender our rights to schemes that have historically failed to protect anyone. That’s hypocritical and immoral.
Unfortunately, change is unlikely so long as the media can use sensational coverage to get eyeballs for their advertising.
Judge Nominations Matter
By Jeff Knox
(April 9, 2018) An egregious ruling out of a Federal Court in Massachusetts, is just the latest example of why judicial appointments are so critically important. The fact that the ruling comes at a moment when anti-rights Democrats in the U.S. Senate are praising a Donald Trump nominee to the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, while Republican defenders of the Bill of Rights are criticizing Trump’s nominee over First and Second Amendment concerns.
The Massachusetts ruling came in a case filed by local rights advocates and the Gun Owners Action League, against the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. GOAL sued Healey after she arbitrarily redefined the state’s “assault weapons” ban by including all guns with actions or internal parts that are interchangeable or similar to those of specifically banned firearms. The Massachusetts ban, which was originally a mirror of the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, had been in place for almost 20 years when Healey decided to change the rules and retroactively add thousands of heretofore legal rifles to the banned list, making criminals of thousands of law-abiding gun owners.
The Massachusetts Legislature enacted the state law in 1998, using the same definitions and terminology used in the federal ban, including the “grandfather clause, which exempted guns owned prior to the September, 1994 from the restrictions. By expanding the definition in 2016 to include firearms that are mechanically similar to those that were banned, Healey retroactively criminalized sale, purchase, and possession of all of the thousands of rifles and magazines that meet the new definitions, but had been legally acquired since the 1994 ban. Those rifles and magazines are now contraband, and the individuals who possess them are felons – if this legal interpretation is allowed to stand.
GOAL and fellow plaintiffs sued to overturn the original law, and particularly block the implementation of the new definitions. They contended that the original ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment because it bans an entire class of firearms which are commonly owned and used for lawful purposes. They further contended that the new, expanded definitions were unconstitutional because the terminology used is unconstitutionally vague and confusing, and violates constitutional protections against ex post facto laws.
In the Federal District Court for the State of Massachusetts, Judge William Young, a Reagan appointee, declared that “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to bear arms.”
To support that outrageous claim, Judge Young invoked the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, and the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, claiming that in Heller, Scalia specifically stated that the weapons most useful to service in a militia were not protected by the Second Amendment.
This is taken from a bit of dicta included in the Heller opinion, in which Justice Scalia was attempting to head-off future arguments based on the Court’s 1939 Miller decision. In that decision the Court concluded that they could not say that a sawed-off shotgun was protected by the Second Amendment, because they had no knowledge of such a weapon being useful in militia service. Scalia offered a hypothetical argument saying; “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause.” He’s suggesting that someone could use Miller to argue that restrictions on full-auto weapons are unconstitutional because those are the weapons “that are most useful in military service.” He then goes on to answer that hypothetical challenge by arguing that the Miller decision hinged not on whether the weapon was militarily useful, but rather whether it was something that was commonly possessed for lawful purposes by members of the public. He concluded that since full-auto’s are not very common in civilian hands, restrictions on them could probably be upheld as constitutional.
That’s a pretty thin argument, since those very restrictions are the only reason full-auto weapons like the M16 are not much more commonly owned, but to take that weak argument from Justice Scalia, and willfully distort it to claim that he was saying that guns that look like M16s aren’t protected by the Second Amendment, specifically because they are most useful in military service, is beyond outrageous, it’s downright treasonous.
This outrageous distortion didn’t originate with Judge Young however. It was originally put forward last year by a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Kolbe v. Hogan, which challenged Maryland’s draconian ban on guns that look military. That decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, and the cowardly justices refused to grant it a hearing, allowing the egregious ruling to stand.
Sam Adams would be calling for all of these judges to be defrocked and ridden out of town on a rail. This is not a minor quibble over a legal technicality, but rather an intentional distortion to effect a desired outcome. No honest reading of Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller could arrive at the conclusions that these judges reached, and it is even more shameful that the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States have foregone their sworn duty, and allowed such conclusions to stand.
These are the sorts of abuses of power that lead insurrection and rebellion, and they must not be tolerated.
Gun Control Advocates Should Call for Repeal of the Second Amendment.
By Jeff Knox
(March 27, 2018) You’ve probably heard about former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ recent editorial in the New York Times. In it, he lauded the “civic engagement” of the “school children and their supporters” demanding additional gun control laws in marches around the country to “minimize the risk of mass killings.” He also called on them to expand their demands and not just settle for minor tweaks in existing law, but rather to make their goal the full repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
We at The Firearms Coalition wholeheartedly agree with him. We would love to see gun control advocates actually demanding out loud and in so many words what they really want, rather than pretending that they would be satisfied with just a few minor restrictions or some “commonsense reforms.” It would be refreshing to have them openly admit to their ultimate objectives, without pretending to support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
From top to bottom, anti-rights groups are a sham. Even their names are lies, as are their publicly stated goals. Their names use terms like “for gun safety,” “against gun violence,” and “violence policy,” but they have nothing to do with gun safety or violence prevention. Their single objective is, and always has been, demonization and criminalization of guns and gun owners.
Years ago, when most of these groups were founded, they were much more open about their intentions. The National Coalition to Ban Handguns, and Handgun Control, Inc. were pretty clear about what they wanted – a total ban on civilian-owned handguns, with exceptions only for police and specially licensed security guards while on-duty. Other civilians who wished to own a handgun would be limited to only certain styles, and even those, only in controlled range environments where they would have to store them securely, and never take them off the premises.
But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the leaders of these groups began to realize that their agendas were not popular with most Americans. Not only were they stymied in their legislative efforts, being forced to take less than they wanted, but they found that they were unable to garner many members or financial supporters either. They found themselves relying on funding from wealthy foundations, Hollywood celebrities, and New York and Silicon Valley billionaires. While past leaders had openly described a process of enacting stricter and stricter laws until their goal of a gun-free society was achieved, the new leaders adopted a whole new vocabulary of “gun safety,” “gun-violence prevention,” and “reasonable, commonsense measures to keep our children safe.”
The new approach to gun control, or “gun safety” in the new parlance, included vehement denials that they wanted to ban guns or take guns away from people, while calling for the banning of certain guns, and campaigns to make more and more people “Prohibited Persons” who can’t legally purchase or possess firearms. In private, every now and then, one of them will quietly admit that total prohibition is still their ultimate objective.
We aren’t surprised that Justice Stevens would support repealing the Second Amendment, but we’re amazed at his candor, and welcome the opportunity to have an open and honest debate about the right to arms.
While many Americans will say that they feel there is a need for some sort of gun control, that support wanes as they learn more about specific proposals. “Expanded background checks,” meaning a prohibition on private transfers, is a good example. Polls consistently report that over 80% of Americans support the idea, but when these proposals have actually been put to the voters, the results have been much less impressive. In Washington State, proponents of the measure spent some $14 million dollars pushing their plan, while opponents spent barely $1 million. But even with the lopsided spending on emotional and misleading ads, voters approved the measure by an unimpressive 60%. When a similar initiative was brought to Nevada, the bill passed by less than ½ of 1%, losing in every county except one. When the initiative was brought to voters in Maine it was rejected. Plans to introduce the initiative in Arizona were shelved as the supporters realized that a win there was very unlikely.
Support for gun control wanes as people know and understand about gun control proposals, the less they support them. So yes, please gun control advocates, do take Justice Stevens’ advice and drop the pretense.
Declare your real objectives, and focus your attention on repealing the Second Amendment. Stop avoiding the phrase “gun control” and hiding behind fake terms like “gun safety,” and let’s have an honest, open debate on the real issues.
We think Justice Stevens is among the worst judges to ever wear the robes, but on this particular question, we fully agree with him: It’s time to stop obfuscating and go for the real prize.
So come on Bloomberg, Schumer, Feinstein, and Soros: Come and take it. We dare you.
By Jeff Knox
(March 23, 2018) My brother Chris and I were invited to submit an “Opposing View” editorial to USA Today newspaper last week, in advance of the student “March for Our Lives” events scheduled for March 24.
We’ve done these types of editorials in USA Today a few times in the past, and appreciate the opportunity to share our side of the story with a wider audience. Still, it is always a somewhat troubling experience because of the tight space we are offered — typically only 300 words. That’s not much space to really make a point. On top of that, the Editorial Board gives themselves almost twice as many words to express their view. And while they insisted that we provide links to validate our claims, they don’t seem to be quite as worried about showing chapter and verse for their own assertions.
The biggest problem with the USA Today Editorial Board’s position proceeds from a seriously flawed assumption: that gun control laws can reduce “gun violence.”
They begin their editorial questioning whether the students can “push an immovable Congress to do more to fight gun violence?”
To reply directly to the question, it’s very possible that the political pressure being generated may result in changes in the law, and those changes might be intended to “fight gun violence.” But we hold that most of the laws being pushed so far will never reduce crime, and in fact could have negative effects.
No gun control law anywhere has ever been definitively linked to a statistically significant reduction in violent crime, or even “gun crime.” The specific proposals being touted by the Editorial Board and the students (with a whole lot of help from other media, gun control groups like Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, and leftist groups like MoveOn.org and the Women’s March) have been tried, and failed, in numerous states, and in the case of the “assault weapons” ban, at the federal level.
As Chris and I pointed out in our op-ed, the students and much of the nation have been misled, and worse, their grief exploited for political gain in the wake of the atrocity in Parkland, Florida. The “solutions” being fed to well-intentioned people will do nothing – can do nothing – to prevent another attack like Parkland. We feel the same grief and frustration. The difference is that we understand that the gun control proposals being put forward won’t save a single life. Not one.
A crazy idea isn’t crazy if it works, but even the most brilliant idea is foolish if it doesn’t work. When you know it doesn’t work, and you implement it anyway, that is beyond foolish.
Banning “assault weapons” – a made-up marketing term – has never been proven to work. Witness mass shootings with “assault weapons” from Mumbai to Paris to Sandy Hook (all of which had “assault weapon” bans in place), and a 10-year experiment by Congress.
We were able to link to the most widely quoted study of the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban, a 2004 research paper by Christopher Koper of the University of Pennsylvania for the National Institute of Justice. But we didn’t have room to detail its findings or its shortcomings.
This was actually the third of three reports that Koper and his team generated, and in it he concluded that there was no clear evidence that the ban had resulted in any detectable reductions in the incidence of murders or mass murders, or any clear reductions in the number of people killed or injured or the number of shots fired per incident. But he suggested that the data left room for doubt because of the large number of “assault weapons” that were already in circulation and not subject to the ban.
Koper suggested that given a longer time frame, the ban might have proven effective. We have to look at this conclusion with suspicion, especially given Koper’s admission that “assault weapons” are involved in such a small number of criminal incidents, and that mass shootings are such relatively rare events, that completely removing them from the record would have very little statistical impact. His “mixed results” conclusion, along with his insertion of data from what he called “High Capacity Magazine weapons,” appears to be more about seeking additional grant money for future studies, than about accurately reporting statistical findings.
We also pointed out that “strengthening background checks” is really about prohibiting private sale or transfer of personal firearms, and that those laws are unenforceable, and easily ignored by criminals, while often entrapping innocents. Again, we didn’t have room to debunk the claims from pollsters that 80% to 90+% of Americans support these laws. While their polls with artfully-worded questions continue to register high numbers, actual votes on these proposals have been defeated, or barely passed, despite strong support from media, and massive, 8 to 1 spending from billionaires like Bloomberg. When people know the details of these laws, they stop supporting them.
On the subject of “gun violence restraining orders,” we noted that they ignore the real problem – the person. Every state already has provisions for involuntary mental health evaluations. Why take away guns, rather than treat the person who is a danger? Does anyone actually believe that calling a suicidal or homicidal person on the phone, or knocking on their door, and telling them that they must turn their guns in to authorities within 24 hours, will prevent tragedies? Who wants to volunteer to knock on those doors with that news?
Restricting magazine capacity is just silly, ignoring the fact that a person intent on doing significant harm can carry multiple magazines or even multiple weapons. It also overlooks the existing stock of millions of magazines, and what a simple gadget a magazine actually is – a box with a spring, and the fact that it works like a PEZ candy dispenser.
We concluded by calling on everyone involved to stop rushing to “solutions” that don’t work, and instead focus on what we know does work:
A recent shooting in Maryland was stopped by an armed school officer. A school murderer in Pearl, Mississippi was stopped by (illegally) armed principal Joel Myrick. USAToday linked to a New York Times story about him with a headline saying he opposes armed teachers. But buried in the piece is that he supports armed security:
“Despite Mr. Myrick’s firm stance against arming faculty members, he has long advocated placing trained personnel, possibly retired law enforcement officers, in every school, as a deterrent. ‘We protect our banks that way,’ he said. ‘We protect things we love. America protects things it loves. We don’t care if it’s expensive.’”
Locked doors have saved lives. Guns in the hands of the right people have saved lives. Disarming good guys does nothing to make anyone safer.
But supporters of gun control can’t stand to let a crisis go to waste.
By Jeff Knox
(February 19, 2018) In what twisted universe is it “commonsense” to respond to an atrocity by passing laws that have not, will not, and cannot have any sort of significant impact on preventing or mitigating such atrocities?
Your elected representatives need to hear from you right now. They need to be reminded that none of the laws currently being proposed would have prevented the latest attack on school children, and that enacting these laws in response to this emotional trauma will do nothing but hurt innocent, law-abiding gun owners, and reduce the politician’s chances of being reelected.
From a purely political perspective, many short-sighted Republicans had already been expecting a Democrat wave to slam Congress this year, based on low approval ratings for Congress and the president. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve seen so many of them announce their intention to retire after the current session. If it weren’t for the recently passed tax bill, they might be correct. Republicans have done a very poor job of following through on their campaign promises, and conservative voters have a well-earned reputation for turning their backs on politicians who don’t keep their promises.
If Republicans had just made a serious effort at doing what they said they would do, they could have forced the Democrats to block them – if they dared – and would have been able to leave that baggage on the Democrats’ doorstep. Instead, for the most part they just whined that it was no use to push things to a vote, because Democrats had the votes to block them, so why bother. What few feeble efforts they did make were often preempted by “maverick” Republicans undermining their own party, and shielding Democrats from the consequences of their intransigence.
But passage of the President’s tax bill offered Republicans a second chance. It buoyed them in the eyes of many of their base constituency, and once voters start noticing the extra money in their paychecks, should bring a whole bunch of swing voters into the Republican camp by November.
At least that was the thinking until the Florida attack happened, and Democrats and the media started beating their well-worn – and hollow – gun control drum, offering no effective solutions, but leveraging emotions to blame Republicans and “the NRA” (to gun grabbers, any supporter of gun rights is “the NRA”) for the atrocity, and calling for congressional action.
So now Republicans are tripping over themselves to again fall into the trap.
A major Republican donor in Florida put out a public statement insisting that no Republican would receive another check from him until they passed an “assault weapon” ban. That’s a pretty ridiculous move on his part, but even more ridiculous for Republicans to worry about. Even if this guy gives millions of dollars every cycle, money can’t compensate for actual votes, and offending millions of GunVoters in hopes of accessing a few campaign dollars is just stupid. But at least one Florida congressman has leapt into the abyss, declaring that Americans are going to have to give up some of their liberty in the name of protecting children.
Turncoat Republicans are deluding themselves if they think that voting for gun control will protect children, or their careers. The reality is that coming out in support of gun control is very likely to cost them their seats.
They will not be rewarded by their base for caving on the right to arms, nor will they be rewarded by the anti-rights crowd, which has a much broader agenda. While there are Republican voters who support gun control, few of them would vote for a Democrat over a Republican on that single issue. Likewise, Democrats and left-leaning independents are not going to abandon their other causes just because a Republican politician went along with their assault on gun rights.
This is just a political bludgeon being used to convince Republican politicians to cut their own political throats. There is no upside to a Republican supporting gun control, just as there is no benefit to society for enacting these laws.
Rather than fall into this political trap, Republican politicians need to be educated about the reality of the situation.
Democrats don’t have any answers. We’ve tried their way and it has failed every time.
Connecticut had one of the nation’s strictest bans on “assault weapons” in place for over a decade before the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary.
Most mass-murderers passed “background checks” to obtain their weapons, demonstrating that even that touted system is like Swiss cheese, and those that did not, generally stole them, not infrequently after killing the legal owner.
Mass-murderers almost always plan their attacks for months or years, picking their targets, analyzing potential obstacles, acquiring weapons, and exploring alternative means of wreaking destruction.
Republicans need to put this issue back into the laps of the Democrats. Rather than try to avoid a debate on gun control and mass-murder, Republicans should embrace that debate, and force the Democrats to justify their calls for restricting the rights of innocent Americans.
Democrats can’t do it, because gun control does not work – especially when it comes to rampage murderers.
We’ve tried it their way, and it failed. Now let’s try it our way. Lets stop disarming qualified teachers, coaches, and administrators willing to undergo extensive training and accept the responsibility of being prepared to stop an armed aggressor.
Call your representatives in Washington at 202-224-3121, to let them know you want them to stand fast against ill-conceived, ineffective, gun control laws. Post this article on their Facebook pages and on your Facebook page. Tweet it, share it, and repost it until these politicians understand that restricting our rights, based on nothing more than emotion, is not a solution, and will not be tolerated.
By Jeff Knox
(February 15, 2018) A Constitutional Carry bill is moving in Iowa, along with a constitutional amendment recognizing the right to keep and bear arms (Iowa is one of the few states that does not have a right to arms enshrined in its constitution), and a measure to lift the ban on firearms in vehicles when picking up and dropping off students at schools.
I don’t want to jinx them, but at the moment things are looking fairly promising.
I have a particular interest in Iowa because I was deeply involved in an effort to pass Constitutional Carry there in 2010. Unfortunately, that effort imploded and came damaged the local rights movement as various proponents of gun rights got their beams crossed and went to war with each other, instead of working together.
In the end, the legislature passed a relatively good, Shall Issue licensing system, which was much better than the discretionary system that had been in place previously. The victory was expensive, however, as the infighting created some lifelong enemies among rights advocates who should work together, and came close to completely tanking the rights movement in the state. It also left a lot of low-hanging fruit on the tree. Now, 8 years later, progress is being made toward finally harvesting some of that fruit.
Taking the long view, we often hear warnings about letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, or admonitions to take what we can get when we can get it. That is often sound advice, but sometimes “strategic” advice is really bad, most notably that chestnut that says we must accept something unpalatable lest we have something much worse shoved down our throats. That may be true in some truly benighted places like Illinois or New York, but across most of the country, it’s a lie as my late father wrote in a column, later compiled in The Gun Rights War entitled “The Danger of Being ‘Reasonable’”
In Iowa in 2010, the admonitions were about taking what we could get, and not letting the perfect stand in the way of the possible, but both of those approaches were wrong in that case. In fact, the perfect was quite possible, but some of the players were more interested in scoring an easy win than they were with getting the best possible deal.
One of the most overlooked strategies in gun politics is the power of losing. That’s what the NRA did in 1992, when then-ILA Executive Director Tanya Metaksa faced tremendous pressure to “come to the table” and at least defang the Clinton “Assault Weapons” ban. Backed by a hard-line NRA Board Tanya stood her ground – and lost. The Clinton Ban passed with Vice President Al Gore casting the deciding vote.
But that loss led directly to the Democrats’ crushing 1994 defeat and made gun control a deadly “third rail” the next twenty years. It also prevented Al Gore from carrying his own home state in 2000. With Tennessee’s eleven electoral votes, President Gore would have won handily.
The 2010 Iowa battle had all of the pieces in place for three possible outcomes. The situation is described in more detail in this January 2010 article, but here’s the basic gist: Republicans had controlled Iowa for years, and had done nothing to improve the state’s lousy gun laws. Democrats declaring their support for gun rights had swept into power in the 2008 elections, but they were faced a tremendous backlash against Obama and Congress pushing through Obamacare. Republicans wanted to force a vote on Constitutional Carry, to show the Democrats’ true colors. Democrat leaders wanted to avoid that vote at all costs because they knew that their only choices were to either block the bill and go down en masse, or allow a vote, and have many of their number support it to save their own skins. Either way, enough Democrats would be damaged enough to ensure that they would lose their majority in November.
The same Alaska-style bill had failed by a single vote the previous year, so passage was a real possibility. If it failed, rights advocates would have a choice of either accepting the defeat, and securing a guarantee of passage in the next session after angry GunVoters ousted the traitors, or they could demand a clean, very good, Shall Issue carry bill as an alternative, providing Democrats with an avenue for possibly avoiding annihilation at the polls.
What actually happened was a complete surprise to both of the rights activist groups and their Republican allies: NRA Headquarters swooped in to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, with a terrible “compromise” offer.
Even though there were at least two NRA Directors from the state, including former Des Moines Chief of Detectives Kayne Robinson, who had served as Vice President for 5 years and President for two more, and Clel Baudler, a sitting member of the Iowa Legislature, the NRA had long ignored Iowa. Until 2010 whent the NRA suddenly decided it was time to save the day.
The real cause is a mystery, but it appears that Democrat leaders in the legislature – perhaps with the assistance of Baudler and Robinson – went directly to the NRA and offered them a path to an easy victory. All NRA had to do was offer a bill acceptable to the Democrat leadership, and it would be pushed through as an item on their Consent Agenda with a simple voice vote.
NRA took the bait and things went downhill from there.
Iowa Carry chose to work with NRA to improve the atrocious bill NRA started with, while IGO went ballistic.
The point here is not to criticize the NRA, though they certainly earned it in this case, nor to cast aspersions on Iowa Gun Owners nor on Iowa Carry (now known as the Iowa Firearms Coalition, though they are not affiliated with us). The point is to encourage rights activists to study their history, think strategically, and always look at the bigger picture before committing to a strategy.
By the way, the carry bill that eventually passed in 2010 – at about the same time that Constitutional Carry passed in Arizona – received almost unanimous support in its final votes, clearly showing that the perfect really was possible, if everyone had just stuck to their guns.
By Jeff Knox
(February 5, 2018) If you care about your rights, your finances, your children’s future, there is a way for you to dramatically impact those things, and it’s not really that difficult or time-consuming.
Most Americans view politics as something of a necessary evil. To them, it is an activity going on in a separate world, like the salacious scandals of Hollywood or the curious culture of ancient Egypt. They gossip about it, “tut-tut” over news reports, and retweet catchy comments from their favorite political commentators, but when it comes down to the real nuts and bolts of politics and the political process, very few Americans are really paying attention to, much less engaged in, the political process.
Gun guys are only a little better, with some actually keeping tabs on current legislation, and making calls or sending emails to legislators. Some even get involved every two years to help support a local candidate or turn out for a rally, but even most folks who consider themselves politically active, really aren’t effectively engaged in the process.
Former Democrat Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill made famous the phrase; “All politics is local,” and he was absolutely right about that. I’ve said in this space before that “little politicians grow up to be big politicians.” That’s part of the local influence. While we occasionally see someone who has never held a political office, jump in and get elected to high office, as Donald Trump did, it is much more common for politicians to work their way up the ladder, from a city council or school board seat to a state legislative seat to Treasurer or Governor or Congress. That’s why I call on GunVoters to vote guns all the way down the ticket. Opposing the Second Amendment should be a disqualifying position, regardless of whether that office has any bearing on your gun rights. That office is likely to be a stepping stone to higher offices where they could have a negative impact on rights. If you really want to vote for them, you have to educate them first, and if they can’t see the light, don’t let them put a foot on that political ladder.
The other, and more important way that all politics is local, is that support for politicians comes up from the grassroots. Conversely, it is almost impossible for a politician to accomplish anything without some sort of organized party structure behind them to get the grassroots moving in their favor; that’s the part that often works from the top down. But, as has already been stated, most people don’t really get involved in politics, and most of those who do, only do for a short time around election season. While most Americans can tell you who the President is, a good many would be hard-pressed to name the Vice President, and even fewer can name both their senators and their representative.
The smallest geographic unit in the official political structure is the precinct, which is also known by other names in various states, but it generally encompasses several hundred homes, and as many as several thousand residents. Each precinct is represented within the party structure by several Precinct Committeemen, and unless you are a Precinct Committeeman yourself, it is unlikely that you even know what precinct you live in, much less who is representing your precinct within your political party. But PC’s, as they are called, are at the heart of the party structure. Virtually everyone within the party machinery starts off as a PC, and most continue in that capacity as they move up through the ranks. This is where and how you can make a real difference.
Parties are always looking for people to fill vacant PC seats, and the person they find could be you. In most places, you can be appointed to a PC position, then you usually have to run for the office, but since there are usually more seats than candidates, getting elected is usually a slam-dunk. If you happen to be in one of those rare precincts with a full slate, just attending the monthly meetings regularly will usually gain you enough notice to make a successful bid.
Once you’re in, you can work as much or as little as you want. Obviously, the more you do, the more effective you will be, and the higher up the ladder you can climb.
Being a PC gives you an inside track to meeting and working with politicians and political candidates. Even if you do little in the way of organizing or working your way up within the party, you are part of the official family, and have much greater access than the average voter. Joining political clubs, attending meetings, walking around meeting your neighbors, all give you a higher profile and more influence. Then when election season rolls around, you can be positioned as the go-to guy on gun issues, with politicians coming to you to ask how they should answer a questionnaire or why they should vote for or against a particular bill.
Right now, here in Arizona, we had a good, pro-rights representative suddenly resign. The guy he asked to step up and run for his seat happens to be from my Legislative District, where I have been a PC. Now I am not only working to elect a solid A+ candidate to Congress, I’m doing it on the inside, spending time in the field with the candidate and the people who are likely to be his staff.
Making financial contributions is really important, but if you really want to be an influential political player, nothing beats walking neighborhoods with the candidate, and sharing pizza with his family and volunteers.
Being a PC also opens the door to chasing your own political aspirations. Perhaps you want to be the candidate some day. Working on other people’s campaigns is a really great way to learn the process and lay the foundations for your own campaign down the road.
This month, I’m making calls and knocking doors for Steve Montenegro. Next month I’ll be talking to candidates for City Council, the State Legislature, and statewide offices. And all of them will know my name, recognize my face, and appreciate what I’m doing for them. And all it takes is a little bit of time and some shoe leather.
All politics really is local, so get involved locally today, and make an impact.