Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Screwing of America — They’re not my friends.

By Jeff Knox

(August 16, 2017) The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia should have every liberty-loving American deeply concerned.  Ronald Reagan’s warning, that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” sounds ominously prescient today.  Clearly the people involved, mostly young men, have no understanding of what freedom and the great American experiment are all about.

This is not just a problem of the “left,” nor is is owned solely by the “right.”  This is a universal problem among all of the participants in the current battle for the soul of our nation, whether they be Constitution-quoting, white separatists or Marx-spewing, anti-Fascists, or anyone else in the rainbow coalition of trolls and idiots that have been capturing the national spotlight of late.

The most obvious evidence of their corrupt concepts and ideas lies in the glaring hypocrisy of their alliances.  On one side, you have nihilistic anarchists, who espouse an end to government and all forms of government authority, teaming up with revolutionary Marxists, who support an all-powerful government that can force individuals to work for the state, along with racist separatist groups like La Raza (which recently repackaged itself as UnidosUS), the Brown Berets, the Black Panthers, Muslim groups that endorse Sharia theocracy and oppression of women, and LGBTQ+ activists who some of these groups would like to see stoned to death or thrown from the roofs of tall buildings, as well as a wide variety of “enlightened” people of “tolerance” who just want all “haters” killed or beaten out of existence.

On the other side, you have Constitution-loving, flag-waving “patriot” groups, marching in lock-step with the patriotic, “God-fearing” morons in the white sheets, and the goose-stepping idiots that revere a man their grandfathers fought and bled to defeat.  Alongside these thoroughly incompatible ideologies, are the various anti-feminists, the anti-homosexuality, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigration groups that say they are being oppressed and supplanted by the various aforementioned groups.

The mainstream propaganda outlets feed the anger with their painfully one-sided “reporting,” while much of the “alternative media” is skewing even farther off course with outrageous stories, rumors, and unproven claims.  Politicians, pundits, and academicians fall in line with the PC Police, to denounce the white, straight, Christian male dominated groups as evil hate-mongers, while ignoring, or playing down the blatant, racism, sexism, and anti-male, anti-Christian pronouncements of the “left.”

No one is interested in the cause of the sudden prominence of “white power,” and “men’s rights” groups, nor are they interested in hearing the complaints of these groups, or the people who have foolishly associated with, or are unfairly lumped in with these groups.  They simply apply a derogatory label and declare their views and opinions invalid and unworthy of being heard, or even being allowed to be uttered. This of course frustrates people, and is the biggest reason for them to ally with people with whom they have so little agreement.

I warned several months ago in this space and elsewhere that one of the repercussions of the rise of the violent left, and the cover provided for them by the media, politicians, and academia, would be increased recruiting by groups on the extreme right.  As frustrated people get together to complain about the unfair treatment they are receiving, they are sucked into associations and actions that they would not have dreamed of a year ago. They feel that the only way they can be heard is if they yell – loudly – and take actions that will attract media attention, like the march in Charlottesville.

Here’s a newsflash for those guys: mainstream America is never going to give serious consideration to anything said by anyone wearing a swastika or a pillowcase, or talking like someone wearing a swastika or a pillowcase.  Nor are they going to give credence to anyone associating with people wearing swastikas and pillowcases.

Using racist epithets and speaking derogatorily about people’s race, religion, ethnicity, sex, or sexual preferences, will never be socially acceptable or tolerated, unless the epithets and derogatory comments are aimed at white, Anglo, hetero, Christian males.  Everything else is strictly off-limits. It isn’t fair, but trying to force the issue just makes things worse – as the march in Charlottesville did.

The natural response to unfair assaults – verbal or physical – is to retaliate, and give as good as you get.  In the real world of national politics and public opinion, that just doesn’t work, especially coming from the “privileged majority.”  Instead of participating in the escalation the ugly rhetoric and violence, aggrieved groups need to take a page from Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi:  non-violence. That doesn’t mean pacifism, meekly taking a beating, but a non-confrontational approach that focuses on facts and reason, and gives the opposition plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their irrational hatred and bigotry.  That was actually happening to a large degree until the sheet-heads and brown-shirts moved up.

Why is this important to the Second Amendment movement?  Because we are frequent targets of the broad-brush smear campaigns that flow from disasters like Charlottesville.  As I am writing this, I just received a fundraising plea from a division of Bloomberg’s anti-rights conglomerate, associating the NRA with white supremacists on the grounds that they supported Trump, and had the temerity to criticize lying media and leftist violence earlier this year.

The ancient proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” might be applicable in some circumstances, and for now it seems to be working for the “left,” but they will eventually turn on each other.  It certainly doesn’t work for the “right,” when that “friend” is a pariah to the world, devaluing the overall message by their mere presence.

 

Read This. Your rights are at stake.

By Jeff Knox

(August 9, 2017) I’ll warn readers at the outset:  this column falls pretty squarely under the heading of “preaching to the choir.” Nonetheless, it is a sermon that the choir needs to hear, because right now too many of our folks don’t know the lyrics, and may not even be humming the same tune.  The crowd-sourced, often leaderless advocacy of the gun rights movement faces two dangers. First, is the assumption that while anti-gunners rely on emotions and feelings for their arguments, gun rights – pro-rights – as friend Alan Korwin likes to put it – advocates operate on cold logic and historic truth.  The second, is that in our advocacy, whether in letters, op-ed pieces, or online discussions, we attempt to sway the wrong audience.

We all “know” that supporters of gun restrictions operate on emotions and “gut feelings” over facts.  But the fact is, many supporters of the Second Amendment and individual rights are also operating on “gut feelings.”  Too many of our most ardent advocates on social media, in article comments, internet forums, and letters to the editor, etc., just repeat bumper-sticker slogans, or devolve into personal attacks.  Those are habits that need to change, and the only way it will change is if you change it.

Those of us who follow politics, study issues, and read political commentary like this article, are the exception, not the rule.  We are odd ducks in this world of selfies and pop-culture, but even among this small subset, factual information is often woefully lacking.  Guys – and let’s face it, most of us are guys – often grasp the basics, but they frequently can’t explain what they know in their heart of hearts to be true without falling back to arguments like: “Because the Second Amendment says so.”

Although we know that the arguments don’t matter to the radical gun control extremists, a solid understanding of basic principles, and practical arguments, can make a big difference when dealing with people who are basically ambivalent to our issue, or more importantly, those who basically support our position, but don’t understand why we oppose laws that seem pretty innocuous to them.  This includes many gun owners, and these are the people that we must educate and bring over solidly to a position of knowledge and strength. We’re not going to accomplish that by quoting the Second Amendment.

That’s why we provide these columns every week, and why we try to go beyond the “rah-rah” rallying cries that are all too common in the gun press and “conservative” media.  Our mission is to report on current events and explain how they impact you, why it matters, and what you can do about them. We want to be your reliable source of useful information on gun issues, but more than that, we need you to be able to use our information to educate your friends and family.

If you don’t understand that background checks on gun buyers waste hundreds of millions of dollars every year investigating innocent, law-abiding citizens, and divert those precious resources away from programs that focus on criminals, and have a real impact on violent crime, how are you going to convince people not to vote for expanding background checks to private transfers?  If you don’t understand that states with no training requirement, and low fees for acquiring a carry license, have no higher rate of licensed carriers doing stupid things with guns than do states that require extensive training and charge high fees, why would you oppose mandatory training or effectively argue in favor of national recognition of all carry licenses?

Just because you support gun owner rights and try to vote for pro-rights politicians, doesn’t mean that your support is effective.  You have influence – probably more than you realize – and that influence can be positive or negative. We – your fellow gun owners – need you to exercise your influence whenever and wherever you can, and we need to be sure that the influence you are exercising is positive for the cause of liberty.  To do that, you have to have reliable knowledge and understanding. That’s what we try very hard to provide, and we need you to use the information we provide to not only improve your talking points, but to help you educate those around you.

If you subscribe to gun magazines, read gun blogs, or watch gun-oriented YouTube channels, look closely at them to see just how little attention most of them give to educating their audiences about the issues affecting your rights.  Are they actually providing useful information, or are they just cheer-leading and/or trying to raise money for an organization?

Too often we see really poor arguments, or obviously erroneous information put forward on forums, in comments, and on question and answer sites like Quora.com.  That needs to change, and you can help to change it.  First, demand better from yourselves. Read, study, learn, and be a reliable resource to the people who fall within your sphere of influence.  Second, demand better from your favorite publications and media outlets. Thank outlets like Ammoland.com, Guns magazine, and Firearms News for  providing useful rights information, and challenge those sites and magazines that give short shrift to rights issues.  Finally, share this article, and others that get more into the details of specific rights issues and arguments, and urge your friends to actually read them.

Writers and advocates have limited reach and influence.  You can expand that reach and influence, and by doing so, you can help change the culture and re-frame the debate.

You are the gun lobby.  Be well-armed for the fight, and always be recruiting.

 

Quinnipiac’s Propaganda Polls

(August 3, 2018)-  Quinnipiac University recently released results for a major poll they conducted on hot political topics. The headline of their June 28 press release announcing the poll results read:

“U.S. VOTERS REJECT GOP HEALTH PLAN MORE THAN 3-1, QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY NATIONAL POLL FINDS; VOTERS SUPPORT GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS 94 – 5 PERCENT.”

Anyone who follows firearm issues knows the “background check” results are totally bogus, and that inaccuracy should cast serious doubt on the “health plan” results as well. We’ve been seeing similar claims related to broad support for “universal background checks” repeated over and over again for years from Quinnipiac and other polling organizations, but when voters have actually been given the opportunity to cast a ballot on the issue the results have always been dramatically different.

Three years ago, voters in Washington State were asked to vote on a “universal background check” initiative, Sponsored by Mike Bloomberg’s gun control conglomerate, Everytown for Gun Safety, and supported by local billionaires including Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The Bloomberg consortium spent between $10 and $14 million dollars urging “Yes” votes, compared to about $1 million dollars spent by pro-rights groups opposing the initiative. Despite the lopsided spending, and polls claiming that Washington voters supported the idea at rates of 85% to 95%, the measure squeaked by with a victory of only about 2%.

Last year, Bloomberg bought similar ballot measures in Nevada and Maine. Again, spending was heavily weighted in favor of the measures, and again, pollsters reported close to unanimous support for them among voters, but in Nevada the measure passed by less than 0.5%, winning a majority in only one county.

In Maine, the voters rejected the measure outright.

These results are akin to pollsters predicting, not just a victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but a massive landslide victory, only to be proven wrong on Election Day.

We attribute the very different voting versus polling results to lack of information on the part of the public being polled, and intentional manipulation on the part of the pollsters. What really raises questions about the most recent Quinnipiac poll, is that the pollsters at Quinnipiac should be well aware of the results in Washington, Nevada, and Maine. If they really were seeking accurate answers, those numbers would clearly tell them that there are some serious flaws in their methodology. For them to press forward with the same flawed methodology generating the same proven inaccurate results, is strong evidence of intentional bias and agenda-driven manipulation, and it should bring all of Quinnipiac’s polling results under suspicion.

Newspapers and TV talking heads love polls. So do advocacy organizations and politicians – as long as the polls go in their favor.

That’s because humans are basically herd animals, and we tend to want to be on the “winning” side of any issue, so if you tell people that virtually everyone supports candidate A, or favors “universal background checks,” people who don’t have an educated opinion are likely to fall in with the crowd. The good news for the politicians and pundits, is that it’s relatively easy to get polls to say just about whatever they want. All it takes is asking the right questions of the right people. Simple questions, like “Which candidate do you prefer for president?” can be manipulated by focusing the polling in geographic areas that lean heavily toward one party or another, but as the questions get more complicated, delving into legislative and policy issues, results are even easier to manipulate, because most people have only a limited understanding of the issues.

The reality is, most Americans don’t think much about politics. They don’t follow issues, don’t pay attention to the news, and certainly don’t do in-depth research. Barely half of eligible voters have enough interest to even bother casting a ballot in presidential elections, and the interest level drops exponentially as you move down the ballot or get into questions about legislation.

Human nature dictates that most of us think we are a little smarter than the next guy, and that we have enough understanding of just about any topic to offer up an opinion.

Of course, most polling organizations, especially those based in prestigious universities like Quinnipiac, claim to be impartial and unbiased. Above the fray, as it were. In reality that is rarely the case.

Polls cost money, and the folks paying the bills usually have an agenda. Pollsters know that if they come up with results that are contrary to what their patrons are looking for, they are not likely to get more funding from those sources in the future. And even if the bias is unintentional, it is almost always present, for the simple reason that the pollsters and researchers are human. They have their own preconceived ideas, opinions, and feelings.  They also often have limited knowledge about the subject matter, so they might not even realize that their questions are leading.

For people well-versed on a given subject, the flaws and biases in polls are usually pretty obvious. Use of emotionally loaded words and phrases can have dramatic impacts on results, as can inaccurate or misleading information framing a question.

Couching questions about abortion in terms of a woman’s right to control what happens in her own body will yield very different results than the same basic questions couched in terms of protecting the life of a baby. Similarly, questions about guns will get very different responses if they use terms like “assault weapon,” as opposed to references to “popular sporting rifles.”

The obvious inaccuracy in Quinnipiac’s “background check” poll suggests that they are not producing polls so much as they are producing propaganda. The mainstream media’s faithful regurgitation of these polling results from organizations that have so thoroughly discredited themselves, is further testament that the “news” organizations are also in the propaganda business.

Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure, and nowhere is that more obvious than in twisted and misleading polls.

Oregon going California Crazy

By Jeff Knox

(July 14, 2017) The term “Californication” has been floating around on bumper-stickers and internet memes for decades, and it is generally thought of in regards to people moving from California to another state, and bringing their crazy, California ideas for laws, regulations, and taxes along with them.  but California has no patent on idiot politicians, and crazy people aren’t their only export.  They also export their crazy ideas.  The state of Oregon is just the latest recipient.  While migration is probably a factor in Oregon’s downward spiral, many of their most radical politicians were born and bred in the state. Still, it’s abundantly clear that Oregon politics is heavily influenced by their neighbors to the south. Their most recent plunge into the realm of California crazy legislation is what proponents call an Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO, and it’s not just California pushing this nonsense, the ERPO is also one of Mike Bloomberg’s pet schemes.

An ERPO is like a Restraining Order or Order of Protection, but rather than ordering a potentially dangerous person to stay away from a named potential victim, an ERPO is supposed to remove the means for violence from the potentially dangerous person.  While specifics vary from state to state, in general an ERPO allows a housemate, family member, intimate, physician, or police officer to petition a judge to order “temporary confiscation” of a person’s firearms and other weapons. The idea is to disarm a person who is exhibiting mental instability that suggests that they might be a danger to themselves or others.

Of course, like most prior-restraint laws, it all sounds reasonable on the surface.  But as usual, the devil’s in the details. Typically ERPOs are issued by a judge, based solely on the testimony of one or more of the above-mentioned persons.  There is no formal hearing, no opportunity for the subject of the ERPO to hear the accusations or argue against the action until after police barge into his home and seize his firearms.  They could also seize other things that they consider potentially dangerous weapons, like knives, razor blades, medications, etc. This begs the question as to how far police can and might go in their efforts to “suicide-proof” a person’s home?  Will they take, ropes, belts, shoelaces, and car keys? Can they compel the person to stay away from tall buildings, railroad tracks, and busy roads?

We have long held that any person who cannot be trusted to possess a firearm, should not be free to circulate with the general public without direct supervision.  In other words, whether we’re talking about convicted felons or people with mental issues, if they are too dangerous to themselves or others to have access to firearms, they are too dangerous to be outside of an institution.  That might sound harsh at first blush, but it’s actually much more moderate than the current standard. The current rule assumes that anyone who has ever been convicted of a serious crime – even tax evasion or writing bad checks – and anyone who has ever been forced to undergo psychiatric treatment, can be released into society, but without their full constitutional rights.  This sort of blanket policy means that people who are too dangerous to be roaming free are living among us, and people who are no danger at all are second-class citizens. Like school policies which dictate that anyone involved in a fight, whether attacker or victim, receives the same automatic punishment, policies that allow dangerous people to roam freely, and which punish people who are not dangerous, are unfair to individuals, and harmful to society.

To my knowledge, every state has laws allowing a person to be involuntarily committed for 72 hours for psychiatric evaluation.  These laws generally require no more justification than is required for an ERPO: testimony from a family member or close associate.  Those laws are problematic too, but they currently exist, and they make the concept of an ERPO redundant, and comparatively anemic. If your family really believes you are a danger to yourself or others, why would they not petition to have you held in a safe place where you cannot hurt yourself or anyone else, and where you can receive treatment for your condition?

These ERPO laws are not about saving lives or preventing tragedies.  They are about demonizing guns and gun owners, and feeding the anti-gun paranoia machine.

Someone bent on suicide is unlikely to be deterred by a meddling relative having armed police come and take their guns.  As a matter of fact, such an event could easily precipitate a tragedy that would not have happened otherwise. A person struggling with Hamlet’s daunting question, might find that it’s easier to simply point a gun at arriving officers than to pull the trigger on themselves.  Worse, if they are really determined, they could take an officer or two with them. Or the person could simply seek one of the hundreds of alternative methods that are readily available beneath the kitchen sink, in the medicine chest, or on the highway.

If it’s others that the person wants to harm, again, throwing police into the middle of that situation could precipitate the tragedy, and not having firearms readily available isn’t likely to make them see the folly of their plan.  Firearms are a favorite weapon of murderers, but they are not nearly the only means of accomplishing the deed, and are not used in almost half of all murders.

Oregon has already adopted a new ERPO law, as has Washington State.  Now Massachusetts is seriously contemplating taking the plunge, and Bloomberg’s gun control conglomerate is actively pushing the idea in several other states.

The Constitution guarantees the right to arms, and it also guarantees “due process” before property can be seized, but Bloomberg and his Californicators seem to think the Constitution only applies to other people’s ideas, never theirs.

 

California Gun Owners Catch a Break

 

By Jeff Knox

 

A federal judge has granted a temporary injunction halting enforcement of California’s new law which criminalizes possession of any “large-capacity” magazine, defined as any magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds.  The law, which was approved by voters as part of a massive gun control initiative last year, was due to go into effect on July 1, but a group of California gun owners led by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the state’s NRA affiliate, filed suit in federal court in May challenging the law for violating rights guaranteed under the Second and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.  The preliminary injunction does not nullify the law, but prevents it from being enforced while the case works its way through the courts.

So called “large-capacity” magazines have been banned from sale or transfer in California since 2000, but people who already owned them were able to legally keep them.  Under the new law, current owners of the magazines would be required to get rid of them, either by selling them to a licensed dealer, taking them out of state, destroying them, or turning them over to law enforcement without compensation.  Once the law takes effect, anyone in possession of a magazine capable of holding over 10 rounds in the state would be a criminal, subject to fines and up to a year in jail.

This is exactly the sort of confiscation law that gun control advocates routinely insist that they are not trying to enact, and it is exactly the sort of thing rights advocates have been warning about for decades.  As we at The Firearms Coalition have repeatedly said, the long-term objective of the leading proponents of gun control is the criminalization and confiscation of all privately held firearms, and the “minor,” “reasonable,” and “common sense” laws that they manage to push through here and there are merely incremental steps toward that goal.  They are never satisfied, and they will always come back for another bite at the apple.

The fact that gun control does not, cannot and will never reduce crime actually plays to their objectives, because once they have a law on the books, and people have become accustomed to it, they are able to come back with the same arguments and statistics on “gun violence,” and claim that another more restrictive law is needed.  We’ve seen this strategy play out in England and Australia, and closer to home in New York, New Jersey, and California.

So the good news is that thousands of Californians didn’t suddenly turn into criminals on July first.  The bad news is that the injunction can be appealed, and probably will be, in an attempt to start getting these “dangerous magazines” off the streets as quickly as possible, just in case the plaintiffs eventually win their suit and get the law overturned.  And of course, there is no shortage of radical, anti-rights judges in the state or on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judge who issued the injunction, Roger Benitez, is something of an anomaly in California.  Born in Cuba, Benitez’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was young. They settled in California where he attended college and law school, and served as a judge in the Superior Court of California before being appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush.  His 66-page injunction is an amazing read, full of quotes to delight any lover of liberty.  His wit and dry sense of humor are sprinkled throughout, tearing down the straw arguments of the statists, and pulling from the best of previous opinions and dissents.  Taking a few minutes and read the full work would be time well spent. For a quick synopsis of the ruling, check out Adam Kraut’s short video on YouTube.

Unfortunately, we have been here before.  We’ve seen wonderful opinions from noble jurists in California and elsewhere, quoting the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, and delivering crushing blows to inane gun control schemes, only to see their brilliant logic and unassailable reason swept aside by appeals court judges who are willing to bend the law and rational thought into a pretzel to serve a different agenda.  If the pattern holds, the Supreme Court will simply shrug its collective shoulders and refuse to even give the case a hearing, as we saw once again recently when the Peruta case was denied certiorari.  That heartbreaking case, like this one, was handled by attorney Chuck Michel.  It was good to see him win this temporary victory after the crushing disappointment of having Peruta turned down by SCOTUS.

We will certainly be hearing more about this case, known as Duncan v. Becerra, in the near future.  Either Mr. Becerra, California’s new Attorney General, will appeal the injunction, and we’ll see what the ever-creative 9th Circuit can do with Judge Benitez’s conclusions, or we’ll see the case tried and decided before landing in the 9th Circus.

Who knows how long any of this will take, but hopefully the people of California will be able to hold onto their magazines while the courts and lawyers are doing their dance.  If not, maybe we can arrange for some storage space in Arizona and Nevada border towns to safely stockpile these people’s constitutionally protected property while they are awaiting a final resolution.

Whatever happens, we’ll keep you posted.

SCOTUS Rejects Peruta

By Jeff Knox

(June 26, 2017) Though it is disappointing to report that the Supreme Court of the U.S. has rejected the petition for their review of the case Peruta v. San Diego County, the fact is that it’s better to have the case rejected than to have it heard and lost.  And unfortunately, winning this case with the current justices wasn’t anywhere close to a sure bet.

The case, which challenged California’s “may issue,” concealed carry permitting system as it is applied by San Diego County, was closely watched by rights advocates nationwide since it could have finally affirmed that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” includes the right to carry a gun for lawful purposes outside the home.  It would also have addressed the divide between various circuits regarding the standards to be applied in ruling on Second Amendment cases.

Typically, any decision which impacts a constitutionally protected right is to be decided using what the courts call “strict scrutiny.”  This standard requires that the state prove that they have a darn good reason for infringing on their citizens’ rights, and that they are doing so in the most narrowly tailored, and least restrictive manner possible to satisfy that darn good reason.

It seems obvious to rights advocates, that “strict scrutiny” should be the standard applied to any Second Amendment case, especially in light of the Heller decision, which affirmed that Second Amendment rights belong to individuals, and the McDonald decision, which recognized Second Amendment rights as “fundamental,” and applicable to the states.  But that is not how some of the courts have viewed the matter. Instead of applying the “strict scrutiny” standard, they have used “intermediate scrutiny,” which merely requires that the state show that they have a “compelling interest” that motivates their infringement of rights, or the even lower standard of “rational basis,” which merely requires that a law be rationally relevant to achieving a government interest or goal.  The “rational basis” standard places the burden of proof on the plaintiffs, requiring them to prove that the government’s actions are not rationally related to achieving the stated objectives, while “intermediate scrutiny,” and “strict scrutiny” place the burden of proof on the government, requiring them to prove that their infringements are necessary and within the parameters of the applied level of scrutiny. The biggest distinction between the three levels of scrutiny is that only under “strict scrutiny” does the government have to prove that their infringing laws and regulations actually work.  In “rational basis” and “intermediate scrutiny,” the efficacy of the laws and regulations does not enter into the equation.

Anyone who has done any serious examination of gun control laws knows that they don’t work.  That’s not pro-gun doctrine, that is the result of serious scholarship, much of it funded by the government.  No provable cause and effect relationship has ever been found between restrictions on purchase, possession, or carry of firearms, and a decline in firearm-related crime or even unintentional injuries involving firearms.  Those facts pose a serious problem for those who would defend infringements on the Second Amendment – if “strict scrutiny” were to be applied. So, courts have either sidestepped the issue by claiming that the laws don’t infringe on rights at all, or they have applied a lower level of scrutiny, so they can allow these unconstitutional laws to stand.

This decision by the Supreme Court demonstrates something that The Firearms Coalition has been saying since before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia: The Supreme Court does not have a pro-rights majority, and will not have one until at least two more justices are replaced.

Since Heller and McDonald, the Court has had several opportunities to review Second Amendment cases related to carry outside the home, and restrictions on firearms based on their appearance or the capacity of ammunition feeding devices.  In every case, the Court has refused to take up the issue. This was true when Scalia was still alive, and it remains true now that Gorsuch is on the Court.

The good news that comes out of the Court’s decision to reject the Peruta petition, is that it appears to confirm that Justice Gorsuch is indeed solidly in the pro-rights camp.  He joined in a dissent penned by Justice Thomas, contending that the Court should have agreed to hear Peruta, and settle these important issues.

The “liberal” wing of the Court has a solid block of 4 proven, anti-rights justices, but the “conservative wing appears to be split on the issue.  Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy have indicated a reluctance to delve back into Second Amendment questions, while Justices Thomas, Alito, and now Gorsuch seem much more inclined.

The D.C. rumor mill is suggesting that Justice Kennedy, who is 80, might be preparing to retire, possibly at the close of the current term.  A Trump replacement for Kennedy would probably shore up the pro-rights majority, but even if Kennedy’s replacement is as stalwart as Thomas, there would still be no guarantee for Second Amendment watchers.  Roberts’ reticence to take any action that might shake up the judiciary, is well established, and 4 votes for rights is not enough to win the day.

Justice Ginsburg who is 84 this year, has been expected to retire any day for at least a decade, but she keeps charging ahead, and it is virtually inconceivable that she would willingly give up her seat knowing that Trump would name her replacement.  If she is physically able, expect Ginsburg to hold out to at least the middle of 2020, when her retirement would become a major election issue in the presidential race.

There is another Second Amendment case on the Court’s docket, but we are not hopeful about its chances of being heard.  The most promising case for getting a hearing, is the case challenging Maryland’s draconian “assault weapon” and “high-capacity” magazine ban.  That petition won’t get to the Court until next term, at the earliest. The strongest thing going for it is the 4th Circuit’s blatant misrepresentation of the Heller decision in their ruling on it.  It is very unlikely that the Court will allow that to stand, but they could just “summarily reverse” the decision, sending it back to the Circuit without hearing or offering a ruling.  Right now, that seems like a likely possibility, but predicting Supreme Court actions and outcomes is like betting on roulette. Our energy is much better spent applying pressure to legislators.

 

Faster First-Responders

By Jeff Knox

(May 30, 2017) The first rule of first-aid is “Stop the Bleeding.”  When the bleeding is from a gunshot wound, effectively stopping the bleeding can require advanced tools and training.  Adding to the complications of first-aid for shooting victims is the possibility that the person who shot them might not be finished.  In order to effectively stop the bleeding in a mass-shooting attack, the first step in stopping the bleeding, is to stop the cause of the bleeding – Stop the Attack!

No one should argue that providing some teachers or other school staff with the tools and training needed to be more effective in treating serious wounds while they are waiting for trained medical professionals to arrive.  Why then is it so controversial to suggest that teachers and administrators should receive advanced training to help them be more effective at stopping a violent attacker?

We all understand that the odds of a terrorist or other rampage murderer striking at any particular school are pretty slim, but so are the odds of a particular driver being in a major wreck, or a particular home experiencing a catastrophic fire.  Just because odds are slim, is no reason to avoid being prepared for the worst. Having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen is not a sign of paranoia, and neither is having personnel trained and equipped to stop an armed attacker.

Many schools have an armed officer on campus, either an on-duty police officer, or a paid security guard, so that an armed response can normally be counted on within a few seconds of a serious threat becoming apparent.  Other schools depend on local police to respond to serious incidents, extending response times from seconds to a few minutes. But for some schools, response times for police, fire, and medical emergencies can be between 10 minutes and a half-hour.  For these schools in particular, it is critical that there be personnel on site who are trained and equipped to take immediate action in case of a serious emergency.

That’s why FASTER was developed.  FASTER is an acronym for Faculty/Administration Safety Training and Emergency Response.  It was developed by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio, with the objective of helping schools, police, and medical professionals respond faster and more effectively in emergencies, from minor incidents to worst-case events.

In today’s world, a worst-case event would be a terrorist, or other homicidal maniac, going on a shooting rampage in the school.  In that sort of situation, seconds mean lives, and any response time measured in minutes is much too long. For this reason, many states provide schools with the option of authorizing some designated staff members to be armed on campus.  The FASTER program is intended to provide these designated personnel with advanced training to help accomplish three key things:

      1. Stop the Threat Faster
      2. Treat the Wounded Faster
      3. Get Professional Assistance Faster

Police, firefighters, and paramedics, are rarely the first to respond to any emergency.  The true first-responders are almost always the people who happen to be present when the event starts, often the victims themselves, or close bystanders.  When it comes to an emergency situation in a school – any emergency – the first-responders are almost always school staff, or students. If someone cuts off a finger in wood shop, spills acid in chemistry class, or falls off the monkey-bars on the playground, it is usually a fellow student or nearby teacher who renders initial aid.

In tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook, people died because qualified medical help couldn’t get to them in time.  The people who were present and responded first, didn’t have the equipment or training needed to save those lives. And of course, the response of the trained professionals was delayed by the continued threat posed by the attacker.  FASTER is intended to help close that gap and save lives.

Colorado is one of the states that doesn’t blindly – and irrationally – prohibit all school staff from having access to effective defensive tools.  Many Colorado schools, especially rural schools, where emergency response would be slowest, already have staff members authorized to be armed. The better trained these staff members are, the more effective they will be in an emergency.  That’s why a group called Coloradans for Individual Rights is bringing the FASTER program to the state.

Colorado’s first FASTER workshop is scheduled for June 20 through the 22nd, and is open to school staff from all over the state.  The workshop will be held in Weld County, and the tuition is set at $1000 per person.  Scholarships are being offered through the Independence Institute, and lodging assistance is also available.  To participate, students must be employed by a school in Colorado, must have a valid Colorado Concealed Handgun Permit, and those already designated by their school administration or local board as “Security Officers” are given priority placement.  Faculty and staff from across the state are invited to apply, but space is limited and the deadline is approaching fast.

To find out more about FASTER training in Colorado, or to apply for the workshop, visit the Coloradans for Civil Liberties website.  If you’d like to help fund this important work, go to

 

The Violent Destruction of the Left

By Jeff Knox

(May 17, 2017) Political violence is at its highest level since the Vietnam War.  Somehow the term “political violence” is almost always used in reference to “right-wing” extremism, but historically – and currently – the majority of the violence has come from the political left.  With the election of Donald Trump, self-avowed communists and anarchists have renewed their ironic alliance in the name of “Anti-Fascism” or “Antifa,” and been enveloped into the larger “progressive” movement to wage war on free speech, tear down capitalism, and break things.  Politicians and political pundits are being targeted and threatened at an alarming rate, and the media continues to ignore or mischaracterize it.

Imagine how the media, police, and politicians would react if a “white power” group on an American college campus were to violently protest and blockade a presentation by an outspoken homosexual who supported President Obama.  Imagine college professors joining in the protest, cursing at police, insisting that they should be beating the speaker and those who came to hear what he had to say. Would the protesters and the outspoken professors be supported by the college administration?  Is there any chance the professors would still have a job the next day? Would the media focus on the “controversial” nature of the speaker, or on the criminal actions of the protesters?

How is it possible then, that Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay man who supports Donald Trump and pokes fun at radical leftists, Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, and other outspoken opponents of the radical left could have presentations blocked in such a violent manner, with little to no criticism, let alone prosecution, or those responsible?  How could a college professor, who identified herself as such, launch a screaming, profanity-laden diatribe on police, and still remain employed? How can the media focus on the “controversial” nature of the speakers rather than the behavior of the protesters?

The reason these things can happen, is that our nation has been indoctrinated into a false paradigm of “social justice” and “hate-speech.”  The media and academia have successfully managed to tune the average American’s sensitivities to the point that criticizing the political right, is applauded, promoted, and “normal,” while criticizing the political left is “hateful,” bigoted, and loathsome.

But indoctrination and desensitization can only go so far.  When those average Americans hear the hate-filled, foul-mouthed bellowing of that New York University college professor, they might initially question what horrible event might have spurred such outrage and disgust, only to dig deeper and discover that the motivation for the rant was nothing more than a “shock-jock” style comedian speaking to the university’s Republican Club.  The professor, along with “Antifa” and other protesters, used violence to block people from entering the event, resulting in at least 11 arrests. Meanwhile inside, the speaker, comedian Gavin McInnes, was drowned out by a small group of protesters chanting and yelling throughout the event.

Similar events have played out on college campuses around the country when conservative groups have invited “controversial” speakers like Anne Coulter to speak, or when students dared to try and hold a rally in support of Donald Trump.  Rather than arguing with what the conservatives say, the current approach is to deny them the opportunity to say it, and deny the audience the opportunity to hear it – and to use violence, threats, pepper-spray, and fireworks to accomplish that objective.

All of this has begun to backfire on the extremist left, but they aren’t backing down.  More and more Americans are realizing that the tactics being employed by the radical left – with the general approval of the mainstream left and the media – is exactly the sort of tactics that these groups are claiming to be opposing.  There also appears to be a slow realization among some of the younger people who initially supported these groups, that rather than being counter-culture warriors fighting “the establishment,” they are actually using these violent, fascist tactics to support “the establishment.”  They’re realizing that Hillary Clinton, CNN, MSNBC, and even Bernie Sanders, represent “the establishment,” while Trump supporters like Coulter and Yiannopoulos support him specifically because he is disrupting the status quo and undermining “the establishment.”

Right-wing hate groups certainly exist, and anyone with any sense can easily dismantle their arguments and see the foolishness of their philosophies.  That’s why they have withered to a few minor fringe groups, and are widely reviled by thoughtful society. It is also true that right-wing radicals occasionally use violence to “advance” their cause, such as the degenerate little punk who murdered 9 innocent people at Emanuel AME Church, or the horrific actions of the Oklahoma City bombers.

Of course the results of those acts of politically-motivated violence were broad disavowal of the actions and philosophies that motivated them, and dramatic reductions in the number of people publicly subscribing to those beliefs.

Since the Oklahoma City atrocity, violence has been almost exclusively the tool of actors on the left, or religious fanatics following the teachings of Mohammed, with the tragedy at Mother Emanuel being the horrific exception.  Virtually every other mass murder, and all acts of violence in the name of politics, have been perpetrated by leftists, and that record must eventually generate a backlash among the public.

Once upon a time, Americans recognized the inherent dangers and evils of communism and socialism, but too many today have forgotten those hard-learned lessons.  Hopefully they will be remembered before the current spate of political violence progresses into open warfare.

 

Maj Toure: Black Guns Matter – As Do Lives

By Jeff Knox

(May 10, 2017) Maj Toure is an African American man from the mean streets of North Philadelphia.  He describes a climate of gangs and widespread poverty, where only cops and bad guys are armed, and average citizens tend to think exclusively in those terms.  This is a common condition in inner-city neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods where the people are among the most likely to fall victim to violent crime.

Toure thinks this is just wrong, and he’s determined to change things.  Awareness that the right to arms is not something reserved to old white guys with NRA baseball caps has been growing in minority communities like Maj’s in recent years.  But awareness of the laws and responsibilities surrounding that right, have been slower in coming. Maj has known several people from his neighborhood who decided that exercising their right to arms was a valid and prudent thing to do, but then ended up in legal trouble because, while Pennsylvania is an open carry state, Philadelphia requires citizens to get a city permit before they can exercise that right.  As in so many other places, violations of gun laws in Philadelphia are dealt with harshly, sometimes even more harshly than actual crimes. Consequently many people with no criminal intent being convicted of felonious weapons violations, simply for exercising their rights.

The rights community rallied around Shaneen Allen, an African American mom, when she unwittingly drove into New Jersey with her licensed, concealed carry firearm, and we managed to get her pardoned by Governor Chris Christie, as well as getting some enforcement policies in the state changed.  But when young black men in Philadelphia are caught up in draconian laws, there is rarely any interest from rights groups wanting to help build a legal defense. At the same time there are few programs to teach residents of inner-city communities how to use guns safely and to navigate the legal maze surrounding guns in their cities.  Moreover, even if there were more instructional programs being offered by groups like the NRA, it would be difficult to convince the locals to participate because mistrust of organizations dominated by older whites is common within minority communities.

That’s where Maj and “Black Guns Matter” come in.   Maj sought out education about firearms laws and regulations, as well as safety training, and practical and legal issues surrounding carry and self-defense, then he began teaching what he learned to his neighbors.  As a member of the community, Maj’s advice and training were welcomed and embraced, and he quickly began making a difference. Seeing his success, other similar communities began calling on him to bring his training into their neighborhoods.

Maj is not the only African American training inner-city residents in the safe and lawful use of guns, but his activities have captured a lot of attention, and have been widely applauded by gun rights groups.  Unfortunately applause doesn’t pay the bills, so Maj, like others pursuing similar courses, has so far depended on support from social media campaigns and small donations to keep the information flowing. Up to this point, that has been a bit of an advantage.  Not being affiliated with a large group like the NRA or the firearms industry has given Maj autonomy, and protected him from accusations of being a shill for those groups. But now that Black Guns Matter has reached some prominence and earned a reputation of working exclusively for the communities it serves, it’s time for the gun rights establishment to step up and offer some financial support.

One of the challenges with this is that the support has to be free of strings and obligations.  Maj Toure and Black Guns Matter must continue to be independent operators, spreading their message of rights and responsibilities without concern for the political goals of outside organizations.  Anything else would dilute the message and marginalize the messenger.

Outside of the gun issue, Maj Toure probably holds political views that are far different than those of the mainstream gun culture, and it’s a certainty that his audiences do.  His, and his audience’s perceptions of hot-button topics like racism and police brutality are informed from a very different perspective than the views of the middle-aged, white men who make up the majority of gun groups.  None of that is likely to change any time soon, but those differences shouldn’t play a role in financing the education efforts.

What matters is not our differences, but our similarities.  We in the rights community claim that support for the Second Amendment is our number one priority, so let’s prove that by making sure the Second Amendment is fully available to everyone – even those with whom we might share little else.

It used to be common for newspapers to print at the top of their editorial pages, a quote (commonly attributed to Voltaire, but actually penned by one of his biographers):  “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death for your right to say it.”  While the quote might not have been Voltaire’s, the sentiment was, and it was a sentiment shared by our founding fathers. We must apply a similar sentiment to the Second Amendment. While we might not agree on many things, we must stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of each others’ rights.

To support Black Guns Matter directly, you can go to www.GoFundMe.com/BlackGunsMatter or their website; www.OfficialBlackGunsMatter.org.  To help fund them indirectly, share this article within the firearms community, especially industry executives, and leaders of groups that you already donate to.  A grant of a few thousand dollars could make a huge impact on this important work.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T — NRA leadership lacks it

By Jeff Knox

At the NRA’s Annual Meeting of Members in Atlanta last weekend, NRA leaders doubled-down on their strategy of treating the membership like children or mushrooms.  As a concerned and involved NRA Endowment member, I submitted a resolution that was critical of NRA leadership for their handling of the recent bylaw election. The main focus of the resolution was that the NRA leadership displayed a serious lack of respect for the membership by not giving members an opportunity to hear dissenting opinions and debate the amendments on their merits prior to voting on them.

My objective was to foster debate about this issue and allow the membership to act as the owners of their Association.  But rather than allow that discussion, the leadership silenced dissent by claiming that there were “technical flaws” in the resolution, and declaring it “out of order.”

The “technical flaws” were bogus, based on a distorted reading of Robert’s Rules of Order, and an intentional mischaracterization of a clause of the resolution.  Even if they they were valid, the proper course under Robert’s Rules should have been either to bring the issues to my attention as the maker of the motion, and give me an opportunity to correct them, exactly as they did with another, less controversial resolution I submitted, or allow the resolution onto the floor where any flaws could be amended using the normal deliberative process.  Instead, they simply declared the whole resolution out of order and went on to the next item of business.

The only resolution actually voted on by the members, was one I submitted calling for commemoration of 2017 as the 40th anniversary of the Cincinnati Revolt.  It called for members to express their desire that the association recognize and celebrate this important milestone in the Association’s history by publishing feature articles and other media presentations commemorating the event as a way to educate younger NRA members about our history.

Even with this relatively uncontroversial resolution, President Cors moved quickly, going straight to the vote without offering opportunity for debate or discussion.  Under Robert’s Rules, the maker of a motion or resolution always has the right to speak about it before a vote is taken, and technically, should read the resolution to the body, but that’s not the way it happened.  It could be argued that President Cors is not a parliamentarian, and simply made a few mistakes in his conduct of the meeting, but it seemed that the mistakes always tended to the benefit of the establishment, and the detriment of the members.  But ignorance is a lame excuse since a professional parliamentarian sits at the President’s elbow during the meeting.

Some other members offered a pair of resolutions, and in both cases, a member of the Board of Directors immediately rose to move that the resolution be referred to a committee of the Board, rather than allowing the members to vote on it.  In the first instance, that motion to refer passed without discussion, and in the other, the member who submitted the resolution requested permission to withdraw it.

As soon as that resolution had been dealt with, the same member of the Board who had risen on the other issues rose again, this time to move that the meeting be adjourned.  President noted that he had been informed that a member of the Executive Council, former President David Keene, had expressed a desire to raise a point of personal privilege, and asked that the motion to adjourn be held briefly to allow Mr. Keene to raise his point of privilege.  There was no objection, and Mr. Keene was given the floor.

Former President Keene expressed his feeling that he had been personally insulted – along with the rest of the Board – by the suggestion that NRA leadership does not respect the members.  He pointed out that he and the current leadership of the organization frequently remark on the fact that the power of the association is derived from the membership, and give credit to the membership for the achievements the association makes in the political and legislative arenas.  He concluded by declaring that they all have the deepest respect for the members, and reiterating that it was insulting to suggest otherwise.

While I could have tried to respond with a personal privilege point of my own, I was quite sure that the attempt would be met with a ruling that I was out of order, and the attempt would have served no purpose.  Instead, I approached Mr. Keene directly and apologized for causing offense, assuring him that it was not my intent, but I pointed out that declaring respect, and demonstrating respect are two very different things.  Regardless of how thoroughly the bylaw amendments might have been discussed and debated within the Board, not giving the members the courtesy of full disclosure of the facts, and not allowing any expressions of dissent from the leadership position, is not a demonstration of respect.  Further, filling the magazine with repeated arguments supporting and encouraging a “Yes” vote, without providing any opportunity for any other opinion to be expressed, also failed to demonstrate respect for the members. I got the distinct impression that he was not convinced.

The National Rifle Association is a wonderful organization with incredible power, and even greater potential.  I believe that every gun owner and lover of liberty should be a member. Having dedicated the better part of my life to working for a strong, effective, member-driven NRA, I’m deeply disappointed that the leadership – both past and current – insists on “unity” and “conformity” over full disclosure and debate.  Rather than providing the membership with the information they need to make an informed decision, and trusting them to come to the best decision, they treat them like mushrooms – kept in the dark and buried in BS – giving them only the information they choose, and holding their hands as they guide them across the street.  That’s not respect.