All posts by Chris Knox

Katie Couric’s Deception

Katie’s Deception Nothing New

By Jeff Knox

(June 1, 2016) Katie Couric’s unethical editing in her “documentary,” Under the Gun, a heavily biased propaganda film promoting gun control, attracted some harsh criticism, but the deceit involved is nothing new to rights activists.  We’ve seen media distort, misrepresent, and outright lie about guns, gun laws, and gun owners for decades.  The deception in the Couric film is just the latest in a long string of lies.

For those who might not have heard about the Couric flap, it boiled down to the director splicing in an awkward silence after Couric asks a group of rights advocates in Virginia how they propose we prevent felons and terrorists from buying guns without background checks.  In the film, Couric asks the question and we then see video of participants looking uncomfortable, looking at the floor and scuffing their toes, with no response, for 8 full seconds before a dramatic cut to a new topic.  The impression is that the group has been stumped by the question and simply doesn’t have an answer.  In reality, members of the group responded almost immediately with a variety of comments.  The awkward silence shown in the film was apparently shot while participants were waiting for the interview to begin.

After criticism of the unethical editing started popping up on FOX News and in print media (the other major television networks ignored the story), the director, Stephanie Soechtig, issued a statement saying the silence was just a way of giving the audience a moment to think about the significance of the question.  Couric, who was the executive producer of the film and has repeatedly insisted that her objective was to give a balanced look at the gun issue from all sides, first backed up Soechtig, but later took “responsibility” for the “misleading” edit, saying she should have been more vigorous in her objections to the segment.

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NRA’s 145th Annual Meeting

NRA’s 145th Annual Meeting

By Jeff Knox

(May 25, 2016) The NRA’s Annual Convention in Louisville, KY, with over 80,000 in attendance, was interesting for political junkies this year, as there was drama in NRA’s internal elections, as well as the hotly contested race for President.  Presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump received the Association’s official endorsement before delivering a well-received speech.  Some members were not happy about the endorsement, but the decision makes sense.  The rigged system means only the R or D can possibly win, and the D – whether that ends up being Hillary, Bernie, or someone else – is absolutely unacceptable to GunVoters due to the Supreme Court situation if nothing else.  Trump’s past support for some gun control schemes is uncomfortable, but was in line with the mainstream Republican position of the day.  He has since recanted those comments, and is promising to be the most pro-rights President in modern history.  He has also offered up a list of very qualified and acceptable Supreme Court possibles.  Who knows what assurances he made behind closed doors, but as of now, Trump is the only hope GunVoters have of avoiding the sure disaster of another anti-rights D in the White House.

Once again, the member participation in the mail-in balloting was dismal.  Only 164,026 of the 2,112,643 eligible ballots were returned this year.  That’s a voter participation rate of less than 8%.  On the brighter side though, over 2.1 million eligible voters – Lifetime Members and those who have maintained annual membership for at least 5 consecutive years – is pretty impressive.  Numbers like that are the source of the NRA’s considerable political clout.  If only those millions of members would take internal elections as seriously as they take politics outside the NRA.

The effort to recall NRA Director, Grover Norquist ended up much closer than I had expected, though the recall failed as predicted.  The final numbers were 70,204 voting to retain Norquist in office, and 62,066 voting to remove him from the Board of Directors. 

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Keeping Kids Safe

Our USA Today Rebuttal on Kids’ Safety

By Jeff Knox and Chris Knox

My brother Chris and I are occasionally asked to offer up a counterpoint to an editorial in USA Today when the paper decides to talk about guns and gun laws. When they decided to offer up an editorial railing about negligent access to guns by children, they invited us to give the gun-owner perspective. These op-eds are always a challenge because we never know exactly what we’re arguing against, and our space is always very limited. The editorial board gives us the topic and a general idea of the position they plan to take, and we are given 340 words to present our opposing view.

As expected, the editors took around 600 words to trot out a parade of horror stories of children getting hold of guns and shooting themselves or others, offered up some misleading statistics, and then called for some proven-ineffective measures. Among them:

“Safe storage” laws – that don’t work and make no sense to enforce against grieving parents;

“Stigmatizing” unsafe storage and gun handling – no problem with that so long as the person doing the scolding knows something about guns and gun safety;

Enlisting doctors to talk about gun safety – again, no problem, so long as the doctor isn’t collecting personal information and just spouting anti-rights propaganda, and perhaps even knows something about the topic;

And, of course, “smart guns” – the less you know about guns, the better the idea sounds.

Here is an expanded version of our view.

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Bloomberg’s Anti-Rights Conglomerate

Bloomberg’s Anti-Rights Lobbying Conglomerate

By Jeff Knox

(May 11, 2016) In 2014, Mike Bloomberg combined his Mayors Against Illegal Guns and his recently acquired Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, into an umbrella corporation called Everytown for Gun Safety, which he pledged to fund to the tune of $50 million dollars.  The primary focus of the conglomerate has been criminalizing unapproved private firearm transfers under the misleading banner “universal background checks,” with a secondary effort run by the Demanding Moms trying to force various companies to ban guns on their premises.

Later that year Bloomberg, through Everytown, spent over $10 million dollars to pass a firearm transfer ban initiative in Washington State, and began collecting signatures for a similar initiative in Nevada.  He hired lobbyists in Oregon who successfully pushed a transfer ban through the legislature there, and opened offices in Maine, Arizona, Vermont, and other states.

Local groups in Arizona banded together in support of a state compact that would make federal minimum firearm transfer standards the maximum standards in states that joined the compact, but Bloomberg’s lobbyists successfully blocked that effort in 2015.  That same year, grass roots groups in Vermont and Rhode Island successfully stopped the Bloomberg machine in their states, but Bloomberg’s money is still flowing and the bills have been resurrected. 

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Voting for Hillary?

Voting for Hillary?

Not a fan of Donald Trump but…

By Jeff Knox

(May 5, 2016) With Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee for President, this is shaping up to be the ugliest presidential race in modern history, with the major parties putting up two of the most widely despised candidates ever fielded.  This situation is pretty astounding since neither of these candidates – or Bernie Sanders – should have logically been able to garner enough support to even be considered serious contenders.  But here we are with Hillary and the Donald as our presumptive candidates.  Barring some major development, one or the other is going to be the next President of the United States.

Before the dedicated Trump supporters start throwing rocks at me, let me suggest that only those who were on the Trump Train eleven months ago – and believed he was going to win – toss the first stones.  Is there anyone who actually fits that category?  Trump’s campaign seemed to be more an effort to shake things up and force some changes than to actually become the leader of the free world.  But there was something in his unapologetic bombast that struck a chord with disgruntled Americans, fed-up with carefully scripted politicians who refuse to take a stand or say what they really think.  The more some people were offended by what Trump had to say, the more other people said “Hell yeah!” 

Now, Trump has knocked off sixteen rivals and we are left with what many consider an unpalatable choice.  The problem is, there were never any real good choices available for GunVoters.  There were several, like Chris Christie, George Pataki, and John Kasich that GunVoters rejected out of hand.  Others offered some good qualities, but none offered a strong, support-worthy package.  Most though, were marginally acceptable, so most GunVoters waited and watched as Hillary marched toward her coronation as the Queen of the Democrat Party and Donald Trump crushed all challengers.

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Democrats’ “Australian-Style” Solution

The Democrats’ “Australian-style” solution

By Jeff Knox

(April 27, 2016) Hillary Clinton recently suggested that, while the Second Amendment is important and should be “respected,” there’s no reason we can’t implement “reasonable, commonsense gun safety measures.”  But both she and Barack Obama, along with other prominent Democrats, have invoked England and Australia as models America should consider adopting.  Since we keep hearing this “commonsense” suggestion, let’s look at what exactly “Australian-style” gun control looks like.

First, remember that Australia is an island nation with an area not much smaller than the U.S., but a total population less than Texas.  Some 85% of Australians live within 30 miles of the coast, mostly in large urban areas, making it among the most urbanized nations in the world.  It is also one the only countries in the “free world” that does not have a formal Bill of Rights – and certainly no recognized right to bear arms.  Restrictive firearm laws have long been a staple in Australia, which began as a penal colony where Great Britain sent its criminals and indigents. 

By the 1950s, most of Australia’s states had instituted some form of licensing and registration rules, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, as Australia was becoming more urbanized, that gun control began to be a national political issue.  The calls for more gun control were initially fueled, not by serious crime issues in Australia, but by debates over gun laws in the U.S.  Then a series of high-profile shooting incidents between 1984 and 1995 raised the temperature of the debate, and the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, following close on the heels of the Dunblane Massacre in Scotland, caused the pot to boil over.

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Slow and Tedious

Slow & Tedious: The blueprint for weathering scandals

By Jeff Knox

(April 21, 2016) Since December, 2010, the government program known as Operation Fast and Furious has morphed into a program that could be accurately labeled as Operation Slow and Tedious.  The objective is to delay exposure of the truth until that exposure has no political or personal impact on the various players involved.

Efforts to get at the truth of the scandal got a boost in January when an Obama-appointed federal judge ruled that thousands of documents subpoenaed by congressional investigators could not be withheld under claims of executive privilege. In keeping with the Slow and Tedious strategy, the Department of Justice finally released a large block of the documents three months later on a Friday afternoon in April, but continues to withhold many others. 

The recent document dump supports speculation that then Attorney General, Eric Holder, knew more about the ill-conceived gunwalking operation than he has claimed, and that he and other high-level DOJ officials actively worked to conceal details of the operation from Congress and the public.  Emails released earlier in the investigation indicate that White House advisor, Valerie Jarrett, gave guidance in the cover-up, but so far, none of the recent documents provide a direct link to the White House.  What they do show is a concerted effort to keep the details of the operation under wraps for political reasons.  Had these documents been made public when they were originally subpoenaed, they could have had a serious negative impact on Obama’s reelection campaign, and might have prevented implementation of new regulations requiring gun dealers in Border States to report information about purchasers of semi-auto rifles.  By delaying the release until now, those political consequences have been avoided, but there are other potential consequences that the administration is ducking.  Recent criminal charges filed against government officials in the Flint, Michigan water scandal are a reminder that politicians and bureaucrats might not be beyond the reach of the law.  So far, no one has paid a significant price for their roles in Fast and Furious, and the administration clearly wants to keep it that way.

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Armed Worship

Armed Worship

Mixing God and guns.

By Jeff Knox

(April 13, 2016) Lawful concealed carry and religion intersected in the news recently as Mississippi enacted a law to “allow” churches to form church security committees for the protection of the congregation, and, with training, for security committee members to carry concealed guns.  Previous Mississippi law prohibited concealed carry in a church.  The reaction was swift and shrill, with predictions of blood in the aisles.  Of course experience of other states proves the hysteria unfounded.  Congratulations to Mississippi for expanding liberty.

Laws banning guns from houses of worship violate the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution.  The First Amendment prohibits government from making any law regarding the establishment or free exercise of religion.  This has been liberally interpreted to forbid any sort of favoritism for one religious doctrine over another.  A blanket prohibition on bearing arms in houses of worship favors a doctrine of pacifism over doctrines of preparedness and righteous defense of innocent life.

Constitutional issues aside, carrying a gun at church raises important questions, both doctrinal and practical.  At the highest level, it’s worth pointing out that very few religions preach total pacifism or passivity in the face of a threat.  No matter what denomination or creed, doctrinal questions should be worked out between individuals, church leadership, and God.  Having the doctrine settled at the outset will help establish boundaries and can help dictate actions in the event of an incident.

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Shooter-Trash

Shooter-Trash

It’s past time for shooters to clean up our act.

By Jeff Knox

(April 6, 2016) Over the past thirty years or so, gun owners have done a spectacular job of improving firearm safety habits.  By every measure, unintentional injuries involving firearms have gone down even as the number of guns has risen.  That fact is rarely reported in the general media, but it’s something gun owners can be proud of.  We are, by and large, responsible and safe.  But there is one big area where all shooters can improve how shooters and gun owners are perceived by the general public.  We need to be more conscientious about where we shoot, what we shoot at, and especially about cleaning up after ourselves.  We’ve all run across areas that have been trashed as informal shooting ranges.  The ground is covered with bullet-riddled boxes, cans, televisions, washing machines, broken glass, and a carpet of empty cases and shells, trees and cactus are shredded, and we all get the blame.   

Spent cases are an often neglected source of litter that shooters too frequently just leave, even if they clean up their targets.  The metallic cases are pretty inert, and fade from view as the shine weathers, but they should still be picked up.  Plastic shotgun hulls and wads are a bigger problem.  Not only are they unsightly, they can break down into some fairly nasty chemicals that we really don’t want leaching into our groundwater, giving our opponents ammunition to use against us. 

Much of the target trash is actually not generated by shooters, but rather simply dumped by others who don’t want to pay the fee at the county landfill.  Unfortunately, once the first would-be gunslinger fills an object with holes, the mess becomes shooter-trash and its existence will always be blamed on us.

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Give GunVoters Ammo

Give Us Ammunition!

Republicans need to provide votes.

By Jeff Knox

(March 29, 2016) As the Presidential primaries continue to unravel in the news, it seems that the main concern of Republican leaders in D.C. and around the country is stopping Donald Trump.  They seem incapable of seeing their own culpability in pushing Trump to the top of the ticket.  This is a trust and accountability issue, and the Republicans have failed miserably at earning trust and accepting responsibility for their actions and inactions.  If Republicans want to win the presidency – or any other offices – they need to earn support by highlighting the clear distinctions between the parties and the candidates, and by demonstrating to their core constituency that they are actually listening to them, not just the donor class.  That means going beyond promises to actually moving legislation, holding hearings, and taking votes.

Democrats have made gun control a central theme of their campaigns this year, so Republicans need to capitalize on that by demonstrating their commitment to individual rights.  They could easily do that by bringing Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) “Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act,” H.R.2710, to the floor for a vote.  It’s a gun control reform that removes the onerous “sporting purpose” language from the Gun Control Act and squelches bureaucratic power over firearm imports and sales.  There’s no way Obama would sign it, but that’s not the objective.  While we would like to see the bill passed and enacted, its more important purpose this year would be to activate GunVoters, point up distinctions between R’s and D’s, give presidential candidates something to campaign on, force Obama to take a stand, and demonstrate to an important segment of the Republican base that their politicians are actually listening and responsive to them.  All of these things are beneficial to Republicans and harmful to Democrats, so why aren’t they doing it?  Votes on bills like H.R.2710 are ammunition in election season and it’s foolish of Republicans to deny that ammunition to our activists.

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