All posts by Jeff Knox

The Real Second Amendment Threat

The Second Amendment Threat

By Jeff Knox

(August 10, 2016) It was interesting watching the media going nuts over Donald Trump’s recent comment about the Second Amendment. During an August 9 rally, Trump said:

Hillary wants to abolish – essentially abolish the Second Amendment. And by the way, if she gets to pick her judges…(shrugs shoulders, shakes head) Nothing you can do folks… (then as an aside,) Although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is… I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”

Taking their cue from Clinton staffers and radical anti-rights extremist groups like Bloomberg’s Demanding Moms, the media painted Trump’s comment as a suggestion that gun rights supporters should take up arms against the government if Hillary is elected. Shannon Watts, the PR flak who heads up Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, sent out an outrageous email fundraiser claiming that Trump’s comment was a call to assassinate Hillary Clinton. In the email, titled “Ballots vs. Bullets,” Watts echoed the Clinton camp, declaring; “This is dangerous,” and claimed that, “the media quickly reported Americans’ widespread shock at the idea that Trump was encouraging the assassination of a U.S. president.” She even included footnotes to support this asinine assertion. The three articles in the footnote were:

  1. An editorial from rabid Trump-basher, Philip Bump at the Washington Post, who parsed the statement down to suggest that it was a threat against Clinton, but said nothing about “widespread shock,”

  2. An editorial report by Trump-basher Andrew Prokop at Vox, a “progressive” news service aimed at millennials, which mainly consisted of some speculation about what Trump might have meant and reprints of some comments made by other “progressive” pundits on Twitter.

  3. An article by Louis Nelson at Politico suggesting that Trump was in trouble for making the remarks, and supporting that contention by quoting a variety of Clinton and Democrat functionaries who were hyperventilating about it.

None of these suggested anything resembling “widespread shock” among Americans, just typical attempts to exploit an opening from an opponent. The suggestion that Trump was actually encouraging revolt or suggesting assassination is silly. He was talking about the damage Hillary Clinton could do to the country and the Constitution if she is elected, and one of the points was that if she were to make appointments to the Supreme Court, the Second Amendment would be virtually abolished – which is absolutely true.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently stated that she, like Hillary Clinton, believes the Court’s decision in DC v. Heller was “bad” and that a future Court would have the opportunity to revisit the issue when a case challenging a gun control law comes up. Since Heller was decided 5-4 with the now deceased Antonin Scalia leading the 5, it is no stretch to assume that a “progressive” replacement to fill Scalia’s empty seat at the bench would mean that the next case to arrive in the Court concerning gun laws would be decided 5-4 in the opposite direction. By ruling that only “intermediate scrutiny” or “rational basis” need be applied to such questions, the Court could effectively nullify Heller, and thus make the Second Amendment hollow.

Trump was offering a dire warning in an effort to rally GunVoters to his cause and against Clinton – in the upcoming election. His follow-up comment that perhaps “Second Amendment people” might not be helpless, was obviously a joke, but it was a joke with historical teeth.

The Second Amendment itself is a warning against overreaching government. Those who suggest that pointing out this fact is a threat and insurrection, are ignoring the other side of that coin. The threat of the Second Amendment is not that gun owners will resort to armed violence to get our way. Rather it is that the people can and should resist unjust force with force of our own.

This is right and just, and is in full harmony with the writings and beliefs of the founders and the legal scholars who followed them. Famed Supreme Court Justice and constitutional historian, Joseph Story, in his highly respected tome Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States phrased it like this:

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” (emphasis added)

That “strong moral check” is in fact a warning. The idea is that as long as the American people are armed, and thus have the ability to physically resist overreaching government, they will never have a need to physically resist the government, because the government would be foolish to try and oppress a citizenry that is well-armed.

If I take a new shooter to the range and caution them not to let the gun point at any part of their own body, and to keep their finger away from the trigger, would anyone suggest that I was threatening them?

Reminding those in power that We the People are potentially dangerous and should be handled with respect, is not a threat, it’s a courtesy.

Don’t tread on me.

NRA Election: Nugent, Norquist And My Bullet Vote

By Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox urges members to cast ballot for just 1 man in race for 25 seats

Vote Board of Directors
Vote Board of Directors

Buckeye, AZ –-( Every year the NRA elects one third of its 76-member Board of Directors to a three-year term, plus one to a one-year term, and every year I share my thoughts on the candidates.

Only Life Members and Annual Members with at least five consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Those members will have received a mail-in ballot in their latest NRA magazine. If you did, VOTE, and be sure to read the directions carefully.

For those voting members of NRA who don’t want to bother reading the whole column, I’ll tell you up front that I am only endorsing one candidate this year: Sean Maloney.

I encourage voting members to “Bullet Vote,” marking only Sean Maloney’s name and no one else.

This year there are two issues above and beyond regular NRA internal politics: a recall effort against Grover Norquist and the controversy over Ted Nugent’s “sharing” of a rather blatantly anti-Semitic Facebook meme.

I think the Facebook controversy surrounding Nugent is pretty overblown. Ted is an old-school rocker, not particularly known for PC sensibilities. He should have looked at the picture a little more closely before forwarding it on with his comments, but he didn’t, and people who don’t like him made a huge deal about it. I’ve known Ted for a long time. My sister used to babysit his kids. While he certainly has his faults, anti-Semitism isn’t one of them. In spite of monumental efforts from the anti-rights media, the charges against Ted seem to have fizzled after he made a public apology to, and through, the Zelman Partisans, a group of hardline rights activists who split from Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership after its founder, Aaron Zelman, passed away and the group was absorbed by Alan Gottlieb and the Second Amendment Foundation. The controversy is not going to hurt Ted’s re-election bid.

As to the effort to recall Grover Norquist, I do not support it. I’ve known Grover for a number of years, and while I don’t always agree with him on other political issues, and I would prefer that politicians, celebrities and political insiders like Norquist be part of an advisory board rather than members of the policymaking body of the NRA, I think the charges proffered against him are bogus and that removing him from office would be harmful to the Association.

I fully expect the membership to reject the recall, and I encourage members to vote NO.

Pete Brownell
Pete Brownell

NRA elects board members to a three-year term, with 25 seats, one-third of the board, up for election each year – and incumbents have a significant advantage. The class that is up for election this year has more “celebrity” members than either of the other two groups, making it the most difficult to break into. Along with Ted Nugent, Oliver North and Susan Howard of “Dallas” fame, the class also includes basketball’s Carl Malone, football star Dave Butz and NASCAR great Richard Childress. Then there are the politicians, former Sen. Larry Craig, former Reps. Don Young and Bob Barr, former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and Indiana State Sen. Johnny Nugent. Finally, there are the NRA and industry celebrities, former NRA Presidents Marion Hammer and Sandy Froman, and current NRA First Vice President Pete Brownell. Of these 14, only one is at any risk of failing to make the cut. I’ll leave it to you to guess which one. That leaves only 12 seats, and some of those are filled by well-respected stalwarts who are solidly ensconced.

At best, four, maybe five seats could be in play this year. Allen West, a former congressman and popular columnist, will almost certainly take a seat. Bart Skelton, gun writer and son of gun writing legend Skeeter Skelton, and Craig Morgan, country singer and outdoor show host, both have some celebrity status, but I’m not sure how deep that runs among voting members, or how much effort they have been putting into winning a seat. Either could possibly make the cut. There are also competitive shooters, likely to draw heavy support from those ranks, and local activists who are campaigning hard, but I doubt that will be enough. All appear to be solid candidates. Some are personal friends, but I don’t think it is likely that any of them can garner enough votes to unseat any of the incumbents.

Sean Maloney
Vote Sean Maloney for NRA Board

The one incumbent I strongly support, and who I see as most vulnerable, is Sean Maloney. I endorsed Maloney and his fellow Colorado Recall architect Timothy Knight last year. Knight made the cut, but Maloney did not. Thankfully, he was able to win election to the one-year, “76th Director” seat that is voted on each year at the NRA’s Annual Meeting of members. During his year on the board, he obviously impressed folks because he has gotten the nod from the Nominating Committee this year, as well as being nominated by petition. That’s pretty unusual but doesn’t surprise me. Maloney is an impressive guy and a workhorse for the cause. He’s an Ohio attorney, where he is very active in local battles, but he virtually moved to Colorado to assist with the recall effort. And that’s not the first, or last, time he’s simply shown up on the front lines with his work gloves on asking how he can help. He’s a firebrand and he’s smart. We need people like Maloney on the NRA Board.

I am going to vote only for Maloney, because if I cast a vote for any one of the other 19 candidates actually competing for the last few seats, that person – who I like but don’t support as strongly as I support Maloney – could bump Maloney out of the running, meaning I would be negating my own vote.

Therefore, I am asking NRA voting members to join me in casting a single “Bullet Vote” for Sean Maloney.

Control Freaks

Control freaks just can’t help themselves

By Jeff Knox

(June 16, 2015) Both the Obama administration and Congress have been busy with firearm-related business in recent weeks, with the Department of Justice offering up a series of regulatory changes relating to firearms, and members of the U.S. House introducing legislation and appropriations riders aimed at rolling back some of the current restrictions and complications.

The issue that has caught the most attention within the firearms community is a proposal from the Department of State to “clarify” regulations regarding the “export” of “military technology.”  The proposal was obviously spurred by the 3D printing activists at Defense Distributed, who have sued the federal government for suppression of their First Amendment rights.

Defense Distributed is a company founded by libertarian-minded college student, Cody Wilson, who wanted to prove the futility of gun control laws by demonstrating the simplicity of firearm manufacture using 3D printer technology.  While firearms have previously been made using traditional machining processes, taking a chunk of metal and carving away everything that didn’t look like a gun, 3D printing reverses that process, spraying layer after layer of material (usually plastic) to build a three-dimensional shape. 

Continue reading Control Freaks

Alabama Senate Loss Isn’t a Game-Changer

By Jeff Knox

(December 14, 2017) The dominant media industry is touting the election of a Democrat in Alabama’s special election as a shocking blow to the Trump administration and to Donald Trump personally.  They suggest that this really raises questions about Republicans’ ability to hold onto their narrow Senate majority in 2018, and basically proves that everyone really hates Donald Trump, and as long as he’s president, Republicans can’t win.  That may be wishful thinking.

Whether you believed the allegations against Moore were credible or not, this race wasn’t about politics or policies or even guilt or innocence.  This election was about credibility, and the voters of Alabama thought the accusers were more credible than Moore was, and they voted accordingly.

You might have noticed that sexual harassment became a big deal in recent weeks, and any credible accusation of sexual harassment, abuse, or other sexual misconduct is being taken much more seriously that it was just a few years ago – or even just a few months ago.

Had the accusations come out earlier, before the primaries, or at least before the deadline for replacing a candidate’s name on the ballot, the results may have been dramatically different.  As it was, Moore only lost by about one percentage point, and that’s pretty incredible given the gravity of the accusations and Moore’s clumsy response to them.

An establishment Republican would have easily won that seat, but a hard-line, anti-establishment Republican like Moore, would have won in a landslide, had it not been for the accusations.  So the fact that Moore lost only reflects on Trump to the extent that it was probably a bad idea for him to dive back into the race.

The really surprising statistic out of this race was the turnout of black voters, who turned out for white Democrat Doug Jones in greater numbers than turned out for Barack Obama in either of his elections.  That’s a pretty shocking statistic. It can only be explained by assuming that Obama and the Democrats basically ignored the heavily Republican state, making no serious effort at registering and turning out black voters, since they knew there was no way they could swing the state, while Jones’s team had a monumental outreach program into the black community, bringing in popular African American politicians and celebrities to get people involved.

But what does all of this mean to the balance in the Senate now and going forward?  Not much really. Republicans had a two-vote majority, 52-48, and now they have a one-vote majority, 51-49.  There was some faint hope that Republicans might be able to capture a filibuster-breaking supermajority of 60 seats.  That’s still a possibility, but losing an assumed-safe seat doesn’t help. Neither did having two Republican senators declare that they were retiring.  Incumbents usually have a significant advantage, so an open seat is never as good a bet.

There are 33 seats up for election next November, plus a special election for Al Franken’s seat.  Of those 33 Senate seats, 26 seats are currently held by Democrats (including two Independents who caucus and vote with the Democrats.

Those are pretty good odds for the Republicans, but it gets better.  Of the eight Republican-held seats up for election, seven are in states won handily by Donald Trump, as are 10 of the 25 Democrat-held seats.  If Republicans retain all of their current seats, they would have to win all 10 of those red-state Democrat seats. That’s a pretty tall order and there’s not much chance Republicans can pull it off.

The Arizona seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, would normally be a safe Republican bet, but the Democrats have fallen in behind an attractive candidate, while Republicans are building up to a what could be a bruising primary battle.  Nevada’s Republican-held seat is also in doubt. Hillary Clinton won the state, and Senator Dean Heller waffled on the Republican healthcare bill, managing to anger both Democrats and Republicans back home.

On the Democrat side, only five or six seats are at serious risk.  Republicans had better win at least a couple of those as a cushion for their tenuous majority.  In the end, we will probably see Republicans retaining their majority, but falling well short of a supermajority.

For GunVoters all of this means we will probably get more of the same going forward, with pro-rights legislation dead on arrival in the Senate, as Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) will be sure to filibuster anything that is offered.

The only light of hope in the Senate is that the Democrats chose the “nuclear option” doing away with the 60-vote majority rule on cabinet and lower court appointees a few years ago.  Republicans followed suit on Supreme Court nominees this year, and that means that as long as Republicans have at least a 1-vote majority, or even a 50/50 split, with Vice President Pence casting the deciding vote, Trump can continue to appoint judges who abide by the Constitution.

But if Democrats manage to get 51 seats in 2018, all progress in the courts will run right into a brick wall.  I can easily see Schumer and company blocking all judicial appointments – especially any Supreme court nomination.  The majority in the Senate has total control over confirmation of judges and justices. That’s why a Republican Senate majority is important to GunVoters.

Both parties will be spending heavily on Senate races next year, because that control over judicial appointments is so crucial.  GunVoters need to be out in force to keep the Senate in nominally gun-friendly hands. We might not be able to get the legislation we want, but if we can’t get the courts back into Constitution-friendly hands, gun-friendly legislation won’t matter.

Get involved, and VOTE.


The False Promise of Background Checks

The False Promise of Background Checks

By Jeff Knox

(September 25, 2014)

The idea of background checks for firearm purchases seems to sound sensible, but the reality is much different from the appearance.  In truth, expecting firearm background checks to stop criminals is like trying to catch a few particular salmon during spawning season by placing a rock in the middle of the stream and watching for the specific fish to jump over the rock. 

specious:  adjective:

superficially plausible, but actually wrong.

“a specious argument”

misleading in appearance, especially misleadingly attractive.

There are more than 15 million NICS background checks processed every year, totaling over 180 million checks since the program’s inception in 1998.  Between 98% and 99% of those checks were on regular, unrestricted people – most of whom already own at least one firearm. Of the few prohibited persons stopped from purchasing a firearm, the vast majority either weren’t aware of their prohibited status or thought their rights had been restored; they had no criminal intent.  In 2010, which is typical of recent years, only about 60 individuals – out of 15 million – were considered worthy of prosecution, and only 13 people – out of 15 million – were actually convicted of illegally trying to purchase a firearm.  Not a very impressive return from a program that infringes on an enumerated constitutional right – that “shall not be infringed” – and has cost taxpayers an estimated $2 billion dollars so far.

Continue reading The False Promise of Background Checks