It seems that politicians and their medical advisors have lost sight of the objectives of social distancing. While they still speak in terms of “flattening the curve,” their actions appear to be more focused on eradicating the curve altogether. While that might be a noble goal, it’s not particularly realistic, and it’s not what we the people signed up for.
Recall that the point of “flattening the curve” was to prevent the novel Chinese Corona Virus from overwhelming our healthcare system, resulting in mass casualties due to a lack of medical facilities to care for the sudden flood of cases. Well, we’re now well into, or beyond, the peak period in most places and this “new normal” that we are all living appears to have worked. Even in critical hot-spots like New York City, where heavy population density, combined with high tourism and global travel, resulted in the worst outbreak in the nation, the spread was slowed enough to get through the worst of the disease, and the healthcare system was able to effectively handle the surge.
But now, as the peak is passing in some places and slowly approaching in others, petty tyrants around the country are still flexing their nanny muscles and demanding that businesses remain closed, people stay in their homes, and all “non-essential” activities be curtailed. As Americans have been resoundingly successful at slowing the spread and preventing the anticipated spikes in the disease, some of our “leaders” have shifted the goalposts, insisting that tight restrictions must remain in place until – when? Until there is no more threat from the disease at all? Until the curve goes subterranean?
New Mexico is an excellent case study. With a population of only about 2.1 million people, spread over an area of over 121,500 miles, New Mexico is among the least densely populated states in the nation. There are only 17 people per square mile, and a full 40% of the total population resides in Albuquerque and nearby Santa Fe. That leaves a lot of mostly empty territory, and few opportunities for the rapid spread of a virus like COVID-19. But Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has clamped down on the state in almost as draconian a fashion as her fellow Democrat, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.
One of the things that makes Gov. Lujan Grisham stand out though, is her insistence that gun stores and ranges remain closed, except to provide services to police and other state agents, and only by appointment. This in spite the fact that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared firearm businesses to be “essential” in their guidance, not to mention that pesky bit of the U.S. Constitution stating that the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Even gun-hating governors in California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have backed down on orders for gun stores to close, but not Governor Lujan Grisham.
Gun groups and local activists have filed suit against Lujan Grisham, demanding that she add firearm-related businesses and ranges to the “essential businesses” list, but the governor has doubled down, stating that it is a “badge of honor” to be sued by the NRA.
The lessons being offered up by politicians like Lujan Grisham, are numerous and important. First, she’s teaching us that she doesn’t trust the people who elected her. She’s saying that they must be told what to do and how to do it, and that without her instructions – backed up by burly men and women with guns and badges – she believes the people would just blunder around bumping into one another and infecting each other with COVID-19.
Second, she’s teaching us that she, and politicians like her, respects neither the U.S. Constitution nor that of her state. We all know what the U.S. Constitution says, but here’s what the New Mexico Constitution says:
Sec. 6. [Right to bear arms.]
No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security
and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful
purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed
No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right
to keep and bear arms. (As amended November 2, 1971 and November 2,
There is no “except in the case of a virus” clause in there.
Third, she’s teaching us that philosophical purity and adherence to party dogma is more important to her than common sense or political sensibility, and that given the opportunity, she and her ilk, would implement the most draconian gun control bills they could think of, as long as they had the votes to get them passed. For example, look up the text of H.R.5717 to see how far they’re willing to go today, and imagine how much farther they would go with a majority in the House and Senate, and control of the White House.
Fourth, Governor Lujan Grisham is teaching us that, either she doesn’t know anything about guns, gun sales, firearms training, and shooting ranges, or she just doesn’t care.
It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people are feeling vulnerable and insecure at the moment, and a whole bunch of them want to acquire firearms to help ensure the personal safety of themselves and their families. They clearly consider this “essential” enough to risk their health to accomplish, though purchasing a firearm or ammunition usually doesn’t involve long lines or crowds, and there are very easy ways to ensure that doing so in the current environment remains safe. It’s also obvious that a whole bunch of people purchased their first firearm in the weeks before the Governor decided to shut down gun stores and ranges. So that leaves us with numerous first-time gun owners who now can’t get training or engage in safe, supervised practice with their newly acquired defensive tools.
It’s also worth pointing out that some governors have grudgingly allowed outdoor ranges to re-open, while keeping indoor ranges closed. This ignores the fact that indoor ranges, thanks to the efforts they go to in mitigating risks of lead exposure, are probably among the safest places a person could be to avoid contact with an airborne pathogen. Not only do indoor ranges have heavy-duty air-handlers that ensure that air is always moving downrange, away from the firing line, most also have physical dividers between shooting stations on the line.
The important take-away is that none of this matters to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. She is proud to trace her family lineage back 12 generations in Nuevo Mexico, and her autocratic, classist approach to governance is reminiscent of that of the old Mexico tradition. Lujan Grisham, who most people probably wouldn’t recognize as Hispanic, unless they were told, seems to gravitate to the role of the caring Patrona looking after her poor, clueless peones, whom she considers incapable of making wise decisions and taking care of themselves. While that description might fit some of her core constituents, the rest of the citizens of New Mexico would rather take responsibility for their own lives, including taking precautions against disease as they see fit, and providing for their own, and their family’s security.
Pandemic April 2020. A man is cited for riding a paddle-board off the coast of California. A father is “detained” for playing catch with his daughter in a city park in Colorado. Police in Kentucky record license plates of cars in church parking lots on Easter Sunday. Businesses are ordered closed around the country, and in some places, “non-essential” items (like gardening supplies and child safety seats) in large department stores are cordoned off and forbidden to be sold.
And of course, gun shops and ranges in many areas have been ordered closed and off-limits.
Around the country, governors, mayors, sheriffs, and other officials, have instituted highly restrictive, blatantly unconstitutional orders. In too many cases, those orders are being actively enforced by police, and in some cases, the National Guard.
The Governor of Rhode Island banned visitors from New York and called out the National Guard to help man checkpoints on highways into the state. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to sue Rhode Island for targeting New Yorkers, the RI Governor shifted the policy to ban travel from any state. He doubled down by having officers drive through neighborhoods and go door-to-door looking for out-of-state license plates and “foreign” visitors. When discovered, these “aliens” were ordered to either leave the state or go into strict quarantine.
What’s really disturbing about these incidents, is that police and National Guard personnel are not only obeying the orders, they’re doing so enthusiastically, with no sign of doubt or resistance.
In the Colorado case, officers who weren’t wearing face-masks or gloves, first ordered the man and his family to leave the park, saying that the park was closed. The man argued that he and his family were harming no one, was not near any of the other people using the park, and should not be ordered to leave. That appears to be the point that the officers started taking the matter personally, demanding that the man – who happened to be a former State Trooper – present ID [read show us your papers], which he refused to do, and then handcuffing him. Then holding him in the back of a patrol car for about 15 minutes, while they checked with their supervisors.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, the State Capitol Police decided to break-up a protest at the State Capitol. Over 100 people had gathered in the area of the Capitol, primarily in their cars in a parking lot, to protest the Governor’s “stay at home” order. It’s not completely clear who decided that the protesters needed to be dispersed, but we would hope that the chief or the ranking officers, or at least some of the line officers, might have said;
“Wait a minute… The right to protest is a cherished, fundamental right that’s enshrined and protected in both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution, so as long as the protesters are peaceful, orderly, and avoiding coughing on each other or people in the area, we can’t interfere.”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t their take on the situation. They declared that the protesters were violating the Governor’s order – the order they were there protesting – and told the protesters to disperse, threatening arrest for anyone who failed to obey. They then waded into the gathering, issuing more threats and arresting one middle-aged woman, as she shouted, “God Bless America!”
In the aftermath of that, the Raleigh PD came to the defense of the State Capitol Police, by tweeting out a statement that “Protest is not an essential activity.”
The legal repercussions from these incidents and others like them will undoubtedly play out for years to come. Scholars will debate the nuances of arrest or citation for engaging in an activity, in violation of sweeping restrictions, and the legality of those restrictions. There will also be debate over whether the whole pandemic fear was overblown from the get-go, whether it was significantly moderated by government shut-down orders, or whether it was actually moderated by the voluntary actions of individuals. It’s anyone’s guess how all of those arguments might be resolved if they ever are.
What we do know is that cumulative cellphone location data shows that people reacted almost the same in states where the government took early restrictive action and states where the government was slow to take action. In all cases, the data shows people staying home more, limiting travel, and avoiding crowded places, with movement charts and timelines aligning almost perfectly whether the individuals were under government orders or just responding to the news. That’s a very important observation.
Right now, as it looks like the nation might have turned the corner on the disease, with declining numbers in every region and people feeling the pinch of forced unemployment and confinement, there’s a lot more talk about lifting restrictions and getting back to work. Curiously, a lot of that talk is coming from Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California, echoing what President Trump was saying – and being roundly ridiculed for – three weeks ago.
Polling has also flip-flopped on the issue over the past few weeks, going from about 75% of respondents saying they support the continuation of the restrictions, to about 75% now saying that it’s time to start ending the restrictions.
Interestingly, it’s the “liberal,” sector – the folks who are fond of calling conservatives “fascists” and “authoritarians” – that is still clinging to demands that the government tell them what to do. An informal internet poll on the Microsoft News site showed that a full 59% of over 25,300 respondents, agreed that people should be fined or charged for violating government-mandated social-distancing restrictions. Only 39% disagreed with that idea.
In the long-run, America, and the world will be spending a lot of time looking back on the events of the past six months, trying to figure out what was done right, what was done wrong, and how to handle things better next time.
Within that analysis must be the question of how far police will go in following orders from on high. We saw it during the Katrina disaster, and now we’ve seen it widely in response to the COVID-19 scare; police at all levels tend to simply do what they’re told, even when they know, or should know, that what they are doing is wrong.
That’s a serious concern, and it needs some serious discussion and evaluation. I thought the excuse of “just following orders” had been done away with in Nuremberg.
When the system and laws break down, Americans must fall back on their State Constitutions and the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution represents the trunk of the tree of government and laws, with state constitutions, statutes, and regulations branching off of it. If there is ever a fault or failure in these branches, the natural path is to bypass the problem branch and return to the Constitution. In the current Chinese coronavirus scare, we see examples of various “non-essential” government agencies going to skeleton crews or shutting down entirely. Some of these agencies that are cutting back play a role in the convoluted process and many paperwork hoops that lawful firearm purchasers are required to jump through. That’s a problem.
U.S. Code says that if a National Instant Check System (NICS) criminal background check on a gun purchaser turns up some information indicating that the buyer might be a prohibited person, but the system can’t verify the information, then the file is kicked out of the computer to a human to investigate further, and a “Delay” order is sent to the dealer selling the gun. Under the law, NICS has 3 business days to resolve the question, before the dealer may proceed with the transfer. Some dealers refuse to ever do transfers without a green light from NICS, while most automatically complete transfers after 3 business days.
In the midst of the panic and confusion caused by China’s COVID-19, the FBI, which operates NICS, has sent out a directive to gun dealers, warning them that the “3 business days” allotted for investigation of “Delayed” reports, means 3 days during which all of the various repositories of information that a NICS examiner might call upon to clear-up a question, are open. That means that the closures and skeleton crews mentioned above are making it difficult for NICS examiners – if they are even still working – to do their job, and that gun dealers are supposed to refuse to process any transfer until the government gets its act back together and everyone gets back to work.
This is totally unacceptable.
The 3-day limit was included in the law as a fail-safe, specifically to prevent the government from being able to block firearm sales via bureaucratic inaction or computer glitches. The definition of “3 business days” has always been Monday through Friday, not including federal holidays.
It is outrageous and indefensible for the FBI to be redefining this term now.
At the time the “Instant Check” compromise was worked out between the NRA and Congress, as an alternative to the 5-day waiting period mandated by the Brady Bill, we opposed the whole concept, but if the bill was going to pass, we were pushing for the best deal possible, including a provision that offered more protection to dealers and gun buyers. Our version of this transfer option would have required NICS to automatically send out a “Proceed” notice to a dealer after 3 business days or 5 calendar days, whichever was shorter. There would have been no discretion left to dealers as to whether or not to transfer the firearm and no negative repercussions for dealers doing so. While that’s still not a perfect solution, it would have provided more legal and PR protection for dealers, and a stronger guarantee for people exercising their right to arms.
Of course, our compromise on the compromise wasn’t adopted and instead, we got “Instant-Check” language that provides that a dealer may transfer the firearm after 3 business days, and the FBI’s reinterpretation turns that on its ear, making the “Delay” indefinite.
Similar chicanery is occurring in states that run their own checks, rather than relying on the FBI’s NICS system, and among state and local agencies that issue concealed carry licenses and permits. As with the FBI, processing background checks and license paperwork appears to be a low priority for many of these agencies, and the response from the agencies and the politicians that oversee them has been abysmal. They simply don’t care. They don’t care that it’s a constitutionally protected right. They don’t care that their bureaucratic indifference could cost someone their life. They don’t care that the red tape is unfair, racially-biased, and discriminatory. They just don’t care at all.
Meanwhile, around the country, dozens of petty dictators, in the form of governors and mayors, are issuing “shelter-in-place” orders, requiring “non-essential” businesses, like gun stores, to close their doors, and in some cases, claiming the authority to legally prohibit the sale of guns, ammunition, gasoline, liquor, and other “dangerous” items. So far, no one has offered up any rational explanation for why such restrictions might be needed or how they would assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Some patriot-gun shops in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and probably other states, have refused to close their doors, in spite of orders from politicians and police to do so. As of this writing, there have been no serious confrontations, but seeds have been planted and things could easily get ugly in a hurry.
The really frustrating part of all of this is that there is a simple and obvious solution: Obey the Constitution.
Gun owners are constantly being berated by gun control advocates and the media for not being “reasonable” and accepting “minor inconveniences” in the form of additional restrictions on firearm ownership rights. Well, the laws that are currently on the books, which law-abiding gun owners follow every day, are examples of gun owners being reasonable and compromising. And the current blocks, delays, and bans in the name of protecting society from a germ, are examples of why we resist all of these “minor,” “reasonable,” “commonsense” gun control laws that they keep throwing at us. They’re not minor, reasonable, or commonsense. They’re infringements on our rights, and they cause the most harm at the worst times.
Many supporters of “reasonable” gun control laws in California have begun to realize just how unreasonable those laws really are, but they’ll probably reelect the same politicians who gave them those laws, come November.
In our constitutional republic, the default position for any law or regulation is always supposed to be to the benefit of the individual, not the government, and the burden is always supposed to be on the government, not the individual. This is especially true when dealing with enumerated rights. If we allow the government to institute some laws that encroach on our rights, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that they do so in the most limited way, and it is the government’s burden to meet. If they cannot meet their burden, the process must default to the benefit of individual rights, not the convenience or preference of the government.
In Arizona and many other states, the governor has declared that people with drivers licenses that are expiring, will be given a grace period and their licenses will continue to be recognized as valid for a yet-to-be-determined period. The same sort of blanket extension should apply to all concealed carry licenses and permits, and all firearm owner ID cards and purchase permits in states that require them. If government agencies are unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities in processing firearm and ammunition sales, then those restrictions and regulations are null and void. As to any suggestion of forcing gun stores to close, or banning the sale of firearms or ammunition, such notions should be roundly rejected as blatantly unconstitutional, and immediately quashed by the courts.
The Firearms Coalition is in discussions with attorneys and legal scholars to determine the most expedient way to force a stop to this government neglect, overreach, and duplicity.
A right delayed is a right denied. Saying “We don’t have the personnel,” is not an acceptable excuse for withholding fundamental rights.
Editors Note: Right after this Op-Ed was posted NRA officially canceled their Annual Member Meeting.
As fears grow over COVID-19, the new strain of Corona Virus that’s dominating headlines these days, there is a growing concern that NRA leadership might cancel, or dramatically cut back the Annual Meetings and Exhibits scheduled for the weekend of April 16th in Nashville, Tennessee.
Such an action wouldn’t be totally unprecedented. In 1999 the Annual Meeting was scheduled for Denver, Colorado. Just a few days before the event though, two deeply disturbed high school students went on a rampage in Littleton, Colorado. In response, the exhibit hall portion of the Annual Meetings was canceled, along with all social events, and the Meeting of Members was reduced to a bare minimum, in order to meet legal requirements in the charter and bylaws.
A massive outdoor trade show, basically the European equivalent to the SHOT Show, has been canceled until further notice. This news was released last week in direct response to growing fears about the COVID-19 virus. That’s a huge hit for the organizers of that show to take, and it would be a major financial loss to the NRA if they decide to cancel the events in Nashville. It’s not just a matter of losing deposits on hotel, meeting, and exhibit space, and lost revenue from exhibitors. A good bit of that could be offset to some degree by savings in the expenses of putting on the various events that are currently scheduled. There is also the matter of things like the ILA banquet and auction, and the NRA Women’s Council luncheon and auction, where NRA subdivisions typically raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hardest hit by a cancellation though, would be the city of Nashville, already reeling from some devastating tornado damage, and no doubt a decline in tourism, shopping, and dining out. Losing an event that is expected to bring in some 80,000 visitors, would be pretty depressing.
Anyone who has reserved hotel space through the NRA Travel Service will, under the current agreements, be liable for a $100 cancellation fee, if the reservation is canceled after a March 23 deadline. It’s likely that the NRA would arrange some sort of settlement on that, costing who knows how much more of the members’ money.
One thing that is very unlikely to change, is the Meeting of Members.
The NRA is required by their charter and bylaws to hold an annual meeting of members and to provide specific notice prior to that meeting. Changing the meeting date would require the clock and the process to all start over again, meaning that a meeting couldn’t be held for at least several months, causing all sorts of other problems. So, even if the exhibits and social events are canceled, it is almost certain that the Members’ Meeting and the Board of Directors Meeting will both go on as planned.
There’s no question that the COVID-19 virus is extremely contagious, and slowing its spread can help to provide more time for medical researchers and care providers to prepare and manage the cases as they pop up. There’s also little doubt that the virus is not nearly as deadly as it is being painted in the media and by some politicians. Virtually all of the deaths connected with COVID-19 in the U.S. have been people with compromised immune systems and other health problems. The virus appears to be little or no threat to healthy people, as over 60,000 have contracted it and fully recovered, generally within a couple of weeks. The primary focus should be on keeping the virus away from vulnerable individuals, rather than trying to keep it away from everyone. Hospitals, nursing homes, senior care facilities, and those with immune-compromised individuals at home, should be taking extra precautions, requiring anyone coming in contact with these vulnerable individuals, to wear a mask and avoid physical contact as much as possible, along with increasing sanitation practices like washing hands and faces and sanitizing contact surfaces.
Airlines say they are doing extra sanitation and air filtration, and airfares are falling, but with so many people choosing not to fly, it’s likely they will start canceling and consolidating flights soon. Hotels don’t have that option, so the $400 to $600 hotels in Nashville could be offering rooms for a song by the time the NRA meetings are supposed to take place.
The good news is that the media-inspired panic over COVID-19 is likely to start fizzling out by the end of March, as people begin to realize that their neighbors aren’t dropping like flies. If the NRA leadership doesn’t announce the cancellation of the meetings sometime before the first of April, there probably won’t be any changes.
There’s a good chance that Wayne LaPierre and his pals are, at this very moment, weighing whether holding an abbreviated meeting will help or hurt them in the internal political battle for control of the Association. On the one hand, it might be easier to control a trimmed back meeting with fewer attendees, but on the other hand, a lower turnout might result in a higher percentage of attendees being disgruntled members determined to see a housecleaning within their Association. That would be my hope, and regardless of what the NRA does with the exhibit hall and social events, the Member’s Meeting will probably go forward as scheduled. That’s why it’s so important that you are there. In fact, it might be even more important that you attend if the other events are canceled because that might give reformers the upper hand.
Bottom line: Come hell or high water, I intend to be at the NRA’s Meeting of Members, to raise issues critical to the Associations future, and could sure use your help.
The one word that best describes Mike Bloomberg, is “Authoritarian.”
Many – including Democrats, Republicans, and others – were pleased and relieved to see him end his campaign for President. But just because he’s no longer a candidate and is a half-billion-dollars poorer for the effort, don’t think for a moment that he’s no longer a threat to Second Amendment rights and to the Republic. When Mike Bloomberg first popped up on my radar with his Illegal Mayors Against Guns, he was reported to have a net worth of around $26 billion. Today, after donating well over $2 billion to various causes, and spending another half-billion on his failed presidential bid, Bloomberg’s net worth is estimated to be around $57 billion.
You can bet that a big chunk of that money will still be working against your rights long after Little Mike is long gone from this world.
During his short-lived presidential campaign, there was a lot of talk about Bloomberg’s “Stop & Frisk” policies during his time as Mayor of NYC. Much noise was made about his “recently discovered” comments to the Aspen Institute about that policy (which AmmoLand news reported on and I wrote about back in February of 2015), with quite a few folks on “our side” grudgingly agreeing with Bloomberg on this particular issue. After all, it is true that a disproportionate percentage of violent crime involving firearms in New York City, and many other large U.S. cities, is perpetrated by black and Hispanic young men, so it seems rational for the NYPD to focus their “Stop & Frisk” efforts on that demographic.
Looking back on my 2015 article, I think I was off-target a bit, and missed the most important point. While Bloomberg’s attitude and policy was indeed racist, or at the very least, elitist, the most disturbing thing about it is how “Stop & Frisk” punishes the innocent many for the crimes of the guilty few, just like gun control laws do.
Bloomberg argues that X number of guns were taken off the street, and that fear of being snagged by the police probably caused many young thugs to “leave their guns at home.”
Okay, but how many people were inconvenienced, insulted, humiliated, degraded, and physically violated – and in some cases physically harmed – by his policy?
Looking for a needle in a haystack requires sifting through and examining each piece of straw. Even employing a magnet still requires significant disruption of the haystack, and the same is true for active enforcement of gun control laws, including New York City’s ban on concealed carry. It is simply not possible to enforce these laws, especially with the use of aggressive tactics such as “Stop & Frisk,” without harassing and abusing thousands of innocent people for each “criminal” act exposed.
Bloomberg’s logic involves multiple haystacks, dividing people up into ethnic groups, age groups, and socioeconomic groups, based on observation and opinion of the cops involved. He told his police to concentrate most of their attention on lower-income, black and Hispanic young men between the ages of 15 and 30, in high-crime neighborhoods, because, when you’re hunting ducks, you go where the ducks are.
Gun control laws in general take this same sort of approach, but naturally focus on different haystacks. If your mission is to find people violating gun control laws, the natural tendency will be to focus your attention where the guns are – never mind whether those guns are at risk of being used in a crime. The rationale behind the passage of the laws is quickly lost. The objective becomes enforcing the gun restrictions, rather than preventing the underlying “gun crimes” that triggered those restrictions. So, in the name of reducing mass murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, murder, suicide, etc., law enforcement agencies target regular, peaceable gun owners, who might have slipped-up in following some obscure law.
I recall a case in New Jersey, prior to the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, where a judge ruled that an NRA sticker on the window of an out-of-state vehicle on I-95, constituted probable cause for police to stop and search that vehicle for firearms. Similarly, friends who have traveled to Canada have related stories of having Canadian border guards conduct detailed searches of their vehicles based on the presence of an NRA sticker on their bumper.
The victims of this sort of harassment are people that the police doing the harassing would readily admit are unlikely to commit any sort of violent crime, with or without a gun, but they appear to the enforcers to be people who might be likely to own a gun, and therefore worth taking the time to thoroughly search them.
We often hear gun control advocates say something like; “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it.” But how many lives are lost because people are unable to defend themselves, thanks to some irrational firearm restriction, and how many more lives are seriously harmed, with arrests, prosecutions, prisons, legal expenses, etc., for some minor infraction involving possession or transport of a firearm? But well beyond that, how many innocent people are debased, threatened, humiliated, delayed, and otherwise stressed and inconvenienced by authorities detaining and searching them, on the chance that they might have a gun stored in the wrong compartment of their vehicle, have a magazine that carries one too many rounds, or they stopped to eat at a truck stop on the wrong side of a state line? In the meanwhile, what crimes go uninvestigated because scarce police resources are dedicated to enforcing paperwork gun crimes?
The vast majority of the people that Mike Bloomberg’s police threw against a wall and frisked looking for guns, were unarmed and innocent. Occasionally finding a gun or illegal knife, does not justify that abuse.
The vast majority of Americans who are forced to jump through legal hoops and prove their own innocence before they can purchase or carry a firearm, and who face an ever-present threat of being targeted and harassed for exercising their constitutionally protected rights, are good, responsible citizens who would never commit any sort of violent crime.
Meanwhile, real criminals do what criminals have always done; they skirt the laws, ignore the “No Guns” signs, avoid the cops, and acquire the tools of their trade from fellow criminals – like the guys they buy their illegal drugs from.
GunVoters around the country celebrated in relief when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s “assault weapons” ban was tabled in a Senate committee, effectively killing it for the current 2020 session. Similar celebrations occurred in Washington State when a ban on “high-capacity” magazines was abandoned after pro-rights Republicans loaded the bill up like a Christmas tree, with all sorts of amendments.
But as Han Solo said to Luke Skywalker; “Don’t get cocky, kid.” These are just skirmishes in a long fight, and retreats are often just an opportunity for the opposition to regroup.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that killing the Virginia bill for the year, means that voters will have a chance to shift the balance of power in the legislature before the bill can be revived. Unfortunately, Virginia runs on an “off-year” election cycle. They hold legislative elections in odd years instead of even years like most of the rest of the country. The unusual cycle is a major contributing factor to the low voter turnout in Virginia legislative elections. That scheduling quirk worked for Bloomberg’s anti-rights crowd last year, but it also means that newly-roused and organized GunVoters could have an advantage in the 2021 election.
So long as they stay roused and organized for the next two years.
Many GunVoters in Virginia, and the rest of the country, have become complacent in recent years. Among gun owners, we have some sluggards who think “they’ll never pass that stuff here,” a collection of kamikaze types who refuse to vote in protest of politicians who fail their personal Second Amendment purity test, and those who think going hunting or stockpiling toilet paper in their Boogaloo bunker is more important than voting, Any or all of those attitudes can cost us our gun rights.
The hard fact is GunVoters have had little impact on recent elections.
Many of those who should be GunVoters, have been rudely awakened by the actions of Virginia’s Democratic majority. The clowns that have been aggressively pushing radical gun control legislation in Virginia since they managed to eke out a slim majority last year won’t face voters again until November of 2021. In the meantime, they still have a whole slate of rights-infringing proposals in the pipe, and the beat goes on.
The Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee, which referred Northam’s “assault weapons” ban to the Crime Commission last week, turned around and voted in favor of a “red flag” proposal on Monday, along with:
- a ban on your private transfers,
- limiting handgun your purchases to one per month,
- criminalizing your failure to report lost or stolen guns in a timely manner (whatever that means),
- mandate how you store your guns,
- and obliterate the commonwealth’s preemption laws, which will allow cities to come up with their own idiotic gun laws.
The fight in Virginia isn’t anywhere close to over, and as things stand now, thanks to differences between the House and Senate versions, the two houses of the legislature will be deciding between gross infringement of rights and really gross infringement of rights. Either way, you lose rights and freedom.
At best, it looks like Virginia Democrats might just have to do a little less this year and plan to come back for the rest next year.
In Washington State, the Democratic majority has revived their “high-capacity” magazine ban, by relabeling the bill as a budget issue. Washington Republicans are trying hard to hammer a stake through the heart of that zombie proposal, but they’re running out of trick plays.
Meanwhile, the New Hampshire legislature has again passed a raft of gun control bills in the “Live Free or Die” state, leaving rights supporters to hope that their Republican governor will stand firm and veto the bills again, as he did in the last session.
Vermont, Maine, and other “safe” states for gun owners have also seen Democratic majorities ram through gun control legislation.
The right to arms should be a non-partisan issue. But the two major parties have dug into their positions and drawn their battle lines. Mike Bloomberg, George Soros, Tom Styer, Bill Gates, and dozens of less prominent fat-cats have pumped billions of dollars through groups like the Giffords, the Brady Bunch, and various “philanthropic” foundations like Joyce, McArthur, and Ford, out to Democratic candidates. They have successfully revived an issue that most political observers had thought had died with the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. That was the year when GunVoters turned out in droves to defeat politicians who had pushed through Bill Clinton’s “assault weapons” ban.
The most astute political analyst of the day, then-President Bill Clinton, credited – or blamed – GunVoters for the Democratic Waterloo that even turned out a sitting Speaker of the House. Years later, with Bloomberg’s money backing them, Democrats declared the “gun lobby” to be a paper tiger, all roar with no teeth. They were proven right by apathetic and disengaged gun owners who failed to rise to the threats.
At this point, the right to arms has become one of the most straightforward partisan issues in the country. The four Democrats who bucked their party leadership in Virginia and voted to send the governor’s “assault weapons” ban out for review, demonstrated the importance of having pro-rights Democrats, but they went on to prove, with their votes for other gun control bills, that their power and cojones are very limited.
Hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will once again have Democrats and Republicans fighting to earn the support of GunVoters, but we’re not anywhere close to that right now. Where we are right now is a place where Democrats in the majority of any legislative body, from city councils to county commissions to state legislatures to Congress, pose an existential threat to our rights.
In the past we have urged you to write and call your legislators and representatives to urge them to fight gun control and stand up for the Constitution. That’s still important and you should be doing that regularly, even if it’s only a matter of clicking on an email from your favorite rights group, attaching your name to a letter they have pre-written for you. But that’s not enough. Neither is it enough to just show up at the polls.
GunVoters have the potential to be a political powerhouse in this country again, but it will take work.
We can’t just vote, or just educate our friends and family and get them to vote. We have to become a machine like the labor unions and civil rights activists of the ‘60s. We have to get deeply involved in the messy process of electing our supporters and blocking our opponents. We’ve got to get involved in the nitty-gritty, day-to-day grind of partisan politics and elections. And we can’t rely on some organization – any organization – to do it for us.
If you want to make a difference in the future of the Republic and preserve your rights for your children, grandchildren, and for your great-grandchildren, here’s what you need to do: When you write to your elected servants to let them know how you feel, let them know that you are going to work for them, or their opponent, in the next election. Then reach out to those pro-rights politicians’ campaigns and volunteer. Tell them that you’re a gun owner concerned about the future of your rights and that you want to help get pro-rights candidates elected. Reach out to your county party and tell them that you want to get involved. Go to the meetings. Participate in petition drives, phone banks, literature drops, door-to-door canvassing… Whatever they ask you to do.
If you’re a Democrat, work to change your party’s position on the right to arms, and refuse to support any candidate that doesn’t get that issue right. If you’re a Libertarian, support candidates that have a chance of actually winning, but if they don’t have a chance of winning, shift your efforts to the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Democratic candidate. If you’re a Republican or an Independent, go to work for the at-risk Republicans, and against the vulnerable Democrats.
The bottom line in the coming elections, and elections for the foreseeable future, is to deny Democrats any majority, even if that means giving seat to a squishy – or even an openly anti-rights – Republican. As I’ve said before, a RINO in the midst of a herd of elephants is a nuisance, but a RINO in the middle of a herd of jackasses is a catastrophe. Republicans aren’t perfect, but they are a far sight better than the alternative and they are our only hope right now.
The Democratic Party has declared their intentions and proven their commitment to gutting the Second Amendment as soon as they achieve a majority within a chamber. Your job this year – and for the next several years – is to deny them that opportunity.
You are the Gun Lobby. You have the power to have a significant impact on who holds the reins in Washington and your state government. This year, we must stop Democrats from gaining any majorities, then we can focus on weeding out the weak Republicans.
They picked this fight. Now it’s up to you to make them regret it.
The first shoe has dropped in the legal assault on the NRA. The New York State Department of Financial Services has formally filed a Statement of Charges against the NRA for violating a variety of New York insurance laws, including producing and selling insurance without a license, selling unlawful insurance products, and “unfair and deceptive marketing materials” regarding their endorsed insurance products.
This is not just about NRA’s much-maligned Carry Guard program, which the Statement of Charges labels as an “unlawful insurance” product, but covers all of NRA’s insurance offerings. According to the Statement of Charges, NRA’s endorsement of, advertising for, and receipt of “royalties” for their various endorsed insurance products, constitutes “operating as an insurance producer without a license.”
In other words, they’re saying that the NRA was “engaging in the business” of producing and selling insurance without acquiring the necessary licenses.
The legal action is seeking monetary penalties against the NRA and the repercussions could go well beyond fines and future restrictions on their activities in New York. Insurance carriers that were working with the NRA have already reached settlements with New York enforcers, agreeing to pay over $13 million. Fines and penalties against the NRA could easily approach the $50 million mark.
The Statement of Charges (read below) also includes a Notice of Hearing, scheduled for April 6, 2020, just 10 days prior to the kickoff of the 2020 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, TN. Expect the NRA to try and delay that hearing until after the Meeting of Members, so they can tell the members who gather in Nashville that it’s all just political smoke and mirrors.
I have been predicting that the AG’s of New York and DC would hold off on filing charges until those filings would do the most possible damage to the Association’s efforts in the 2020 election. I’m sticking by that prediction, as I expect that this insurance matter will prove to be just the first of several actions brought by regulators in various jurisdictions.
Investigations into the NRA’s insurance programs are just the tip of the iceberg. Regulators are known to be looking into revocation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status, and the New York AG has threatened to revoke the Association’s charter and lock-up NRA’s finances – to protect the members. Those watching the case closely will recall that current and former members of the NRA Board of Directors, along with current and former NRA employees, have been deposed by investigators from New York – where the NRA is chartered – and legal experts have suggested that the lines of questioning suggest the AG’s office could be preparing to file criminal charges against some NRA employees and Directors for fraud, misappropriation of funds, self-dealing, and dereliction of fiduciary responsibility.
For their part, it appears that the NRA strategy is going to continue to revolve around a claim that NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, is the victim of a conspiracy, led by his long-time friends and allies at the PR firm Ackerman McQueen (AcMc). The claim is that LaPierre discovered some questionable billing and payment issues a few years ago and when he tried to right the ship with a “good governance” campaign, his friends at AcMc, along with their operatives on the Board and elsewhere in the Association, turned on him and launched a concerted campaign to smear him, trying to stage a coup against him.
Recent events, including the suspension and eventual termination of LaPierre’s Chief of Staff, Josh Powell, suggest that Powell, who LaPierre installed as Executive Director of General Operations and lead executive in charge of the Carry Guard program, will be painted as the primary culprit in the insurance matter. LaPierre will again claim that he discovered the problems and took “decisive action” to rectify them by suspending, investigating, and terminating Powell.
Of course, the major flaw in official NRA’s strategy, is that LaPierre has been the CEO of the NRA for nearly 30 years, with authority and responsibility for the oversight and operation of all facets of NRA operations.
Every person who has been in any way implicated in any of the scandals at the NRA has been closely associated with LaPierre, and in most cases they owed their positions and influence within the Association directly to LaPierre. So either Wayne LaPierre was aware of, and complicit in the various schemes and scandals, or he is the worst judge of character, and the most inept manager to ever run an organization. In either case, the responsibility lies with LaPierre and so should the consequences.
It is impossible to separate LaPierre from the actions of his subordinates, especially when those actions span decades under his watch, and especially when he has seen substantial personal and familial benefits from these actions.
There’s no question that the legal attacks on the NRA, from the expose’s from the Trace and the New Yorker, to the investigations by the New York and DC AG’s offices and the inquiries from various members of Congress, are all politically motivated. That’s been clear from the outset. But just because the impetus for the investigations was political, that doesn’t nullify the findings. The Trace reporter set out looking for dirt and he found it – lots of it – and he found documentation to back up the dirt he’d found. Similarly, the dirt that’s come out of the lawsuits involving Ackerman McQueen is tainted with various personal motives and has been couched in the most inflammatory terms imaginable, but the core issues revealed are serious and NRA members deserve serious answers, not just childish finger-pointing and name-calling.
As I said at the outset, these charges from the New York State Department of Financial Services, are just the tip of the iceberg, and more charges from other agencies will undoubtedly be forthcoming. Meanwhile, NRA members have been paying something in the neighborhood of $2 million per month for the past 2 years, for an attorney whose primary focus appears to be the protection of Wayne LaPierre, with little or no apparent concern for the NRA itself or its members.
NRA’s legal and financial troubles are just beginning. More will most assuredly be on the way. There’s a slight chance that the members might be able to affect some positive change at the NRA Members’ Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on April 18 2020, so every NRA member who can make that meeting should try to be there. Attending the meeting is going to cost me something in the neighborhood of $1000.00 out of my pocket, but even a slight chance of saving our organization makes that expense worth it to me. I hope you’ll join me there and let your voice be heard.
You can read the Statement of Charges here.
New State’s Statement of Charges Against NRA February 2020
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Each year I try to provide some guidance to NRA members wondering how to best utilize their votes in the election of members of the NRA Board of Directors. Usually, this entails calling for “bullet voting” for one or two good candidates in a sea of establishment “yes-people.” But this year is a bit different. Many of the problems that I’ve been reporting on and warning about for years, came to a head over the past year, proving that I was justified in my concerns, and demonstrating the serious dangers of having an overabundance of “yes-people” on the Board.
Thanks to a number of resignations from the Board over the past year, this year’s ballot involves 31 seats, rather than the 25 that are normally up for election. The Board is comprised of 75 3-year seats and one 1-year seat, for a total of 76, with 1/3 of the 3-year seats up for election by mail-in ballot each year, and the 76th seat elected by the members at the Annual Meeting.
The vast majority of the people listed on your ballot are current members of the Board running for reelection. That means that they are people who have either participated in, turned a blind eye toward, or been too distracted to notice the chicanery that’s been going on.
Of the “new” people on the ballot, only one is a true newcomer who wasn’t picked by the establishment to run. That is Frank Tait of Pennsylvania.
Frank who leaped into the spotlight at the Members’ Meeting in Indianapolis last year when he introduced a resolution calling for an accounting of the accusations of malfeasance and cronyism at members expense and called for a vote of “No Confidence” in Wayne LaPierre and members of the Executive, Audit, and Finance committees. The resolution was shut down in a parliamentary boondoggle, but Tait went on to launch a successful petition campaign to get his name on this year’s ballot.
Tait has since said some things that cause me some consternation, but I am standing by the endorsement I gave him during his petition drive.
The only other candidate to have been nominated by petition only is former Director John Cushman, who has served on the Board off and on for more than 20 years. I’m not sure what Cushman said or did to get himself rejected by the Nominating Committee after his long, loyal service, but I consider him to have been part of the problem, not part of the solution, so I am not endorsing him.
Of the other candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee, I see most of them as rubber-stamp candidates nominated to support LaPierre. One exception is Phillip Journey of Kansas. I’ve known Phil for many years and always found him to be a man of integrity and intellect, and I will be giving him a vote this year. I also like and respect Niger Innis of Nevada, with the hope that he will prove to be something of the man his father was. The final person I’m supporting in this category is James Wallace of Massachusetts. I worry that he might be too much of an insider, but I deeply respect the work he has done with the Gun Owners’ Action League deep behind enemy lines.
Along with the long-time Directors who I see as culpable in the NRA corruption, there are also several who are relatively new to the Board, having been elected in just the past couple of years. I’m giving several of them the benefit of the doubt and offering them my vote. This includes Anthony Colandro (Anthony is Endorsed by Ammoland News) of New Jersey, Mark Vaughn of Oklahoma, Mark Robinson of North Carolina, Robert Mansell of Arizona, Kevin Hogan of Illinois, and Paul Babaz of Georgia.
While there are a few Directors who have quietly expressed support for reform within the Association, “quietly” is the operative word, and I can’t in good conscience offer them my support.
There are also some candidates on the ballot who have been very active in defending LaPierre and helping to shut down dissent on the Board, with First Vice President Charles Cotton being one of their leaders.
NRA members can send a loud message to the Board and the powers that be, by rejecting Mr. Cotton’s bid for reelection, along with the bids of past presidents, Ron Schmeitz and Alan Cors. (Read Do NOT Vote for.)
The NRA is in deep trouble. I honestly expect indictments and financial sanctions to be coming down very soon from investigations being conducted by the New York and DC attorneys general and other agencies. All of these troubles tie directly back to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA Directors who allowed him to abuse his power so egregiously. If the Association can be saved, it’s going to require Directors willing to make hard decisions and stand firmly on principles. This ballot doesn’t offer a lot of hope for that, but we must do what we can with what we’ve got.
Candidates I Support:
- Frank Tait of Pennsylvania
- Phillip Journey of Kansas
- Niger Innis of Nevada
- James Wallace of Massachusetts
- Anthony Colandro of New Jersey
- Mark Vaughn of Oklahoma
- Mark Robinson of North Carolina
- Robert Mansell of Arizona
- Kevin Hogan of Illinois
- Paul Babaz of Georgia
Candidates I Oppose:
- Charles Cotton of Texas
- Ron Schmeitz of New Mexico
- Alan Cors of Virginia
In other NRA News, New York State Files Charges Against NRA related to Insurance Violations:
The New York Department of Financial Services has filed a Statement of Charges against the NRA for “defined violations of insurance law,” and set a hearing date of April 6, 2020, just 10 days before the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits.
Note that this Statement of Charges only deals with insurance matters, not all of the other issues that have been being raised about the organization.
I expect that this is only the first of several legal challenges that will be brought over the next several months.
I’ll have more about this soon. In the meantime, you can read the Statement of Charges here.
New State’s Statement of Charges Against NRA February 2020
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency and banning all firearms and other weapons from the public areas around the Virginia Capitol Building in Richmond, as well as several nearby parking areas.
In the order, the governor recalls the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia 3 years ago, involving clashes between activists protesting the planned removal of a Confederate monument, and violent leftist, counter-protesters.
The governor claims in the order, that “credible intelligence” indicates that “tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square,” for events culminating on January 20 (a scheduled rights rally and Lobby Day, organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), which has been held annually, without incident, for almost 2 decades) and that “Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection.”
What “available information” Governor? A few Instagram memes from the outskirts of the fringe? Is that what it takes to deny the rights of “tens of thousands,” a suggestion that some people might do something bad?
In Charlottesville, there were two general groups that were both known for engaging in violence, and both had placed the potential for violence between them, squarely out on the public table.
Then Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s response to this situation was either incredibly incompetent or maliciously effective. He pulled police back from the conflict zone, then literally pushed the two factions together. Even with that, the resulting violence was isolated and in most cases, relatively minor, until one deranged young man with “white power” ties, accelerated his car into a group of the counter-protesters.
The Upcoming Pro-Rights Lobby Day is totally different.
There is no conflict between warring factions. In this case, the conflict is primarily between supporters of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the Democrat politician majority in the State Legislature. Neither group, nor the Democrats’ anti-gun supporters, have any sort of history of violence. While there have, no doubt, been some imprudent comments and over-hyped memes thrown out on the interwebs, that sort of chest-thumping is common, and no reflection of events in the real world.
Virginia Citizens Defense Lobby Day
VCDL’s Lobby Day has been an annual event on Martin Luther King Day since 2002. For most, if not all of that time, citizens were able to, not only be legally armed at the rally on the Capitol grounds but to maintain their personal protection sidearms while visiting their elected servants. In all of that nearly 2 decades of rallying and citizen lobbying, there has never been a serious issue involving guns or any sort of violence.
Participation in Lobby Day this year is expected to be much greater than in years past because Democrats in the legislature have introduced and vowed to pass, several draconian gun control measures that many people are very upset about. But they are gathering in Richmond to express their concerns in accordance with the traditions of our republic, not to assault or intimidate anyone with violence. Yes, many will probably be armed. That’s very normal for gun rights advocates. Yes, some militia groups – typically with a mission statement of protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution – are expected to participate.
And yes, even some Antifa and other “left-wing” groups are planning to be there – standing shoulder-to-shoulder with “right-wing” groups, in support of individual rights and opposition to government infringement of those rights.
When faced with violent groups clashing in Charlottesville, Governor McAuliffe pulled police back from the conflict zone and pushed the antagonists together.
Now, when faced with a broad coalition of activists following the rules and gathering to petition their government for a redress of grievances, Governor Northam is pulling out all of the stops, bringing in hundreds of law enforcement personnel, and violating rights by executive fiat.
Just as Governor McAuliffe’s actions can readily be interpreted as facilitating violence that could then be used for political purposes, Governor Northam’s actions appear to be intended to inflame an already heated situation, again for political purposes.
Governor Northam’s actions are patently illegal. Gun Owners of America has joined with the VCDL in filing a lawsuit calling for an immediate injunction against the governor’s unlawful edict, and I think there is potential for criminal charges to be brought against the governor in this case.
The United States was founded on principles of trust and cooperation among disparate individuals. Gun control laws and actions like Northam’s illegal Executive Order are based on fear and mistrust. They are always about what someone fears that someone else might do. Oppressing the rights and liberties of the majority, for fear of what might be done by some small minority, is the definition of tyranny.
If you can make it to Richmond on Monday morning, do it. We don’t need a show of arms to make our point, but we do need a strong show of people. As I said in my previous piece on this subject, the way to win this fight is to overwhelm the opposition with kindness.
Be polite. Be courteous. And most importantly, Be There!