Senate Watchdogs?

Senate Watchdogs?

By Jeff Knox

(October 6, 2016) GunVoters don’t like to reward squishy Republicans, but in this very high-stakes election year, who you vote against is just as important – if not more more so – as who you vote for. Just as many GunVoters distrust Donald Trump – especially after his unfortunate comments and missed opportunities during the first debate – but intend to vote for him anyway, as a vote against Hillary Clinton, so to are many GunVoters faced with an unsavory choice in their U.S. Senate race. Several incumbent Republicans have less than stellar records on gun issues, making it very hard for GunVoters to get excited about them. On the other hand, all of the Democrats in close races have embraced Hillary Clinton’s anti-rights mantra, calling for bans on private firearm transfers and use of the secret Terror Watchlist to deny Fifth and Second Amendment rights..

More important though, is the critical role the Senate plays in limiting the power of the President, and how the parties play into that role.

If Donald Trump wins, he will face an uphill battle regardless of which party wins the majority in the Senate. With all of the Democrats and half of the Republicans in Congress, as well as the media, openly hostile toward him, it would be very difficult for him to accomplish much of anything unless he actively climbs on board with whichever party dominates Congress.

On the other hand, the media and Democrats in Congress, along with at least a quarter of the Republicans, would fully support, or at least go along with, just about anything Hillary Clinton wanted to do. There would still be resistance from the House to hopefully keep things from coming completely unraveled, but Paul Ryan has not been impressive in his battles with Obama, and Clinton is a much more formidable opponent.

The vacancy on the Supreme Court emphasizes the critical importance of maintaining Republican control of the Senate. As I recently noted in this column, this isn’t just about the Supreme Court, but lower federal courts as well. Obama has taken great strides in “liberalizing” the courts by appointing over 300 judges over the past 7 years. A Democrat-controlled Senate would mean that Trump judicial appointments would be blocked and Clinton judicial appointments would be unstoppable.

A Democrat majority in the Senate would also mean that rabid, anti-rights zealot, Chuck Schumer would be Senate Majority Leader, setting the agenda for the Senate, and blocking good bills while advancing bad ones. Just the thought of that should make every gun owner shudder.

You can impact Senate elections – even those outside your own state.

First, be sure that you and your family are educated and get to the polls on November 8 to vote for the people who will keep the serious enemies of liberty out of office. That might mean holding your nose, but sometimes that’s what it takes.

Second, make sure that your friends, folks at the ranges and gun clubs, church, fraternal organizations, etc., all know why voting is so critical this year, and why they can’t afford to sit this one out or use their vote for making symbolic gestures. Share this article with them. Post it on bulletin boards and your social media pages, and tell folks specifically who they need to vote for to slow the anti-liberty slide. Make them cheat-sheets to take to the polls with them if necessary.

Third, go through your contact lists and reach out to everyone you can to share this message – especially people living in battleground states where just a few votes could mean the difference between a pro-rights majority, and a majority led by Chuck Schumer. Again, share this article and make specific requests for votes, and ask the people you contact to contact others with the same message.

Most of the races are not races at all, with the outcome already easily predictable, but there are 7 races that are still considered toss-ups. In Nevada, where Harry Reid is retiring, leaving an open seat, Republican Joe Heck has a good shot. Nevada also has a terrible Bloomberg initiative on the ballot so heavy GunVoter turnout is expected and should help Heck.

Indiana, another race where Republicans have an opportunity to pick up a seat, is not looking great. Incumbent Democrat, Evan Bayh has a pretty good edge over Republican challenger, Todd Young, but a good GunVoter turnout could swing that race in Young’s favor.

North Carolina, Republican incumbent Richard Burr is facing a surprisingly strong challenge from a vocally anti-rights Democrat challenger. This should have been an easy win, but the challenger keeps coming on strong, so Burr needs all the help he can get.

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is doing a little better in his race against a strong challenger who has effectively used his National Guard weapons experience to promote himself and undermine rights. Blunt needs GunVoters to see through the ploy and get to the polls.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is looking pretty good in recent polling against his Democrat challenger, but the race could still go either way, so GunVoters shouldn’t take any chances.

Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is in a close race with the state’s governor, Maggie Hassan. Ayotte has been heavily targeted by Bloomberg’s forces ever since she stood with GunVoters against the Manchin-Toomey bill, and she needs GunVoter support now.

In Pennsylvania, incumbent Pat Toomey appears to be holding on to a thin margin against a rising star in the Democrat Party named McGinty. I can’t, in good conscience, ask anyone to vote for Toomey. I’d prefer to see him slapped down for his call to ban private transfers, but I also don’t want to see McGinty’s aspirations fulfilled. This is a race where each GunVoter will have to go with their own conscience.

Republicans are likely to lose seats in Wisconsin and Illinois. Ron Johnson is being challenged by former senator Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, and is currently far behind in the polling. A reversal in that race would be a welcome surprise, and GunVoters could make a big impact on making that happen. In Illinois, the most anti-rights Republican in the Senate is losing to a Democrat challenger. This is one race I’m willing to cede to the Democrats. Kirk has been nothing but trouble for gun owners.

Money is not enough this year. You must get personally involved. If you can’t actively support the Republican candidate, then actively oppose the anti-rights Democrat. This is too important to leave to others. Please take action now. We’ll have more details about these races posted at GunVoter.org.

Defending Kids with FASTER

by Jeff Knox

(September 28, 2016) I just returned from the Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in Tampa.  As always, it was energizing to hear the latest updates and meet fellow activists from around the country.  One highlight of the conference was a conversation with author and Colorado activist, Laura Carno. Although I had followed the 2013 recalls in Colorado that Laura worked on, she and I had not met. Her name came to my attention again through her article Keeping Kids Safe In A Broken World and we had a chance to talk at the conference.

Laura is looking to bring FASTER to Colorado.  FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response.  The program trains teachers and administrators to be first responders in their schools. I’m familiar with the training due to my connection with the program’s creators in Ohio. The Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF) created FASTER in the wake of the Sandy Hook horror.  History shows that “active shooters” and other rampage attackers regardless of the tool – whether a gun, a machete, or even a truck – have one goal: to slaughter as many innocents as possible before they are stopped. The faster someone can stop the killer, the faster someone can administer first aid, the more lives will be saved.

This responsibility includes medical training. Lives can be saved when personnel in schools are taught to stop bleeding, apply chest seals and apply tourniquets. Because they can’t administer medical aid while they are under attack, they are also trained to stop the attacker directly.

BFF is anxious to export FASTER to any state that can get the appropriate laws passed to allow school personnel to be armed on campus, and that will stay true to the FASTER curriculum. Jim Irvine, President of BFF said, “We have four years of FASTER training under our belts. The instructors at Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio are world class, and they are willing to train instructors in other states in the methodology. We know that FASTER saves lives.  Every child —regardless of geography— deserves this level of protection.”

To date, BFF has raised money privately to train over 650 teachers and administrators in this life saving, 3-day course. All of this has been at no cost to teachers, schools or school districts.

After observing a FASTER training class in Ohio this summer, Laura is looking to bring the training to Colorado. “We are the state that had the tragedy at Columbine. Law enforcement has changed its protocols since then, but even when response time is just a few minutes, those are the crucial minutes,” she said. “The faster that an active shooter can be stopped and medical aid can be administered, the smaller the loss of life. Colorado families deserve this.”

I asked Laura what it was about the FASTER experience that made her want to import the training to Colorado sooner rather than later. She said, “During the three days of training, I was able to interact with teachers, principals and other school employees. These are people who would place their bodies between bullets and your kids. Not their kids, your kids. They just want a chance to survive.”

I learned that it’s also important to have the right trainers. This FASTER training goes far beyond the training one would take to obtain a concealed carry license – a concealed carry license is just an entry requirement.  In addition to medical and firearms training, the course includes mindset training, hand-to-hand combat and force-on-force scenarios. Laura was impressed with the intensity with which the class was taught. “It was as if the instructors knew that this one skill,” she said emphasizing each word, “that they taught to this one teacher was going to save a life.” And it just might.

I was interested to know who joined the classes.  Who were they? What made them decide to be an armed first responder on campus?  In Ohio, the school employees applying to the program have to have a concealed carry permit, have their district’s permission and be a volunteer. Those Laura spoke with had no hesitation when they volunteered. They are people who were already familiar with firearms and wanted to be able to defend the kids in their school, just as they had been accustomed to defending themselves and their families.

Jim Irvine from BFF spoke at the GRPC and invited a conversation with anyone who wanted to bring FASTER to their state. I wasn’t surprised to see a crowd around Jim when he finished.  “It’s a pretty compelling case,” he told me. “When we started FASTER in 2012, they laughed at us. They told us no one would sign up for the class.” But they had 2500 applicants for the first class of 24.

If you are interested in FASTER, you can visit their website here. For more on what Laura Carno is doing to bring FASTER to Colorado, you can reach her here.

Saving Children FASTER

Saving Children FASTER

By Jeff Knox

I’m spending some time in our DC area office, having just returned from this year’s annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in Tampa. As always, it was energizing and informative to hear the latest updates and meet friends and fellow activists from around the country. One person I met was Laura Carno, an author and activist out of Colorado. I knew Laura by reputation, having followed her work on the 2013 recalls in Colorado, and more recently, an article she had written, Keeping Kids Safe In A Broken World, about a project called FASTER.

FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. The program trains teachers and administrators to be first responders for emergency situations in their schools. Created by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF) in the wake of the Sandy Hook horror, FASTER takes a pragmatic approach to preventing atrocities and reducing tragic deaths. The program recognizes that the faster victims can be moved out of harms way, the faster someone can stop the killer, and the faster someone can administer effective first aid, thus saving more lives. With that in mind, FASTER provides coordinated emergency response training for police, fire, paramedic, and school personnel.

A standard rule of first aid is to Stop the Bleeding, so FASTER emphasizes emergency medical training for school personnel, teaching them how to properly apply chest seals, tourniquets, and other life-saving techniques instead of waiting for medical professionals to arrive. That’s critical, but stopping the bleeding also means stopping the cause of the bleeding – stopping the attacker – so faster includes firearm, hand-to-hand, and improvised weapons training for school employees who are likely to be in the best position to take immediate action. The program also includes communication and coordination with local law enforcement and medical professionals to make sure that all involved are working from the same playbook and working as effectively as possible together to stop the threat and render the assistance needed to save children’s lives.

The FASTER program has been a huge success in Ohio, with thousands of educators and school administrators volunteering to take the free, three-day course. All funding is provided by concerned citizens and corporate sponsors. [Note: Angels Wanted.]

BFF is anxious to export FASTER to every state for every child. Jim Irvine, President of BFF told me; “We have four years of FASTER training under our belts. The instructors at Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio are world class, and they are willing to train instructors in other states in the methodology. We know that FASTER saves lives. Every child —regardless of geography— deserves this level of protection.”

The first challenge is overcoming the legal roadblocks in many states which mindlessly prohibit trained and capable school staff from having the critical tools needed to effectively respond to these types of events. Jim pointed out that deaths due to fire used to be common in schools in this country, but that threat is virtually nonexistent today thanks to changes in building standards, availability of fire suppression equipment, and response training. He noted that every school is equipped with fire extinguishers, most schools are equipped with AED automatic defibrillator devices for treating heart attack victims, but few schools have even one proper, serious trauma, first aid kit, and fewer still have staff with access to life-saving, rampage cessation devices – guns. That needs to change.

Laura Carno wants to bring FASTER training to Colorado. She sat in on a FASTER course earlier this year, and she’s convinced that it is the most effective way to prevent future tragedies like Sandy Hook and Columbine. “Law enforcement has changed its protocols since Columbine, but even when response time is just a few minutes, those are the crucial minutes,” she said. “The faster that an attacker can be stopped and medical aid can be administered, the smaller the loss of life. Colorado families – all families – deserve this.”

Laura went on to explain that, “During the three days of training, I was able to interact with teachers, principals and other school employees. These are people who would place their bodies between bullets and your kids. Not their kids, your kids. They just want a chance to help children survive.”

In Ohio, the school employees applying to the program have to have a concealed carry permit, have their district’s permission, and be a volunteer. Those Laura spoke with had no hesitation when they volunteered. They are people who were already familiar with firearms, including many veterans and folks with some law enforcement experience, who wanted to be able to defend the kids in their school, just as they are accustomed to being prepared to defend themselves and their families.

The trainers too are dedicated to saving lives. Laura was impressed with the intensity of the training. “It was as if the instructors knew that this one skill,” she said emphasizing each word, “that they taught to this one teacher was going to save a life.” And it just might.

After Jim Irvine spoke at the GRPC, he was surrounded by a crowd of folks wanting more information about how they could bring FASTER to their states. “It’s a pretty compelling case,” he told me. “When we started FASTER in 2012, they laughed at us. They told us no one would sign up for the class, but we had 2500 applicants for the first class of 24.”

Thus far, FASTER has never been tested in a trial by fire, and ideally it never will be. While it could be a deterrent to a lunatic seeking a “soft target,” it’s unlikely that we’ve experienced the last attack on innocents in our schools. If another attack does occur, wouldn’t it be better if there was an armed first responder in the room when it started, as opposed to five minutes away?

If you are interested in bringing FASTER to your state, or you’d like to contribute to the efforts, you can visit their website here. To learn more about what Laura Carno is doing to bring FASTER to Colorado, you can reach her here.

The faster we get this going, the faster we’ll be saving children’s lives.

Bringing a Gun to a Knife Fight

By Jeff Knox

(September 20, 2016) The Crossroads Center Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota is a “gun-free” establishment, so when a Somali immigrant, apparently intent on striking a blow for the “religion of peace,” started slashing and stabbing shoppers in the mall, he had a reasonable expectation that he would meet little in the way of effective resistance, at least until the police could get there.  It’s clear that the attacker was intent on killing and injuring as many people as possible, and also appears that he was determined not to survive the rampage himself. What this “suspected” terrorist coward apparently didn’t count on was that one of the nearby mall shoppers, Jason Falconer, was a competitive shooter, NRA certified firearms and self-defense instructor, and part-time police officer from a nearby town – and that in Minnesota “gun-free zones” don’t apply to law enforcement officers, even if they are only part-time cops and off-duty.

The terrorist coward – whose name I will not repeat because I refuse to give these cowards the publicity – was expecting to stab fish in a barrel, and that’s what he was doing until Falconer showed up, bringing a gun to a knife fight.  When Falconer moved from safety into the danger zone, he ordered the slasher to drop his weapon, but instead of complying, the “suspected” terrorist charged at Falconer, forcing him to fire. Down, but not out, the scumbag got up and attempted to lunge again, resulting in another shot from Falconer, then repeated the sequence at least once more, until he wasn’t getting up ever again.  That determination to keep attacking, even when it was clear he couldn’t win, suggests that this low-life was looking to be “martyred” so he would be guaranteed a place in Paradise.

A Middle-Eastern news outlet with ties to Daesh, the Muslim, terrorist organization and would-be caliphate based in Syria that Barack Obama insists on calling ISIL, has claimed that the attacker was acting on their behalf when he tried to slaughter helpless innocents, and witnesses reported that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim, and invoked the name of Allah during the attack, leading the FBI to investigate the incident as a “Suspected act of terrorism.”

The media has focused a lot of attention on Jason Falconer’s status as a police officer and police firearm trainer, but they have glossed over the fact that Falconer doesn’t just train police, he trains civilians as well, and while his actions were heroic and extremely competent, there was nothing particularly impressive about his firearm handling skills in this incident.  The biggest factor in Falconer being able to do what he did was that he had a gun when no one else did.

I don’t mean to diminish Falconer’s actions in any way.  The heroic part of what he did was facing the trouble rather than running away, and that’s no small thing.  But I want to point out that there are millions of other Americans with the skills needed to safely and effectively neutralize this sort of threat.  There are some 13 million Americans licensed by their states to discreetly carry firearms. There are untold millions more who choose to discreetly carry in the 11 states where no license is required, or who carry openly, without any special licensing, in the 30 states where that is not prohibited.

While not all of these folks have the level of training and experience that Falconer does, most of Falconer’s training and experience wasn’t really a factor in this particular incident.  Like the traffic cop in Texas who dispatched the two Jihadis who attacked the Draw Mohammad contest, Falconer is a competitor in “Action Shooting Sports.” Falconer is a member of the U.S. Practical Shooting Association, which boasts around 30,000 members, but USPSA is only one of several national and international organizations that put shooters’ skills to the test under pressure.

The International Defensive Pistol Association, the National 3-gun Association, NRA Action Pistol, the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation, the Single-Action Shooting Society, and others sponsor and sanction thousands of challenging matches every year all over the country.  USPSA alone has some 400 affiliated clubs across the U.S. hosting thousands of events each year. On top of that are the thousands of local clubs and ranges that host training and formal and informal competitions, all designed to test and improve shooters’ gun handling skills.

Then there are the training establishments and independent instructors who offer basic to advanced training in all sorts of shooting disciplines.  Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Nevada trains some 50,000 students a year.  The grandaddy of handgun training schools, Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona has been offering top-quality training since the mid 1970s, with hundreds of their students and instructors subsequently striking out on their own to offer individual and group training all over the country.

As a long-time USPSA member and competitor myself, and a contributor to their magazine, Front Sight, I’ve met thousands of people with the skills and mindset needed to handle emergencies like the attack in Minnesota.  Of course no one ever knows exactly how they will react in a given situation, but training, competition, and the practice they demand help ingrain habits that ensure safety and enhance performance under stressful conditions.  Many experienced law enforcement officers participate in action shooting sports, but they do not dominate the sport by any means. In fact, only a relatively small percentage of top competitors have law enforcement experience.

All of this leads up to the one burning question that the media and politicians just can’t seem to wrap their heads around: In this age of “lone wolf,” random terrorist attacks and pervasive threats, why do some in our society demand that millions of competent gun owners, who safely and responsibly carry every day, disarm when shopping, sipping coffee, or watching a movie?

So-called “Gun-Free Zones” don’t prevent violence, they only reduce the likelihood that a hero will be equipped to stop the violence when it starts.

Disarming First Responders

Disarming First-Responders

By Jeff Knox

(September 20, 2016) The Crossroads Center Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota is a “gun-free” establishment, so when a Somali immigrant, apparently intent on striking a blow for the “religion of peace,” started slashing and stabbing shoppers in the mall, he had a reasonable expectation that he would meet little in the way of effective resistance, at least until the police could get there. It’s clear that the attacker was intent on killing and injuring as many people as possible, and also appears that he was determined not to survive the rampage himself. What this “suspected” terrorist coward apparently didn’t count on was that one of the nearby mall shoppers, Jason Falconer, was a competitive shooter, NRA certified firearms and self-defense instructor, and part-time police officer from a nearby town – and that in Minnesota “gun-free zones” don’t apply to law enforcement officers, even if they are only part-time cops and off-duty.

The terrorist coward – whose name I will not repeat because I refuse to give these cowards the publicity – was expecting to stab fish in a barrel, and that’s what he was doing until Falconer showed up, bringing a gun to a knife fight. When Falconer moved from safety into the danger zone, he ordered the slasher to drop his weapon, but instead of complying, the “suspected” terrorist charged at Falconer, forcing him to fire. Down, but not out, the scumbag got up and attempted to lunge again, resulting in another shot from Falconer, then repeated the sequence at least once more, until he wasn’t getting up ever again. That determination to keep attacking, even when it was clear he couldn’t win, suggests that this low-life was looking to be “martyred” so he would be guaranteed a place in Paradise.

A Middle-Eastern news outlet with ties to Daesh, the Muslim, terrorist organization and would-be caliphate based in Syria that Barack Obama insists on calling ISIL, has claimed that the attacker was acting on their behalf when he tried to slaughter helpless innocents, and witnesses reported that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim, and invoked the name of Allah during the attack, leading the FBI to investigate the incident as a “Suspected act of terrorism.”

The media has focused a lot of attention on Jason Falconer’s status as a police officer and police firearm trainer, but they have glossed over the fact that Falconer doesn’t just train police, he trains civilians as well, and while his actions were heroic and extremely competent, there was nothing particularly impressive about his firearm handling skills in this incident. The biggest factor in Falconer being able to do what he did was that he had a gun when no one else did.

I don’t mean to diminish Falconer’s actions in any way. The heroic part of what he did was facing the trouble rather than running away, and that’s no small thing. But I want to point out that there are millions of other Americans with the skills needed to safely and effectively neutralize this sort of threat. There are some 13 million Americans licensed by their states to discreetly carry firearms. There are untold millions more who choose to discreetly carry in the 11 states where no license is required, or who carry openly, without any special licensing, in the 30 states where that is not prohibited.

While not all of these folks have the level of training and experience that Falconer does, most of Falconer’s training and experience wasn’t really a factor in this particular incident. Like the traffic cop in Texas who dispatched the two Jihadis who attacked the Draw Mohammad contest, Falconer is a competitor in “Action Shooting Sports.” Falconer is a member of the U.S. Practical Shooting Association, which boasts around 30,000 members, but USPSA is only one of several national and international organizations that put shooters’ skills to the test under pressure.

The International Defensive Pistol Association, the National 3-gun Association, NRA Action Pistol, the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation, the Single-Action Shooting Society, and others sponsor and sanction thousands of challenging matches every year all over the country. USPSA alone has some 400 affiliated clubs across the U.S. hosting thousands of events each year. On top of that are the thousands of local clubs and ranges that host training and formal and informal competitions, all designed to test and improve shooters’ gun handling skills.

Then there are the training establishments and independent instructors who offer basic to advanced training in all sorts of shooting disciplines. Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Nevada trains some 50,000 students a year. The grandaddy of handgun training schools, Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona has been offering top-quality training since the mid 1970s, with hundreds of their students and instructors subsequently striking out on their own to offer individual and group training all over the country.

As a long-time USPSA member and competitor myself, and a contributor to their magazine, Front Sight, I’ve met thousands of people with the skills and mindset needed to handle emergencies like the attack in Minnesota. Of course no one ever knows exactly how they will react in a given situation, but training, competition, and the practice they demand help ingrain habits that ensure safety and enhance performance under stressful conditions. Many experienced law enforcement officers participate in action shooting sports, but they do not dominate the sport by any means. In fact, only a relatively small percentage of top competitors have law enforcement experience.

All of this leads up to the one burning question that the media and politicians just can’t seem to wrap their heads around: In this age of “lone wolf,” random terrorist attacks and pervasive threats, why do some in our society demand that millions of competent gun owners, who safely and responsibly carry every day, disarm when shopping, sipping coffee, or watching a movie?

So-called “Gun-Free Zones” don’t prevent violence, they only reduce the likelihood that a hero will be equipped to stop the violence when it starts.

 

Not Just the Supreme Court at Stake

By Jeff Knox

(September 15, 2016) With less than 8 weeks left until the critical November elections, both sides are pulling out all the stops to try and get their supporters to the polls.  One of the big topics has been potential Supreme Court appointments, but there is much more than just the Supreme Court at stake in November.

With the vacancy on the Court due to the death of Antonin Scalia, we know that the next President will, at a minimum, have that appointment to make, which will either maintain the Court at a slight lean to the “right,” or lean it far to the “left.”  Since Scalia was a conservative leader on the Court, it will be close to impossible to find anyone who could effectively fill his shoes, or possibly take the Court any further to the right. That means that regardless of who wins the election, at best, the Court will probably be a bit to the “left” of where it was a year ago with Scalia on the bench.  If Hillary Clinton wins though, Scalia’s replacement would be something between a “moderate liberal” like Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, and a “radical liberal” like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her pick will depend on the make-up of the Senate after the election. Whoever she appoints, when added to the current 4 liberal justices, would mean a solid liberal majority that would completely dominate the Court.  There is also a likelihood of 83-year old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retiring if Hillary wins the presidency, meaning the liberal wing of the Court would have only one member over 60-years of age, all but guaranteeing “liberal” dominance for at least the next 20 to 30 years.

But the Supreme Court is only the tip of the judicial iceberg, and the next President will have a significant impact on the rest of the judiciary as well.  Over the past 8 years, Obama has shifted the balance of power in most of the circuits of the Federal Courts of Appeals, along with the Federal District Courts.  In all he has appointed over 300 judges to lifetime seats on federal benches, resulting in Democrat majorities in 9 of the 13 Courts of Appeal, with at least 2 of the remaining 4 poised to topple with the next appointments.  While most of those appointees have been considered “moderates” by the current yardstick of the pundit class, their decisions have been anything but moderate. Another 4 years of Democrat control will seal all of the circuits in “liberal activist” mode for decades.  The Supreme Court is certainly important, but SCOTUS only hears about 80 cases each year, while Federal District Courts hear something in the neighborhood of 200,000 cases each year, and Federal Appeals Courts review approximately 40,000 of those.

Though Congress writes the laws, with the executive branch crafting regulations and enforcing the laws, it is the courts that decide what the laws mean and how they can or must be enforced.  They can rule a law null and void by declaring it unconstitutional, or can, in effect, overrule the Constitution by ruling that a law or regulation either doesn’t violate it, or that it only violates it in a minor way which is acceptable as a “reasonable burden” on people’s rights.

For instance, the 9th Circuit recently ruled that federal prosecutors could not prosecute people who violate federal laws against growing, using, or selling marijuana, as long as those people only did so in accordance with state laws regarding marijuana for medical purposes.  But in a separate case, the same court ruled that a person who has a state-issued card authorizing them to use marijuana for medicinal purposes can have their right to purchase a firearm denied on the basis that if they have the card, it is a reasonable assumption that they are a user of illegal drugs.  Even though the court acknowledged that this is a violation of Second Amendment rights, they concluded that the government’s interest in trying to keep guns away from illegal drug users outweighs individual rights to purchase firearms.

In that particular case, the plaintiff, who holds a medical marijuana card in Nevada, claimed that she did not actually use marijuana, but got the card as a way to show support for the concept.  Under that circumstance, the court said, she is not prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, but can be prohibited from purchasing them, because it is reasonable for a gun seller who knows that a person has a medical marijuana card to assume that the person is a user of illegal drugs.

In this decision the court applied what is known as “intermediate scrutiny” to reach their conclusion that the infringement of the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights was acceptable.  This level of scrutiny is the middle-ground between “rational basis” and “strict scrutiny,” and is based on a determination that the government has a “compelling interest” for its infringing laws, and that the laws substantially relate to satisfying that interest.  The use of “intermediate scrutiny” has become the standard method for courts to ignore the protections of the Second Amendment. Even though the Supreme Court, in their McDonald decision, declared that the right to arms is a fundamental right, and court procedures dictate that the higher standard of “strict scrutiny” should be applied to cases dealing with fundamental rights, liberal-dominated courts routinely ignore this standard and opt to go with “intermediate scrutiny” so they can justify ruling in favor of laws that restrict gun rights.

The only way this trend of abuse will ever be corrected is for the Supreme Court to step in and reverse some of these bad decisions.  But that will not happen if Hillary Clinton gets to name the next justice to the Supreme Court, and the abuse will continue to get worse as more liberal judges are added to District and Circuit Courts.

The November elections might not be our last chance to save the Constitution, but they are our best hope for doing so.

 

More than SCOTUS at Stake

Not Just the Supreme Court at Stake

By Jeff Knox

(September 15, 2016) With less than 8 weeks left until the critical November elections, both sides are pulling out all the stops to try and get their supporters to the polls. One of the big topics has been potential Supreme Court appointments, but there is much more than just the Supreme Court at stake in November.

With the vacancy on the Court due to the death of Antonin Scalia, we know that the next President will, at a minimum, have that appointment to make, which will either maintain the Court at a slight lean to the “right,” or lean it far to the “left.” Since Scalia was a conservative leader on the Court, it will be close to impossible to find anyone who could effectively fill his shoes, or possibly take the Court any further to the right. That means that regardless of who wins the election, at best, the Court will probably be a bit to the left of where it was a year ago with Scalia on the bench. If Hillary Clinton wins though, Scalia’s replacement would be something between a “moderate liberal” like Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, and a “radical liberal” like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her pick will depend on the make-up of the Senate after the election. Whoever she appoints, when added to the current 4 liberal justices, would mean a solid liberal majority that would completely dominate the Court. There is also a likelihood of 83-year old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retiring if Hillary wins the presidency, meaning the liberal wing of the Court would have only one member over 60-years of age, all but guaranteeing liberal dominance for at least the next 20 to 30 years.

But the Supreme Court is only the tip of the judicial iceberg, and the next President will have a significant impact on the rest of the judiciary as well. Over the past 8 years, Obama has shifted the balance of power in most of the circuits of the Federal Courts of Appeals, along with the Federal District Courts. In all he has appointed over 300 judges to lifetime seats on federal benches, resulting in Democrat majorities in 9 of the 13 Courts of Appeal, with at least 2 of the remaining 4 poised to topple with the next appointments. While most of those appointees have been considered “moderates” by the current yardstick of the pundit class, their decisions have been anything but moderate. Another 4 years of Democrat control will seal all of the circuits in “liberal activist” mode for decades. The Supreme Court is certainly important, but SCOTUS only hears about 80 cases each year, while Federal District Courts hear something in the neighborhood of 200,000 cases each year, and Federal Appeals Courts review approximately 40,000 of those.

Though Congress writes the laws, with the executive branch crafting regulations and enforcing the laws, it is the courts that decide what the laws mean and how they can or must be enforced. They can rule a law null and void by declaring it unconstitutional, or can, in effect, overrule the Constitution by ruling that a law or regulation either doesn’t violate it, or that it only violates it in a minor way which is acceptable as a “reasonable burden” on people’s rights.

For instance, the 9th Circuit recently ruled that federal prosecutors could not prosecute people who violate federal laws against growing, using, or selling marijuana, as long as those people only did so in accordance with state laws regarding marijuana for medical purposes. But in a separate case, the same court ruled that a person who has a state-issued card authorizing them to use marijuana for medicinal purposes can have their right to purchase a firearm denied on the basis that if they have the card, it is a reasonable assumption that they are a user of illegal drugs. Even though the court acknowledged that this is a violation of Second Amendment rights, they concluded that the government’s interest in trying to keep guns away from illegal drug users outweighs individual rights to purchase firearms.

In that particular case, the plaintiff, who holds a medical marijuana card in Nevada, claimed that she did not actually use marijuana, but got the card as a way to show support for the concept. Under that circumstance, the court said, she is not prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, but can be prohibited from purchasing them, because it is reasonable for a gun seller who knows that a person has a medical marijuana card to assume that the person is a user of illegal drugs.

In this decision the court applied what is known as “intermediate scrutiny” to reach their conclusion that the infringement of the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights was acceptable. This level of scrutiny is the middle-ground between “rational basis” and “strict scrutiny,” and is based on a determination that the government has a “compelling interest” for its infringing laws, and that the laws substantially relate to satisfying that interest. The use of “intermediate scrutiny” has become the standard method for courts to ignore the protections of the Second Amendment. Even though the Supreme Court, in their McDonald decision, declared that the right to arms is a fundamental right, and court procedures dictate that the higher standard of “strict scrutiny” should be applied to cases dealing with fundamental rights, liberal-dominated courts routinely ignore this standard and opt to go with “intermediate scrutiny” so they can justify ruling in favor of laws that restrict gun rights.

The only way this trend of abuse will ever be corrected is for the Supreme Court to step in and reverse some of these bad decisions. But that will never happen if Hillary Clinton gets to name the next justice to the Supreme Court, and the abuse will continue to get worse as more liberal judges are added to District and Circuit Courts.

The November elections might not be our last chance to save the Constitution, but they are our best hope for doing so. If Donald Trump doesn’t win, Hillary Clinton does, and Hillary Clinton will unquestionably stack the courts against Second Amendment rights.

Take Away ATF’s Guns and Badges

Time to Take Away the Guns & Badges

By Jeff Knox

(September 8, 2016) It is the nature of bureaucracies to grow – in size, scope, and power. Various agencies compete for authority, staff, and budgets. They schmooze politicians and try to grab headlines in efforts to achieve these goals, and they are never ever satisfied with what they have.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF as they like to be called, is an excellent example of this phenomenon. In the early 1900’s, a small research branch within the Department of Internal Revenue became known as the Bureau of Prohibition, and was tasked with chasing bootleggers. It grew, was moved from Treasury to the Justice Department, and was, for a time, a division of the FBI.

To get the funding they needed to grow, the Bureau of Prohibition got remarkably good at promoting itself in the media. It became common for agents to make pre-raid phone calls to friendly reporters so they could be on-scene as major busts occurred, and agents like Eliot Ness became national heroes, erroneously credited with taking down Al Capone.

With the end of Prohibition, the Bureau was transferred back to Treasury, where it became the Alcohol Tax Unit, but their gun-slinging, gangster fighting reputation earned them regulatory authority over production and sale of machine guns when Congress passed the National Firearms Act in 1934, and even more firearms oversight with passage of the Federal Firearms Act in 1938, regulating gun dealers and manufacturers. This gave the ATU a big boost in scope and budget, but in spite of the sexy-seeming idea of dealing with machine guns, enforcement of the NFA and FFA turned out to be primarily an accounting job. With little excitement on the gun front, the ATU turned their attention to mostly small, moonshine operations that continued to produce un-taxed liquor throughout the Appellation mountains. As “revenooers,” the agency maintained their image as intrepid crime fighters by using aggressive and brutal tactics against the hard-bitten mountain men, resulting in violent clashes and lots of publicity. This provided plenty of good press opportunities and led to exaggerations in popular books and movies – along with the creation of NASCAR.

In subsequent years, ATF’s responsibilities regarding guns increased. By the late ’70s ATF was again making headlines, but not good ones. Having discovered that catching real criminals engaged in serious gun crimes was difficult, the agency was focusing their attention on technical violations of the nation’s gun laws, but they were still using their trademark aggressive tactics, resulting in people being killed and lives being destroyed over minor paperwork errors. In 1978 and ’79, Congress investigated some of these activities, chastising ATF and pulling money from their budget. This also led to passage of the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act in 1986.

In frustration, ATF turned its attention to “right-wing hate groups” and “anti-government militias,” using possible weapons violations as an excuse to wade into what was normally FBI territory. In 1992 they tried to force a reclusive separatist into infiltrating the Aryan Nation organization by accusing him of selling a pair of shotguns which ATF said had barrels that were a quarter-inch too short. This led directly to the deaths of a 14-year old boy and his mother, along with a U.S. Marshal on Ruby Ridge in rural Idaho.

Failing to learn their lesson, less than a year later, the ATF launched a raid on the facilities of a small religious group outside of Waco, Texas. The group believed Armageddon was going to start with the federal government trying to murder them, so when the ATF launched their military-style assault, shooting chained dogs out front and storming the buildings, something like Armageddon did break out. Four ATF agents were killed along with six church members, leading to a 51-day standoff that ended with the church going up in flames and at least 76 men, women, and children dying.

Two years later, a truck full of fertilizer and racing fuel was exploded in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Ruby Ridge and Waco were cited by the perpetrators as major motivation for their actions.

After that, the ATF laid low for a time. They attempted to restore their reputation in 2002 with a two-year, multi-million dollar, deep-cover investigation of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, but botched the operation so badly that no serious prosecutions resulted. This led to years of court battles between ATF and the undercover agent at the center of the operation, after his cover was blown, his house was burned down, and ATF tried to confiscate the royalties from a book he wrote about the investigation. It turned out to be an expensive mess that only resulted in another expensive mess – and additional embarrassment for the ATF.

In December 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a gun battle near Naco, Arizona. It was later discovered that the gun used to kill him had been purchased at a Phoenix gun shop and allowed to be smuggled across the border – along with nearly 2000 others – by the Phoenix ATF office. The gun-walking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious was uncovered by citizen-journalist Mike Vanderbough in collaboration with writer David Codrea. WND was among the first to report on the scandal with this column published in early February, 2011.

While the scandal resulted in some shake-ups at ATF – and the first-ever contempt of Congress citation for a U.S. Attorney General, many questions have still not been answered, and no one has been held to account for the operation that facilitated Agent Terry’s death and the deaths of possibly hundreds of Mexicans.

ATF followed this up with storefront sting operations in several cities where they set up fake stores that paid criminals for stolen goods in hopes of attracting illegal guns. The results tended to be lots of low-level thieves selling lots of stolen electronics and jewelry to U.S. taxpayers. Indications are that the sting operations caused increases in petty crime, and little in the way of useful intelligence or prosecutable serious offenses. Those operations have now been harshly criticized in an Inspector General’s report from the Department of Justice.

What all of this leads to is the inescapable conclusion that this is not a reliable law enforcement agency, and it’s agents should not be allowed guns and badges. The vast majority of ATF’s responsibilities lie in monitoring paperwork and collecting taxes. Their criminal investigation resources should be turned over to the FBI, and the ATF should be reorganized as an agency of bean-counters and pencil-pushers.

Lacking Initiatives

Lacking Initiatives

by Jeff Knox

(September 1, 2016) As the Presidential Election has captured the national spotlight, there are many other matters to be aware of prior to November 8. Congressional elections are particularly critical this year, as a shift in the Senate is a real possibility. That would mean that Chuck Schumer would become Majority Leader. Harry Reid was a moderate compared to Schumer. If the House changes hands, we would see Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House once more. Everyone should remember how well that worked. And then there are state elections, including 5 ballot measures dealing with firearm laws in Washington, Colorado, California, Nevada, and Maine.

Washington:

In Washington State, where Mike Bloomberg and a clutch of billionaires spent over 10 million dollars to pass an initiative criminalizing private firearm transfers, the anti-rights crowd is again proving that they are never satisfied. They have come back this year to demand that authorities be given the ability to restrict legal access to firearms by people who the police or household family members feel might be a threat to themselves or others.

This is one of those dangerous measures that seems very reasonable on its surface, but is wholly unnecessary and holds great potential for abuse. The only way to prevent a person intent on doing harm from accessing the tools with which to do harm, is to put that person in a place where those tools are not available and they can be watched. You cannot bubble-wrap the world, but you can pad a cell and remove shoelaces. If a person is violent, threatening, mentally unstable, or otherwise a serious danger to themselves or others, they can be arrested, taken into protective custody, held in a mental facility for observation, or committed against their will indefinitely. If the person is not demonstrating behavior to justify those actions, they are not demonstrating behavior to justify revoking their right to arms. A person who is too dangerous to have a gun is too dangerous to be free on the streets.

Colorado:

In Colorado the initiative is calling for the criminalization of otherwise lawfully carried, concealed firearms on college campuses. Colorado does not ban legal firearm carry on campuses, and has never had a problem with someone legally carrying suddenly going berserk. At a time when more and more states are recognizing that a sign on a door does not make a space “gun-free,” but does often make a space self-defense-free, it is foolish to bypass the legislature to try and enact laws to disarm those who wish to protect themselves and might prevent or mitigate a tragedy.

California:

The California initiative is being pushed hard by Leiutenant Governor and wann’a-be governor, Gavin Newsom. Most of the provisions of the initiative were passed by the legislature last session, so it is largely redundant, but Newsome is using it as a vehicle to promote his candidacy for governor. His initiative has some stronger, more harmful language, and it would be much more difficult for the legislature to amend.

So far proponents of the initiative – led by Newsom and several multi-millionaire friends – have outspent opponents at a rate of 9 to 1. Opponents have virtually every mainstream law enforcement organization in the state lined up in opposition to the initiative though, noting that it would make criminals out of people who pose no threat, would not stop real criminals and terrorists from acquiring guns and ammunition, and would waste tens of millions of dollars that could be much better spent on resources and programs that actually do reduce crime and save lives.

A coalition of rights groups is working hard to educate voters about the real dangers and flaws in this initiative, and to rally GunVoters to help defeat it. Whether their grass roots efforts will be enough to counter the money and media blitz of the initiative proponents will all depend on educated voters turning out in November.

Nevada and Maine:

Nevada and Maine have been targeted by Bloomberg groups with similar legislation to what was pushed through Washington a couple of years ago. They call it “Universal Background Checks,” but what it is in reality is criminalization of private firearm transfers, and the laying of groundwork for a universal firearm registration system.

The Bloombergers are painting these fights as being local “gun violence prevention” activists taking on the evil NRA, when in fact it is the Bloombergers who have come in with their massive out-of-state resources to overwhelm local, pro-rights, grass roots groups. Unfortunately the NRA is playing into the Bloomer’s script by putting themselves at the front of the public debate, rather than staying in the background and letting the locals be the face of the fight. In Washington State, NRA is the only opposition group listed on the ballot. In Nevada, rather than providing financial, strategic, and logistical support to the coalition of grass roots groups that had formed to fight the initiative, NRA came in and formed a whole new group – bypassing their own state affiliate – hired a PR firm, and is “leading the charge.”
My Dad used to say that it’s amazing how much can be accomplished if you’re not worried about who gets the credit. Too bad that wisdom didn’t stick at NRA, because they are all about getting all of the credit. We’re glad they’re there, we just wish they would be smarter about it.

The critical thing in all of these states is that GunVoters show up in droves on November 8 – dragging their families, friends, and neighbors along with them. Organize, rally, educate, and VOTE! Be sure that everyone you know understands that every vote matters and that these initiatives are dangerous and being promoted with lies financed by Bloomberg’s billions. We don’t have to convince people that background checks and magazine restrictions are a bad idea, just that these proposals are the wrong way to get there.

Stop Bloomberg. Stop Newsom. Stop low-information voters from selling your rights.

The President’s Leash

The President’s Leash

By Jeff Knox

(August 24, 2016) Republicans who say they “just can’t endorse Donald Trump for President” are being foolish. Certainly there are valid reasons to be concerned about Trump’s candidacy, but those concerns should pale against the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency. While Trump is a bit of a wild card, his non-politician, straight talk has struck a chord with a broad segment of the American people who are fed up with political correctness and wheedling double-speak.

As President, Trump would face a strong system of checks and balances, just as the framers envisioned. Skeptical Republican politicians should express their faith in this constitutional system as a reason for voters to not only elect Trump, but as a reason to vote for skeptical Republicans. They should be positioning themselves as the “loyal opposition,” ready to work with Trump to accomplish the good of his agenda, while providing a thoughtful check against rogue actions. Skeptics can run as watchdogs, taking a position of strong support for Trump as someone they can work with to accomplish what Americans want and need, while not blindly taking orders, as some Republicans might, nor rejecting Trump’s proposals out of hand, as Democrats will do. Thoughtful Republicans must position themselves as the gatekeepers who will support the good, oppose the bad, and help Donald Trump make America great again.

The alternative is a Hillary Clinton presidency with Republicans serving as little more than speed bumps in the way of her agenda. Republicans divided and in disarray would have little hope against a strong and united Democrat Party and Congress. Hillary Clinton in the White House, Congress dominated by Democrats and RINO’s, and a “liberal” majority in the Supreme Court, along with a fawning liberal media would be a freight train of ever-expanding government and centralized control, with little in the way of obstacles to check their “progress.”

Most Americans are familiar with the famous quote form Lord Acton; “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It is an accepted truism, and it was recognized as such long before Acton penned his famous quote. The founders of the United States understood this truth, and designed the new American government to be based on individual liberties, protected by laws and limits on government power, and guarded by thee separate and co-equal branches. At every level there are checks and balances designed to prevent any one person or group from wielding so much power that they can commit crimes without being held accountable for their actions. This begins with the establishment of clear limits to government power in the Constitution, and ends with guarantees of a free press, the rights to petition and assembly, and for the gravest extreme, the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Even though the Democrat Party offended some of its most “progressive” members with their manipulation of the primary election, the party itself has united strongly behind Hillary Clinton. Every Democrat in Congress will follow the marching orders that Clinton issues, and unless Republicans stop their infighting and undermining of the Trump campaign, those Clinton Democrats are likely to be in the majority in at least one, if not both houses of Congress.

Can you imagine Hillary Clinton as President, with Chuck Schumer as the Senate Majority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House? The media has demonstrated its unwavering support for Clinton, and her appointment to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court will remove the last vestige of checks and balances that might obstruct her agenda.

Our system is supposed to be designed so that the courts check Congress and the President, Congress checks the courts and the President, the President checks Congress and the courts, and the free press acts as a check on all of them. And this all happens within the constructs and protections of the Constitution and the laws of the land – ideally with the best interest of the nation and the people at heart.

The problem is that in spite of all of the protestations to the contrary, many people in “public service” are much more concerned with their own fortunes, personal power, and ideologies than they are with protecting individual liberty and our nations founding principles.

Much has been said about Donald Trump dividing the Republican Party, but little has been said about what effect that division would have on a Trump presidency. In reality Trump’s nomination was a result of existing divisions within the Republican Party, not a cause of them. More importantly though, as President, Trump would not only have to overcome or override objections from Democrats in Congress, he would have to overcome resistance and objections from members of his own party – not to mention challenges in the courts, where even naming a replacement for Scalia would only keep the Court relatively “moderate” at best.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand, enjoys united support among party leaders and members of Congress. She and her husband have proven themselves to be self-serving masters of political manipulation, willing to blatantly lie to promote themselves and avoid consequences for their actions. If she wins the presidency, it is also quite likely that Democrats will also win a majority in the Senate, and possibly the House. Her pick to fill the current opening on the Supreme Court would mean a solid 5-vote, “liberal” majority on the Court along with domination in Congress.

In other words, if Donald Trump is elected President, he will be on a short leash and have to fight for his agenda, while Hillary Clinton would be unfettered, with very little in the way of checks and balances. A Trump presidency would be a four-year long battle with occasional, carefully worked out victories. A Hillary presidency would be an unrestricted dictatorship, which would unquestionably be absolutely corrupt.

Ammunition for the grassroots gun rights movement