Testing the Third Rail

Democrats Rediscover Third Rail

By Jeff Knox

(November 11, 2016) In the wee hours of the morning of November 9, a collective sigh of relief flowed from the hearts of millions of American gun owners. Hillary Clinton and the Democrat party had pushed gun control as a major issue in the election, raising serious anxiety among GunVoters. In the end, that GunVoter concern exacted a heavy toll. While GunVoters can’t take sole credit for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, we can be proud that we played a substantial role in it – probably more significant than the pundits will ever admit.

Back during the Democrat Primary, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – a Mike Bloomberg front group – declared; This year, the myth of gun violence as a political third rail was put to rest in the Democratic presidential debate, where candidates fought over who has the lowest grade from the NRA.” I’m sure Ms. Watts really wanted to believe that, but her belief doesn’t make it true any more than her last name makes her an expert on electricity. The proof comes when voters respond to the talk, and it is pretty clear that the power is still turned on in the gun control third rail.

We did suffer some losses. In California, where calls for “modest, commonsense” gun control took its next predictable step into irrational hysteria, we lost on Proposition 63, a draconian ballot initiative. After the California legislature passed a raft of harsh gun control measures earlier this year – on top of what were already the strictest gun control laws of any state in the nation – voters were duped into passing a sweeping gun control initiative that included many of the same measures, but takes them even further. When Prop. 63 takes effect next year, California gun owners will be criminals if they fail to register millions of heretofore legally possessed rifles, or if they fail to “dispose of” their legally owned and possessed ammunition feeding devices.

Proposition 63 makes California the prime example of exactly what gun control proponents are really trying to accomplish. They claim to be seeking only minor changes in laws to “close loopholes” and “keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” but they are never satisfied, and always have another salvo of minor changes they want to make – almost always fueled by the total failure of the previous step to accomplish its claimed objectives. California epitomizes why rights advocates reject even the most mundane gun control proposals.

We also lost an important ballot initiative in Nevada. There, Mike Bloomberg’s various front groups poured over $16 million dollars into convincing voters that they merely wanted to close a “dangerous loophole” that allows criminals to buy guns from private sellers “no questions asked.” Along with concealing the lack of any credible evidence that this “loophole” is actually a problem, and hiding the full scope of their initiative, the Bloomies claimed that 80% to 90% of Nevadans supported their “universal background check” scheme. When the votes were counted, it turned out that a majority of voters in only one Nevada county – Clark County, the home of Las Vegas – voted for the initiative, but that single county’s votes were enough to pass the initiative statewide by a margin less than 1 percent.

In Washington State, voters approved a measure that will allow police or family members to file to have a person’s guns seized if they believe the person is a threat to themselves or others. Again, the Bloomies and a coalition of billionaires funded the initiative, spending some $4 million to get it passed while opponents never really got out of the blocks. The initiative sounded very appealing, and explaining the problems with it was a complicated matter that wouldn’t fit well on a bumper sticker or media soundbite. It appears that opponents, looking at those challenges, basically gave up without a fight, spending hundreds to proponents’ millions.

GunVoters stopped the other gun-related ballot measure that went before voters this year. It was in Maine, where Bloomberg groups were pushing a “universal background check” initiative similar to the one passed in Nevada. Once again the Bloomberg groups significantly outspent opponents. In all the Bloomies spent about $5 million trying to pass the initiative, while opponents spent just over $1 million, the bulk of that coming from the NRA. But the lopsided spending wasn’t enough to overcome grass roots activism, and the measure failed by about 3% statewide.

Along with the presidency and numerous gubernatorial and state legislative victories, GunVoters contributed to several upsets in Senate and House races, and helped hold critical seats for pro-rights Republicans. This means that Donald Trump will assume the presidency with majorities in both houses of Congress. That’s worth crowing about, but we’ve been here before and been let down, so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again this time.

There are a number of bills already in the pipe that can be renewed, and several other proposals that should be added. The Firearms Coalition has long advocated for an omnibus rights restoration bill that incorporates many of these proposals into a single bill – while maintaining the stand-alone bills for passage as opportunities might arise.

While the new Congress and President will have a full plate next year, it is critical that pro-rights legislation is high on the list of priorities. We also must be absolutely sure that anyone President Trump names to the U.S. Supreme Court will be a stalwart defender of the Second Amendment. We have to stop the steady encroachment on rights that is victimizing innocent gun owners in states like California, Connecticut, and New York.

We’ve just won some important victories, but that’s just the beginning. Now comes the hard work of repairing decades of damage to the country and the Constitution.

Mass Shooting Contagion — Don’t Inspire Evil

By Jeff Knox

(November 2, 2016) Last year, a group of researchers based at Arizona State University published a peer-reviewed report in PLOS ONE, a “multidisciplinary Open Access journal,” describing a phenomenon that many in the rights community have been talking about for years. The scientific research paper, titled Contagion in Mass Killings and School Shootings, described a measurable relationship between media coverage of these events, and the subsequent occurrence of similar events. In other words, the researchers found that mass killings and school shootings tend to spawn similar events, and the more media attention an event attracts, the greater the likelihood of similar events occurring within a short time.

A number of years ago, the suicide prevention community saw a similar phenomenon that they called “Suicide Contagion.” They noticed that suicides, especially suicides involving young people, often occurred in clusters, and the clusters reflected the levels of media coverage the suicides generated. More and wider media coverage resulted in predictable increases in follow-on suicides and attempts. Researchers were able to statistically demonstrate the correlation, and suicide prevention advocates used this information to call on the media to change the way they were reporting on suicides.

Media companies and groups like the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) took the information, and worked with advocates to develop reporting standards and practices intended to minimize suicide contagion. It worked, and researchers can now demonstrate significant reductions in copycat and cluster suicides as a direct result of the changes in media coverage.

Unfortunately, even though the connection between mass killings and media coverage can be clearly demonstrated, and is probably even more significant than last year’s study indicates, the media is resisting adopting any changes in the way they report on massacres. The old newspaper adage, “If it bleeds it leads” seems to be the guiding principle in coverage of mass murders.

There is some hope on the horizon however, in May of this year, Andrew Seaman, who chairs the SPJ’s ethics committee, blogged about this issue, saying that he was assembling a panel of journalists and other interested parties to discuss the issue and come up with recommendations. That blog was in response to harsh criticism of a previous blog post in which he was very dismissive of those calling for changes in the SPJ’s Code of Ethics, which is well-respected within the industry. Further developments on that post from 5 months ago were not found.

In both Seaman’s blog post, and that of one of his leading critics, gratuitous attacks on the NRA played a prominent role. Both “impartial” journalists, deeply concerned about journalistic ethics, made it clear that they personally believe the real problem is guns, and the NRA’s unreasonable influence in Washington, but since they can’t seem to effectively get around NRA’s influence, they’ll instead argue about whether or not to publish mass murderers’ names. Even more interesting is the fact that both the NRA and the Brady gun control group agree that excessive media coverage of mass murderers is a serious problem that contributes to more mass murders. And while that conclusion isn’t really disputed, the argument among journalists comes down to what actions constitute a reasonable and effective solution for mitigating the problem.

Denying mass murderers the publicity that many of them obviously seek, by refusing to publish their names, pictures, manifestos, or detailed background information about them, is the most heavily advocated approach. While some are calling for a complete moratorium on such information, others take a much more balanced approach, calling for journalists, editors, and producers to simply minimize publication of this information, rather than boycotting it altogether. This approach has been compiled into what supporters call the DIE Initiative – Don’t Inspire Evil. The initiative has been endorsed by a variety of media and advocacy organizations, and has been presented to the SPJ. Another effort, called No Notoriety, takes a similar approach, but calls on the public to directly lobby the media.

The explosion of the internet and social media complicate the situation even further. Regardless of what the “mainstream media” chooses to report or omit, there is no way to control “new media” and individual postings on social media. There is also the problem of omissions being considered “spin” for political reasons. In several recent attacks, the media was criticized for appearing reticent to release the attackers’ names due to their Middle-Eastern ethnicity. Critics accused the media of withholding the names as a way of hiding the attackers’ ethnic origins – and presumably their religious beliefs. Others have often criticized the media for including photos of minority suspects, claiming that the inclusion is aimed at tainting entire racial, ethnic, or religious groups. We at The Firearms Coalition decided over a decade ago that we would avoid ever repeating mass murderers’ names, and I make a conscious effort to always refer to such demented freaks in the most disrespectful and demeaning way I can within the limits of a PG-rated column.

Obviously, there are no easy answers that will satisfy everyone, but it should be obvious that 24-hour coverage of mass murders and school shootings with a heavy focus on the criminal, is not helpful. Making murderers famous, giving them a platform for their irrational rants, and making their images modern media icons, does significant harm. It disrespects the victims, and can trigger other deviants to seek a similar level of fame through similar actions.

The Arizona study, while imperfect, offers support for efforts like the DIE Initiative, and an important starting point for a serious discussion of ways to mitigate this problem. Hopefully the SPJ and major media outlets will follow through on efforts to address this issue soon.

In the meantime, it is incumbent on all of us to refuse to be drawn into the rubbernecking and lurid gawking engaged in by the mass media and our “friends” on social media, and call them out when they start crossing the line.

Sandy Hook Suit – Round 1

By Jeff Knox

(October 27, 2016) A Connecticut judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the families of several victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.  The suit was filed last year against everyone in the manufacturing and sales chain of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle that was used in the murders.  Defendants in the suit, Bushmaster and its parent company Remington Arms, Camfour, a major firearms wholesaler, and Riverview Sales, the small gun shop that originally sold the gun to Nancy Lanza, all claimed immunity from the suit, based  on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA. In the end, the judge agreed with the defendants, stating that the case “falls squarely within the broad immunity” protections of the PLCAA.

That being the case, it certainly took the judge a while to reach that conclusion since the PLCAA prohibits civil liability actions from being brought as a result of third-party misuse of a firearm or ammunition. Defendants raised the PLCAA from the very start.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that their suit was permissible under two of several exceptions included in the PLCAA.  One is that a licensed seller can be sued if they “negligently entrusted” a gun or ammunition to a person that they knew, or should have known, would use it to cause harm to themselves or others.  The other is that a suit may be filed if the licensed seller violated federal or state law in the conduct of the transaction. Plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that by “unethically, oppressively, immorally, and unscrupulously” marketing the “assaultive qualities and military uses of AR-15s to civilian purchasers,” whom they knew would let others, including family members, access them, constituted both “negligent entrustment,” and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The lawyers’ hyperbole regarding the AR-15 was so thick that it sounds more like a parody than an actual lawsuit.  They insisted that Bushmaster, Remington and the others “know that civilians are unfit to operate AR-15s” – the fastest selling and most popular rifle in the country – and that they “knew or should have known that the sale of assault rifles like the XM15-E2S to the civilian market, posed an egregious and unreasonable risk of physical injury to others.” The suit just goes on and on with this nonsense, with single sentences taking up over half a page, and circuitous logic going all the way to asserting the defendants’ knowing that “mass casualty shootings” are becoming more frequent, that schools are a popular target for such shootings, and therefore they should have known that the gun they made and sold had an unreasonably high risk of ending up in the hands of a crazed murderer slaughtering innocent children.

It’s hard to begin to understand why a rational judge, knowing the provisions of the PLCAA, did not dismiss the case on the spot.  Instead, she allowed it to drag on for almost two years before she finally pulled the plug. Some skeptics have suggested that she was initially just going through the motions, and would have dismissed the suit, but then it suddenly started attracting national media attention as it became a major issue in the Democratic Party primaries, and perhaps she wanted to drag it out so her preferred candidate could get as much mileage out of it as possible.

Whether that was the judge’s motivation or not, it all worked out well for Hillary Clinton, who used the case as a bludgeon against her primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders.  Sanders had voted in favor of the PLCAA when he was in the House of Representatives. Clinton herself had been in the Senate at the time and voted against it. She was able to effectively use the Sandy Hook case as a wedge to first position herself to Bernie’s left, then – after he waffled and declared that he would support a partial repeal of the act – paint him as not only having been wrong, but also weak in his convictions.  Clinton has pledged to repeal the act and repeatedly made false claims about the PLCAA and what it does and doesn’t do. Her claims have been so outrageous that even the Washington Post, Politifact, and NPR called her on it, but the false claims remain on her campaign website, and she continues to repeat them at her campaign rallies.

In defending his vote, Sanders compared suing gun companies for crimes committed with their products, to suing a hammer company because someone hit you over the head with one.  He also said that if such suits were allowed, that would be the end of gun manufacturing in the U.S. Various pundits and self-appointed “fact-checkers” have claimed that statement to be false, but history says otherwise.

The PLCAA only came about because gun companies were being milked dry by frivolous lawsuits, filed primarily by government officials at taxpayer expense.  Back in the mid ’90s as tobacco lawsuits started gaining traction, some whiz kid came up with the idea of going after guns like states were going after the tobacco companies.  In 1998, New Orleans became the first city to sue a gun company over the public costs of “gun violence.” Within a year, almost 30 other cities, counties, and the state of New York had jumped on the litigation bandwagon.  The symphony of lawsuits was conducted from Bill Clinton’s White House by his HUD Secretary, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and others made no bones about the strategy and their objective: to force gun companies to accept rigid marketing and sales restrictions or be forced into bankruptcy.  Handgun Control, Inc. – which later changed its name to the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence – gleefully documented the strategy in position papers and fund-raising letters.

And it was working.  One of the nation’s oldest and largest handgun manufacturers, Smith & Wesson, caved and cut a deal to get out from under the suits.  If it hadn’t been for the PLCAA, the whole industry could have collapsed.

Now the question is where this strategy will go next.  The Sandy Hook attorneys say they are going to appeal. If they do, will it end up in front of a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court?  How do you think that would turn out? You need to vote accordingly.

 

Suing to Extinction

Suing the Gun Industry Out of Existence

By Jeff Knox

(October 27, 2016) A Connecticut judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the families of several victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. The suit was filed last year against everyone in the manufacturing and sales chain of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle that was used in the murders. Defendants in the suit, Bushmaster and its parent company Remington Arms, Camfour, a major firearms wholesaler, and Riverview Sales, the small gun shop that originally sold the gun to Nancy Lanza, all claimed immunity from the suit, based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA. In the end, the judge agreed with the defendants, stating that the case “falls squarely within the broad immunity” protections of the PLCAA.

That being the case, it certainly took the judge a while to reach that conclusion since the PLCAA prohibits civil liability actions from being brought as a result of third-party misuse of a firearm or ammunition. Defendants raised the PLCAA from the very start.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that their suit was permissible under two of several exceptions included in the PLCAA. One is that a licensed seller can be sued if they “negligently entrusted” a gun or ammunition to a person that they knew, or should have known, would use it to cause harm to themselves or others. The other is that a suit may be filed if the licensed seller violated federal or state law in the conduct of the transaction. Plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that by “unethically, oppressively, immorally, and unscrupulously” marketing the “assaultive qualities and military uses of AR-15s to civilian purchasers,” whom they knew would let others, including family members, access them, constituted both “negligent entrustment,” and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The lawyers’ hyperbole regarding the AR-15 was so thick that it sounds more like a parody than an actual lawsuit. They insisted that Bushmaster, Remington and the others “know that civilians are unfit to operate AR-15s” – the most popular rifle in the country – and that they “knew or should have known that the sale of assault rifles like the XM15-E2S to the civilian market, posed an egregious and unreasonable risk of physical injury to others.” All of the hype boiled down to a claim that Remington et al. intentionally sold death-spraying killing machines that they knew have no other purpose than to kill large numbers of people quickly, and that they knew that schools are a favored target of homicidal maniacs, therefore they knew they were putting school children at unreasonable risk by making and selling AR-style rifles. Of course they ignored the facts that this is the most popular rifle style in the country, with millions sold, and that they are used in something less than 2% of “gun murders.”

It’s hard to begin to understand why a rational judge, knowing the provisions of the PLCAA, did not dismiss the case on the spot, rather than allowing it to drag on for almost two years. Whatever her rationale, the delays attracted a lot of media attention to the case, cost the defendants a lot of money for lawyers, and helped Hillary Clinton bury her only serious primary competition, Bernie Sanders, who had voted for the PLCAA when he was in the House of Representatives. He initially defended that vote, comparing the abusive lawsuits that instigated the act to suing a hammer company because someone hit you over the head with a hammer, but eventually backpedaled, saying he would support partial repeal of the law. That allowed Clinton to further ridicule him for “flip-flopping.”

Clinton has pledged to repeal the act and repeatedly made false claims about the PLCAA and what it does and doesn’t do. Her claims have been so outrageous that even the Washington Post, Politifact, and NPR have called her on it, but the false claims remain on her campaign website, and she continues to repeat them at her campaign rallies.

The fact is, the PLCAA only blocks frivolous lawsuits that have no basis in the accepted rules of common law. It is supposed to derail these bogus cases before going through the drawn out and expensive process of pleadings, discovery, and trials. The PLCAA only came about because gun companies were being milked dry by such frivolous lawsuits, filed primarily by government officials at taxpayer expense.

The strategy was openly admitted by proponents of the lawsuits, led by Bill Clinton’s HUD Secretary, Andrew Cuomo. He, along with New York AG Elliot Spitzer, Chicago mayor, Richard Daley, and the mayors of over two dozen other large and medium-sized cities, declared that they would use the courts to bankrupt any gun company that didn’t agree to their set of highly restrictive business practices. They, and their allies, flooded the courts with lawsuits beginning in 1998. Virtually every firearm maker in the country had multiple lawsuits pending against them by mid 1999, with lawyers from each subpoenaing records, deposing executives and employees, and doing everything they could to harass and disrupt the companies. As soon as a judge or jury would throw out one lawsuit, another two or three would pop up. Since taxpayers were paying the plaintiff bills, there was no end to money to bring the suits. By early 2000, the disruption and expense had reached the point that several smaller gun companies had gone out of business, and one of the nation’s largest and oldest gun makers, Smith & Wesson, was bleeding so badly that they caved and cut a deal with Cuomo and Clinton to get out from under the crushing burden. Had Congress not passed the PLCAA, the whole industry would have eventually collapsed.

Hillary Clinton wants to bring back those bad old days, and allow the courts to be abused to abuse legal, federally licensed businesses. If she wins the presidency, appointing Supreme Court justices and hundreds of lower court judges, the legal battles could shift pretty dramatically.

The Sandy Hook attorneys say they are going to appeal. How do you think that might turn out in Hillary Clinton’s courts? Just another reason to get out and vote.

The Truth: They’re Lying

The Shocking Truth: They’re Lying!

By Jeff Knox

(October 20, 2016) If you live in Nevada, Maine, Washington, Colorado, or California – or you know someone who does – it is critical that you – and they – get the following message about firearm-related initiatives that are on the ballots in those states this year:

You are being lied to.

The initiatives will not accomplish what supporters and their advertisements claim, and they have great potential to harm innocents.

That message is what voters need to hear. Most aren’t interested in the details of the bills, how they are flawed, or the harm that will result from their passage. That’s just too much information to process. What those voters need to know and understand is just that the promoters are lying. The laws won’t accomplish the stated goals. And they will be expensive and harmful and hard to fix.

It’s up to you to make sure voters in those states get this message. The NRA and local grassroots groups are stretched thin in this critical election year, and voters are being inundated with political ads from all sides, so they need to hear from trusted friends like you that these initiatives are bad, being promoted by deep-pockets, outside interests, and will do significant damage to rights for years to come.

Most voters don’t understand the initiative process or its implications. If a proposal sounds reasonable, they are inclined to go along with it – without understanding what it will really do. Many voters though, can be convinced to withhold their support if just a seed of doubt can be planted by someone they trust. There is nothing in these initiatives that is not already covered under existing state and federal law. Promoters of the initiatives try to paint them as simple common sense, but the mere volume of verbiage in the proposals puts the lie to the simplicity claim.

In Nevada, one word in the existing law could have been changed to accomplish the stated goal of the Bloomberg-sponsored initiative, but the initiative contains some 16 pages of complex legalese that raises questions about virtually all firearm transfers, including simply letting a friend handle a gun, or even having someone house-sit while you’re out of town. It also takes something that has always been managed – at a profit – by the state, and puts it into federal hands – removing both control and revenue from the state.

In Washington, where 2 years ago Bloomberg and a consortium of billionaires spent over $10 million dollars to pass an initiative like the ones on the ballot this year in Nevada and Maine, they are back for another bite of the apple, this time giving police, family, and coworkers the power to take guns away from someone who they say is a threat to themselves or others. This law is ripe for abuse, and its provisions are already covered by existing laws.

Bloomberg’s first Washington initiative, like the initiatives in Nevada and Maine, was opposed by virtually every police organization in the state, but the heavy ad campaign was enough to drown out that opposition and allow low-information voters to push the proposal into law. Recently the state announced its first ever prosecution under the oh-so-urgently-needed law. It is a case where a young man admits to committing a federal felony by making an illegal, straw purchase on behalf of a friend. So Washington was able to tack on a misdemeanor for illegally transferring the gun. Criminals beware.

I have previously written about these initiatives in this column, and you can point people there if they want to better understand the issues, but a deep understanding isn’t really necessary. What is necessary is that they hear from you that these initiatives are much more complicated and convoluted than their promoters are claiming, and that they are being funded by outside interests for reasons other than what they are hearing in the expensive TV ads and the cards in their mailboxes. A billionaire like Bloomberg doesn’t pour millions of dollars into misleading advertisements promoting initiatives in several states for altruistic reasons. There is a bigger game afoot, and voters are being played.

Initiatives should be a tool of last resort, a way of forcing laws past an unresponsive legislature and/or governor, and they usually have special protections to keep the politicians from making any changes to them for at least a couple of years after they are passed. This adds to their power, and adds to the dangers involved in using them. Just a few wrong words or buried provisions can result in consequences that voters never intended, and they can’t fix them without another expensive initiative or waiting several years for the legislature to be able to take some corrective action. The more words an initiative has, the greater the probability that there is something dangerous buried in them, even if the main provisions are sound, and these initiatives are pages and pages of fine print.

So again, here is the mission for everyone reading this who supports individual rights and opposes the nanny state: Contact everyone you know in Nevada, Maine, Washington, Colorado, and California. Let them know that they are being lied to by supporters of the gun initiative on their ballot, and urge them to vote “No.” Share this article with your like-minded friends so they can let their friends in those states know that they too are being lied to. Use your influence to plant the seeds of doubt and stop Bloomberg and his money from buying rights by lying to uninformed voters.

The Shocking Truth: They’re Lying!

By Jeff Knox

(October 19, 2016) If you live in Nevada, Maine, Washington, Colorado, or California – or you know someone who does – it is critical that you – and they – get the following message about initiatives that are on the ballots in those states this year:

You are being lied to.

The initiatives will not accomplish what supporters and their advertisements claim, and they have great potential to harm innocents.

That message is what voters need to hear.  Trying to explain to them the details of the bills and convince them of the flaws and harm that will result from passage, is an unrealistic goal.  What they need to know and understand is that the promoters are lying. The laws won’t accomplish the stated goals. And they will be expensive and harmful.

Your mission is to make sure voters in those states get this message.  The NRA and local grassroots groups are stretched thin in this critical election year, and voters are being inundated with political ads from all sides, so they need to hear it from trusted friends like you that these initiatives are bad, being promoted by deep-pockets, outside interests, and will do significant damage to rights for years to come.

Most voters don’t understand the initiative process or its implications.  If a proposal sounds reasonable, they are inclined to support it – without understanding what it will really do.  Many voters though, can be convinced to withhold their support if just a seed of doubt can be planted by someone they trust.  There is nothing in these initiatives that is not already covered under existing state and federal law. Promoters of the initiatives try to paint them as simple common sense, but the mere volume of verbiage in the proposals puts the lie to the simplicity claim.

In Nevada, one word in the existing law could have been changed to accomplish the stated goal of the Bloomberg-sponsored initiative, but the initiative contains page after page of legalese that raises questions about virtually all firearm transfers, including simply letting a friend handle a gun, or even having someone house-sit while you’re out of town.  It also takes something that has always been managed – at a profit – by the state, and puts it into federal hands – removing both control and revenue from the state.

In Washington, where 2 years ago Bloomberg and a consortium of billionaires spent over $10 million dollars to get an initiative like the ones on the ballot this year in Nevada and Maine passed, they are back for another bite of the apple, this time giving police, family, and coworkers the power to take guns away from someone who they say is a threat to themselves or others.  This law is ripe for abuse, and its provisions are already covered by existing laws. So much for the claim that there is an urgent problem that requires immediate attention.

The first Bloomberg initiative, like the initiatives in Nevada and Maine, was opposed by virtually every police organization in the state, but the heavy ad campaign was enough to drown out that opposition and allow low-information voters to push the proposal into law.  The state recently announced its first ever prosecution under the oh-so-urgently-needed law. It is a case where a young man admits to committing a federal felony by making an illegal, straw purchase on behalf of a friend. Now Washington has tacked on a misdemeanor for illegally transferring the gun.  Criminals beware.

I have previously written about these initiatives in this column, and you can point people there if they want to better understand the issues, but a deep understanding isn’t really necessary.  What is necessary is that they understand that these initiatives are much more complicated and convoluted than their promoters are claiming, and that they are being funded by outside interests for reasons other than what they are hearing in the expensive TV ads and the cards in their mailboxes.  A billionaire like Bloomberg doesn’t pour millions of dollars into misleading advertisements promoting initiatives in several states for altruistic reasons. There is a bigger game afoot, and voters are being played.

Initiatives should be a tool of last resort, a way of forcing laws past an unresponsive legislature and/or governor, and they usually have special protections to keep the politicians from making any changes to them for at least a couple of years after they are passed.  This adds to their power, and adds to the dangers involved in using them. Just a few wrong words or clever provisions can result in consequences that voters never intended, and they can’t fix them without another expensive initiative or waiting several years for the legislature to be able to take some corrective action.  The more words an initiative has, the greater the probability that there is something dangerous buried in them, even if the main provisions are sound.

So again, here is the mission for everyone reading this who supports individual rights and opposes the nanny state: Contact everyone you know in Nevada, Maine, Washington, Colorado, and California.  Let them know that they are being lied to by supporters of the gun initiative on their ballot, and urge them to vote “No.” Share this article with your like-minded friends so they can let their friends in those states know that they too are being lied to.  Use your influence to plant the seeds of doubt and stop Bloomberg and his money from buying rights by lying to voters.

Outrageous Gun Control Lies

By Jeff Knox

(October 12, 2016) Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have declared war on “the NRA,” meaning all gun owners.  The truth is a frequent casualty in their war, as they inflate statistics, make false associations, and offer up simplistic “solutions” that seem reasonable, but actually can’t possibly accomplish anything positive, while they do real harm to innocent people who have done nothing wrong and are not part of the problem.

Those of us who have been involved in the fight to protect the Bill of Rights for years, and those who have studied the history of the fight, have seen all of this before.  Bitter experience has proven that when gun owners agreed with what seemed like reasonable restrictions on their rights, the problems that were supposed to be solved only got worse and gun owners were vilified for pointing the facs out.

Right now, the “reasonable” gun control proposals from Hillary Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, and other Democrats – like Arizona Senate candidate Anne Kirkpatrick – revolve around expanding “background checks,” blocking terrorist access to firearms, ending firearm industry liability protections, and reinstatement of the 1994 “assault weapons” ban.  All are tailored to sound reasonable, but none of the proposals would accomplish their stated objectives, and would instead place innocent, responsible gun owners at risk, and dilute and degrade rights.

The Lie: There is an epidemic of mass murder and gun-violence in this country.  We are often told that the U.S. is the “only developed nation” with such a horrendous “gun-violence” problem, and that our “gun violence” problem is growing and must be addressed to save innocent lives.

The Truth: Crime – including crime involving firearms – has been steadily and precipitously dropping for the past 20 years and is currently at the lowest rates seen since the early 1960s.  The U.S. ranks relatively low in overall violence statistics, though the ready availability of firearms does mean that guns are more often involved. What is missing from the statistics is the fact that the violent crime numbers from a handful of neighborhoods in a handful of Democratic Party-controlled cities with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation distort the national statistics.  Exclude those cities from the data, the U.S. has some of the lowest crime numbers in the world.

One of the other most frequently cited statistics is a claim that some 30,000 Americans die each year as a result of “gun-violence.”  This is not so much a lie as it is a massive distortion. Only about 8,000 of those “firearm deaths” are acts of criminal violence. Most are suicides, but the statistic also includes justified shootings by police and armed citizens.  And while 8,000 is too many, it is a very low percentage in a population of over 320 million. Again, these murders predominantly occur in just a few major city neighborhoods, and are most often connected to illegal drugs and street gangs.

More Lies: Terrorists and mass murderers are able to buy guns and “automatic weapons” at gun shows and online, with no background checks.  Every time there is some atrocity committed with firearms, this argument that we need “universal background checks” is trotted out as if passing this legislation would have prevented the latest horror.

The Truth: There has not been a single mass murder or terrorist attack that would have been stopped or mitigated by this proposal.  The only instances where the perpetrator did not pass a background check were those involving minors who gained access to a parent or other relative’s guns – which had been legally purchased after a background check, and often were securely stored.  In the case of the Sandy Hook murderer, the primary weapon was purchased under a tighter “assault weapon” ban than the Clinton Ban, and he murdered his mother to gain access to it.

And More Lies: Clinton and company tell us that the firearms industry is virtually unregulated and is exempted from liability lawsuits for the harm caused by their products.  Hillary Clinton has made repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act one of her major campaign issues.

The Truth: The firearms industry is one of the most tightly regulated in the country.  Firearms may only be bought or sold in face-to-face transactions. No mail-order or internet sales.  Every firearm must be marked with a serial number, and must be accounted for. Guns can only be made for sale by licensed manufacturers, and imported and sold by licensed importers, distributors, and dealers, with records of every dealer transaction maintained in perpetuity.  The reason the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was introduced was because anti-rights politicians were using taxpayer funds to sue gun dealers and manufacturers for criminal misuse of guns that functioned as designed. This is akin to Ford or Chevy being sued because their vehicles were used in hit-and-runs or as getaway cars in bank robberies.  The cases were generally dismissed by the judges and juries who heard them, but the litigation costs were bankrupting gun dealers and manufacturers. Under the PLCA, gun manufacturers remain liable for faulty guns that malfunction. PLCA only shields manufacturers from politically motivated lawsuits.

So-called “universal background checks” would have no impact on crime, but would make criminals of innocent gun owners while creating a de facto firearm registration system.  Currently, all private transfers must be conducted face-to-face between residents of the same, or for some guns, contiguous states.  It is illegal for a prohibited person to buy a firearm or ammunition, or for anyone to sell them a gun or ammo if they know or have reason to believe they are prohibited from possessing firearms.  Laws prohibiting a trade of cash for a gun are as doomed to failure as laws that prohibit a trade of cash for drugs.

As to the so-called “terror gap,” it is a fiction and a constitutional nightmare.  The Terrorism Watch List is a secret. No one knows someone gets on the list or is taken off of it.  With some politicians and Homeland Security officials suggesting that NRA membership should be a reason for adding someone to the list, it is small wonder that gun owners are skeptical at the idea of suspending Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights on the basis of inclusion on the secret list.

No issue is ever as simple and straightforward as proponents and opponents try and make it seem, but when proponents must resort to lies and distortion to make their case, it’s a pretty safe bet that neither the proposal nor the results will match their rhetoric either.

 

Clinton’s Gun Control Lies

Clinton’s Gun Control Lies

By Jeff Knox

(October 12, 2016) Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have declared war on “the NRA,” meaning all gun owners. The truth is a frequent casualty in their war, as they inflate statistics, make false associations, and offer up simplistic “solutions” that seem reasonable, but actually can’t possibly accomplish anything positive, while they do real harm to innocent people who have done nothing wrong and are not part of the problem.

Those of us who have been involved in the fight to protect the Bill of Rights for years, and those who have studied the history of the fight, have seen all of this before. Bitter experience has proven that when gun owners agreed with what seemed like reasonable restrictions on their rights, the problems that were supposed to be solved only got worse and gun owners were vilified and targeted by the laws they’d agreed to.

Right now, the “reasonable” gun control proposals from Hillary Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, and other Democrats – like Arizona Senate candidate Anne Kirkpatrick – revolve around expanding “background checks,” blocking terrorist access to firearms, ending firearm industry liability protections, and reinstatement of the 1994 “assault weapons” ban. All are tailored to sound reasonable, but none of the proposals would accomplish their stated objectives, and would instead place innocent, responsible gun owners at risk, diluting and degrading our rights.

The Lie: There is an epidemic of mass murder and gun-violence in this country.

We are often told that the U.S. is the “only developed nation” with such a horrendous “gun-violence” problem, and that our “gun violence” problem is growing and must be addressed to save innocent lives.

The Truth: Crime – including crime involving firearms – has been steadily and precipitously dropping for the past 20 years and is currently at the lowest rates seen since the early 1960s. The U.S. ranks relatively low in overall violence statistics, though our violence naturally does more frequently involve guns. Still, there are other countries with much more stringent gun laws and much higher murder rates. It’s worth noting that U.S. violent crime statistics are heavily skewed by high numbers from a handful of neighborhoods in a handful of Democratic Party-controlled cities with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Excluding just those neighborhoods’ crimes brings our national numbers down to some of the lowest violent crime numbers in the world.

The Lie: Over 30,000 Americans die each year as a result of “gun-violence.”

The Truth: This is not so much a lie as it is a massive distortion. Only about 8,000 of those “firearm deaths” are acts of criminal violence. Most are suicides, but the statistic also includes justified shootings by police and armed citizens. And while 8,000 is too many, it is a very low percentage in a population of over 320 million. Again, these murders predominantly occur in just a few major city neighborhoods, and are most often connected to illegal drugs and street gangs.

The Lie: Terrorists and mass murderers are able to buy guns and “automatic weapons” at gun shows and online, with no background checks.

Every time there is some atrocity committed with firearms, this argument that we need “universal background checks” is trotted out as if passing this legislation would have prevented the latest horror.

The Truth: There has not been a single mass murder or terrorist attack that would have been stopped or mitigated by this proposal. The few perpetrators who did not pass a background check either had a friend buy the guns, or they stole them from a family member. In the case of the Sandy Hook murderer, he killed his own mother to gain access to her guns.

So-called “universal background checks” would have no impact on crime, but would make criminals of innocent gun owners while creating a de facto firearm registration system. Currently, all private transfers must be conducted face-to-face between residents of the same state. It is illegal for a “prohibited person” (one who would fail a background check) to buy a firearm or ammunition from anyone, or for anyone to sell them a gun or ammo if they know or have reason to believe they are prohibited. Those who buy and sell guns illegally on the black market are unaffected by additional background check laws.

As to the so-called “terror gap,” it is a fiction and a constitutional nightmare. The “Terror Watchlist” is secret. No one knows how someone gets on the list or is taken off of it. With some politicians and Homeland Security officials suggesting that NRA membership should be a reason for adding someone to the list, it is small wonder that gun owners are skeptical at the idea of suspending Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights on the basis of inclusion on this secret list.

The Lie: The firearms industry is virtually unregulated and is exempted from liability lawsuits for the harm caused by their products.

Hillary Clinton has made repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act one of her major campaign issues.

The Truth: The firearms industry is tightly regulated. Every level of the industry requires federal licensing and perpetual maintenance of federal paperwork. Firearms may only be bought or sold in face-to-face transactions. No mail-order or internet sales. Protection from certain types of lawsuits was passed because anti-rights politicians were using taxpayer funds to repeatedly sue gun dealers and manufacturers for the acts of criminals. This is akin to suing Chevy because someone used a Camaro in a hit-and-run. The cases were generally dismissed, but the litigation costs were bankrupting gun dealers and manufacturers. Dealers and manufacturers are still liable for faulty guns or guns sold illegally.

No issue is ever as simple and straightforward as proponents and opponents try and make it seem, but when proponents must resort to lies and distortion to make their case, it’s a pretty safe bet that neither the proposal nor the results will match their rhetoric either.

Senate Bets – 2016 Edition

New Hampshire:  Incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) vs. Governor Maggie Hassan (D)

Senator Ayotte rode the Tea Party wave into office, but she, like many “moderate” Republicans, wavered in the face of the Sandy Hook horror.  She eventually voted against the Manchin-Toomey ban on legal private gun sales, but anti-gun forces smelled blood and have been circling her ever since.  The reality is that Senator Ayotte is not a hard-line Second Amendment supporter. But she’s far better than Governor Hassan who has made support for gun control, particularly banning private sales, one of her flagship issues.  Recent polling shows Ayotte and Hassan in a statistical dead heat. It will boil down to who can get the vote out. Granite State GunVoters can contact Gun Owners of New Hampshire (GONH.org) for volunteer opportunities.

Pennsylvania:  Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey vs. Katie McGinty

Senator Pat Toomey burned many bridges when he put his name on the Manchin-Toomey “compromise” bill to prohibit private gun transfers.  That some leaders of the gun rights movement even signed off on the legislation did little to satisfy GunVoters who largely abandoned him over the bill.  Pennsylvania GunVoters may not want to support Toomey, but giving McGinty the seat not only brings us closer a Democrat-run Senate and Chuck Shumer as Majority Leader, it gives a boost to a rising star in the Democratic Party. GunVoters need to swallow hard and vote for the Republican.  If you are in Pennsylvania and looking for a way to help, contact our friends at Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League (http://acslpa.org/).  They can point to organizations and friends statewide.

North Carolina:  Incumbent Senator Richard Burr (R)

Richard Burr has run on the Second Amendment, but like many “mainstream” Republicans, he has sought “compromise” where there was no grounds for compromise.  Most recently, he voted to allow debate to go forward on a bill to deny Second and Fifth Amendment rights to anyone on the secret Terrorist Watch List. Burr is another boring Republican who at least does not bring us into a world with Schumer as the Majority Leader.  His opposite number, Deborah Ross, is making her opposition to Second Amendment rights a banner issue. Contact Grass Roots North Carolina (http://grnc.org/) for the latest information and volunteer opportunities.

Florida: Incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) vs. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D)

In Florida, Republican Presidential might-have-been candidate Marco Rubio is running against Rep. Patrick Murphy.  While Rubio has done little to get GunVoters excited, he is generally friendly to gun rights, while Murphy claims that the “NRA fears a shift” in American opinions regarding guns and predicts that Congress no longer fears the wrath of GunVoters.  With some time and effort, Florida GunVoters may be able to correct Rep. Patrick’s view by keeping him out of the Senate. Our friends at Florida Carry (https://www.floridacarry.org) can tell you how to help.

Indiana: Incumbent Sen. Evan Bayh (D) vs. Rep. Todd Young

Moving inland, Indiana features a race between Evan Bayh an incumbent with a dynasty name and Tea Party upstart Todd Young.  Late Senator Birch Bayh was one of the last of the genuine pro-gun Democrats of the previous generation. His son has not continued that tradition, and has instead toed the Democratic party line voting against Second Amend rights at almost every opportunity.  Of the seven toss-up contests in play, Indiana is one of only two opportunities for Republicans to grab a Democratic seat. Indiana GunVoters need to check in with Jim and Margie Tomes who run Second Amendment Patriots. Not only are they legendary activists, they are long-time family friends to the Knox family.

Missouri:  Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R) vs. Rep. Jason Kander (D)

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt is gaffe-prone and a bit an old-school good ol’ boy politician.  He faces a tough challenge in the form of a young Secretary of State from the other party.  Kander ran an ad showing himself, a former National Guardsman, field-stripping an AR-15 blindfolded while expressing support for banning private transfers and denying Second and Fifth Amendment rights to anyone who is placed on a secret list. Even with his warts, Blunt is better for the Second Amendment, and ultimately the country, than Kander.

Nevada:  Rep. Joe Heck (R) vs. Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

GunVoters shed no tears at the news of Harry Reid’s retirement.  His departure was both a relief and an opportunity to pick up a pro-gun Senate seat.  His hand-picked replacement is former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has already dabbled in gun politics lobbying with Mark Kelly to prohibit private transfers of guns.  Unfortunately, Heck has dabbled with the same position in a vain search for a “moderate” position on the most polarizing of all issues. Hopefully, our friend Don Turner and Nevadans for State Gun Rights (http://nevadansforstategunrights.org/) can educate him.

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 Democrat challengers 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 as President unless he went full turncoat – AND – Democrats won the Senate.  But even then, the Republican majority in the House could block or de-fund things they didn’t like.

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 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.  While we try to be non-partisan, Democrats have firmly established themselves as the party of gun control, so even electing a couple of squishy – or even hostile – Republican senators is a necessary evil in order to keep Democrats from taking 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.  Just the thought of that should make every gun owner shudder.

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

First, be sure that you get to the polls on November 8 and 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 and family, folks at the range 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 slide toward tyranny. 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.

The most critical states this year are: Nevada, Indiana, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

Republicans are likely to lose seats in Wisconsin and Illinois, meaning that if they don’t convert the seats in Nevada (very possible) and Indiana (less likely), Democrats winning in any two of the other five states would result in Majority Leader Schumer.

This year, for the first time in more than 20 years, Democrats have gun control a flagship campaign issue from the top of the ticket on down.  If GunVoters don’t answer that push with a resounding “NO” at the polls, anti-rights forces will be emboldened to advance more restrictive proposals, and we will see more “moderate” Republicans like Illinois’ Mark Kirk working with them to erode your rights.

Money is not enough.  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. Take action now.

 

Ammunition for the grassroots gun rights movement