Category Archives: Rights Watch

EXCLUSIVE: Full Court Press

Gun owner elation after victories in the Heller and McDonald cases of years past has dimmed considerably in 2014, with some high profile decisions leaving just how many infringements the courts intend to tolerate up in the air. And now, a decision in Colorado upholding post-Newtown gun restrictions, leaves many wondering if this will be a case the Supreme Court affirms or dodges, assuming it eventually makes its way to them.

They’ve already ruled against gun rights this year, and ducked making decisions a few times.

SCOTUS upheld the convictions of former police officer Bruce Abramski on two federal firearms violations. He put himself down as the purchaser on the Form 4473 transfer record when he intended to buy a gun for his uncle, who had already given him a check to pay for a Glock 19 so he could take advantage of Abramski’s police discount. Even though the uncle was not a prohibited person, the High Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, reaffirmed the lower court ruling that found him guilty of making false statements material to the lawfulness of the sale and regarding information required to be kept on file by an FFL.

They also denied cert, that is, declined to hear an appeal, on a New Jersey case challenging the state’s practically unattainable requirement to prove “need” as a way to avoid issuing carry permits (that divided Third Circuit panel is in conflict with a California case, where a Ninth Circuit panel had ruled similar San Diego County restrictions unconstitutional). It also turned its back on a case challenging the State of Texas denying the right to carry to law-abiding 18 to 20 year olds, and on a challenge to a 1968 federal law restricting sales of handguns by FFLs to those 21 and older. That basically means bad laws, or at least laws uncompromising gun-rights advocates consider bad, remain in force in jurisdictions where they have been upheld at the appeals level.

Ignored

Additionally, attorney Allen Thompson, writing for the Prince Law Office, P.C. blog, noted “The Supreme Court of the United States has decided not to hear several important firearms rights cases this year, setting aside such issues as: whether a concealed carry permit-holder residing at a house creates an exigent circumstance in which police do not have to announce their presence, and whether a 10-round magazine, deemed protected by the Second Amendment, can be prohibited as a safety measure.”

Also denied for review was a case where prohibitions against purchasing firearms by residents of other states were challenged.
With that as background, enter Colorado Outfitters Association et al v. Hickenlooper, a challenge filed by organizations, businesses and numerous sheriffs to newly-enacted edicts banning magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, and to a requirement that background checks be performed for any gun transfer lasting more than 72 hours.

Shocking Ruling

In this case, US District Court Judge Marcia Krieger surprised gun rights proponents who had assumed a George W. Bush appointee would be supportive of the Second Amendment. That should be an object lesson for activists to pay attention to nominations coming up before the Senate for approval. Disappointingly, she ruled both edicts were constitutional and did not infringe on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

“Until 2008, most courts did not construe the Second Amendment to protect an individual’s right to possess and use firearms,” she wrote in an opinion that reeked of ignorance not only of founding intent, but of the law. Krieger evidently never heard of the Dred Scott decision, when Chief Justice Taney observed that if African Americans were recognized as citizens, “it would give to persons of the negro race … full liberty … to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

Having also evidently never been in a situation where she had to defend herself against multiple assailants, or just one who will not cooperate with a determined armed defender, Krieger declared limiting magazine sizes does not impede the ability to protect one’s self. And apparently needing to leave a gun for specialty repairs and upgrades is also beyond her experience, as she ventured that someone doing maintenance could not prove a credible threat that he would be prosecuted for not undergoing a background check when exceeding the 72-hour limit.

Most surprisingly, Krieger ruled the sheriffs had no standing to sue—and that was after denying them the right to sue in their official capacities and requiring them to sue as private citizens. “Catch-22” comes to mind.

“A court does not act as a super-legislature to determine the wisdom or workability of the legislation,” Krieger said, defensive of her opinion but obviously cognizant of its ridiculous and offensive implications. “A law may be constitutional, but nevertheless foolish, ineffective or cumbersome to enforce.”

Aiming to prove her wrong, the sheriffs, led by John Cooke of Weld County, aren’t quitting without a fight.

Fight’s Not Over

“While we respect the Judge’s ruling today, we believe that it is plainly wrong on the law and on the facts,” they said on ColoradoGunCase.com, a website sponsored by the Independence Institute. “We will take this case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and if necessary, to the United States Supreme Court.

“Today was only the first round in the case, not the last. Otis McDonald, Dick Heller, and other Second Amendment plaintiffs didn’t win their first rounds in the district court,” the sheriffs explained. “They did win at the end of their appeals. We are ready to present our case to the higher court that will make the final decision.

“We will continue the fight, and we look forward to presenting our case to the higher court,” the group pledged.
That leaves the question of what that highest court will do if Krieger isn’t overturned at the appellate level, or if she is, what conflicts remain between circuits due to New York’s SAFE Act.

Would the High Court hear a challenge or duck it? If it did, how would it rule? Would it dare tell American gun owners bans on a class of firearms and magazines suitable for militia service are constitutional? Would it dare tell the ruling elites the common people have the right to keep and bear arms capable of counterbalancing what would otherwise be a state monopoly of violence?

Founder’s Belief

SCOTUS has been ducking that issue for a long time, along with that most inconvenient of clauses, “shall not be infringed.” They bought some time with prior rulings that allowed for enough “reasonable restrictions” and “compelling state interests” to give a nod to individual rights while not overturning the status quo. But as for full-blown recognition for what Tench Coxe, a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress, advocated, that’s something they just won’t cede, because those who have power rarely voluntarily share it.

“Congress have no power to disarm the militia,” Coxe wrote in The Pennsylvania Gazette, back before newspapers had become havens for screaming hoplophobes and enuretic Fourth Estate Fifth Columnists. “Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American … the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

The courts and the other branches of government will never concede to that power sharing arrangement, unless someone, that would be us, compels them to.
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: Gun-Grabbers Can’t Get No Satisfaction

“It seems that to be satisfied, I’d have to arrange my life and the world to conform totally to my liking—and then have them stay that way,” Buddhist author and former U.C. Davis law professor Toni Bernhard wrote in a Psychology Today article, channeling Rolling Stone Mick Jagger’s “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” theme.

That seems an appropriate theme for many in the gun ban camp following a stabbing, shooting and car-ramming spree in the Santa Barbara university community of Isla Vista. The seven dead included the evil, self-terminating perpetrator, characterized by those with an agenda as the “gunman.”

That it took armed law enforcement to end the attacks, causing the killer to flee, crash his BMW into a tree and put his own gun to his head, recalls another story about why that was the case. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, who gained office with the active support of gun owners after getting an “A” rating and NRA endorsement, then proceeded to reduce the number of concealed carry permits, rescinding those coming up for renewal. Comparing the eligible adult population with the number of permits Brown has allowed to remain active, public areas he oversees are essentially “gun-free zones” as far as law-abiding citizens are concerned.

Forewarned

Add to this Brown’s department was forewarned by the killer’s mother that she was concerned about her son, who, per The Los Angeles Times, “had been seeing therapists since he was a kid and had been prescribed psychotropic drugs.” It turns out the sheriff’s office had given the media bad information when they claimed they were unaware of the “disturbing videos” the killer had posted online, and they were forced to admit they dropped the ball. Investigators not only neglected to view those videos before dismissing the mother’s concerns, they also evidently neglected to determine that the killer had legally bought three handguns in compliance with California law, meaning he’d been through background checks, three separate waiting periods due to the state’s one gun a month law and, importantly, as far as the investigators were concerned, registration.

Common Sense?

Inconveniently for those who profit from blaming tools for evil, he did not use demonized items portrayed as “assault weapons” or “high-capacity clips.” In a state rated tops for gun laws by the Brady Campaign, there is nothing much else to do, short of a total ban, which, of course, is what angry citizen disarmament zealots with self-control issues called for, unmindful of a coordinated effort to hide the end game and work toward it in increments. That makes it problematic for those characterizing further restrictions as “common-sense gun laws” and “a good first step.”

That goal, forgotten by many, was stated with candor in a 1976 New Yorker interview by Nelson “Pete” Shields, founder of what would become the Brady Campaign. “The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition—except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors-totally illegal,” he admitted, revealing they intended to work up to it in bite-sized chunks.

Instead, many anti-gunners went full bore, with the father of one of the victims blaming “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,” while those Joe Biden refers to as “legitimate news media” happily took advantage of his unimaginable grief to spread that meme. That poor man’s sentiment, while at least somewhat understandable, albeit irrationally misdirected, was picked up and promulgated by no shortage of monopoly of violence fanatics.

Ban ’Em All

“You say gun control doesn’t work? Fine. Let’s ban guns altogether,” an opinion piece for The Los Angeles Times advocated, unintentionally exposing the “No one wants to take your guns” talking point lie used incessantly to dismiss as paranoid anyone who points out that is exactly what the antis want. Accompanying such demands were innumerable insults equating gun owners with inadequately-endowed primitives, murderers, and haters, who sin against the collective with their “selfish” insistence on placing personal and family protection above demands to get rid of guns.

Offering an edict that would get things back on the incremental-gains track in California is a proposal for a “gun violence restraining order,” introduced and backed by long-time doctrinaire gun-grabbing politicians. Curiously, it ignores the state already has a “5150” involuntary psychiatric hold law the sheriff’s department, among its other decisions, chose not to invoke. It also runs counter to the concept of requiring due process before depriving citizens of rights.

“The proposed law would create a system where family members, friends and intimate partners could call police to intervene with troubled loved ones,” CNN reports.

“Law enforcement would be able to investigate threats and ask a judge to issue an order prohibiting firearms purchases and possession.” And how much “evidence” would be required if the reporting “family members, friends and intimate partners” happened to have motivations and axes of their own to grind against the person they turn in? It’s not like accusations from the disgruntled, the jilted and those with something to gain are unheard of. And just how close do the “friends” and intimate “partners” need to be to qualify?

On the national level, Pennsylvania Republican Congressman (and clinical psychologist) Tim Murphy has introduced a mental health bill that, per CQ Roll Call, “would encourage states to set a new standard for committing people—the need for treatment, not that they present an imminent danger. It would also make it easier for family members to take action.” His bill has broad support at this writing, with 50 Republicans and 36 Democrats on board.

A question gun owners ought to be asking, particularly of supposed “pro-gun” Republicans and any gun advocacy groups that may be floating the idea of “mental health reforms” as a scrap that can be thrown to circling jackals, thinking doing so will satisfy insatiable hunger and unquenchable thirst: Will they flesh out the process by which a person can have their rights restored, and will that process be affordable and equitably applied to all? Have they assurances all mental health professionals will put personal politics aside to certify such persons are now trustworthy enough for gun ownership again? And will their risk management policies and malpractice insurance carriers be OK with that?

For their part, anti-gun groups are keeping things more general, offering platitudes designed to manipulate the ignorant and the emotional. Never ones to let a grieving survivors go to waste, the Brady Campaign has seized on a statement made by the father of the victim mentioned above and turned it into the “Not One More” campaign, possibly the stupidest, most misdirecting and absolving of the real cause slogan since “Whip inflation now.”

Between that and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti conducting a “gun buyback” in response to Isla Vista, nothing comes to mind so much as “Epitaphs of the War: A Dead Statesman,” a poetic indictment by Rudyard Kipling. “I could not dig: I dared not rob: Therefore I lied to please the mob,” he wrote.

Inciters bent on prohibition are doing their utmost to whip that mob into a “gun control” frenzy, as they always do following the utter failure of their “controls” to stop anyone but those inclined to obey them. It’s up to gun owners to counter with a commitment that we will not be scapegoated, and remind them of a line from another Jagger song.

“You can’t always get what you want.”
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: Get Out The Vote — Especially Your Own!

Isn’t it a little early to be talking about the 2014 elections? November is still a ways off. Before you know it, we’ll be inundated with political ads. Candidates and issues will be all the news is talking about, and we’ll be overloaded to the point of wanting to just get the darned thing over with already.

No, it’s not too early for gun owners, with all that needs to be done. Yeah, there’s more than just sending in an absentee ballot or showing up to earn an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day. First, everybody knows how to do both, right? And everybody is registered?

I ask because I’ve worked in elections as a poll watcher, and seen dismal participation, in an area where we were supporting a great pro-gun candidate and where we knew lots of gun owners lived. The apathy helped a committed and vocal gun-grabber win the day, leaving one of our own deep in campaign debt and wondering why he’d stood up to be counted, only to turn around and see so few standing with him.

You can be different and help improve the odds of electing representatives who support the right to keep and bear arms. Yes, you. But we need to get started now, and time’s a-wastin’. That’s because, even though the 2014 US midterm election will be held in November, Congressional primaries have already been held in several states at this writing, and will have been held in many more by the time this magazine goes to print.

Did you have a hand in vetting who comes out of those primaries? If not, are you just going to vote along party lines, regardless of if they earned your trust or not?

It’s more than just picking a congressman or senator, noting plenty of those seats are up for grabs—enough to change the balance of power. There will also be many gubernatorial elections, and elections for state, county and local representatives and measures.

Here’s a question. Without looking, do you know who your representatives are, at federal, state and lower levels? Do you know where they stand on the right to keep and bear arms? Do you know who their opponents are, and where they stand? If not, why not? The good ones need your help, right now, and the bad ones need your resolve to keeping them out of office and power. And if you don’t know what their position on guns is, how do you find out?

Find Out

A preliminary step would be to go to their campaign website, and see if they even list “Second Amendment” as one of their issues of concern, and if so, what they have to say about it. Plus you can call their campaign office, speak to a staffer and ask them. But don’t just take their word for it. We may not all be from Missouri, but “Show me” certainly applies here.

Two resources to consult and compare are the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, which assigns candidate ratings and endorsements, and Gun Owners of America, which also rates the contestants, albeit using its own criteria. If you find they’ve made substantially different assessments of the same politician, it shouldn’t take too much effort to find out why.

Additional resources that should not be overlooked are your state grassroots gun rights groups. If you don’t know what those are, and if you’re not already supporting them, you’ve been allowing others—citizens just like you—with lives and jobs and families and other demands on their limited time, finances and resources, to carry a load that ought to be shared by all gun owners interested in protecting and restoring recognition of our rights. Sorry, there’s no nice way to point that out.

Specifics

You can also take the initiative by sending candidates specific, for-the-record questions about what they mean when they say “I support the Second Amendment.” Many do, and then either clam up or show their big “but” directly afterward, listing exceptions right out of the gun-grabber playbook, couching them as “reasonable” and “common sense gun safety measures.” Crafting questions designed to elicit unequivocal answers, such as “Do you support Constitutional carry?” and “What specific gun laws will you work to get repealed?” don’t lend themselves to weasel-wording. While it’s always possible a politician will lie to get elected (no kidding!), pinning them down to specific commitments makes holding them to their explicit promises a lot easier—and helps expose those betraying pledges they never intended to keep. It also serves to identify the two-faced and the spineless, who either ignore your questions, or give you back generalized platitudes that duck actually answering any hard questions.

Other considerations can also come into play. For instance, so-called “pro-Gun Democrats” may have a good track record of voting the right way on gun bills because that’s a priority where you live, and any other stance would cause them to be sent packing. The party knows that and accepts it as a cost of getting or keeping a seat. Do these politicians then turn around and support Obama, called by NRA “the most anti-gun president ever to occupy the Oval Office”? How do you square, say, a senator, who voted to confirm Eric Holder as attorney general, or Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, particularly noting their likely influence on future Second Amendment cases?

Conversely, why would you vote for a Republican sell-out on guns? Isn’t voting for “the lesser of two evils” and falling for their “who else are you gonna vote for?” hubris a big part of why we’re in the mess we find ourselves? And if you don’t hold them to a high standard of fidelity, but instead reward betrayal, what incentive do you give them to ever change?

Add to these considerations political matters that wander a bit away from the “single issue,” but nonetheless tangentially affect it. Gun Owners of America has warned its members about plans for “amnesty” for aliens who have entered this country illegally, citing credible documentation that a “path to citizenship” would produce millions of new Democrat voters, with all that implies for anti-gun legislation, as well as for dangerous court and other appointments. No less than Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, has asserted such people “have earned the right to be citizens,” and no less a media power than the Bloomberg View editorial board has sent merciless flak GOA’s way for sounding that alarm, which is a pretty good indicator they’re over a target the antis don’t want them to reach.

After it’s all said and done, what if you live in an area where it just doesn’t matter? You’ve got no real choices. Your district and state are dominated by gun-banners. The Democrats are all disarmament freaks, and the Republicans offer nothing but RINO poltroons and worse.
So support someone outside of your district who deserves it, particularly if it’s a close election where some help could mean the difference in who wins. And as long as you’ve got nothing to lose, supporting a third party candidate locally may send a message that a better selection needs to be offered next time. Some will no doubt say we ought to be voting third party in the first place, but gaining traction for that, especially in the months remaining, is the province of party leadership. I’m dealing here with probabilities facing us now.

But now imagine you’ve got a candidate who is not only worthy of your vote, but also of your support. Will you give it? Will you donate money? Will you volunteer? Will you spread the word? Or will you let such a person stand alone?

The thing is, it would be a lot easier for them to play it safe. There’d be a lot less hassle for them, and far fewer dangers of having their campaigns derailed by an agenda-driven opposition. If we expect our representatives to take the difficult route and actually be leaders, we have to be ready to stand beside and behind them, and to prove ourselves, just like we expect and demand that of them.
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: Stranger Than Fiction

It’s one of those bizarre stories that drops the jaws of those of us jaded by years of observing the hypocrisy, the double standards, and the in-your-face breaking of rules that seemingly defines the elites of the gun-ban crowd. California State Senator Leland Yee, a leading proponent in Golden State citizen disarmament, has been arrested in a conspiracy sting involving, among other things, Islamic militants and proposed illegal arms trafficking deals.

We’ve seen unfathomable disconnects before over the years, and even reported on such head-scratchers in this column, noting anti-gun edicts demanded by “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher, advocacy against guns in schools by Columbine killer Eric Harris, and numerous other outrageous examples, from Million Mom March activists ignoring gun bans and shooting innocents, to city-sponsored “anti-violence leaders” dealing in “illegal” weapons on the black market. That such revelations continue to surprise us speaks more to the simple candor by which peaceable gun owners conduct themselves than anything else: we view the disingenuous as freaks, and are constantly surprised because they conduct themselves as a matter of course in ways alien to our everyday lives. Normal people just don’t behave the way they do.

In fairness to Sen. Yee, he has yet to be convicted of anything, and as we treasure the presumption of innocence for ourselves, so must we demand it for all, even those who have made a point of trying to gut the right to keep and bear arms, and to criminalize us, in betrayal of all that we hold true and dear. That said, the evidence, at least what’s been glimpsed in an admittedly biased media and coming from a law enforcement source with skin in the game, is compelling.

“Alleged arms trafficker, and anti-gun California Democratic State Senator Leland Yee knew that an arms deal he was attempting to facilitate would send money to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in exchange for weapons, and that those weapons were intended to be imported into the US, and distributed in North Africa, and Italy,” Forbes Magazine reported. “These allegations … were revealed in the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Yee and his co-conspirators.”

That affidavit, 137 pages filed and signed by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pacua following a 5-year investigation, “reads like an action thriller,” SFGate noted, involving “Coke deals. Shoulder-fired missiles. Hit men. Gang politics. Bribery. Deal-making.” It also reads like a movie script, tying Yee in with colorful, almost fictional-sounding characters like “alleged Chinatown mobster Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow…”

For their part, California Democrats are distancing themselves from Yee. He has been suspended from the Senate with pay. Gov. Jerry Brown has called on him to resign. Yee himself has withdrawn from his race for Secretary of State. He is free at this writing on a $500,000 unsecured bond.

That’s a change from a political career made possible by backing all the “right causes,” or at least making noises to that effect. Yee had portrayed himself in his public life as both a champion of government transparency, and importantly, as a leading proponent of what the antis want us to think of as “violence prevention.”

“Brady Campaign to Honor Yee for Violence Prevention,” a 2006 press release announced. “For his commitment to ending gun violence … Yee … has been named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll by the Brady Campaign.

“The Brady Campaign will honor Yee and other state legislators from throughout the country who earned an A+ for working against gun violence at a reception during the National Conference of State Legislators,” the release explained.

“More than nine children are killed each day as a result of gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings in the United States alone,” Yee proclaimed in accepting the accolades. “While I am proud to stand up against the gun industry and support violence prevention efforts, it is unfortunate that such legislative measures are still needed to end these senseless acts of violence.”

Yee had not slowed down in the ensuing years, sponsoring and supporting several bills including one that would have banned so-called “bullet buttons,” a California workaround that allows magazines to conform to the state-mandated requirement for being non-detachable while allowing gun owners to replace them using a simple tool or bullet tip. Yee was also a driving force behind a bill to ban 3D printed guns.

“My greatest fear is that another senseless act of violence will happen before the loophole is closed,” Yee said when his bullet button ban stalled following fierce opposition from gun rights activists.

“This is not an easy issue,” he lamented about that proposed ban. “But I am a father, and I want our communities to be safe, and God forbid if one of these weapons fell into the wrong hands.”

Yee was not shy about telling people who he blamed for that.

“Once again NRA uses lies and distortion to try stopping [a] commonsense gun control bill,” he claimed on his Twitter social media account, complaining about organized opposition to his bullet button bill. “Time to stop mass reloading in CA.”

And he was also quick to align himself with people and events he found advantageous to mention and associate his name with.

“Thank you … for your commitment and passion to ending gun violence,” he “tweeted” to anti-gun TV personality Piers Morgan. “We must never forget Sandy Hook.

“A year after Sandy Hook, let us recommit ourselves to working towards a safer society for all of us,” he repeated to his followers, exploiting that theme.

“I commend the President for his commitment to passing common sense federal gun control legislation,” Yee announced in a statement on his senate webpage, sending kudos Barack Obama’s way. “In California, we are prepared to support his efforts and will also strengthen our state laws to help ensure our communities never again are forced to deal with such a horrific assault on children. While we cannot stop every act of senseless gun violence, surely we can close loopholes and modernize our laws to limit such tragedies in the future.”

Such rhetoric makes it all the stranger that Yee allegedly told the agent he’d agreed to introduce to a weapons trafficker that he had known the business was not “for the faint of heart.”

Talk about an understatement. Such discussion was about arming genuine bad actors, not a group of California gun owners trying to find ways to enjoy their firearms while jumping through hoops to remain within the law.

“Do I think we can make some money?” Yee reportedly asked, revealing the cynical motivator at the heart of it all. “I think we can make some money. Do I think we can get the goods? I think we can get the goods.”

It’s not like such questionable and self-serving sentiments surprise some Yee watchers. In years past, he had been criticized for being the only Democrat to vote against a bill banning chemicals deemed harmful from baby products and taking a campaign contribution from a plastics industry political action committee. He said there was no connection, and the bill was flawed.

San Francisco police twice stopped him on suspicion of soliciting sex. He said it was a case of mistaken identity, and he was driving home from work.

He was arrested and charged with shoplifting a bottle of suntan oil. He said he was only taking it outside to show his wife, apparently by stuffing it under his shirt, and he never showed up in court on the misdemeanor charge.
None of these are proof of guilt, and indeed, much of Yee’s defense seems to be centering on his being entrapped by law enforcement. How that will play out remains to be seen.

Regardless, gun owners can count on other politicians picking up the disarmament banner temporarily dropped on the field by Yee. And they can shake their head at the strange realization, when all is said and done, that they will be the ones portrayed as criminals and as threats.
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: “Gun Control” Messages “Evolve”

Editor’s Note: We’ve expanded the size of “Rights Watch” from now through the fall as the all-important 2014 Midterm Elections heat up. Stay tuned!

Time was citizen disarmament zealots didn’t feel the need to hide their intentions. The goals of The National Coalition to Ban Handguns and Handgun Control, Inc. were pretty clear just by their names. That they now bill themselves respectively as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says much about their perceived need to mask what they’re really after. And nowhere is the need to disguise intent more apparent than the way the term “gun control” is being replaced with another term, “gun safety.” Who could be against that?

Likewise, Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns touts a name that could resonate, providing there wasn’t overwhelming evidence to show what they really want is to expand what’s declared “illegal,” including guns now owned and enjoyed by millions of Americans. And the Bloomberg-affiliated Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense for America is relying on people not understanding that when they use words like “sense,” what they really mean is they want total bans against ownership, something unmistakably demonstrated by their tantrum over a January federal court ruling that Chicago’s ordinance prohibiting gun stores was unconstitutional.

The problem for such groups is they’ve already established solid records of being flat-out anti-gun, and despite what Joe Biden calls “legitimate media” doing its best to help out with PR masked as “news,” they can’t distance themselves from their past and present allies and advocacy. Gun-grabbers, though, are nothing if not resourceful, at least in terms of being able to count on resources from foundations and elites to make up for their lack of grassroots support, and plenty of attempts to create Astroturf alternatives with the appearance of popular demand have been made.

One prominent failure was the American Hunters and Shooters Association (See Rights Watch “Beware of Moles, Jan. 2006), which billed itself as “a national grassroots organization committed to safe and responsible gun ownership” and “… a mainstream group … looking to belong to [an] association that doesn’t have a radical agenda.” Translated, that meant founding member John Rosenthal, also founder of the radically anti-gun Stop Handgun Violence, was free to posture as a voice for gun owners while pushing for increased restrictions and endorsing Barack Obama. Interestingly, despite public claims that the group had “25,000 members” (and then admitting in a 2005 deposition it “had fewer than 150 dues-paying individual members”), the AHSA website was taken down in 2010 and its president, former footballer Ray Schoenke, admitted they disbanded because of lack of membership.

A similar effort, the American Rifle and Pistol Association, also attempted to become an influence in 2013, but, per US News and World Report, gun owners took a close look and branded it a “false flag.” A quick look shows their website domain name expired in January, and they stopped updating their Facebook page in November of last year.

Still, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and that’s precisely what those who want to con us out of our right to keep and bear arms would do when all else has failed. Enter Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly with Americans for Responsible Solutions, promising “commonsense solutions to protect our communities from gun violence.”

What Americans aren’t for responsible solutions? Besides, Capt. Kelly is a decorated former US Navy aviator and astronaut, and a self-proclaimed gun owner to boot, albeit one who stages gun purchases in an attempt to demonstrate existing laws are insufficient, and one who demands that we need to end private sales, ban standard capacity magazines, restrict locations for lawful carry and more.

Clearly what’s needed is a group that doesn’t carry such baggage, at least openly, and conveniently, one is rising to the fore, enjoying publicity from such disinterested parties as Piers Morgan and The New York Times. They call themselves Evolve Together, Inc., and they represent themselves as the “third voice … in the gun debate.” That alone should raise red flags, as the “third way” movement has its roots in “social democracy.” In other words, “compromise” means ceding to the left.

The group says it started around a kitchen table, founded after Newtown by Rebecca and Jon Bond of Greenwich Village, a “branding expert” who worked as a marketing consultant and an “advertising executive” respectively. They admit they knew nothing about guns, so who better to presume to lecture the rest of us?

It’s curious that a familiar pattern is repeating itself. Million Mom March founder Donna Dees-Thomases represented herself as just a mom who got involved, despite being a CBS publicist and the sister-in-law of a close friend and advisor to Hillary Clinton. Similarly “stay-at-home mom” Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action “had a 15-year career as a communications executive for both public relations agencies and Fortune 500 corporations.” Likewise, Brady Campaign President Dan Gross “was the youngest-ever partner at the JWT advertising agency.”

Similarly curious is Evolve’s advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, especially considering Edward Saatchi, the “scion … of the famed advertising family” was an ardent Obama volunteer and developed the management software used by the Democratic National Committee.

Still, what’s the beef with Evolve? After all, they say they do “not address legislative issues,” but then go on to say they “use the same tactics utilized by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.” For starters, MADD stumps for all kinds of enforcement legislation. Not to mention checkpoints.

Perhaps the problem is the message. Evolve’s core campaign revolves around an ad where the Founding Fathers consider adding “as long as people aren’t being dumba**es” to the text of the Second Amendment. Perhaps it’s that they devote so much of their effort showcasing negative examples of unsafe and criminal gun handling instead of providing qualified examples and lessons about safe and responsible gun ownership. Perhaps it’s the presumptuousness of people who know nothing about guns lecturing the rest of us on their responsible use and handling.

In fairness, “The Code,” a list of statements they ask gun owners to sign on to, lists many things all gun owners can agree with, most of which are hardly original and are indeed “common sense.” Valid criticisms are that it leaves out Jeff Cooper’s essential four rules of gun safety and provides a “one size fits all” admonition to keep unused guns locked away and unloaded, something those who anticipate a potential need for quick access may wish to determine for themselves and for the educated minors they care for based on their own circumstances and training levels.

As for actual knowledgeable gun ownership, that requires training and practice, not slogans and platitudes, and for that, Evolve falls short, both in programs and personnel qualified to conduct them. About the closest they come is through their affiliation with Ware, Ma., gun shop owner Mike Weisser, who does have professional credentials and certificates. He blogs as “Mike the Gun Guy” over at the “liberal/left” The Huffington Post, and he’s known for penning such proclamations of trust in his customers and fellow gun owners as, “I’m beginning to wonder whether we have any idea about what’s at stake when we give civilians the right to walk around with a gun.”

That’s some “third voice” that’s evolved.
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: Ghost Guns

Gun rights advocates were quick to spot the ignorance that defined California State Senator Kevin de Leόn’s press conference announcement of a bill to ban what he called “ghost guns,” his hysterical legislative response to plastic printing technology applied to firearms and to unfinished lower receivers requiring milling and drilling by enthusiasts who build their own rifles from parts. Spouting nonsensical terms like “sniper automatic weapons,” de Leόn’s presentation bordered on the bizarre with his claim “This right here has ability with a 30-caliber clip to disperse with 30 bullets within half a second. Thirty-magazine clip in half a second.”

The thing is, to his fellow anti-gun colleagues in the California Legislature, the senator was making what they refer to as “common sense,” meaning they don’t like any guns and want to torpedo anything and everything to do with them, whether the promised reasons behind edicts and bans materialize or not.

That’s clear from the results of the Golden State’s law on microstamping, enacted under the promise that requiring all semiautomatic handguns to imprint identifying information on shell casings would, in the words of bill author Mike Feuer, allow authorities “to crack down on gun crime and to put behind bars gun criminals who otherwise would never be effectively prosecuted because there would never be a lead in those cases.”

The upshot of that?

“Recently Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger put even more weight behind that argument,” Kirk Siegler reported on NPR’s Business News. “They’re stopping selling handguns in California markets altogether, rather than comply with the new law.”

That’s not quite accurate.

“It is incorrect … to assert that Ruger is pulling out of California, as so many have said,” Tom Gresham told me, referencing his interview on the nationally-syndicated “Gun Talk” radio program with Ruger CEO Mike Fifer. “Ruger is not stopping sending guns for approval by California. It continues to submit semi-autos for approval, just as it always has. Of course, [the state] is rejecting the pistols because they do not incorporate microstamping.”

“My prediction is within a year or two, they’re all gone,” Fifer told Gresham. “Everything’s off the list.”

“[A]lthough it continually seeks ways to refine and improve its firearms so that consumers have access to the best possible products, the State of California is making that impossible when it comes to California residents,” Smith & Wesson said in a company press release explaining its position. “Under California’s ‘Unsafe Handgun Act,’ any new semi-automatic pistol introduced into that state must comply with microstamping laws.

“Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms,” the release explained. “A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes.”

Both companies have filed statements supporting the Second Amendment Foundation’s lawsuit challenging the microstamping law. But that process takes years, and there is no guarantee of outcome.

In the mean time, de Leόn’s “ghost gun” terminology could become eerily appropriate, albeit not in reference to the plastic kind. If California gunbusters get their way, they’ll kill the industry, and nothing will remain but haunting memories of a betrayed and vanished spirit.
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: The Unconstitutional State

Weathering the cold on the last day of 2013 was an intentional indignity forced on Connecticut gun owners.

Hundreds lined up in front of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection building in Middletown to register their guns and magazines in order to comply with the state’s perversely-named Gun Violence Prevention and Child Safety Act, enacted the previous April as a kneejerk response to Newtown. That such legislation would do nothing to advance its stated purpose, and would instead make things less safe for the law-abiding, did not matter to those who imposed their will on Constitution State gun owners, another oxymoron that calculating minds in Hartford no doubt took additional pleasure in.

The vocal reaction of some gun owners in other states, those who did not have to make such a terrible choice, was unsympathetic, and often cruel. Accusations of cowardice from Internet commentators posting under screen names were commonplace. That many making such charges had not been put to the test themselves seemed lost on the most aggressive.

If one is to be laying blame on anyone outside of the evil citizen disarmament enactors and their useful idiot enablers, many gun owners would do well to look at the direction of three of their fingers whenever they point one at others. After all, how many of them have filled out Form 4473s, or applied for permits to carry their guns? In light of “shall not be infringed,” are those not acts of surrender?

Lenny Benedetto is a founding member and vice president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, the state’s largest grassroots gun rights group that is leading in the lawsuit to challenge the new law. He spent several hours that morning passing out CCDL cards and talking to those standing in line before a police lieutenant ordered him to stop or be arrested for “soliciting,” and soon found the vast majority of those in line were not members of his group. Many had never even heard of it.

If CCDL had 10, 20, 100 times the committed membership, might the new laws have been stopped in their tracks?

That level of detachment, apathy and non-involvement is hardly exclusive to Connecticut. The same story could be told by the leadership of any number of state gun rights groups, where it’s always a core of dedicated individuals straining to bear a load that could be shared by many but somehow never is. Out of 80 million or so gun owners, look at how few have joined NRA, and how many fewer support the much smaller Gun Owners of America and Second Amendment Foundation.

This must change, and immediately. Because while the freeloaders have been sleeping, a newly-freed-from-office Michael Bloomberg has been quietly setting up professional lobbying groups in the several states, and they’re kicking into high gear now.

If a lot more gun owners don’t get involved, perhaps the bold chatroom warriors will get the chance to demonstrate to their brethren in Connecticut how much better they’ll perform when it’s their turn to show the stuff they’re made of.
By David Codrea

Read More Right Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: Preemptive Strike

Back before a handful of other states adopted “Constitutional Carry” laws providing for permitless carrying of concealed firearms, the practice was called “Vermont Carry,” as the Green Mountain State stood alone throughout the 20th Century in not prohibiting it. Long known for lenient gun laws and low numbers of homicides, Vermont represented the perfect real-world test of economist John Lott’s “More Guns Less Crime” thesis.

Which made it a threat to the gun-grabbers…

Vermont had also enacted firearms preemption legislation, meaning laws were set by the state, prohibiting municipalities from establishing a “patchwork quilt” of conflicting ordinances that would make it practically impossible to “lawfully” possess a gun and comply with edicts across all jurisdictions. And so far, despite Vermont being a notoriously “progressive” state politically (“Independent” Senator Bernie Sanders openly identifies as a socialist), the 2-edged sword preemption can present has been blocked in the legislature: Several attempts at enacting “gun control” edicts in 2013 did not make it out of committee, and Governor Peter Shumlin even signed the Sportsmen’s Act, ensuring those bow hunting or dog training could also carry a handgun for self-protection provided they did not use it to harvest game.

Thwarted at the state level, anti-gun forces turned their focus on eviscerating state preemption, and the City of Burlington provided the perfect political environment. Overwhelmingly dominated by the left (the Council is comprised of two Independents, four Progressives, seven Democrats and one Republican, and the mayor is a Democrat), the Council’s Charter Change Committee, per the Vermont Journalism Trust’s VT Digger news website, proposed ordinances to “ban assault weapons, restrict those with domestic violence convictions from obtaining a firearm, require a permitting process for concealed weapons, ban firearms from establishments that serve alcohol, and require that firearms be kept ‘under lock and key,’ separate from another locked location where ammunition is kept.”

Disturbingly, the chair of the committee told followers she was holding the resolutions “at the urging of the GunSense Vermont organizers [to] give them more time for the statewide strategies they are working on.” Committee minutes also referenced correspondence that “includes language from Gun Free VT” and asks “if it includes [New York City Michael] Bloomberg’s model that [Burlington Mayor Miro] Weinberger presented.”

Quick to respond to this threat, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs filed a demand for documents related to official proceedings and correspondence so they could mount a defense against the measures that they warned would “slice and dice” the Vermont Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights. The city responded by denying and then stonewalling VFSC’s request and exempting over a hundred documents from public scrutiny (at this writing). While the resolutions passed by the Council have since been narrowed to three (guns in bars, mandatory storage and gun seizure following domestic violence reports), the changes still must face approval in March by Burlington voters, with the Vermont Legislature then authorizing cities to adopt their own gun laws. Backers have made it clear they’ll take what they can get and try for more later, with their stated goal being for other cities to adopt their own measures, ending preemption in Vermont.

And everywhere else…
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: Game Of Drones

“New product lets sportsmen know when drones are near,” a recent Outdoor Hub headline proclaimed. “Technology firm DroneShield has created a device that is capable of detecting nearby unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.”

Why would you need to know?

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced the launch of their long-planned drone program,” the article reports. The DroneShield device will pick up acoustic signatures to alert hunters “worried about harassment from environmental and activist groups.”

So what’s a hunter to do once he’s been alerted to incoming high tech harassment? The reaction from some readers, that this represented a great target practice opportunity, was hardly surprising. But while the law on flying surveillance drones, particularly over private property, is something new that the article called “a very complicated gray area,” those who have been accused of shooting at drones have faced malicious property damage charges and been threatened with lawsuits.

This is on top of tried and true low-tech tactics. The radical In Defense of Animals offers suggestions “to combat hunting in your area,” that is, tips to sabotage hunts, such as “play loud radios and spread deer repellent or human hair (from barber shops) near hunting areas.”

It all ties into a philosophy expressed by PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” That was recently taken to its ultimate depth of absurdity by University of Arizona Professor Emeritus Guy McPherson, who told an audience of rapt global warming environmentalcases, “We’re about as special as bacteria.”

So it’s no wonder that the “four legs good, two legs bad” crowd thinks six legs are even better. They’re now targeting the RoboRoach, a cockroach implant that will allow the insect to be remote-controlled for the purpose of “advanc[ing] the study of neural circuits [and getting] kids interested in neuro science.” PETA wants it declared illegal, and their counsel is claiming, with a straight face, that “it promotes the practice of veterinary medicine without a license by altering an animal from its normal condition.”

With this being the level of thought advanced by “leaders” of the “animal rights’ movement, it’s also no wonder that some of their low-hanging fruit followers are inspired to sink to even lower levels of lunacy, right down to the predictable outcome: Violence against humans.

“Man Opens Fire on Wis. Duck Hunters,” 5 Eyewitness News in St. Paul reported.

“I’m an animal lover and bird lover. I don’t like to see things die, especially for the sport of killing,” Van Hawkinson told reporters, explaining why he fired his .410 in anger when he saw two hunters in a canoe.

This time, no one was hurt. But had someone been, they could have expected the same sympathy a reader expressed in a comment to a story about a man shot and killed in a hunting accident.

“Chalk up one for the defenseless unarmed deer,” the useful idiot droned. “I have no sympathy for people who stalk and shoot animals for the sport of it.”
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

EXCLUSIVE: They’ve Got Us Surrounded!

As I write a column that won’t make it to newsstands and mailboxes for months, it’s the first day of the federal government shutdown, brought to a head by House Republicans refusing to fund a budget that includes ObamaCare, itself just open for enrollment as of midnight. How long the impasse will last—hours, days or longer—is something you holding a printed page will know but I cannot.

Nor can I tell what our most imminent threat will be—perhaps a current drive that’s moved the ball further down the field, or perhaps something not altogether unforeseen, such as another “gun free zone” exploitation with the attendant demand to disarm you and me. Only one thing is certain: the attacks will continue to come from all directions.

Take the aforementioned “Affordable Health Care Act.” Henny Youngman would add “Please!”

“The consequences for gun owners—once ObamaCare is implemented—will be immense,” Gun Owners of America warned in a member alert. “Once the government starts using medical maladies (such as PTSD, ADHD, etc.) as reasons to put our names in the NICS system, will those names ever be removed? Just ask the more than 150,000 military veterans how it’s going for them!”

And then there’s the UN Arms Trade Treaty, recently signed on our “behalf” by Secretary of State John Kerry. True, an advise and consent resolution with concurrence by “two thirds of the Senators present” has not passed, nor does it look likely that one will, and true, Obama has been warned in a letter by Ranking Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Corker of Tennessee that he shouldn’t take any executive actions to implement the treaty before it’s ratified.

Hey, this is Obama we’re talking about. Just what will the Republican leadership have the nerve to do if he acts unilaterally anyway, relying on worm-tongued spokesmen and media cheerleaders to paint any fragmented opposition as the bad guys?

Speaking of executive actions, the White House has not been inactive. They’ve got a rulemaking change they’re pushing through the public comment cycle on gun trusts for NFA weapons, an import ban on military surplus weapons to save us all from gangbangers deploying with Garands, and a resurrected push on a rule change first proposed in 2005 to clarify the definition of the term “pistol,” among other plans in the works.

And it’s not just the White House. Various efforts at the state and local levels are keeping gun activists busy, as are legal challenges wending their way through the courts. Then there are distracting “private” assaults, such as those massively funded by Mike Bloomberg. There are manipulative, foundation-funded anti-gun “studies” that need countering and a media happy to misrepresent things every chance they get.

The antis are coming at us from all angles. There’s too much for one person to even keep up with, let alone effectively respond to, and we haven’t even addressed the effort necessary to start making our own advances.
I trust everyone reading this is an active and contributing member of at least one gun rights group?
By David Codrea

Read More Rights Watch Articles

~