Washington Post Employs Deceptive Tactic on ‘Children’ and Guns

The Washington Post has surpassed the Brady Campaign and Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety to take a place alongside the New York Times as the premier anti-gun propagandists in the country. While those gun control groups have been known to pervert the facts to fit their agenda, a recent Post article and accompanying editorial go where even the most hardline gun control groups no longer tread.

On September 15, the Washington Post published an article with the sensationalist headline “Children under fire,” which carried the subtitle, “Almost two dozen kids are shot every day in the U.S. This 4-year-old was one of them.” In it, the author used the tragic shooting of a 4-year-old Cleveland boy as a jumping-off point to discuss the number “children” shot in the U.S. each day. Throughout the article, the author referred to his subjects as “children,” contending, “On average, 23 children were shot each day in the United States in 2015.” Accompanied by extensive artwork of the boy and his injuries, the author’s obvious intent was to give the impression that such incidents involving young children are common.

Using a well-worn anti-gun tactic, the author came to the deceptive 23 “children” a day figures by combining the annual number of firearms-related injuries among those properly identified as children (0-14) with firearms-related injuries among juveniles (15-17) and labeling the entire group “children.” As one might expect, juveniles, rather than children, account for the vast majority of firearms-related injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2015 there were 8,369 firearms injuries among those ages 0-17. Juveniles ages 15-17 accounted for 6,476, or 77 percent, of those injuries. Excluding these individuals from the measurement, the average number of children who sustained a firearm injury each day drops from 23 to 5.

Not content to let the article alone mislead the public, on September 18 the Post’s editorial board weighed in. The online version of the Post editorial carried the headline “Twenty-three children are shot every day in America,” just above a picture of the 4-year-old featured in the article. Once again, the Post’s intent was obvious; to portray young children as suffering gunshot wounds 23 times each day.

Such deceptive tactics place the Post at odds with even the institutional gun control lobby. After using this approach throughout the 1990s (sometimes using ages 0-19), the Brady Campaign (formerly Handgun Control Inc.) now refers to this age group as “children and teens” in their materials. Everytown also uses the term “children and teens” to refer to those ages 0-19. Unlike the Post, Everytown grants some additional context to the statistic, admitting on its website, “Rates of firearm injury death increase rapidly after age 12.”

If this NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert article seems familiar, that is because there has been a recent resurgence in the use of the misleading method employed by the Post. While Americans’ trust in the media is already near a historic low, the Post’s use of a deceptive tactic that even the gun control lobby has abandoned should further inform readers as to the “quality” of journalism to expect from the publication.

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Anti-Gun Politicians: Blocking Out The Facts About Suppressors

Gun Control Lobby Seeks to Thwart SHARE Act with Hysteria, Fear Mongering

Earlier this month we reported on the introduction of H.R. 3668, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) ActWithin weeks of its introduction, the bill had a hearing before the House Natural Resource Subcommittee on Federal Lands and passed out of the full Committee on Natural Resources. The panic is now starting to set in amongst the gun control lobby, which is desperately searching for ways to smear a bill that has been around for years in various forms without attracting much attention from the usual anti-gun extremists.

The true reason for their discontent is not so much the bill’s content – concerned as it is with hunting, land access, and law-abiding gun owners – but with how the bill’s success threatens to expose as lies the narratives they’re pushing about the current administration and America’s attitude toward guns. Trump has been a disaster for the gun industry, they crow. The NRA is a paper tiger, they insist. America is over guns, they exclaim.

None of it, of course, is true. 

Nor is most of what the media has said about the bill’s content accurate or enlightening.

As is typical when pro-gun legislation is on the move, newspaper writers who in many cases have never owned or shot a firearm conjure up indignant talking points about subject matter of which they have no understanding.

That’s why, for example, you had Dana Milbank of the Washington Point making claims about suppressors that the fact-checker of the very paper that employs him had already contradicted. And it’s why Gail Collins of the New York Times is shocked that long gun ammunition with non-lead projectile components (which she refers to as “armor piercing bullets”) is already on the market.

Even people who should know better are displaying their ignorance … or maybe just their opportunism to latch onto lucrative anti-gun consulting agreements.

A former ATF agent turned gun control lobbyist insisted at the bill’s recent hearing that several provisions of the SHARE Act would endanger law enforcement officers. Some of the same policy initiatives that he cited, however, were endorsed by ATF’s current second ranking official as opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens “without significantly hindering ATFs mission or adversely affecting public safety.”

A writer who claims to have been a park ranger also criticized a portion of the bill that seeks to standardize rules for carrying firearms on certain federal waterfront recreational areas with those already in place at national parks and national forests, among other federal lands. “Why does a hunter need to carry a firearm on Hoover Dam or Lake Mead, which gets 7 million visitors a year?” he asks. “Are there really good hunting opportunities on a lake filled with thousands of recreational boaters?”

The provisions in question, however, are aimed at carrying for self-defense, not hunting, which is already allowed on many of the areas that would be affected by this portion of the bill. That’s why the title he cites (and apparently didn’t bother to read) is captioned, “RECREATIONAL LANDS SELF-DEFENSE ACT.”

The same writer goes on to claim: “And then there are the provisions eliminating all restrictions on the purchase of silencers, eliminating restrictions on armor-piercing bullets, and eliminating restrictions on carrying firearms across state lines.”

The bill doesn’t do any of these things. Under the SHARE Act, the purchase of suppressors would remain subject to the same federal regulations as firearms themselves. Regulations on “armor-piercing bullets” would remain on the books but focus more clearly on the handgun ammunition that most threatens law-enforcement officers. And the bill does nothing to change rules about “carrying” firearms across state lines. It merely makes a current law protecting the transport of secured, unloaded firearms enforceable against anti-gun states and localities that have openly defied it.

But the primary concern of pro-gun Americans should not be the usual elites who are predictably criticizing legislation they don’t understand, but members of Congress who need to understand that law-abiding gun owners support it.

Please contact your U.S. Representative NOW and ask him or her to vote YES on H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act. You can call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s office, or you can send an email using our Take Action tool.

Your representative needs to hear from you TODAY to ensure the momentum building behind this historic legislation continues to grow.

Ask Your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act.

Please contact your U.S. Representative NOW and ask him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act. You can call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s office.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

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“What Happened”: Clinton Recognizes NRA’s Power, Rewrites History, Urges Dems to Double-down on Gun Control

This week, twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released her new book, “What Happened,” which chiefly serves to assign blame to the myriad politicians, journalists, organizations, countries, prejudices, and technologies she claims caused her defeat. Gun rights supporters will be happy to know that NRA is featured prominently.

In addition to apportioning NRA its well-deserved share of the blame, Clinton seeks to rewrite her own history on the gun issue and urges her fellow Democrats to ignore political reality and continue to champion gun control.

NRA’s Power

Clinton repeatedly acknowledges NRA’s influence on the 2016 election and the broad political landscape.

Pointing out the grassroots power of gun rights supporters, Clinton explains, “The politics of guns has been toxic for a long time… The vocal minority of voters against gun safety laws have historically been more organized, better funded, and more willing to be single-issue voters.”

Recounting her first policy speech of the 2016 campaign, where she attacked NRA, Clinton admits, “Going after the NRA is dangerous for candidates…”

Reiterating some of the same points Bill Clinton made about NRA’s power in his 2001 autobiography My Life, Clinton writes,

In the 1990s, my husband fought hard to pass both a ten-year ban on assault weapons and the Brady Bill, which, for the first time, required background checks on many gun purchases at federally licensed firearms dealers… The NRA funded an intense backlash to the new safety measures and helped defeat a lot of Democratic members of Congress in the disastrous 1994 midterm elections. Then, in 2000, the NRA helped beat Al Gore.

Discussing NRA’s contribution to her 2016 defeat, Clinton notes, 

As for the NRA, it kept its promise to do everything it could to stop me. All told, the gun lobby spent more than $30 million supporting Trump, more money than any other outside group and more than double what it spent to support Mitt Romney in 2012. About two-thirds of that money paid for more than ten thousand negative ads attacking me in battleground states.

Clinton’s recognition of NRA’s role in her and her husband’s defeats should motivate gun owners in the continuing fight to defend the Second Amendment and serve as a stark warning to anti-gun politicians.

Rewriting History

Despite an established record on gun control that spans her nearly three decades on the national stage, Clinton tries to use her new book to recast herself as a moderate on the issue.

Employing a traditional patronizing tactic of anti-gun politicians, sportswoman Clinton regales the reader with tales of her hunting prowess, and how her experience in the field forged her purported respect for firearm ownership. Clinton writes,

I remembered my father teaching me to shoot in rural Pennsylvania, were we spent summers when I was growing up. I also lived in Arkansas for many years and went on a memorable December duck hunting expedition with some friends in the 1980s. I’ll never forget standing hip deep in freezing water, waiting for the sun to rise, trying to stave off hypothermia. I did manage to shoot a duck, but when I got home, Chelsea, who had just watched Bambi, was outraged by the news that I’d shot “some poor little duck’s mommy or daddy.”
These experiences reinforced for me that, for many Americans, hunting and gun ownership are ingrained in the culture. 

Shortly after this segment, Clinton claims,

In all my political campaigns, I’ve done my best to strike a fair balance between standing up for commonsense gun safety measures and showing respect for responsible gun owners. I’ve always said that I recognize the Second Amendment and have never proposed banning all guns. 

This passage is an outright lie. In her various campaigns for public office Clinton has supported the most extreme gun control proposals and repeatedly rejected the United States Supreme Court’s holding in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. 

During her 2000 senate campaign, Clinton gave a speech to the Newspaper Association of America where she stated, “We need to license and register all handguns… Licensing gun owners and registering their guns are two of the most important pieces of a real gun safety policy.” That year Clinton also acknowledged her support for a “ballistics database for all new guns,” handgun rationing, and a ban on affordable handguns. Anti-gun Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of candidate Clinton, “New York needs Hillary Clinton because she will vote with us on gun control 100 percent of the time.”

Making clear that Clinton was not interested in striking a “balance” on firearms, during her 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton expressed her support for Australia-style gun confiscation to a town hall meeting in Keene, N.H.

Revealing her disdain for the Second Amendment, at a September 25, 2015 private campaign fundraiser in Manhattan, Clinton was recorded stating, “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.” When given the opportunity to clarify her statements, Clinton refused to recognize that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. During a June 2016 appearance on ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos asked Clinton, “Do you believe that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right – that it’s not linked to service in a militia?” At first Clinton dodged the question, prompting Stephanopoulos to ask it again. Refusing to concede that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, Clinton eventually responded, “If it’s a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulations.”

Further, in her new book, Clinton writes that, “As a young woman, I was moved and inspired watching… Dianne Feinstein take on the NRA.” The time frame Clinton refers to is unclear. Would this pertain to Mayor Feinstein, who worked to enact an unconstitutional handgun ban in San Francisco? Or perhaps Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.), who in 1995 expressed her desire to confiscate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms?

Throughout her political career Clinton has shown nothing but contempt for gun owners and the Second Amendment. Given that Clinton’s long-standing antipathy to gun rights is conspicuous and well-documented, her attempts at historical revisionism won’t fool anyone.

Attacks on NRA and Gun Owners

On the 2016 campaign trail, Clinton revealed her contempt for tens of millions of Americans when she famously claimed that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.” In her new book, Clinton uses similarly offensive rhetoric to malign NRA and its millions of supporters.

According to Clinton, NRA is “one of the most reactionary and dangerous political organizations in America.” In her view, NRA and its supporters are on the “wrong side” of “justice, history, [and] basic human decency” and have a “twisted ideology” that “costs thousands of American lives every year.” Those who feign shock at aggressive messaging and decry the debased state of politics should challenge Clinton for such inflammatory writings. 

As much as Clinton would like to portray NRA as an enemy of all mankind, the American public does not share her intolerant view. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans had a favorable view of NRA. A 2016 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that NRA’s favorability outpaced Clinton’s by 9 points, while Clinton’s unfavorable number was 19 points higher than NRA’s.

More recently, a July Bloomberg poll found that Clinton is less popular than President Trump, whom she spends much of her book berating. A June Gallup poll showed that Clinton is now even less popular than she was on Election Day 2016, a circumstance unique among defeated presidential candidates. Rather than smearing wide swathes of the American public, Clinton might do well to reflect on why so much of the population finds her problematic.

Lesson Unlearned

Following the 2016 election, many have suggested that the Democratic Party must reexamine its positions on a number of issues in order to compete in parts of the country that favored President Trump. Despite her defeat, and her acknowledgement that NRA and gun owners influenced the 2016 election, Clinton contends that Democratic leaders should not temper their views on gun control.

Clinton writes,

I’m sure that some of my fellow Democrats will look at this high-priced onslaught and conclude, as many have in the past, that standing up to the NRA just isn’t worth it. Some may put gun safety on the chopping block alongside reproductive rights as “negotiable,” so as not to distract from populist economics… That would be a terrible mistake, Democrats should not respond to my defeat by retreating from our strong commitments on these life-and-death issues. 

Following Al Gore’s defeat in 2000, the national Democratic Party made a concerted effort to downplay their support for gun control. Democratic candidates were permitted to reflect their own constituents’ views on guns and the Democratic Party Platform was changed to better respect the individual right to keep and bear arms. In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama sought to avoid the issue altogether. These proved to be smart decisions that helped make the Democratic Party competitive throughout the country.

At this juncture it’s unclear whether Democratic leaders will listen to a twice-failed presidential candidate and continue their assault on the Second Amendment or rediscover the more pragmatic approach that has worked in the past. On September 7, The Hill quoted a “former Clinton fundraiser and surrogate” who told the news outlet, “The best thing she could do is disappear… She’s doing harm to all of us because of her own selfishness. Honestly, I wish she’d just …  go away.” When it comes to Clinton’s outmoded approach to guns, wise Democrats should express a similar sentiment.

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin — TAKE ACTION TODAY ON H.R. 3668, SHARE Act

On Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing on the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which had been introduced on Sept. 1 by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC). Following the subcommittee hearing, the full Committee on Natural Resources marked up and passed the SHARE Act by a vote of 22-13.  All amendments offered in an attempt to weaken the bill were soundly defeated.  The bill now awaits floor action in the U.S. House. 

As we have reported, this year’s version of the SHARE Act is the most expansive and far-reaching yet. Besides previously-introduced provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting and broadening access to federal lands for these purposes, this year’s SHARE Act contains reforms that would widely benefit sportsmen and the gun-owning public at large. 

These reforms would protect Americans traveling interstate with lawfully-owned firearms, amend provisions of federal law that have been abused by antigun administrations to impose gun control by executive fiat, and make the health-promoting benefits of firearm sound suppressors more accessible. 

Attorney and constitutional scholar Steven Halbrook, who has litigated firearms issues before the U.S. Supreme Court, testified at Tuesday’s hearing that the Act would “enhance protection of Second Amendment guarantees” without “adversely affect[ing] law enforcement interests.” 

Halbrook provided background on several key provisions of the act. He noted that under current law, for example, certain federal courts have denied plaintiffs remedies for violation of their federally-protected right to transport unloaded firearms interstate between jurisdictions where they may be lawfully carried. This has emboldened certain states, like New York and New Jersey, to ignore these protections and arrest law-abiding Americans for exercising their rights under federal law.  “Title XI of the bill will rectify this affront to the right to travel and the Second Amendment by explicitly immunizing law-abiding travelers from arrest and recognizing a civil action for violation,” he stated.

Halbrook also testified about the benefits of suppressors and how they were rarely implicated in violent crime. “That is why suppressors are freely available,” he noted, “even over the counter or by mail order, in many European countries.” In this regard, the bill would eliminate the current $200 transfer tax and a federal approval process that can take as long as a year to complete. 

Others testifying focused on Title IV of the bill, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act, which will reduce the regulatory burdens for federal agencies to promote hunting, fishing, and shooting on federal public lands across the nation.

Testifying against the bill was David Chipman, Senior Policy Advisor for the Gabby Giffords/Mark Kelly gun control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Chipman claimed to draw on his experience as a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in arguing that the Act “assaults the interests of our nation’s law enforcement officials and threatens our public safety and security.” In particular, his comments focused on the Act’s removal of impediments to the lawful purchase of suppressors. He also criticized the Act’s reforms to the “sporting purposes” standard for firearm importation.

Ironically, Ronald Turk, ATF’s current second-highest ranking official – who has spent over two decades working up the ranks of the agency from his initial assignments as a street agent – offered far different takes on these same issues in an interagency white paper that became public in February.  Turk cited both of these issues as ripe for “regulatory changes or modifications … that would have an immediate, positive impact on commerce and industry without significantly hindering ATFs mission or adversely affecting public safety.” 

Turk characterized the import restrictions cited by Chipman as serving “questionable public safety interests,” because they often affect firearms “already generally legally available for manufacture and ownership in the United States.” He also suggested a broader understanding of firearm “sports” was appropriate, to include activities and competitions that use “AR-15s, AK-style, and similar rifles.” Regarding suppressors, the white paper opined, “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating NFA classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the [Gun Control Act].”

The SHARE Act now heads to the House Floor, where it could receive consideration as early as Sept. 25. 

Ask Your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act.

Please contact your U.S. Representative NOW and ask him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act. You can call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s office.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

Who Pays for the Arms Trade Treaty? You Do

The nations that ratified a global Arms Trade Treaty are gathering for their third annual conference this week in Geneva, Switzerland. As always, this conference features many nations declaring unwavering commitment and support for the treaty, which purports to require nations to regulate the conventional arms trade.

What the Arms Trade Treaty actually does is give left-wing activists a platform to mount campaigns against U.S. and British arms sales, while ignoring Iran, Russia, China, Syria, and all the other dictatorships.

And how many of those nations meeting in Geneva are willing to put their money where their mouth is?

Not many, it turns out.

And yet the United States, which hasn’t even ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, or ATT, pays more to administer it than any other nation except Japan. More on that later.

A total of 130 nations, including the U.S., so far have signed the treaty, according to the secretariat, or administrative office. Of these, 92—not including the U.S.—also have ratified the pact, making them “states parties.”

In 2015, at the first annual Conference of States Parties in Cancun, Mexico, the nations that had ratified the treaty agreed that their annual get-togethers, and the budget of the administrative office, would be paid for by national contributions from states parties, other signatories, and observer nations.

Contributions are assessed according to a modified United Nations formula. Otherwise, many poorer nations would owe so little that it would not be worthwhile to collect their contributions.

You might think all that agreement would be worth something. Well, you’d be wrong.

We now have two years of data on the Arms Trade Treaty budget available, and here’s what it looks like: In 2015-16, assessments went to 124 nations, but only 66 (or 53 percent) actually paid. So far in 2017, assessments went to 121 nations, but only 63 (or 52 percent) actually paid.

So administrators of the Arms Trade Treaty have assessed a total of $2.04 million in contributions, but received only $1.67 million, for a deficit of $370,000, or 18 percent.

And the shortfall is growing: The payment rate in 2017 to date is down 5 percent from the previous year, and the shortfall is $60,000 larger this year than last.

Of the 137 nations assessed either or both years, 77 are behind on their payments. Of these, 40 were assessed and failed to pay in both years, meaning they are unlikely ever to meet their arrears.

So even if the payment rate picks up over the rest of 2017, a significant minority of Arms Trade Treaty states parties and signatories will still (if not forever) be behind on their bills.

The performance of the states parties, the nations that ratified the treaty, is particularly remarkable.

Of the 86 nations assessed for 2017, only 49 (or ­­­­57 percent) paid up. That was down from the previous year, when 62 percent did so. All of the nations are legally committed by ratifying the treaty, and virtually all voted in favor of it in the U.N. General Assembly in 2013.

The simple fact is that only a bare majority of the nations that are party to the Arms Trade Treaty are willing to do anything more than utter sweet nothings in support of it.

So how is the treaty getting by? The answer is clear: by relying on a few big contributors to pay the bills. That’s the reason the failure of a near-majority of nations to get out their checkbooks hasn’t bankrupted the treaty (yet).

Together, over half the administrative budget, $860,000, has been paid by Japan ($217,000), the U.S. ($187,000), Germany ($145,000), France ($114,000), the U.K. ($106,000), and Italy ($91,000).

Yes, you read that right. Even though the U.S. has not ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, even though Congress never has appropriated any money for this purpose, and even though Congress repeatedly has banned funding to implement the treaty, the U.S. is paying $93,000 into the treaty each year, or about 11 percent of the entire budget. Only Japan pays a greater share of the expenses than America does.

By the standards of the U.S. government, $187,000 is not much money. But it’s incredible that the executive branch could commit to pay into the treaty without congressional sanction, actually make the payments, and do so in the face of congressional opposition.

It’s equally incredible that the Trump administration hasn’t put a stop to this folly by withholding all U.S. payments except for costs incurred by the U.S. delegation attending the Conference of States Parties.

Right now, America is paying the tabs of quite a few other nations—which, unlike us, actually are parties to the treaty. If they like the Arms Trade Treaty so much, they should pay their own bills.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Ted Bromund

Ted R. Bromund, Ph.D., is the Margaret Thatcher senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read his research. Twitter: 

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a poster, like this, which decorated the August 2015 gathering of nations behind the Arms Trade Treaty in Cancun, Mexico. (Photo: Victor Ruiz Garcia/Reuters/Newscom)

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Governor of Virgin Islands Orders National Guard to Seize Americans’ Firearms

With hurricane season now upon us, U.S. states and territories are preparing for a barrage of potentially damaging weather. In the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), however, those preparations include an order by Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp for the National Guard to seize residents’ lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition, ostensibly as a means of promoting public order and protecting life and property during Hurricane Irma.

The order states in no uncertain terms that the Adjutant General of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard is “authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property” deemed necessary to the mission of maintaining or restoring order during the storm.

Certainly, the rest of America’s thoughts and prayers are with the USVI as they recover from the damage Irma caused. Nevertheless, Gov. Mapp’s Sept. 4 order was an inexcusable incursion on the right of the U.S. citizens who reside on the USVI to protect themselves from the all-too-predictable outbreaks of looting and crime that can occur when normal emergency services are over-taxed by an extraordinary event. Simply put, it violated the U.S. Constitution and threatened to put innocent people at further risk.

America has seen similar overreaches in the past, most notoriously during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when local officials ordered the confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms from New Orleans residents. First responders had been overwhelmed by the demands of the storm, and those who had not managed to evacuate were dealing with virtual anarchy.  For many gun owners, the shocking site of a frail woman being slammed to the ground in her own home by police enforcing the post-Katrina order remains an indelible image of the very sort of violent firearm seizures that some claim could never happen in the U.S.

The NRA intervened in federal court and was able to halt the New Orleans confiscations and obtain an order requiring the return of the seized firearms. Nevertheless, the city delayed compliance with the order for as long as it could, including requiring unrealistic documentation from gun owners whose lives had been turned upside by the storm. Only in 2008 did the NRA and the city agree on mutually acceptable terms for the return of the unlawfully confiscated property.

The NRA also promoted legislation to prevent government officials from using their emergency powers as a pretext for disarming the citizenry. In 2006, Congressman Bobby Jindal (LA) led the fight to protect America’s gun owners against these abuses by introducing H.R. 5013 in the House, a final version of which was signed by President George W. Bush in October of that year.  Now codified at 42 U.S.C. § 5207, the law prohibits persons acting under color of federal law, receiving federal funds, or acting at the direction of a federal employee from seizing or authorizing the seizure of lawfully-possessed firearms during a state of emergency. The majority of U.S. states now have similar laws.

The NRA quickly condemned Gov. Mapp’s order and pledged to take any necessary legal action to ensure that the people of the USVI were not deprived of their constitutionally protected arms when they might need them the most.

Barely 24 hours later, Gov. Mapp appeared before a national audience on the Tucker Carlson Show and furiously backpedaled, bizarrely claiming that the order simply meant that Guard units could purchase necessary emergency supplies at retail without the formalities of normal procurement procedures. “This is not about seizing anybody’s personal property,” he insisted.

That on-the-fly revision was too much even for the “fact-checking” (and typically antigun) website Snopes, which acknowledged there was no support for this interpretation in the actual words of the order itself.

Just what Gov. Mapp meant to do or thought he was doing with his “seizure” order remains unclear. To date, the NRA has received no information that any actual seizures have occurred.

Nevertheless, the incident should serve as a wake-up call for those who insist that the threat of civilian firearm confiscation is a scare tactic invented by the NRA. Americans saw it themselves this week, stamped with the gold seal of officialdom.

As ever, your NRA will remain vigilant and prepared to act so that no law-abiding American is forced to face danger without the protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

47 Nonprofit Leaders Denounce Southern Poverty Law Center ‘Hate Map’

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: ‘OUR AIM IN LIFE IS TO DESTROY THESE GROUPS, COMPLETELY’

I am proud to be a member of the coalition and a signator on this letter.

On Wednesday, 47 leaders of conservative nonprofits sent an open letter to the media warning against using the notorious “hate map” put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The leaders denounced any news organization that would cite the SPLC’s list of “extremists” and “hate groups” as if it carried moral authority. “The SPLC is an attack dog of the political left” and should be treated as such, the leaders wrote.

“To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and represents the height of irresponsible journalism,” the leaders declared. “All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC’s descriptions of individuals and organizations based on its obvious political prejudices.” (PJM)

The letter addressed “Members of the Media” and strongly warned against the SPLC. The leaders characterized the organization as “a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it.”

Read the rest here.

By Katie Yoder | Newsbusters September 6, 2017:

Conservative leaders are calling out the liberal media for a dangerous hypocrisy: While media outlets readily promote an organization locating conservative and faith-based organizations on a “hate map,” they would never do the same for a map of abortion providers.

On Wednesday, 47 conservative leaders and organizations demanded that news outlets immediately halt their use of Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) data. Composed by the Family Research Council and signed by Media Research Center President Brent Bozell, the leaders published an open letter to the media detailing why outlets should stop referencing the “attack dog of the political left” while reporting.

“The SPLC is a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory,” the leaders challenged, “but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it.”

According to the SPLC, many traditionally conservative and faith-based organizations constitute “hate” – a smear that has real-life consequences.

The letter pointed to Floyd Lee Corkins II, who, five years ago, entered the doors of the Family Research Council with the intention of a shooting rampage. The building manager stopped him, but not before getting shot himself.

“Corkins intended to kill everyone in the building, and then go on to terrorize additional organizations,” the letter read. “The U.S. Attorney stated in federal court that Corkins targeted FRC and additional targets by using the SPLC website’s ‘Hate Map.’”

While the networks ignored the use of SPLC’s hate map in that instance, Hollywood and the liberal mediaroutinely cite SPLC data without question. And, in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, the SPLC has only gained steam by attracting big name financial backers.

But the leaders urged that now, more than ever, the media must cut off ties with the SPLC to avoid “another Corkins.”

“We believe the media outlets that have cited the SPLC in recent days have not intended to target mainstream political groups for violent attack, but by recklessly linking the Charlottesville melee to the mainstream groups named on the SPLC website,” the letter continued, “we are left to wonder if another Floyd Lee Corkins will soon be incited to violence.”

“To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and represents the height of irresponsible journalism,” the leaders declared. “All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC’s descriptions of individuals and organizations based on its own obvious political prejudices.”

To support their letter, the leaders cited both political and media figures debunking the SPLC and highlighted the FBI’s discontinued use of the SPLC as a “trusted source” for Hate Crimes in 2014.

For their final example, the leaders pointed to the SPLC’s attack of human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has “experienced the violent and misogynistic side of Islam first hand” as a victim of female genital mutilation, among other grievances.

In an Aug. 24 New York Times op-ed, Hirsi Ali responded to the SPLC’s accusations:

I am a black woman, a feminist and a former Muslim who has consistently opposed political violence. The price for expressing my beliefs has been high: I must travel with armed security at all times. My friend and collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight.

Yet the S.P.L.C. has the audacity to label me an ‘extremist,’ including my name in a ‘Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists’ that it published on its website last October.

In that guide, the S.P.L.C. claims that I am a ‘propagandist far outside the political mainstream” and warns journalists to avoid my ‘damaging misinformation.’ These groundless smears are deeply offensive, as I have dedicated much of my adult life to calling out the true extremists: organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Yet you will look in vain for the S.P.L.C.’s ‘Field Guide to Muslim Extremists.’ No such list exists.

The leader also called out the media as hypocritical.

“If a national pro-life advocacy organization were to release a map with caricatures of abortionists and title it, ‘Here’s Where the Baby Killers are Located in Your State,’ would the media run the story?” the leaders asked of a situation where Congress proposed defunding Planned Parenthood. “Would it reprint the map and discuss the location of these ‘pro-death’ doctors throughout the news day?”

“Clearly, it would not,” they determined.

In their conclusion, the leaders repeated the dangers SPLC poses.

“Given the above points, and most alarmingly that the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ propaganda has been linked to two terrorist shootings in the D.C. area,” they ended, “we respectfully request that you cease using the SPLC’s data and its various lists and maps in your reporting.”

RELATED ARTICLE: All the Evidence You Need for Why SPLC is Not Credible

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Geller Report.

‘Social Justice Collective’ Calls for Four-Year Universities to Ban Veterans, Cites NRA Ties

It’s admittedly getting more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction these days, especially when it comes to the increasingly bizarre world of anti-gun social justice crusaders. But it is apparently true that a publication recently appeared on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) arguing that “we must ban veterans from four-year universities.” Among the reasons the author of the essay cites is that “veterans usually are associated with extremist right-wing groups such as the tea party and the NRA.”

The publication also faults veterans for “openly mock[ing] the ideas of diversity and safe spaces for vulnerable members of society,” frightening fellow students with their “overwhelming presence,” and making “insensitive jokes.”  Nevertheless, it denies any intention to deprive veterans of an education, explaining that they “should be allowed to attend trade schools, or maybe even community colleges.” It asserts, however, that veterans’ military service has left them “permanently tainted” and “no long [sic] fit for a four-year university.”

report by Colorado Springs news station KKTV said the publication, identifying itself as Issue #1 of the Social Justice Collective Weekly, was posted on a UCCS bulletin board and was also available “in the library and other places,” before students began removing them. A notation on the bottom right of the newsletter states, “UCCS University Center Approved for posting.” The report goes on to state that KKTV viewers contacted an email address included on the publication and were told by the editors of publication that those behind it are “using fake names to protect themselves.” Whether or not these individuals are current or former students of UCCS is unknown. KKTV was not successful in its own attempt to elicit comment from the producers of the publication.

The university, for its part, has not denied that the publication was distributed on campus or that its posting on the bulletin board had been approved. A UCCS spokesman told KKTV, however, that the article “has nothing to do with the school and does not represent the institution’s views.” The university also claimed that “anyone is allowed to post items on the board” (although why, if that’s the case, posting must be “approved” is not explained).

On August 25, UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy issued a press release defending veterans as “positive and valued members of our academic and campus community,” with “experience and viewpoints that enrich our discussions.” Chancellor Reddy also defended the right of the article’s author – identified as Terry Steinawitz – to air anti-veteran views. “I reject the notion that we should censor those who denigrate others,” Venkat stated, “as censorship would have silenced many voices over the decades who needed to be heard.” He went on to insist that UCCS’ “core values” include various forms of non-discrimination and that “[p]eople earn the right to study at UCCS by virtue of hard work and individual effort, and we do not bar the door.”

Although it’s tempting simply to dismiss the publication as satire or the work of extremely immature and underexposed students encountering more worldly peers for the first time, it is largely consistent with the climate on many college campuses toward firearms and those who use them. We’ve recently reported on a campus-wide lockdown caused by an art student with a glue gun, a lawsuit by college professors claiming the Second Amendment itself requires universities to BAN law-abiding students from possessing firearms on campus, and a geography professor who taught class in protective combat gear because he fears students who lawfully carry concealed handguns on campus. We’ve also chronicled how a University of Kansas professor called for the death of NRA members’ children as a token of “God’s justice.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, public opinion polling shows a far greater percentage of Americans who are highly confident in the military than in universities. And more Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA than express high confidence in higher education.

We certainly agree with Chancellor Reddy that, whatever their motivations, the producers of the anti-veteran publication at the UCCS have a First Amendment right to express their opinions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether they are merely jokers or the more usual intellectually shallow, self-contradictory, elitist, and exclusionary types who haunt academia these days. America’s veterans will not require a safe space to lick their wounds after reading this document. For they, like the NRA, know that protecting freedom is not a job for those who are easily offended, defeated, or deterred or who require thanks from otherwise helpless people who depend on the security their efforts provide.

Elizabeth Warren Urges Democrats to Champion Gun Control, Shut Down Debate

Just as many in the Democratic Party are seeking to moderate their message in order to once again compete as a national political party, some high-profile Democrats are urging the party to lurch further left with an even firmer embrace of gun control.

On June 13, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) addressed those gathered at the “progressive” Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta, Ga. In her usual frenzied style, Warren used the forum to attack those Democrats who would moderate the party’s message, including those who would temper the party’s stance on guns.

Going further than most anti-gun activists and politicians, her command for Democrats to champion gun control included a call to shut down discussion on the topic. In doing so, Warren seemed to liken the issue of gun control to that of global warming, which many activists have long-attempted to put beyond the scope of legitimate debate.

During her wide-ranging diatribe, Warren stated,

It’s time for us to say: Democrats are on the side of science.

We’re done arguing about whether climate change is real – and we’re going to fight it with everything we have.

We’re done arguing about whether trickle-down economics works – and we’re going to fight to build this economy so it works for working families.

We’re done arguing about gun safety – and we’re going to fight for the common-sense reforms the overwhelming majority of Americans want.

First, there is nothing remotely close to a scientific consensus on the efficacy of gun control advocates’ most favored proposals. A 2013 memo from the Department of Justice’s National Institute for Justice surveyed the research on several gun control measures. In relation to a restriction on the private transfer of firearms, the NIJ determined that such a measure would be ineffective unless coupled with an onerous registration regime. Addressing restrictions on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, NIJ determined, “Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.” So-called “smart guns” were found “Unlikely to affect gun crime.”

Moreover, earlier reviews of gun research and controls by the National Academies have made clear that the senator’s absolutist statement is unwarranted.

Second, while gun control proponents are quick to point to polls showing public support for restrictions on the private transfer of firearms as a justification for trampling gun rights, actual experience paints a different picture. In 2016, anti-gun activists’ most-touted gun control measure was on the ballot in two very different “blue” states, Maine and Nevada. When given the opportunity to vote on this legislation, Mainers rejected further gun control, while Nevadans narrowly passed a misleading and unenforceable background check initiative by less than a 1 percent margin. Not exactly evidence of an “overwhelming majority.”

If there is any positive aspect to Warren’s recent anti-gun statement, it is that the senator was so forthright in her attack on our Second Amendment rights. For many years, gun control advocates and anti-gun politicians have implored lawmakers and the nation to have a much-needed “conversation” on gun control. Of course, the country has been embroiled in a nearly ceaseless national debate on the topic since the 1960s.

This tactic is always an anti-gun ruse. Rather than an earnest debate on the merits of a given proposal, those using this language are exclusively concerned with achieving their preferred policy outcomes. While Warren is incorrect that the argument over gun control has been decisively determined in her favor, at least she has dropped the ridiculous pretext of wanting a serious debate.

Warren’s hardline anti-gun position might play well in Massachusetts, a state where the fanatical attorney general has been permitted to willfully misinterpret state law to attack law-abiding gun owners and local law enforcement have discretion over who may possess even a single-shot shotgun. Given Hillary Clinton’s fervent support for the most radical gun control measures and her subsequent ascent to the Democratic presidential nomination, it’s obvious that militant anti-gun messaging is also attractive to some of the more statist elements of the Democratic Party. However, there is strong evidence that if the Democrats are interested in competing nationally, a more moderate stance on Second Amendment rights is the way forward.

Democratic Party leaders, and Democratic candidates running in competitive elections, will have to decide whether to follow the lead of someone likely bolstering her left-wing credentials to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, or look to history and recognize the wisdom in former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rahm Emanuel’s determination that Democratic candidates should “reflect” their constituents.

EDITORS NOTE: Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the Democratic Party, wrote, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

Justice Department Terminates and Repudiates Operation Chokepoint

This week the Department of Justice made clear that the Obama Administration’s underhanded attack on the gun industry using the banking system – better known as Operation Chokepoint – is over. In a strongly-worded letter to U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) dated August 16, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd assured the chairman that the operation has been terminated and that “it will not be undertaken again.”

Initiated in 2013 and involving the Justice Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Operation Chokepoint sought to deter banks from conducting business with companies that engaged in commerce that the Obama administration viewed as undesirable. To do this, the Obama administration categorized certain types of businesses as being “associated with high-risk activity” in a banking guidance document used by the FDIC. Some of the types of businesses targeted by the operation were engaged in illegal or fraudulent activity, like “On-line Gambling” or “Ponzi Schemes.” However, also targeted in this operation were legal businesses that engaged in lawful commerce such as “Tobacco Sales,” “Coin Dealers,” “Ammunition Sales,” and “Firearms Sales.”

Current Justice Department leadership and Boyd should be commended for their forceful statement on this matter. This unequivocal repudiation of Operation Chokepoint should make a return to such political persecution unpalatable for all but the most debased public official.

This targeting of lawful businesses produced a strong response from some in Congress. In 2014, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigated the operation and issued a 
scathing report
. In 2016, the U.S. House passed H.R. 766, the ‘‘Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015,” which sought to eliminate Operation Chokepoint. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced companion legislation in the Senate, declaring Operation Chokepoint an attack on Second Amendment rights.

In a decision worthy of praise, Boyd did not mince words when describing the Obama-era policy. The letter described Operation Chokepoint as a “misguided initiative conducted during the last administration.” Making clear that the new administration intends to reestablish the integrity of the Justice Department, Boyd wrote, “The Department is committed to bringing enforcement actions only where warranted by the facts and the applicable law without regard to political preferences.” Leaving no doubt about the current Justice Department’s position, Boyd concluded, “We reiterate that the Department will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries, including businesses engaged in … firearms-related activities.”

Current Justice Department leadership and Boyd should be commended for their forceful statement on this matter. This unequivocal repudiation of Operation Chokepoint should make a return to such political persecution unpalatable for all but the most debased public official.

The NRA thanks President Trump for finally putting an end to Operation Chokepoint and thanks Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others in the Justice Department for seeing through the termination of this misguided program.

Texas Professor Trades Geography for Drama to Protest Campus Carry in the Lone Star State

According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, more than 1 in 3 Americans believe that colleges and universities exert a negative effect on the country. When respondents are grouped by political party, that response is as high as 58%.  While the poll doesn’t explain the basis for these feelings, we suspect that many view academia as the haven of ideologically-driven zealots, rather than sober-minded professionals. Take, for example, Professor Charles K. Smith from San Antonio College, who recently managed to get his name in the newspapers for teaching his geography class in protective combat gear to protest the lawful carrying of concealed handguns by students.

An article on mySanAntonio.com indicates that Smith was hoping to make a point about Texas’s 2015 campus carry law. The law took effect on community colleges, including the institution where Smith teaches, on Aug. 1. “I was just saying I don’t feel safe,” Smith told a reporter. He continued, “My assumption is that you will have more people carrying guns, that well [sic] lead to problems. It always has.”

One would hope that a man of letters like Prof. Smith would base his views on the evidence, rather than on irrational fears or personal prejudices. Yet Texas data consistently show that concealed carry licensees are far more law-abiding than the general population.

Meanwhile, four-year institutions in Texas were a year ahead of community colleges in implementing the 2015 law and did so without the parade of horribles Smith and likeminded academics feared. The Texas Tribune noted that “administrators overwhelmingly say the change to the campus climate has been minimal,” with exactly zero reported incidents of academic debate or disappointment over grades escalating into armed conflict. Academic officials interviewed by the Tribune said the law’s rollout was handled “very smoothly and without incident,” had “[v]irtually no impact at all,” and was “[a]mazingly quiet.”

Meanwhile, the Dallas News reported that the actual cost to public colleges and universities of implementing the law was more than 15 times less than estimates these institutions had provided to the state legislature.

Economist John Lott also makes the point that with well over one million concealed carry licensees throughout Texas, it’s highly probable that the professors who are so resistant to allowing concealed handguns on campus are already unwittingly encountering them in a host of other places.

Yet these facts, if even known to Prof. Smith, apparently haven’t influenced his thinking. Rather, his statements to mySanAntonio.com seem to indicate a belief that students have been gunning for him his entire career but simply have never had the tools at hand to carry out their lethal desires. “Used to, when they got mad at me, they had to go home to get the gun and had time to cool off,” he stated, “now they will have it with them.”

For what it’s worth, publicly available reviews of Prof. Smith by his students don’t indicate any murderous impulses, rather a consistent view of his classes as “boring” but “easy.” One student’s assessment was particularly pointed:

He makes mildly boring subject matter into a painful classroom experience. His sleep inducing political rants and disagreeable classroom demeanor and behavior make his lectures unbearable. He should make some effort and inject some enthusiasm into teaching geography rather than wasting students’ time with political commentary about current events.

Another faulted him for excessive talks “about his vacations,” while still another noted that Smith “inputted his very Liberal political views into just about every lecture.”

Smith did tell the reporter that he warned police and administrators about the plan for his stunt, which after all could have reasonably caused concern among students and bystanders about his intentions or plans. “Some of them were okay and some of them weren’t, but it’s freedom of speech,” Smith insisted.

That may be, but the message Smith actually conveyed may have simply raised questions about his own ability to interact respectfully with people whose opinions and ideology diverge from his own. Whether or not Prof. Smith succeeded in making himself bulletproof, it’s pretty clear that no facts or contrary opinions can penetrate his ironclad anti-gun ideology.

Repudiated at the Polls, National Democrats Continue to Push Gun Control

Recent weeks have seen a heated debate involving national Democratic Party figures over how to approach the issue of abortion in a manner that would allow the party to be more competitive in portions of the country dominated by Donald Trump and the Republicans in the 2016 election. Such soul-searching is to be expected for a party that does not hold either chamber of Congress or the presidency. However, one issue that appears to be off the table in any Democratic recalibration is the national party’s zealous support for further gun restrictions.

This intransigence was highlighted by two recent pieces of radical gun control legislation.

First, on July 27, Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), along with 12 cosponsors, introduced H.R.3458. The text of the legislation has yet to be made available to Government Publishing Office, but is described as a bill:

To require certain semiautomatic pistols manufactured, imported, or sold by Federal firearms licensees to be capable of microstamping ammunition, and the prohibit [sic] the removal, obliteration, or alteration of the microstamped code or microstamping capability of a firearm.

An accompanying press release noted that “The bill prohibits federal firearms licensees from manufacturing, selling, or transferring semiautomatic handguns, unless those handguns are capable of microstamping ammunition or face gradual fines.” An earlier version of the bill introduced in the 110th Congress made clear that this restriction would apply to all semiautomatic handguns manufactured or imported after the effective date of the legislation.

Microstamping is a flawed and expensive method in which certain firearms components, typically the firing pin, are etched with a serial number that is transferred to an ammunition cartridge when the gun is fired. NRA and others have identified numerous problems with this technology, including the fact that it is easily defeated with common hand tools or repeated use of the firearm, and would require an onerous system of registering firearm components. Further, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute has estimated the cost of implementing this technology at $200 per firearm.

Not to be outdone, on July 28, Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-N.J.), along with 16 cosponsors, introduced H.R.3613, “To authorize the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance to make grants to States, units of local government, and gun dealers to conduct gun buyback programs, and for other purposes” to the tune of $360 million.

To support squandering federal taxpayer dollars on gun buyback (more appropriately termed turn-in) programs in 2017 reveals a fanatical hostility towards guns and a profound disregard for sound public policy.

Since 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice has understood that gun turn-ins are ineffective. A National Institute of Justice document from that year titled, “Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising” put gun turn-ins at the top of its list of “What Doesn’t Work.” The NIJ reiterated this point in a 2013 memo that concluded, “Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented.” Further, some of the most radical anti-gun researchers, including Jon Vernick from the Michael Bloomberg-bankrolled Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, have admitted that turn-ins do not diminish violent crime.

Perhaps inspired by her Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, on August 10, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took to Twitter to call for a renewal of the federal “assault weapons” ban.  The entire “assault weapon” concept is a creation of anti-gun activists who used the term to create confusion after their attempts to ban handguns had failed.  Charles Krauthammer, a proponent of gun confiscation, wrote “the only real justification [for the assault weapon ban] is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.”  As Krauthammer predicted, the ban on so-called “assault weapons” had little effect on crime, but that has not stopped gun-control proponents like Senator Harris from calling for its renewal.

After Al Gore’s defeat in the 2000 presidential election, the national Democratic Party made a concerted effort to soften their position on gun control in order to be more competitive in parts of the country where voters put significant value on their Second Amendment rights. In his book, “My Life,” Bill Clinton pointed to NRA and gun control as a factor in Gore’s defeat.

Democrats began to tolerate candidates that deviated from left-wing anti-gun orthodoxy. In a 2005 Boston Globe article titled “Democrats Recast Gun Control Image,” then Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying that their candidates “[have] got to reflect their districts.” In the three presidential election cycles following Gore’s defeat, the Democrats recognized Americans’ Second Amendment rights in their platform. President Barack Obama conspicuously avoided the issue until he had secured a second term in office, leading the Brady Campaign to issue him an “F” rating in 2010.

Despite Bill Clinton’s repeated warnings, the national Democratic Party in 2016 flouted gun owners at every turn. Hillary Clinton endorsed Australia-style gun confiscationrepeatedly denounced the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, and when pressed, refused to acknowledge that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz railed against guns to Democratic delegates. In the midst of the presidential election campaign, Democrat representatives threw a gun control-inspired tantrum on the floor of the U.S. House. The national Democratic Party left no doubt that the Second Amendment was on the ballot in 2016.

And once again, the Democrats suffered a devastating defeat. In the immediate aftermath, NBC’s Chuck Todd credited NRA for giving Trump “a big assist” in his victory. Months later, political commentator Fred Barnes would write, “There are many claimants to the honor of having nudged Donald Trump over the top in the presidential election. But the folks with the best case are the National Rifle Association and the consultants who made their TV ads.”

NRA is happy to take credit for helping to defeat Hillary Clinton and for the election of pro-gun lawmakers across the country, but our efforts would not have been so salient had our opposition not so fully embraced the anti-gun agenda.

NRA is a nonpartisan organization and we continue to endorse members of any party who work to defend American gun owners. As the current marginalized national Democratic Party grapples with its agenda moving forward, it would do well to learn from its past and curtail their attacks on the Second Amendment. Wise Democratic leaders will recognize that they have been here before and that abandoning their anti-gun ambitions is an important component of their path back to power. However, with Democratic House members still offering microstamping and gun turn-in bills, there is little evidence of such wisdom.

The High-Level Hypocrisy of Mayors for Gun Control

Leona Helmsley, the “Queen of Mean” convicted of income tax evasion and other crimes, is famously said to have said “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

The same sense of entitled grandeur – that rules apply to lesser beings – pervades the thinking of many high-profile gun-control notables. For example, ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is protected by guns carried by his armed security detail, while he spends his billions to undermine the Second Amendment rights of average Americans.  

In 2006, as part of his anti-gun agenda, Bloomberg founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), a coalition of current and former mayors advocating for regulating all guns, not simply “illegal guns,” and calling for “assault weapon” and magazine bans, expanded background checks, and other restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. 

By 2013, roiled by constant reports of criminal behavior by members, MAIG was subsumed into Bloomberg’s new gun control entity, Everytown for Gun Safety. Nonetheless, arrests and convictions of MAIG members (including for gun-related crimes) continue to feature regularly in the news, so much so that it’s become something of a running joke (here and here). It’s likely no coincidence that MAIG’s website chooses not to name the elected officials that make up its membership; instead, it lists the municipalities these members represent.

The roster of the recently disgraced include the ex-mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, who resigned from office in 2013 after multiple women made allegations of sexual harassment, and who subsequently plead guilty to charges of false imprisonment and battery. Another public official who had been associated with MAIG is Gordon Jenkins, formerly the mayor of Monticello, New York, who was removed from office by a state court in 2015 after it found he engaged in “‘unscrupulous conduct or gross dereliction of duty or conduct that connotes a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority.’” The misconduct referred to by the court included threats to withhold funding from his local police department in an effort to influence the disposition of criminal charges against him, and attempts to use his position to intimidate and coerce police officers into giving him special treatment after he was arrested for a DUI. Following his removal from office, Mr. Jenkins plead guilty to lesser criminal offenses after being charged with bribery-related felony crime. 

Rounding out the MAIG dis-honor roll for 2017 (so far) are former Stockton, California mayor Anthony Silva; Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Edwin Pawlowski; and Vaughn Spencer, former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, all currently facing criminal charges. Of course, these individuals, like all persons simply accused of criminal offenses, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

In March, ex-mayor Silva was arrested on felony charges of money laundering, embezzlement, and grand theft, arising out of alleged personal misuse of grants and other funds of the Stockton Kids Club, formerly the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton. (“Sour grapes,” claims his defense counsel, although Silva has figured in other controversies.) As an elected official and part of a MAIG coalition of California mayors, Mr. Silva supported legislation creating so-called “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” that would require persons to surrender their firearms to police based solely on allegations by law enforcement or family members. 

Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Edwin Pawlowski was indicted in July, accused of violating federal public corruption laws arising out of a misuse of public office (over 50 counts, including bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services mail and wire fraud, travel act bribery, making material false statements, and conspiracy). Prior to that, Mayor Pawlowski appeared in a “public service” ad released by MAIG “demanding action” on gun control measures, and supported Bloomberg in calling for “tougher gun laws” and restrictions on gun shows and private firearm sales. 

Vaughn Spencer, the former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, was also charged in July and accused of violating federal public corruption laws (bribery, wire fraud, and conspiracy). Like Mayor Pawlowski, Spencer signed on to a MAIG letter to President Obama in 2012, calling for bans on “military style” weapons and “high capacity” magazines, expanded background check laws, repealing the Tiahrt Amendments, and more.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) press releases regarding these two Pennsylvania officials note that the allegations concern the “mayors manipulating the levers of power for their own ways and means. As charged, Edwin Pawlowski and Vaughn Spencer brazenly and repeatedly sold off city contracts to bankroll their political futures.” The DOJ adds that in “an astounding act of irony,” former Mayor Spencer allegedly “bribed the President of City Council to introduce legislation repealing a Reading anti-corruption statute.” 

These are serious offenses – the charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services mail fraud, and honest services wire fraud have an individual maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the remaining federal charges have maximum sentences of five or ten years and similarly onerous fines. 

As part of furthering his notions of good governance, ex-Mayor Bloomberg has made a $32 million gift to Harvard University, funding a program to teach serving mayors how to be effective leaders, with the inaugural class of 40 elected officials beginning their studies this July. A cynic might suggest that the curriculum include, besides the usual Bloomberg hobbyhorses of sugary drinks and gun control, the fundamental concept that the rule of law applies to the high as well as the low. After all, when law-abiding Americans seek to protect themselves from criminals, it’s not usually the gun-grabbing crooks at city hall that come to mind.

TAKE ACTION: Let Your Congress Members Know that You Support the Hearing Protection Act

As we’ve previously covered a number of times, the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) is a federal bill to reduce the burdensome and antiquated acquisition process for firearm suppressors.  The bill would eliminate the excessive wait times (sometimes as long as a year) and the burdensome tax on transferring or making a suppressor.

Support for the HPA among gun owners remains very strong.  The HPA has been one of the most viewed bills on Congress.gov since its introduction in January, and it has regularly been the most popular bill on the site.  But, now more than ever, Congress needs to hear this support.

As members of Congress return to their home states and districts for the August recess, they often focus on constituent services, so now is a very opportune time to contact your elected representatives.  

Please contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to support and cosponsor the HPA

If they already are a cosponsor, please thank them for their support.

You can contact your member of Congress via our “Take Action” tool by clicking HERE, or use the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

The View’s Joy Behar’s Elitist Anti-Gun Agenda Exposed

Grant Stinchfield calls out Joy Behar’s ignorant, elitist opposition to campus carry in Texas: “Joy, here’s what won’t stop someone determined to commit violence with a firearm: your dishonesty or resounding ignorance. Either way, it puts our country’s colleges in danger. It helps to keep professors defenseless, it makes our students vulnerable. And it leaves college women without an equalizer. Ask rape survivor Kim Corban why she advocates for the Second Amendment and maybe you’ll understand why our young men and women should be allowed to protect themselves with a firearm.”

EDITORS NOTE: Stinchfield airs live on NRATV weekdays at the top of the hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET.