Bloomberg’s Everytown Creates ‘Authors Council’ to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

As if the country’s media weren’t already sufficiently co-opted by anti-gun advocates, this week, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety announced an effort to pervert an additional facet of American entertainment. The billionaire bank-rolled interest group has developed the Everytown Authors Council. According to Bloomberg’s astroturf campaign, “The Council is designed to harness the power of the literary community to amplify the gun safety movement.”

Such efforts to influence an already biased entertainment sector are nothing new for Everytown. An April 2016 Variety article detailed how the gun control group worked hand-in-hand with writers for Netflix’s “House of Cards” to push their anti-gun agenda.

That same month, NRA-ILA’s Grassroots Alert informed readers of the extent of Everytown’s involvement in trying to distort television programming. It explained that an Everytown employee has the position of “Director of Cultural Engagement,” who, “oversees Everytown’s storytelling efforts, partnerships with the creative community and develops cultural assets that mobilize Americans to support common sense reforms…”

Much like with their efforts to pervert television, Everytown’s Authors Council will reportedly “use its collective reach and cultural influence to support common-sense solutions…” In providing comment for an Everytown press release, author Jodi Picoult seemed to express a willingness to create agitprop for the anti-gun group, stating, “It is because of this that authors are singularly suited to speak out on the need for common-sense gun laws, and to tell the stories of those who have been devastated by gun violence in this country.”

One would hope that shameless shilling on behalf of a statist billionaire would be derided in any artistic community. Unfortunately, many in America’s “creative” class appear all too willing use their “art” in service of Bloomberg’s vanity project. As such, the gun-owning public should do their best to apprise the general public of the gun control movement’s propaganda techniques, and consider their own consumption of media accordingly.

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Don’t Scapegoat Gun Owners for Chicago’s Violent Crime Problem

The last two weeks have brought more evidence that Chicago’s gangland violence continues to spiral out of control. On May 2, two plainclothes police officers were shot while conducting an investigation in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. A van driven by an alleged gang associate pulled up next to the officers and a passenger in the vehicle opened fire. Then on Sunday, mourners were gathered at a makeshift outdoor memorial for an individual who had been shot and killed the night before in the City’s Brighton Park neighborhood, when two masked gunmen fired upon the crowd. Two were killed and eight were wounded in what police are characterizing as a gang retaliation shooting.

Sadly, such carnage is not outside the norm for a city with a murder rate so high that it skews efforts to measure violent crime in the country’s urban centers. However, that these crimes are alleged to have been perpetrated using semi-automatic rifles has led some gun control supporters to seize upon the incidents as justification to further restrict gun rights.

This week Chicago Police officers were given a safety bulletin warning of an increase in violent criminals using semi-automatic rifles. The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board quickly attempted to convert this bulletin into anti-gun capital, issuing a piece contending that the use of semi-automatic rifles posed a “new danger to cops and civilians.”

As one might expect, the editorial board’s answer to this “new” threat was to further burden the law-abiding. The board argued for federal legislation to prohibit the private transfer of firearms, which it terms “universal background checks.” The piece concluded by claiming, “Gun violence in Chicago and the rest of the nation is a dire, daily emergency. It’s time our lawmakers took serious measures to stem it.” The editorial was quickly spread by the typical gun control advocates via twitter.

Violence perpetrated with firearms is a serious problem in Chicago and certain other urban areas, but as for “the rest of the nation,” the national crime rate is still near record lows.

Moreover, the type of violence the editorial contemplates is not typical. Despite the oft-lamented increase in the popularity of semi-automatic rifles for lawful purposes, there has been no national-level increase in the use of rifles of any kind for murder. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data, the number of murders committed with rifles fell each year from 2010 to 2015 (the most recent year for which this data is available). Even as the national murder total and murder rate rose slightly from 2014 to 2015, the number of murders perpetrated with a rifle fell.

Further, the Chicago Tribune’s proposed solution to the city’s woes ignores the prevalence of gang members acquiring their firearms via straw purchase. In Illinois an individual is already required to possess a Firearm Owners Identification Card in order to possess or acquire a firearm, but this has failed to impede violent criminals. In a 2013 survey of inmates in the Cook County Jail, one prisoner revealed the robust nature of the illegal gun trade in Chicago, telling the interviewer, “All they need is one person who got a gun card in the ‘hood’ and everybody got one.”

Even when Chicago police identify a straw purchaser, there is a reluctance to vigorously prosecute them. Last month, the NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert highlighted the story of a young woman with a FOID card who was convicted of providing firearms to a gang-affiliated individual. One of the firearms she supplied was later recovered in the possession of a juvenile. The woman was sentenced to 15 days in an “alternative work program,” 12 months of probation, and a $679 fine. At the outset of the case, the Chicago Police Department pointed out “these cases usually result in a plea of guilty in exchange for felony probation,” and that, “The felony arrest is not expected to result in jail time…”

The inadequate prosecution of dangerous criminals is endemic in Chicago and exacerbates another problem in the city; de-policing. A national survey of almost 8,000 police officers conducted by the Pew Research Center that was released in January found that reaction to recent high-profile encounters between citizens and law enforcement has had an effect on how officers are able to protect their communities. The survey found,

(72%) say officers in their department are now less willing to stop and question suspicious persons. Overall, more than eight-in-ten (86%) say police work is harder today as a result of these high-profile incidents.

Moreover, a recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Office of Partner Engagement, titled, “The Assailant Study – Mindsets and Behaviors,” observed a similar trend. The study contended that reaction to high-profile citizen-police encounters has had a chilling effect on law enforcement. According to the report,

Departments – and individual officers – have increasingly made the conscious decision to stop engaging in proactive policing. The intense scrutiny and criticism law enforcement has received in the wake of several high-profile incidents has caused several officers to (1) “become scared and demoralized” and (2) avoid interacting with the community.

In December, a report from CBS’s 60 Minutes showed just how acute this problem is in Chicago. The report pointed out that police activity fell as homicides skyrocketed, with an online article accompanying the program stating, “In August of 2015, Chicago cops stopped and questioned 49,257 people. But, a year later, stops dropped 80 percent and arrests fell by a third.” The article goes on to explain, “In a climate of increased scrutiny, a dozen beat cops and recently retired officers told 60 Minutes, off-camera, they’d stepped back and the data reflects that.”

Facing the intractable issues surrounding urban policing and criminal justice, politicians and anti-gun advocates have once again sought to blame law-abiding gun owners and certain types of firearms as responsible for society’s ills. The truth is, the problems facing Chicago and a handful of other cities are far more complicated than those pushing gun control care to admit. Scapegoating gun owners and firearms might be effective politics in parts of the country where a significant portion of one’s constituents have little experience with responsible firearm ownership, but it doesn’t make for effective policy.

7th Grader ‘Likes’ Toy Gun Photo on Instragram, Gets Suspended from School

If you follow gun control politics even casually, you know three things.

One, gun control advocates are positively and unshakable fixated – not just on taking your guns – but on making the very idea of a gun a thoughtcrime.

Two, there is nothing “reasonable” about their methods or their goals.

Three, their activities have nothing to do with public safety (or reality, in most cases) and instead spring from a pathological impulse to assert their will and ideology over others.

Occasionally, though, their zealousness and absurdity are so extreme that you have to wonder how much steeper the slippery slope can get.

Ground Zero for all that epitomizes the antigun worldview is any place that purports to “educate” young minds. And young people just love to communicate with each other on social media about their shared pastimes.

When you put the two together, you get what happens to Zachary Bowlin, a hapless kid just trying to get through Edgewood Middle School in Trenton, Ohio on his way to growing into adulthood. Zachary is hapless because he is surrounded by unreasonable people acting as educators.

Last week, according to a report by the local Fox affiliate WBRC (Fox19 News), Zachary was innocently minding his own business, doing what millions of other American kids do at night after school. He was checking his social media account, in this case, the video and image-sharing app, Instagram.

Coming across a friend’s picture of a realistic-looking Airsoft gun, Airsoft enthusiast Zachary pushed “Like,” an absent-minded gesture many people engage in dozens of times a day on images depicting such things as pets, deserts, and objects involved in hobbies they share with their friends.

The next morning, Zachary told a WBRC reporter, school officials “called me down … patted me down and checked me for weapons, then they told me I was getting expelled or suspended or whatever.”

According to a note from the school the Bowlins provided to the reporter, Zachary was to be suspended effective May 4, with his return date to be determined later. The reason: “Liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”

AOL.com posted a picture of the offending post, which merely depicted the plastic gun on the table, with the caption, “Ready.”

To say that the post, to a casual observer, would indicate potential school violence would be akin to claiming that a picture of the sun would indicate the potential of a cataclysmic gravitational collapse that would extinguish all life on earth.

Except that the sun really is dangerous and Airsoft guns really are not.

To be fair, you could imagine a scenario where a facially innocent picture of a toy gun on social media was merely one in a series of circumstances known to school officials that would justify them taking strong action.

But that wasn’t this case. Indeed, Superintendent Russ Fussnecker essentially admitted that the school’s reaction was based only on the picture, coupled with his own vivid imagination about its worst possible significance.

“When you’re dealing with school districts nowadays and there are pictures of guns, regardless of the kind of gun it is, it’s a gun,” Fussnecker told WLWT News in Cincinnati. “And there are certain images or words, I can’t determine if that’s playful or real. And until I can get to an investigation, I have to look into it, those students have to be removed.”

Fortunately, Zachary’s parents knew enough to go to the media, whose intervention apparently allowed cooler heads to prevail. The school eventually rescinded the suspension (at least of Zachary, the student who posted the photo remains barred from school), but Superintendent Fussnecker appeared ready to stick to his … well … delusions in a statement to Fox19 News.

“The Board has a ‘zero tolerance’ of violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students,” it read. Fussnecker continued: “As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious [sic] including those who ‘like’ the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.”

Superintendent Fussnecker – obviously no English major – apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of the words “threat” or “endangers” or the irony of his own proposition. Taken at face value, the image was neither inherently threatening nor aimed in any overt way at the school or “educational process.” Zachery himself understood exactly what it meant. “I figured he’d cleaned his gun and was ready, wanting to play and stuff,” he explained to WLWT News. His father added, “The young man that posted it and my son, and probably four or five other kids, play airsoft in our field. … So I really wasn’t concerned.”

And if adverse effects on the “educational process” are the true concern, what is more likely to accomplish that than summarily suspending an innocent student for harmless behavior – not to mention exposing the entire school and its staff to national ridicule – before “investigating” the situation?

The real problem with this and other “zero tolerance” abuse isn’t just that it’s stupid or overbearing but that it means even decent, well-meaning kids have no path through school that isn’t mined with hysteria that could suddenly and unpredictably explode in their face and derail their future.

Fortunately, Zachary’s parents stood up for their son, and the school (to its credit) eventually did the right thing in his case.

But for every Zachary, who knows how many other students are harshly punished and stigmatized without recourse, simply because the educational establishment has officially adopted an antigun, anti-Second Amendment posture?

However many it is, it’s too many. And there’s certainly nothing to “Like” about that.

Research Shows Murders are Heavily Concentrated in Small Fraction of Counties

This week, a new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) revealed just how concentrated murders are in the U.S. Citing county level data from 2014, researchers determined that a small fraction of all counties are responsible for a majority of the murders in the U.S.

According to the report, just 2 percent of all of the counties in the country account for 51 percent of the nation’s murders. The top 5 percent of counties account for 68 percent of all murders. Further, 69 percent of all counties experienced one murder or less in 2014.

Map-US-Murder-Fixed

It is correct to expect that counties with large population centers are going to necessarily account for more murders. However, as the report details, the most dangerous counties account for an outsized proportion of murders given their population. The report noted,

“The worst 1% of counties have 19% of the population and 37% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 68% of murders.”

CPRC also pointed out that murders are often highly concentrated within a given county. Citing Los Angeles County, which experienced 526 murder in 2014, CPRC showed that there were wide swaths of the county with virtually no murders.

CPRC’s data dovetails with other research on the concentration of criminal violence. In recent years, researchers from Yale University have studied the concentration of violence in certain social networks. In a 2015 piece for the Hartford Courant that succinctly outlines some of this research, Yale Ph.D. candidate Michael Sierra-Arévalo explained that Yale University sociologists determined “70 percent of all shootings in Chicago can be located in a social network composed of less than 6 percent of the city’s population.”

Sierra-Arévalo also cited a study from researchers at Harvard and Yale, that examined violence perpetrated with guns in Boston. This research showed that violence is heavily concentrated even within a given city, determining that “between 1980 and 2009, 89 percent of Boston streets never experienced an episode of gun violence,” and that “more than half of all the gun violence during the almost 30-year period occurred in only 5 percent of the city’s streets.”

Given that criminal violence is highly concentrated, efforts to tackle this discrete problem with ham-handed restrictions on the conduct of the public at large are inappropriate. Rather than further burden the law-abiding, federal, state, and local officials should target known areas of violence with vigorous enforcement of existing state and federal law.

University of Missouri Professor: NRA more dangerous than ISIS

How asinine is American academia today? It just keeps getting worse. What expanse of territory does the NRA control? How many people has the NRA beheaded and brutalized there? What calls has the NRA issued to its followers and other sympathetic people to murder civilians in the U.S. and other countries? Where are the sex slaves that the NRA has captured from among feminist gun control advocates?

A blinkered Leftist propagandist such as George Kennedy should not be allowed anywhere near a university classroom. Instead, however, the Missouri School of Journalism will probably bring him back and make him head of the department.

George-Kennedy

George Kennedy

“MO School of Journalism Prof: NRA More Dangerous Than Islamic State,” by AWR Hawkins, Breitbart, April 20, 2017:

Missouri School of Journalism professor emeritus George Kennedy suggests the National Rifle Association (NRA) is more dangerous than Islamic State.

Writing in the Missourian, Kennedy observed:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a terrorist organization founded in 1999, headquartered in Syria and feared around the world. The NRA was founded in 1891, headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, and is feared by politicians across America.

To be fair, the NRA was actually founded in 1871, but Kennedy continued:

What makes the Islamic State so feared it its willingness to kill in pursuit of its goal of creating a fundamentalist caliphate.

What makes the NRA so feared is its willingness to spend heavily and campaign aggressively in pursuit of its goal of removing all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.

Notice how Kennedy went from incorrect information–the wrong founding date for the NRA–to unsubstantiated claims that the NRA wants to allow “possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.” In reality, the NRA fights for the enforcement of the law and the prosecution of firearm-wielding criminals with a fervor equaled only by its defense of law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. Kennedy’s language muddies the water and misses the point.

Kennedy then claims the number of Americans killed by ISIS jihadists since 9/11 is nine. That is not a typo, he actually links to a Euronews source and claims only nine Americans have been killed by ISIS jihadists since the terror attacks on NYC in 2001.

Where were Kennedy and the Euronews when an attacker claiming allegiance to ISIS attacked Orlando Pulse and killed 49 people on June 12, 2016? That gunman literally used a 911 call to announce his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And the Orlando Pulse attack is not the only one that could be mentioned to disprove Kennedy and his Euronews source.

Kennedy’s purpose is claiming “only nine” Americans killed by terrorists was really to set up his second point, that “11,737 Americans” are murdered each year with guns. This figure is actually close to the truth. The average number of firearm-related homicides hovers around 10,500 to 11,500 annually. Many of these homicides occur in gang-riddled cities like Chicago and Baltimore. For example, there were nearly 800 homicides in Chicago in 2016 and over 300 in Baltimore. So a tenth of our nation’s homicides occurred in two Democrat-controlled cities, both of which look to gun control as the solution for the failure of gun control….

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Faith Goldy reports:

When I applied for my Canadian firearms licence after passing my federally mandated PAL and RPAL courses, the RCMP got all of my information. They asked for everything from medical history, relationship history, familial structures, and a photograph.

However, when I recently logged online to renew my license, I noticed something peculiar:

An exception to the usual regulation requiring a photograph, citing religious exemption!

So, I contacted the RCMP, and you won’t believe what happens next.

While I’m no fan of tighter gun control measures, shouldn’t all law-abiding gun-owners be treated equally in Canada?

Why are special rights being granted to members of certain religious sects while other Canadians are held to a different standard?

VIDEO: 5 reasons to support National Reciprocity

1. Exercising a right shouldn’t be contingent upon what state you’re in.

This seems like it would be obvious. Sadly, it’s not. The Supreme Court affirmed in 2008 that Americans have a constitutionally-protected individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms for self-defense. What’s more, no state can deny a Constitutional right. All national reciprocity means is that state governments must respect non-residents’ right to carry a firearm for self-defense to the same degree as residents of the state. And despite rumors to the contrary, national reciprocity legislation would not dictate to states how and where residents could carry concealed. Non-residents would also have to abide by state regulations governing behavior and places of carry.

2. You don’t want to be an accidental criminal.

Ever of heard of Brian Fletcher? How about Raymond Hughes and Meredith Graves? Each one of them has something in common: They are concealed carriers-turned-accidental criminals because they carried their legally-owned firearms into a state without reciprocity.

Brian Fletcher was a utility repairman who traveled from North Carolina to New Jersey with his legally-owned firearm to do disaster relief work. After volunteering the information about his gun to a police officer in New Jersey, he was arrested and subsequently faced five years in prison.

Raymond Hughes, a corrections officer, was simply traveling through New Jersey when a drunk driver sent him to the emergency room. He had his legally-owned firearm in the car, but because New Jersey doesn’t recognize non-resident carry permits, Hughes was charged with a Class 2 felony.

A similar story happened to Meredith Graves. A registered nurse and concealed carrier, Graves left her handgun in her purse while visiting the 9/11 memorial. When she left New York, she left with a misdemeanor weapons charge added to her record.

These are only a few stores, but they represent many, many instances of law-abiding gun owners getting caught up in the confusing patchwork of reciprocity laws we currently have in the United States.

3. Concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding citizens in the country.

Yes, it’s true. A 2014 study from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) showed that roughly 11 million Americans have concealed carry permits, up from an estimated 8 million in 2011. Today, the number is closer to 15 million. The CPRC also examined permit holders in Florida and Texas. Between 2008 and 2014, Florida had an average of 875,000 active permit holders. Its permit revocation rate during those years (i.e., the rate of concealed carriers who had their permits revoked due to firearm-related offenses) was a staggering…wait for it…0.00007%.

The rate of concealed carriers convicted of crimes was similarly low in Texas, a state that had 584,850 active permit holders in 2012. Of those, only 0.021% were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony.

The bottom line? Concealed carry permit holders have overwhelmingly proven to be responsible and law-abiding. And they’re certainly not out there turning American communities into the Wild, Wild West.

4. Reciprocity laws can change frequently with little notice…

Which leads us back to the part about otherwise law-abiding gun owners becoming accidental criminals. When laws change with little public notice, it’s difficult to know when or how you’d run afoul of them.

It does happen: In 2012 for example, the state of Delaware, under the direction of then-attorney general Beau Biden, dropped reciprocity with concealed carriers from Virginia. In 2015, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced his state would stop recognizing permits from 25(!) other states.

And while it is up to each individual gun owner to stay on top of state gun laws, if you’ve been legally carrying your concealed handgun from Virginia to Delaware for 10 years and didn’t know about changes in reciprocity coming down the pipeline, it’s understandable that you’d make that additional trip without checking.

Again: it’s easy for well-intentioned people to get caught up in legal troubles when we’re talking about a patchwork of state laws that can change with little notice.

5. Law-abiding concealed carriers can protect YOU in all 50 states.

As much as gun control advocates like to argue that there’s no such thing as a “good guy with a gun,” mountains of evidence say otherwise.

Just last June, headlines swept the nation of a concealed carrier who stopped a mass shooter outside a nightclub in South Carolina, potentially saving dozens of lives. And who could forget the Minnesota mall stabbing spree last September? He too, was stopped by a law-abiding concealed carrier. Then in January, when two armed men tried to rob a jewelry store in a mall in San Antonio, Texas, they were stopped by concealed carrier. The armed men had already shot and killed an innocent bystander. Who knows what would have happened if the gun owner hadn’t stepped in?

These are just a few stories, but there are many more out there. The truth is responsible, law-abiding concealed carriers are an added layer of protection for ALL of us. Unfortunately, too many states make it difficult or impossible for gun owners to carry concealed — let alone across state lines. In this uncertain world, the last thing states should do is disarm law-abiding gun owners. That doesn’t make anyone safer. But you know what will? Empowering gun owners with the freedom to exercise their right to defend their life and the lives of those around them — no matter what state they’re in.

Freedom Wins! Pro-Second Amendment Judge Will Join U.S. Supreme Court

On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch’s nomination was heavily backed by the NRA, both because of the pro-Second Amendment views expressed in his judicial writings and his originalist approach to jurisprudence. Justice Antonin Scalia exemplified originalism in his landmark Heller opinion in 2008 that recognized the Second Amendment protects an individual right grounded in the principle of self-defense.

Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation capped a dramatic series of events that began with Scalia’s sudden, unexpected death on Feb. 13, 2016. Not only was Scalia the Supreme Court’s leading Second Amendment champion, his was one of only five votes cast in the five- to-four Heller decision, and its five-to-four follow-up, McDonald v. Chicago. Although two justices voting against the Second Amendment in Heller had since left the court, they were replaced in the interim by two equally anti-gun Obama picks, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Thus, with Scalia’s untimely passing, the court was at best split four to four on its continued support for the Second Amendment’s individual right.

History will record that the balance of power on the Supreme Court was in fact a key issue in the 2016 presidential election and that Obama’s hand-picked successor, Hillary Clinton, suffered a crushing defeat after emphasizing her own view that the Heller Court had been “wrong on the Second Amendment.”

Candidate Donald Trump, meanwhile, made no secret of his determination to nominate a pro-Second Amendment judge to the fill Scalia’s vacant seat.  After his victory in November, President Trump kept his promise by nominating Judge Gorsuch.

In the intense media and political scrutiny that followed Trump’s selection, there was never any serious argument against Judge Gorsuch’s credentials, integrity, impartiality, and ability. He has been praised by legal professionals across the political spectrum.

Yet anti-gun loyalists in the Democratic Party, blinded by ideology and unable to recover from their stinging rebuke in the election, launched the first partisan filibuster in U.S. history to block Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.

In practical terms, their strategy gained them nothing.

Senate Republicans on Thursday responded by applying the Senate rules instituted by Harry Reid (NV-D) in 2013.  At that time, Reid pushed through the elimination of the Senate filibuster on executive appointments and lower-court nominees. The “Reid Rule” now applies to Supreme Court nominations as well.

Judge Gorsuch was then confirmed on Friday by a bipartisan 54-45 vote.

While there may be no end to the hypocrisy, rancor, and obstruction that liberal loyalists are willing to inflict on the American political process, all citizens of goodwill can rest assured that in Judge Gorsuch, they have a decent, unbiased, and highly-qualified Supreme Court justice who will uphold the law.

And Second Amendment advocates in particular should sleep more soundly knowing that when the Supreme Court again hears a case on the right to keep and bear arms, Justice Scalia’s seat will be occupied by a man dedicated to ensuring that the Framers’ vision of constitutional freedom is upheld.

‘Zero Tolerance’ Policies and the Making of a Preschool Pariah

The “Three Rs” used to stand for reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now, with zero-tolerance policies that ignore facts and logic, it’s reading, writing, and ridiculous. 

Caitlin Miller, aged five, of Hoke County, North Carolina was suspended from kindergarten after making shooting motions with a stick during a recess game of “Kings and Queens” (Caitlin was the royal security detail). Citing the need to provide “a safe and orderly environment for learning,” the school uses a zero-tolerance policy for “assaults, threats or harassment from any student.” The suspension letter from the assistant principal advises that Caitlin was being punished for “turning a stick into a gun and threatening to shoot and kill other students.”

This episode follows a report of disciplinary action earlier in March against four-year-old preschooler Hunter Crowe.  Hunter was suspended for seven days because – according to Jackson’s mom – staff alleged he brought a “shotgun bullet” into the preschool. Closer examination indicated the offending item was, in fact, an empty .22 shell casing, which Hunter picked up after a weekend with his grandfather, a police officer, learning gun safety. Hunter didn’t threaten or hurt anyone, but simply brought the spent casing along as something to share with his friends. The preschool, however, apparently views this (and Hunter’s use of other toys as “pretend” guns) as a sign of a troubled or degenerate personality.

The preschool director’s letter explains that Hunter had already been told that “guns, hunting, etc., are not subjects that are to be discussed at school,” and that the punishment is intended as a “learning experience” that will lead to a “new outlook and understanding about these issues and the safety of his fellow classmates.” Hunter’s mother says she was warned that if Hunter’s “enthusiasm for guns continued, he’d be permanently expelled.” (What next? A demand that Hunter change his name because it is associated with the “oppression of the environment”?) 

Both Caitlin and Hunter are hurt and confused about why they are being banished from school. For adults, the reason is fairly obvious. As we’ve noted previously, these incidents represent a larger trend in schools from kindergarten to high school and beyond to marginalize lawful firearms and firearm use as abnormal by prohibiting speech about guns, drawing pictures of guns, wearing clothing depicting guns (even entirely fictional guns), pointing a “finger gun,” chewing food into maybe-gun shapes, and other benign behavior. In an ad released last year, one group suggested that ordinary activities like reading a gun magazine or looking at a firearm-related video were among the sinister giveaways of an incipient mass murderer.

The ostensible reasons given for these blanket prohibitions are safety and the need for a secure learning environment, yet rules like these can’t legitimately be justified on safety grounds.

Unfortunately, enforcing such ridiculous restrictions has real and disproportionate consequences for good kids. Besides the immediate impact of a “corrective action” like suspension, these students face being stigmatized as “disruptive” or problem students with “behavioral issues” once these infractions are noted in their school records. In one case, a five-year-old kindergartner who pointed a crayon while making “pew pew” sounds was required to sign a “school safety contract” promising that she would not commit suicide or kill others, and had to respond to a “suicide/homicide assessment” questionnaire, with school officials recommending that the child see a psychiatrist. Such actions also have the potential to bring parents within the ambit of government oversight and investigation – Hunter Crowe’s mother was apparently told that in addition to the suspension, preschool officials would be notifying the state Department of Children and Family Services. 

Educators pride themselves on valuing diversity, promoting inclusivity, and fostering the freedom of students to think imaginatively and creatively. Incidents like these, though, suggest that this tolerance extends only to students with views that conform to political and social ideals about firearms that educators endorse as desirable and “correct.” And we grade that as “Fail.”

You May be Surprised to Know This About Hunting

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) has launched a new campaign called “You may be Surprised to know this about hunting” to connect and even surprise the non-hunting public with stories about improved wildlife populations and the conservation efforts of hunters.

NSSF presents this campaign in a five-part infographic series that will re-introduce hunters and hunting to the public. With most people these days living in cities, suburbs and non-hunting households, many misperceptions of what hunting is and what hunting does, have developed. In response, this campaign works to explain hunting’s connection to the values of today’s socially and environmentally conscious culture. With Earth Day approaching and with people thinking more about the health of our planet, it seems appropriate to kick off with the infographic titled “You may be Surprised to know… hunters aid the environment” In order to explain that hunters and environmentalists alike fight habitat encroachment and help to conserve the health of our ecosystems, NSSF points out that hunters have contributed billions of dollars to wildlife conservation through a sustainable system of wildlife management.

More than a century ago, when wildlife populations were depleted, hunters supported laws that placed excise taxes on purchases of firearms and ammunition and later on fishing, boating and archery equipment. Through these taxes, and also license fees, wildlife agencies received the necessary funds to acquire and maintain land. This land is set aside for the conservation of game and non-game species. Wildlife biologists survey and measure wildlife populations, habitat and food sources to determine how many animals can thrive in certain areas, and then help establish hunting regulations that combat overpopulation and allow time for species growth. This land is also made available for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking, camping and more.

The campaign recognizes the locavore movement and the fact long known to hunters that game meat is nutritious and healthful. NSSF highlights venison with double the iron, fewer calories, more protein and better fats than typical meats like lamb, beef, turkey and chicken, making it a truly healthy alternative.

This campaign seeks to demonstrate that if you support the environment, preservation of land, animal conservation and personal nutrition, then you can support hunting.

To view the full selection of infographics and to learn more about this campaign, go to nssf.org/infographics/.

The campaign was created by the NSSF communications team working with intern Daphane Cassidy, an avid hunter and conservationist. Daphane has hunted and volunteered in South Africa, and has represented the U.S. as one of the few American Young Opinion members of The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation at the most recent “Hunting is Conservation” general assembly in Belgium. Participating in worldwide conservation efforts and seeing the benefits of hunting first-hand, Daphane wants to foster positive understanding and relationships between the hunting and non-hunting public.

About NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 13,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.

More Firearms, More Firearms Owners, Fewer Fatal Accidents

The National Safety Council released the 2017 edition of its annual Injury Facts report this week, and it contains welcome news about firearm safety. 

The number of fatal firearms accidents dropped to the lowest point ever (since 1903, when the data was first tracked).  There were 489 total fatal firearm accidents nationwide – a 17% decrease from 2014. As a percent of the total number of fatal accidents, firearms accident rank very low: just 0.3% of all fatal accidents involved a firearm. 

Comparing the odds between the types of fatal accidents can help put these numbers into context, and the National Safety Council puts fatal injury data in this format to make comparisons easier. The odds of a fatal firearms accident are 1 in 6,905. You are more likely to be killed by:

  • Poisoning (1 in 96)
  • A motor vehicle crash (1 in 114)
  • A fall (1 in 127)
  • Drowning (1 in 1,188)
  • A bicycle crash (1 in 4,486)

What makes the record low number of fatal firearms accidents even more noteworthy is that it came at a time when the number of firearms in the country was skyrocketing. The year 2015 saw the most background checks ever conducted in a single year until that point (the number was surpassed in 2016).  More than 23 million NICS checks were conducted in 2015. Background checks don’t have a one-to-one correlation with firearms purchases, so we don’t know for sure how many more guns were bought in 2015 than previous years…. but we do know that the number of American gun owners was on the rise. 

PEW Research Center reported a five-point increase in the percentage of American households with a firearm between mid-2015 and mid-2016. Fox News reported on a host of other surveys with similar findings

So, in 2015 we had more background checks conducted AND more Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights AND a record low number of fatal firearms accidents. The safety efforts of the NRA, our partners and allies supporting the Second Amendment, and, most of all, responsible, law-abiding American firearm owners made the record-setting safety of 2015 possible.

RELATED ARTICLE: What’s Happened to Gun Sales After Trump’s Election

Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Embraces Heller and Originalism During Senate Hearings

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme court, asserted during his confirmation hearings this week that Scalia’s landmark Second Amendment opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller “guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”

Gorsuch made the comment during an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who was trying to goad him into agreeing with the anti-gun opinion recently issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (see story at this link).

He refused to take the bait, however, telling her,

“Well, it’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, Senator, respectfully it’s a matter of it being the law. And — and my job is to apply and enforce the law.”

Throughout his hearings, Gorsuch deftly answered questions about his judicial philosophy and parried on inquiries that would have required him to prejudge legal issues that he could face as a Supreme Court justice.

His answers made clear, however, that he would staunchly defend Americans’ constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.

They also reinforced his belief in Justice Scalia’s signature technique of constitutional interpretation known as originalism. This methodology focuses on the actual words of constitutional provisions as they would have been publicly understood at the time of their enactment.

This approaches ensures that the inalienable rights recognized at the founding cannot later be declared null and void by judges who might consider them outdated or counterproductive in the modern world.

As Justice Scalia put it in Heller:

A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad.

Gorsuch paid homage to Justice Scalia in his opening statement at the hearings. Calling Scalia a “mentor,” Gorsuch stated, “He reminded us that words matter. That the judge’s job is to follow the words that are in the law, not replace them with those that aren’t.”

He also invoked the words of Alexander Hamilton:

“Liberty can have … nothing to fear from judges who apply the law. But liberty has everything to fear if judges try to legislate, too.”

President Trump promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would respect constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment, and who would faithfully apply the law.

Judge Gorsuch embodies those ideals, and his performance this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee gives every indication he will soon get to exercise them as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

And when he does, all Americans – including gun owners – will be better off as a result.

A Promise Kept: Trump Signs Repeal of Obama-Era Social Security Gun Prohibition Rule

On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump signed the repeal of an Obama-era Social Security Administration (SSA) rule that would have resulted in some 75,000 law-abiding beneficiaries losing their Second Amendment rights each year. 

The SSA rulemaking was issued in the waning weeks of Obama’s presidency and targeted those receiving disability insurance or Supplementary Security Income based on SSA’s listed mental disorders and who were appointed a “representative payee” to help them manage their benefits. The agency –for the first time in its history– sought to portray these individuals as “mental defectives” who were prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms under federal law. It had planned to notify them of their prohibited status and to report them to NICS.

Making matters worse, the beneficiaries would have had no ability to argue about their suitability to possess firearms before their rights were lost. Instead, they would have been reduced to filing a petition for “restoration” of their rights, an expensive and bureaucratic process that would have required them to pay for a mental health evaluation and to prove they were not dangerous, a premise the government never established in the first place.

The plan drew fire not just from the NRA, but also from the ACLU and a wide range of mental health advocacy and treatment groups from across the political spectrum. Also opposing the plan was the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. The NCD issued a statement explaining:

Since the action was first proposed in 2013, NCD has consistently taken the position that equating the need for assistance in managing one’s finances with a false presumption of incapacity in other areas of life, including possession of a firearm, unnecessarily and unreasonably deprives individuals with disabilities of a constitutional right and increases the stigma that [affects] those who may need a representative payee. The overly broad classification of “mental disorder,” includes a wide range of limitations and a shifting set of criteria relevant to whether or not one can engage in substantial gainful activity. NCD remains steadfast in our position that this classification remains irrelevant to the question of whether one can be a responsible gun owner.

The SSA received tens of thousands of comments in opposition to the rule. The NRA-ILA’s submission explained in detail how the rule was contrary to the underlying statute, to the U.S. Constitution and would function mainly to stigmatize the SSA beneficiaries and discourage others from seeking treatment and benefits to which they were entitled. It also argued that there was no empirical support for the notion that the rule would promote public safety.

The SSA, however, ignored the comments and issued the rule essentially as proposed. 

It also brazenly brushed aside proffered evidence that the targeted beneficiaries were not at any increased risk for committing violence with firearms. “We are not attempting to imply a connection between mental illness and a propensity for violence, particularly gun violence,” the SSA wrote. “Rather, we are complying with our obligations under the NIAA, which require us to provide information from our records when an individual falls within one of the categories identified in 18 U.S.C. 922(g).”

Fortunately, pro-gun majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate acted quickly to disapprove the rule under the Congressional Review Act, a federal statute that allows Congress to use an expedited legislative process to overrule administrative actions passed in the waning days of an outgoing administration.

The efforts to roll back this unjustified and legally unauthorized rule were predictably met with a withering barrage of negative and fake reporting from the anti-gun media, with supposed “news” outlets issuing such ludicrous headlines as “Senate, House hand guns to seriously mentally ill.” All these reports completely ignored the fact that existing restrictions on persons who had been involuntarily committed or adjudicated mentally incompetent remained fully intact. By acting to block the rule, Congress simply disapproved the Obama administration’s attempt to create a new class of prohibited persons by “reinterpreting” a federal gun control statute passed in 1968.

President Trump’s signing of the measure not only served to help repair the damage to the Second Amendment wrought by the Obama administration, it ushered in what many hope will be a new era of respect for the right to keep and bear arms. Just over a month into his presidency, Trump signed a free-standing pro-gun bill into law. 

The NRA, of course, was among the earliest and staunchest supporters of Trump’s presidential bid. We thank him for his quick action on this measure and look forward to working with him and the pro-gun majorities in Congress to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

VIDEO: Wayne LaPierre at CPAC 2017

NRA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre addressed the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. “Have we ever seen such anger in this country,” asked the NRA chief, referring to the enraged leftist movement. He said many of these people hate everything that America stands for and they’re willing to engage in criminal violence to get what they want.

These are dangerous times, warned LaPierre, who declared that we’re also under siege from the national media machine. Everything they do, he pointed out, is intended to purposely and maliciously destroy the Trump presidency.

But when Americans voted last November, the NRA vowed to stand by Donald Trump’s side and LaPierre promised that gun owners across the country will fight the violent left and will not be defeated. “Terror knows no more ferocious foe than freedom in the hands of ‘We the people.’

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ignores Heller: No Protection for Guns It Deems “Dangerous”

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions in Heller and McDonald, many of the lower U.S. courts have been making up their own rules when it comes to the Second Amendment. Tuesday’s outrageous opinion by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Kolbe v. Hogan is yet another example of this. In that case, nine of out fourteen judges ruled that America’s most popular types of rifles, banned in the state of Maryland, have no Second Amendment protection.

The Court called the banned firearms – which include AR-15s and most magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles – “exceptionally lethal weapons of war.” It compared them to the M16, which the court claimed made them categorically unprotected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Heller. The Court called the difference between a machine gun and a semi-automatic “slight”, despite the substantial differences in function and form, so much so that the federal law regulates each in highly dissimilar ways.

And in doing so, the judges joining the majority opinion actually said that they do not consider themselves bound by the Supreme Court’s majority decision in Heller (to say nothing of their sworn oath to uphold the Constitution).

Heller, of course, concerned the most demonstrably lethal and crime-associated of all firearms: the handgun. Handguns are implicated in more deaths, and more firearm-related crimes, than all other types of firearms combined … by a very large margin. This was extensively briefed for the Supreme Court during the Heller proceedings, and no one contested that argument. The NRA, on behalf of a free people, will continue to vindicate the rights of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear the best firearms available to protect themselves and their loved ones.  As we’ve been there every step of the way in the Kolbe fight, we will continue to press forward, including appealing the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Moreover, the majority opinion in Heller did not shrink from these facts. The opinion’s author, Justice Scalia, put it very plainly: “We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution.” He continued: “But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

In other words, the fact that criminals exploit handguns for their own evil purposes could not overcome the fact that responsible, law-abiding Americans also choose them to defend themselves, their families, and their homes.

Heller also counsels against policy-makers picking and choosing among firearm types when enacting prohibitions.  “It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed,” Scalia wrote. “It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon.”

In the post-Heller era, the same could be said of the detachable magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles of the type banned in Maryland. They’re not just popular guns, they’re the most popular types of rifles on the market today. And the fact that many, many millions reside in the hands of Americans, with such a miniscule percentage used in violent crime, show that they are overwhelmingly kept and used for lawful purposes.

But the Fourth Circuit disregarded all this, and instead chose to follow Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion in Heller. Breyer insisted that even if the majority was right that Second Amendment protects an individual right grounded in self-defense, “the District’s regulation … represents a permissible legislative response to a serious, indeed life-threatening, problem.”

Of course, virtually every author of every gun control law that has ever been passed or proposed has claimed the measure is a matter of life and death. Never mind that few can show any actual evidence their proposed restrictions will save lives. And even if they could, Heller could not be clearer that this claim does not end the matter when it comes to banning the sorts of arms commonly kept by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes. The majority very specifically rejected Breyer’s attempts to use inapt analogies and “interest-balancing” to preserve D.C.’s handgun ban.

Inapt analogies and interest-balancing, however, are exactly the techniques employed by the Kolbe majority. They counterfactually try to analogize AR-15s to M16s and other “weapons of war,” and then they insist such firearms can be subject to a ban because they’re dangerous.  It’s likely that any ban of any type of firearm – and under any circumstances – would survive this shallow and self-serving rationale.

If, as the Fourth Circuit suggests, a firearm loses Second Amendment protection because it is specifically designed for “killing or disabling the enemy,” then the whole idea of the Second Amendment protecting a defensive purpose (or applying to any well-designed firearm, for that matter) collapses. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns of any type can be equally “dangerous.”   

It’s bad enough that the Fourth Circuit considers the choices actually made by law-abiding people irrelevant when it comes to the Second Amendment, contrary to the clear admonition of Heller.

Yet the court’s reasoning is worse than that. It challenges the very notion of freedom itself and the ability of a free people to govern themselves and make their own choices from available alternatives. It puts the people who vote and pay taxes and follow the law below the government that is supposed to serve them and below the criminals who will use every available means to prey upon them. It empowers the courts to decide, on a case-by-case basis, what firearms are “safe” enough for a free people to be trusted to own.

The NRA, on behalf of a free people, will continue to vindicate the rights of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear the best firearms available to protect themselves and their loved ones.  As we’ve been there every step of the way in the Kolbe fight, we will continue to press forward, including appealing the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.