Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians

October 1 showed the US why we need civilian guns.

Laura Williams

by  Laura Williams

Since the tragic murder of 59 peaceful concertgoers in Las Vegas Sunday, I’ve heard well-intentioned Americans from all political corners echoing heartbroken and tempting refrains:

Can’t we just ban guns?

Surely we can all get together on the rocket launchers.

Things like this would happen less often.

We have enough military.

While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

Those who claim to see no necessity or benefits of individual gun ownership need only look to the rolling hills of Catalonia, where a live social experiment is currently unfolding.

Unarmed Patriots

Just hours before an alleged lone gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay casino, the citizens of a small region surrounding Barcelona, Spain, cast a vote for their regional independence. Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

Polling stations in Catalonia were attacked by heavily armed agents of the state with riot gear and pointed rifles. Spanish National Police fired rubber bullets and unleashed tear gas canisters on voters, broke down polling center doors, disrupted the vote, and destroyed enough ballots to throw results into serious doubt.Exceedingly few of those would-be patriots were armed.

In Spain, firearm ownership is not a protected individual right. Civilian firearms licenses are restricted to “cases of extreme necessity” if the government finds “genuine reason.” Background checks, medical exams, and license restrictions further restrict access. Licenses are granted individually by caliber and model, with automatic weapons strictly forbidden to civilians. Police can demand a citizen produce a firearm at any time for inspection or confiscation. Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

But of course, that doesn’t mean that Spanish citizens don’t buy guns. In fact, Spanish taxpayers maintain an enormous arsenal of weapons, which are all in the hands [of] “professional armed police forces within the administration of the state, who are the persons in charge of providing security to the population.”

Those agents of the state weren’t “providing security to the population” of Catalonia on Sunday — they were pointing guns at would-be founding patriots who had challenged the rule of their oppressors.

“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Spain’s justice minister said in a public address.  While many polling places were closed or barricaded, 2.3 million voters (90% in favor of independence) were permitted to vote, he claimed, “because the security forces decided that it wasn’t worth using force because of the consequences that it could have.”

The consequences of a government using force to control those it is sworn to protect must be high. When citizens are armed, the consequences for tyranny rise and its likelihood falls.

Armed Tyrants

Americans have grown too trustful of the State, too ready to assume bureaucrats have only our best interests at heart. Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office, many are seemingly eager to turn over individual liberty to those who promise to manage our lives for us. The United States was designed to be the smallest government in the history of the world, with no standing army, and little right to intrude in the private activities of its citizens. Instead, we have the most powerful and intrusive government in human history, with 800 permanent military bases in 70 countries, unfathomable firepower, and staggering surveillance capabilities. Unchecked abuses of power are routine and tolerated.

67 federal agencies, including the IRS and the FDA, have military weapons, according to the OpenTheBooks Oversight Report The Militarization of America. Among the most intrusive programs, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Authority, do not disclose their weaponry budget.

Don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

The number of armed government officials with arrest and firearm authority has doubled since 1996. The US now has more armed “civilian” federal officers (200,000+) than US Marines (182,000). The IRS spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually on pump-action shotguns, AR-15 rifles, riot gear, and Special Forces contractors to train thousands of “special agents” in targeting American citizens. Local police, sheriffs, and state troopers have also been armed to wage war against American citizens. Battlefield weapons are being given to state and local police, allegedly to combat drug trafficking and fight terrorist threats at local pumpkin festivals. Military SWAT-style raids are used to serve search warrants for low-level drug possession, not hostage situations. Relatives and neighbors of alleged criminals have had government guns held to their children’s heads. Violations of civil rights, including illegal searches and the seizure of money and property without evidence of any crime, are commonplace.

Law enforcement requests military equipment directly from the Pentagon’s war-fighting machine: tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers, tear gas, camouflage, shields, and gas masks.  Military equipment is often purchased with civil asset forfeiture slush funds to bypass legislative appropriations challenges.

The high percentage of civilian law enforcement who are military veterans (one in five, by some estimates) compounds the cultural risks of treating average Americans like enemy combatants.

Showdowns between civilians and heavily armed agents of the state in FergusonBaltimore, the Oregon Wildlife Refuge, and at various other political protests across the country should remind us that gun control advocates won’t be reducing the number of guns so much as shifting them all into either federal or criminal hands.

The senseless murder in Las Vegas is a frighteningly familiar tragedy. But don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

Laura Williams

Laura Williams

Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.

RELATED ARTICLE: Steve Scalise: Being a Victim of a Shooting Fortified My Support For The Second Amendment

The Australia Model for Gun Control Is Useless

The case of gun control advocates for the US to move to the Australia model for gun ownership is faulty at best.

by  Corey Iacono

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, a great number of people have laid the blame on America’s relatively lax gun laws and alleged unwillingness to adopt “common sense” gun control.

In particular, gun control advocates tell us America could eliminate mass shootings if only we followed Australia’s lead.

The Australia Model

In Australia, after a horrific mass shooting in 1996, the national government introduced a mandatory buyback program which forced gun owners to sell certain firearms (mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns) to the state, who promptly destroyed them.

This program, which resulted in the stock of civilian firearms in the country being reduced by approximately twenty percent, was effectively large-scale gun confiscation, as gun owners would have become criminals were they to withhold their firearms from the state.

Since the introduction of these measures, Australia’s firearm homicide rates have fallen and it has yet to witness a mass shooting. Because of these “results,” Australia has been constantly cited as a successful example of gun control in action.But the reality is much less simplistic than the narrative being promoted by gun control advocates.

Sure, there have been no mass shootings in Australia since it enacted gun control, but that hardly proves anything by itself. A 2011 study published in Justice Policy Journal compared the trends in mass shootings before and after 1996, when gun control was enacted, in Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand is Australia’s neighbor and is very similar to it socioeconomically, but unlike Australia, it retained the legal availability of guns that were banned and confiscated in Australia in 1996. It thus served as a useful control group to observe whatever effects gun control had on mass shootings.

The authors of the study found that, after taking into account difference in population size, Australia and New Zealand did not have statistically different trends in mass shootings before or after 1996. Indeed, New Zealand has not had a mass shooting since 1997, “despite the availability in that country of firearms banned in Australia.”

Well, what about firearm homicides in general? Or firearm suicides?

These questions were answered by a 2016 American Medical Association (AMA) study, which examined trends in firearm homicides and suicides before and after the adoption of gun control in Australia in 1996. The authors found no evidence of a statically significant effect of gun control on the pre-existing downward trend of the firearm homicide rate.

This is in accordance with past research. For example, the authors of a paper published in the International Journal of Criminal Justice report that, “Although the total number of published peer-reviewed studies based on time series data remains relatively small (fewer than 15 studies, at the time of writing), none of these studies has found a significant impact of the Australian legislative changes on the pre-existing downward trend in firearm homicide.”

The authors of the AMA study did find that the decline in firearm suicide rates accelerated in the wake of gun control, but concluded that “it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms” because the “decline in total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths were of greater magnitude.”In other words, since non-firearm suicide rates were reduced to an even greater extent than firearm suicide rates in the wake of gun control, one cannot firmly conclude that gun control is the reason firearm suicide rates fell.

Basically, gun control advocates have built their entire case about Australian gun control on lazy data analysis, or perhaps no data analysis at all. If anything, Australia proves the complete opposite of what advocates of gun control want.

A national gun confiscation scheme which reduced the civilian firearm stock by an astounding twenty percent and nobody can seem to find any clear evidence it caused a meaningful effect on the firearm murder rate? That’s not only embarrassing, it goes against everything they believe about the nature of the relationship between guns and murder rates.

Corey Iacono

Corey Iacono is a student at the University of Rhode Island majoring in pharmaceutical science and minoring in economics. He is a FEE 2016 Thorpe Fellow.

VIDEO: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin on Gun Control and the Las Vegas Massacre

The Daily Signal posted the below video on its YouTube channel:

President Trump in his statement immediately after the Las Vegas massacre said:

Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today — and always will, forever.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

It seems that some people focus on the weapons of choice rather than the person committing the act of violence. Evil exists in this toxic environment where individuals and groups call for the killing of those who do not agree with them. Some Muslims have called for a holy war (jihad) against President Trump and his supporters.

Focus on the good. Reject evil. As President Trump said, “Scripture teaches us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery, and pledge to you our support from this day forward.”

Embrace the light, reject the darkness.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Ann Coulter: Media Find Las Vegas Shooter’s Motive: He’s White!

FBI Warns Of More Violence From ‘Black Identity Extremist’ Groups

Vegas Massacre: Americans At Their Best…Politicians At Their Worst

While the evil massacre of 59 people in Las Vegas was immediately politicized by those wanting more gun control legislation — despite the reality that everything the killer did was already illegal — average Americans continued to shine in the crisis.

Just as Americans did in killer hurricanes in Texas and Florida. Just as we always do.

As the psychopath continued to fire on the defenseless crowd from the nearby Mandalay Hotel high rise, dozens and dozens of stories have emerged about ordinary people turned heroes in the midst of the deadly chaos.

Repeatedly, concert-goers stopped to help others, went back into the field of fire from safety to aid the wounded — consistently risking their own lives to save others, often strangers.

“There were so many people out there that you wouldn’t think they would be helping others at a time like that, but it wasn’t an ‘every man for himself’ kind of situation,” said Tiffany Michelle, who witnessed the massacre. “Everybody just sort of grabbed somebody around them and tried to do everything they could to get others out.”

Off-duty California firefighter Steve Keys was bent over a shooting victim and performing CPR when he was shot in the back. He is expected to survive.

Retired teacher Mike Cronk told ABC 13 that many concert-goers with and without first-aid training, worked together to help victims get to first-responders — often carrying them. Cronk said he used his shirt to stop the bleeding after his friend was shot three times. He and another woman helped him push his friend under the stage to safety. “I’m no hero,” he said. “But there’s a lot of heroes out there.”

A 29-year-old nurse from Tennessee, Sunny Melton, was at the concert with his wife. When the shots began, Melton stood behind his wife, sheltering her as he guided her toward safety away from the gunfire. He was fatally shot in the back as they neared safety. His wife survived.

Off-duty firefighter Kurt Fowler from Arizona was also protecting his wife by using his body as a shield and was shot, but is expected to recover.

Los Angeles firefighter Mark McCurdy was at the concert with his wife and her sister when the sister was shot. McCurdy carried his sister-in-law to the safety of their hotel room, and once his wife was also safe, he turned around and went back out into the killing field to help others.

In the middle of the night, just a few hours before the politicians climbed out of bed to begin tweeting and issuing statements dividing Americans, regular Nevadans began flooding blood donation centers because of the critical need for blood with more than 500 people wounded.

Las Vegas shooting victim Thomas Gunderson with POTUS and FLOTUS

Blood centers were jammed full by 4 a.m. Through the night, throughout the next day and the following, Nevadans kept giving blood.

A GoFundMe account was quickly established for the victims and within a day had gained more than $2 million. More than 30,000 people contributed, including the Oakland Raiders professional football team, which will be moving to Vegas.

And states jumped in to help, just as they did during the hurricanes.

Drawing on the hard lessons learned after the Pulse nightclub massacre last year in Orlando, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and members of her office are heading to Las Vegas at the request of the Nevada Attorney General to practically help victims of the nation’s latest mass killing.

“Sadly, (in) Florida we know what we’re doing after the Pulse nightclub,” Bondi said. “So many of the victims who died don’t live in Nevada, so help with burial and helping them get back to their respective states…We need to help them work through the legal process, connecting with their families and by getting them services.”

This is America. Not the sleazy, grandstanding politicians. Not the divisive National Anthem protests. Not Antifa or white supremacists. Not the rancor and division that is so prevalent now for political gain.

White, black, Hispanic, male, female were all at the concert, were all helping others and were all lined up at blood banks to help others. Let’s remember this America.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act.

VIDEO: Here’s What a Gun Fired With a ‘Silencer’ Really Sounds Like

Eight hours after the mass shooting in Las Vegas began, which left nearly 60 dead and more than 500 wounded, Hillary Clinton turned the conversation political, tweeting about gun silencers. She said:

But would gun silencers make any difference in mass shootings? Last February, The Daily Signal traveled to the National Rifle Association to learn about gun silencers, also known as suppressors. Watch the video to hear the same firearms being fired both with and without silencers, and decide the sound effects for yourself.

Portrait of Kelsey HarknessKelsey Harkness

Kelsey Harkness is a senior news producer at The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kelsey. Twitter: @kelseyjharkness

RELATED ARTICLE: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. – The Washington Post

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Kimmel to Clinton, Appalling Democrats Pounce on Massacre for Political Gain

It happens. Every…single…time. Another mass shooting, another mass effort by Democrats to squeeze out some political gain.

In these circumstances, this is beyond the pale of normal ugly politics. It’s vicious, cold-hearted, self-centered, void of common decency, almost a sickness in part because of the rapidity of the response.

Literally within hours of a psychopath in Las Vegas slaughtering 59 people and injuring more than 600 others at a country western concert, leading Democrats in Congress, the media and entertainment everywhere were falling all over themselves to get their holier-than-thou positioning out to the masses — well, their masses anyway. They had one overarching goal: Turn an act of human evil to their political advantage.

It is as Democrat Rahm Emanuel, former Obama advisor and current Chicago mayor, infamously said: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Democrats’ endless efforts to limit gun ownership and interpret the Second Amendment as essentially rifle hunting, continually fail because they cannot get such laws through Congress. There are never the votes and the American people largely get the Second Amendment. Further, the policy prescriptions after each mass shooting are never related to the shooting or would have prevented it — from Sandy Hook to Orlando to Las Vegas.

There are no reflections on the condition of human nature, on the reality of evil, on the price of freedom. No, these killings are all simply opportunity crises not to be wasted.

Going through just a sampling of the responses, it is clear that this is not some responsible “gun control” measures, but pure political opportunism, because none of them propose anything that either can pass or is not already illegal.

Democrats could have joined with Republicans to donate blood and call for blood donors, as the mayor of Las Vegas immediately said blood was desperately needed right after the massacre. This humane response in the following hours would have been a uniting action and maybe opened the door for legislative actions. But it would not have been politically advantageous.

So we got this.

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted: “It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.” Vacuous in content and relevance to the shooting; meant to score political points.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted a series of tweets: “Thoughts & prayers are NOT enough. Not when more moms & dads will bury kids this week, & more sons & daughters will grow up without parents. Tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times. We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW.” But she doesn’t mean a true conversation, she means take guns away from Americans.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey tweeted: “Let’s close the close the gun show loophole.” Yes, he was so anxious to get this out the morning after the night shooting, he fired off typos. But of course, when he tweeted this, he had no idea (and we  still don’t as of the writing of this) where the killer got his weapons. The “gun show loophole” isn’t any more real than me selling a gun to a friend “loophole” because all of the dealers in the gunshow must follow all of the normal laws. And there is no evidence that any mass shooting has been accomplished through this supposed loophole. Just gross opportunism.

Former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden tweeted: “How long do we let gun violence tear families apart? Enough. Congress & the WH should act now to save lives. There’s no excuse for inaction.” Just as vacuous as Sanders. No thought for cause, motive, the reality of evil. It’s all about the gun.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted: “The notion that there’s no way to prevent gun violence is false — and without action to stop gun attacks, Congress is complicit in them.” This is the height of politicizing absurdity considering the level of violence in Chicago and the fact that it has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. No shame.

Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton is a special kind of ugly on this issue. After tweeting he would not participate in a moment of silence in Congress over the slaughtered Americans, he tweeted: “Thinking of everyone in #LasVegas, and praying Congress will have the courage to do more than stand in silence to commemorate them.” Using the word “prayer” to make a tasteless political statement while blood is still on the ground in Vegas is grotesque.

Moulton went on to say assault rifles “have no place on American streets.” Right. And they are already illegal. Machine guns, fully automatic weapons are illegal unless you have one grandfathered in from before 1986. Moulton knows this. Just egregious.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement: “…Congress refuses to act. I am more than frustrated, I am furious.” Again, empty political posturing.

The biggest bogeyman in the Democratic failure to restrict gun rights for law-abiding Americans is the National Rifle Association.

So Hillary Clinton tweeted just a few hours after the shooting: “Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again,” Clinton wrote. Later in the day, it had 172,000 likes.

It’s important to remember in all of this rush for more gun control, the killer was apparently using a weapon that is already illegal. So…what exactly are they saying?

It’s not just Democrat politicians. It’s celebrities, who are overwhelmingly Democrat and far more unhinged.

Late Night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who has become hyper-partisan on health care and now gun control (guaranteeing his ratings will drop) smeared vast swaths of America telling his audience that Congressional Republicans “should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country because it’s so crazy.” Sure, that will result in positive change. But Jimmy feels good about himself.

Singer and noted political commentator Lady Gaga tweeted: “Prayers are important but @SpeakerRyan @realDonaldTrump blood is on the hands of those who have power to legislate. #GunControl act quickly.” Sigh.

Alyssa Milano, who gets an awful lot wrong, tweeted: “Sensible gun control NOW.” Because it would have stopped this, or Orlando or Sandy Hook?

Singer Sheryl Crow, a light thinker among light thinkers, tweeted: “Can we discuss the loss of rights of people going to a concert because of the lack of assault rifle regulations?” Again…assault rifles have been banned since 1986.

Actress Sophia Bush tweeted:

“Dear Donald.

Fuck you for this.
Truly.
Sincerely,
America”

Reaching for the Clinton bogeyman, House of Cards creator Beau Willimon‏ tweeted: “Don’t bring politics into the Las Vegas shooting? Okay, we’ll stop with the politics as soon as politicians stop taking money from the @NRA

It’s not newsworthy but requires pointing out that, of course, the mainstream media immediately went all in on gun control with their Democrat allies. Before motive, cause, gun type, legality of ownership — before any facts were established — the media hammered every Republican and White House spokesperson possible on gun control.

And of course, throughout all of these, the vitriolic Trump hatred is right at the surface. CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny inexplicably said in his post-Trump speech “analysis:” “Something else, I think, to keep in mind — a lot of these country music supporters are likely Trump supporters.” Wow. Just wow.

The problem with this is threefold:

  1. Going partisan political within hours of the massacre to play on raw emotion is repulsive behavior.
  2. Seeking policy changes before any information is known on which to base policy changes inevitably results in bad policy.
  3. These actions immediately polarized Americans again when there could have been a moment of unity. When there might be opportunity to reach out and make whatever changes Democrats think are good, they instead went into high dudgeon attack mode, guaranteed to turn off anyone who might have considered working with them.

And this means among the politicians anyway it was all aimed at political gain. Period.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act.

Here’s the Truth About Gun Control and Crime

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to call for gun control shortly after a mass shooting took place in Las Vegas.

“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get,” Hillary Clinton tweeted.

“Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again,” she added.

The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas began around 10 p.m. local time, or 1 a.m. EST. Eight hours later, Clinton dropped her tweets.

And she wasn’t the only one to quickly promote gun control in light of the terrible news about the shooting, which has left at least 58 dead and another 500 wounded.

While the facts are still entirely unsettled as of this writing, that didn’t stop gun control activists from immediately jumping to conclusions or answers on how to fix everything.

And while too little is known about the Las Vegas shooting to make judgments about what could or could not have prevented it, the reality is that gun ownership does not lead to more crime in the United States.

Yet, in the chaotic wake of the horrific mass shooting that took the lives of at least 50 in Las Vegas, proponents of gun control quickly turned the event to fit their agenda.

For instance, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., accused those who didn’t act on shootings of “cowardice.”

And there were numerous other hot takes from nonelected politicos and celebrities that veered into various levels of blaming gun rights supporters for allowing events like Las Vegas to happen.

And all of this before even the most basic facts have been ascertained. The Associated Press reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the FBI says there is no connection. The details of the case are simply a confusing mess and it is difficult to ascertain the shooter’s motives, how he acquired the firearm(s), or even what firearm(s) he used to conduct the attack.

While it is unwise to draw too many conclusions about what happened in Las Vegas, in the face of the relentless assault on gun rights and misinformation it is important to note some false narratives that have been spread in the last 24 hours.

Take Clinton’s claim about silencers. She was immediately denounced for this statement as being “ignorant” of how suppressors work. Even a Washington Post reporter wrote that the debate over silencers “isn’t really relevant” to what happened in Las Vegas.

And both The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler and conservative pundit Dana Loesch pushed back on Clinton’s claim:

study released earlier this year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found that while there were 1.3 million registered suppressors in the country last year, there were only 44 suppressor-related crimes recommended for prosecution.

The details about the weapons the shooter used are still not clear, but some have called for a ban on automatic weapons—basically machine guns—on top of other gun control measures.

However, federal laws dating back to the 1930s already on the books strictly regulate the sale and purchase of these kinds of firearms.

Sean Davis at The Federalist did an excellent job of explaining how tightly controlled automatic weapon sales are in the United States:

Only licensed entities are permitted to manufacture, sell, or own [fully automatic weapons]. Private civilian ownership of machine guns is illegal unless the individual has been explicitly permitted by the federal ATF to own them. All fully automatic weapons must be registered with the federal government in a central registry with no exceptions.

There is also a tax on these items—and they’re not cheap since only weapons produced before 1986 are allowed to be sold.

Of course, with the right tools and skills, it is still possible to create a fully automatic weapon, which some experts say may have been what the Las Vegas shooter did to carry out his murders.

Nevertheless, these weapons are incredibly difficult to obtain.

The events that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night were an atrocity. But it must be noted that wicked individuals have found ways to conduct mass murder and terrorism through a variety of means both legal and illegal: guns, knivesacid, planes, and trucks.

The list goes on and on.

As numerous studies have shown, gun ownership is not necessarily connected to crime rates, and in fact may make crime go down. A 2016 report from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action noted that:

As gun ownership has risen to an all-time high, the nation’s total violent crime rate has fallen to a 44-year low and the murder rate has fallen to an all-time low. Since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, the nation’s violent crime rate and its murder rate have decreased by more than half, as Americans have acquired over 170 million new guns, roughly doubling the number of privately owned guns in the United States.

Furthermore, concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding of any demographic group in America.

For these reasons and many others, gun control has fizzled as an issue even as its proponents continue to push the narrative.

The fact is, a majority of Americans just don’t see gun control as the answer to crime, violence, and terrorism.

As Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., put it on Twitter, we live in a fallen world and ultimately can’t regulate evil.

Sometimes, in the face of horror, there are no policies or prescriptions that apply besides the courage and sacrifice of those who are good.

COMMENTARY BY

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Dominic Chan/Sipa USA/Newscom.

Guns of The DD214

Should the DD214 of honorably discharged veterans serve as a concealed weapons permit? I say YES!

Paul Paulson, candidate for Florida Agriculture Commission, plans to implement it.

Federal Court of Appeals Declines to Reconsider Opinion Striking Down District of Columbia Concealed Carry Ban

District of Columbia—In the latest victory for the Second Amendment rights of residents of the District of Columbia, the full federal court of appeals that sits in the District declined, on Thursday, to rehear an earlier decision by three judges of that court striking down provisions of the City’s code that barred most D.C. residents from carrying firearms for self-protection. The law at issue requires law-abiding citizens who wish to carry a firearm in public to obtain a license to do so, but restricts the issuance of licenses to those citizens who can show a specific, documented need for self-defense—for example, by proving that they had been previously attacked or were receiving death threats. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion in July invalidating that restriction as fundamentally incompatible with Second Amendment. The District then asked the full circuit court to hear the case, arguing that allowing ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry firearms—the regime that prevails in 42 of the 50 States and in major cities including Chicago, Houston, Miami, and Philadelphia—would “increase crime and cost lives.” On Thursday, the full court issued a short order turning away the District’s plea to reconsider the case.

“We applaud the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for reaffirming the rights of ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry firearms to protect themselves and their families in the District of Columbia,” said Chris Cox, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The District’s draconian restrictions on core Second-Amendment rights are out of step with the mainstream protections in the rest of the country, and as the D.C. Circuit’s opinion shows, they are equally out of step with our Nation’s traditions and fundamental law.”


EDITORS NOTE: Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

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.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

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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

RELATED ARTICLES:

Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll Throws Wrench in Anti-gun Agenda

Anti-Gun Politicians: Blocking Out The Facts About Suppressors

“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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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.