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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest here.

By Katie Yoder | Newsbusters September 6, 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The leader also called out the media as hypocritical.

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

“Clearly, it would not,” they determined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During her wide-ranging diatribe, Warren stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice Department Terminates and Repudiates Operation Chokepoint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The High-Level Hypocrisy of Mayors for Gun Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run, Hide, Perish – Survival Do’s and Don’ts from Across the Pond

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advises persons at risk of harm from an active shooter to “Run, Hide, Fight” (in that order), recommending “fight” – incapacitating or “attempt[ing] to take the active shooter down” – if all else fails.

In the United Kingdom, police and counter-terrorism authorities like the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the London Metropolitan Police promote a different version for surviving a firearms or weapons attack at home (and recently, abroad). The last step in their “Run, Hide, Tell” directs victims to turn off their cell phones and only call the police once it’s safe to do so.

This is peculiar advice even in a jurisdiction that gives its subjects almost no legal options for arming and defending themselves (herehere, here and here). What if running or hiding aren’t safe or even available alternatives? How will a person in hiding know when it’s safe to call the police? What if law enforcement doesn’t arrive quickly or find the victims in time?

The London Bridge attack last month offers a real-life example of how such violence may unfold. The attack began when terrorists drove their van at high speed into unsuspecting pedestrians on the pavement along the bridge. After mowing down several people, the three van occupants embarked on a stabbing spree through bars and restaurants in the heart of London. News reports confirm that police officers arrived within eight minutes or so of the first call to emergency services and eventually shot dead the three attackers, but not before the assailants had killed eight people and injured 48 others.

In the interim, several individuals fought back. In one restaurant, Roy Larner, armed with just his bare hands and his resolve, fended off all three attackers, a tactic that allowed the other patrons to escape. (Perhaps mindful of the official security directive, Larner’s friends brought him a jogging magazine captioned “Learn to run” to enjoy while recuperating in hospital.) Construction worker Gerard Vowls, who intervened when he saw the terrorist trio stabbing a young woman, described how he “pick[ed] up bottles, threw a chair at them, [bar] stools, [pint] glasses, anything I could get my hands on.” Although his desperate actions didn’t save that young woman, two other women claim his actions enabled them to get safely away.

Even as violent crime rates in England and Wales climb upward – with “double digit” increases in murder, sexual offense, robbery, and knife crimes reported in 2016 – local politicians reacted in horror to the mere suggestion that it was worth examining the possibility of registered firearms licensees using their guns to defend themselves or to assist the police during a terrorist attack.  On the same day that the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner offhandedly commented that this could be something to explore officially – without actually approving or endorsing the notion – the Devon and Cornwall Police released an official statement denouncing the remarks. “Under no circumstances would we want members of the public to arm themselves with firearms… Our message to the public is a simple one: to run, to hide and to tell.”

Interestingly, the statement adds the qualification that British police services “will require an uplift in resources in response to the unprecedented threats we are currently facing.” In much the same vein, earlier this year the then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, warned that the surge in crime, along with resource constraints, meant law enforcement would be forced to prioritize service delivery, with “rationing” of police responses and officer deployments.

Unfortunately, with no legal recourse to self-defense products, there’s not much except the police to keep ordinary individuals from becoming potential victims of violent crime. “Run, Hide, Tell” is pointless if there’s no one to “tell” and the police are busy dealing with other emergencies.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DC’s Concealed Carry Restriction

Court to Texas College Professors: Your Irrational Fear of Gun Owners Is Not Legally Addressable

Gun Control Groups: Good at Gloating, Bad at Counting on Advancing National Reciprocity Effort

Commerce Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson Steers Pro-Gun Spending Bill to House Floor

Court to Texas College Professors: Your Irrational Fear of Gun Owners Is Not Legally Addressable

Last Thursday, a federal judge in Austin, Texas, dismissed a lawsuit by several professors who sought to block the University of Texas from implementing a state law that provides for the lawful carrying of concealed handguns on campus. The case is Glass v. Paxton.

In a filing with the court, one of the professors claimed that the presence of armed students in their classrooms would impede their “ability to create a daring, intellectually active, mutually supportive, and engaged community of thinkers.” The court, however, noted the plaintiffs did not specify what subject matter or point of view they expected to be suppressed. Instead, the judge wrote, they appeared to claim that they would censor their own opinions for fear that an armed student would harm someone.

Yet the judge stated that the professors’ “subjective fear” that an unnamed, unknown student would be moved to future violence because of a differing opinion was based on “mere conjecture.” The judge accordingly ruled that the plaintiffs had not articulated enough of an injury for the court to have standing to hear the case.  Stripped of its legal jargon, Thursday’s ruling basically states that the professors’ own rank biases against law-abiding concealed carriers does not constitute a legally addressable injury. 

Because the judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing, he did not opine on the substance of their novel First and Second Amendment claims. We had discussed the implausibility of those claims at length in a prior article on the case. It’s particularly notable that the learned professors hoped to convince the court that the Second Amendment itself REQUIRES the university to BAN law-abiding students from possessing firearms on campus.

Stripped of its legal jargon, Thursday’s ruling basically states that the professors’ own rank biases against law-abiding concealed carriers does not constitute a legally addressable injury. The UT professors bootstrapped their claims essentially by insisting that their own irrational prejudice of lawful concealed carriers was so acute that it would cause the professors to avoid expressing opinions they themselves believed would be offensive. The court in this case wisely chose not to entertain or dignify this self-delusion.

This makes sense. Campus carry is hardly a new or isolated phenomenon, and there is no evidence (or intuitive force) to support the idea that differences of academic opinions will lead otherwise law-abiding carriers to suddenly become violent toward classmates or instructors. Indeed, as economist and former university instructor John Lott recently reiterated, concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding of Americans. It’s ironic that a group of professors supposedly taking a stand for academic freedom did so with such a paucity of empirical or evidentiary support and on such highly emotional grounds.

Unfortunately for the Constitution and for whatever legitimacy remains in higher education, Thursday’s ruling may not be the end of the case. The plaintiffs could still ask the judge to clarify or reconsider his decision or appeal it to a higher court. Considering their unique legal claims, we don’t expect the professors will be deterred from doing so by the sound legal reasoning of the judgement against them.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Run, Hide, Perish – Survival Do’s and Don’ts from Across the Pond

Gun Control Groups: Good at Gloating, Bad at Counting on Advancing National Reciprocity Effort

Commerce Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson Steers Pro-Gun Spending Bill to House Floor

VIDEO: Who Fights For Black Gun Rights?

The Black Lives Matter movement began as a way to shed light on what they saw as the unjustified killings of black men by police officers. Millions of dollars from liberal organizations and billionaires like George Soros later, they’re attacking the NRA and taking on extreme leftist issues that have nothing to do with the original purpose of #BlackLivesMatter.

So Colion Noir asks them: What are you really fighting for?

RELATED ARTICLES:

Run, Hide, Perish – Survival Do’s and Don’ts from Across the Pond

Court to Texas College Professors: Your Irrational Fear of Gun Owners Is Not Legally Addressable

Gun Control Groups: Good at Gloating, Bad at Counting on Advancing National Reciprocity Effort

Commerce Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson Steers Pro-Gun Spending Bill to House Floor

Steadfast Czechs Fight on Against EU Gun Control

The European Union’s new restrictions on firearms ownership were finalized on May 24, when the misguided changes to the European Firearms Directive were published in the political bloc’s Official Journal. Despite this setback, the Czech Republic has made clear that the country will continue its fight for European firearms freedom.

To quickly recap, following the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, the EU expedited plans to curtail gun ownership across the political union. Of most concern to European gun owners was a new restriction on the ownership of certain types of semi-automatic firearms. However, the legislation also included more stringent requirements for member state-issued firearms licenses, and measures that implicated gun owner privacy. After significant negotiations between the European Parliament and European Council to reform the European Commission’s flawed draft, the final contours of the legislation were agreed to last December. Since the announcement of the European Commission’s draft proposal, the Czech Republic has been among the harshest critics of the gun control legislation. 

On June 14, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced the country’s intention to challenge the new restrictions in the European Court of Justice. Reporting on the development, Agence France-Presse quoted Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who stated, “We cannot allow the EU to interfere in the position of member states and their citizens under the guise of fighting terrorism” adding, “I’m not happy about the complaint but we have no other option.”

The move came after deliberation by the Czech government, during which some Czech politicians were reluctant to challenge the new controls. However, throughout the process, Chovanec was adamant about the need to confront the new restrictions. On June 8, the Czech News Agency reported that the Interior Minister viewed the EU’s arguments about thwarting terrorism a “mere pretext” to impose the new controls. Expressing his severe disdain for the EU’s gun controls, Chovanec noted “In my opinion, the directive should not be implemented even if it meant that Europe will sanction the country.”

The Czech Republic has a strong tradition of civilian gun ownership and firearms manufacturing, and in recent years has made significant efforts to protect their proud heritage. In addition to confronting the changes to the European Firearms Directive directly, some Czech politicians have supported a change to the Czech constitution that would guarantee the right to keep and bear arms. Further, in July 2016, Czech President Milos Zeman expressed his support for an armed citizenry to confront terrorist threats.

The Czechs have until August 17 to file their formal complaint against the new European Firearms Directive with the European Court of Justice. NRA-ILA will continue to follow the Czechs in their crucial struggle for freedom and apprise U.S. gun owners of any new developments.

VIDEO: Colts for England!

What happens when a nation strips its citizens of the tools they need to defend their families?

Jihad! That’s what happens.

We call out the British government over its suicidal, stupid approach to Islam.

EDITORS NOTE: Before America’s entry into WWII small arms and ammunition were purchased from U.S. manufacturers until they were supplied under lend lease in 1941. The weapons obtained from America for the British army included the Tommy gun, Colt M1911A1 semi-automatic handgun and the Colt .45 revolver.

The Loophole in Background Check Thinking: Criminals Obey the Law

Gun control groups expend an awful lot of ink, time and money advocating for “common-sense public safety laws” like “universal” background checks because such restrictions, they claim, will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.

It’s peculiar, then, that many of these entities don’t do a better job of background-checking their own adherents and associates. Not too long ago, then-California state senator Leland Yee (D), whose staunch support of gun control measures earned him a spot on the Brady Campaign’s “Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll,” was accused of committing various felonies, including illegal firearms trafficking and money laundering offenses. Following a plea agreement in which he acknowledged his participation in a firearms trafficking conspiracy, among other offenses, Yee was sentenced to five years in jail.

Members of the Michael Bloomberg-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), now reconfigured as Everytown for Gun Safety, popped up in the news with such embarrassing regularity due to arrests and convictions for crimes, including gun crimes, that the New York Post ran an editorial in 2013 titled “Illegal mayors against guns.”

And last month, a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois alleges that a certain Francisco Sanchez violated a federal gun law that prohibits possession of a firearm by a felon. The snag is that at the time, Mr. Sanchez (a.k.a. “Smokey”) was apparently working as a supervisor at CeaseFire Illinois, as highlighted in a February feature by the Everytown-funded website, The Trace.   

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint states that Mr. Sanchez was convicted of murder and aggravated battery in 1986, and adds the more disturbing allegation that he is the “national leader of the Gangster Two-Six Nation,” a street gang “prevalent throughout Chicago” and in other states. Mr. Sanchez’s arrest occurred as part of a larger federal investigation of gang-related gun and drug trafficking in which other suspected gang members or associates were apprehended and over 100 firearms were seized.

Of course, the complaint contains only allegations, not evidence, and Mr. Sanchez and his fellow defendants remain innocent until proven guilty. However, the arrests – which took place shortly before the Memorial Day weekend – coincided with a drop in gun homicides as compared to last year’s holiday weekend.

We’ve written before about how criminals get guns, including this study at Chicago’s Cook County Jail that concluded criminals bypass legal sources in favor of guns obtained from “family, gang members, or other social connections.”

Expanded background check laws won’t stop criminals because criminals ignore the law. Nonetheless, Everytown and others of its ilk will continue to call for ever-increasing restrictions and laws affecting law-abiding gun owners in the name of prohibiting felons, violent criminals, and gang members from obtaining guns. Honest gun owners will continue to do what they’ve always done: obey the law.