Venezuela: A Case Study On What Happens When Gun Rights Are Trampled.

With all deference to hunters and sportsmen, it wasn’t their right to hunt that inspired James Madison and our nation’s First Congress to include the Second Amendment in their proposed Bill of Rights.  There’s was a much greater concern, that of checking the power of a potentially tyrannical state.  The modern left dismisses this argument as nonsensical, superfluous, and yes, even hysterical.  But despite its foolish attempts at diminishing the importance of gun ownership as a check on government, the fact still remains that the concern was central in the minds of the Framers.  Perhaps Noah Webster, that great American scholar and teacher whom we have all come to know by way of his dictionary, put it best when he wrote, “The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”

Indeed, history has seen the pattern of gun right suppression in coordination with the rise of tyranny and oppression play out time and again.  China, Nazi Germany, communist Cuba, Russia, North Korea are but a few examples.  In fact, in keeping with Webster’s observation, the propagation of a dictatorship would be difficult to conceive if imposed upon a well-armed population.  And now, as we witness the financial and societal collapse of our southern neighbor, it is evident that Venezuela is no exception. 

In 2012, Venezuela’s, communist National Assembly banned gun ownership.  The stated reason for such an intervention is the oft-quoted safety argument.  In 2011, 40% of Caracas’s homicides were robbery related with armed robberies accounting for 70% of all major crimes.

Predictably, the government’s call for voluntary disarmament produced virtually no results, leading to the forcible confiscation of 12,603 firearms in 2013 alone.

The result? A rise in violence against police officers, and most ominously, a rise in violence by the state against its own citizens.  

In 2015 alone, 252 law enforcement officers were killed in Venezuela.  Why?  Well, in Venezuela, police officers are targeted for their firearms![1]

Additionally, when Venezuelans took to the streets to protest the “unjust laws” of which Webster wrote centuries ago, the state used live ammunition to quiet them down.  And like Cuba, Maduro’s regime established a group of colectivos, groups of local individuals charged with the implementation and enforcement of Maduro’s policies, except that, in Venezuela, 400,000 of them were officially armed and allowed to “carry out the regime’s rule by violence.” 

And what about the national homicide rate?  The rate government was trying to suppress? It actually rose from 73 per 100,000 in 2012 right before the ban was implemented to 90 per 100,000 in 2015.  In fact, in 2015 Venezuela faced the world’s highest homicide rate with 27,875 murders.  

There are elements within our country obsessed with restricting our gun rights.  Yes, there are sections in our country where gun violence reigns supreme.  And yes, the recurrently played out stories of senseless killings and associated suffering is tragic beyond words.  But there is no greater tragedy than a people who once given freedom are robbed of their liberties in pursuit of false assurances of safety and protection.  

Truly, Madison was not thinking of our right to hunt when he penned our Second Amendment.  He was thinking of much more ominous possibilities, the same eventualities that inspired Thomas Jefferson to proclaim, “it is [our] right and [our] duty to be at all times armed.”

The Author acknowledges the work of David Kopel and Vincent Harinam, cited below, on which the Author relied heavily.

[1]  David Kopel, Vincent Harinam, In The Wake Of A Gun Ban Venezuela Sees Rising Homicide RateThe Hill, April 19, 2018.

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EDITORS NOTE: This The Federalist Pages column is republished with permission. The featured image is from Pixabay.

VIDEO: In a Plot To Blast Trump, the AP Accidentally Exposes the Failures of “May Issue” Permits

“This idea of ‘May Issue’ is offensive, and the Associated Press just unknowingly made a great case why may issue should be ruled unconstitutional.” —Grant Stinchfield

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U.S. Supreme Court (Finally) Takes Another Second Amendment Challenge to a Gun Control Law

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a gun control law for the first time in nearly 10 years. Arguments in the case will likely be heard during the court’s next term, which starts in October.

During the opening decade of the 21st Century, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two landmark rulings that many hoped would revitalize the Second Amendment, which had been all but read out of the Constitution by activist lower judges that favored banning or heavily restricting firearms.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) made abundantly clear that the Second Amendment is a fundamental civil right and should be respected as such by the nation’s courts and public officials.

That did not happen. 

Instead, the rulings seemed mainly to energize the resistance to the right to keep and bear arms both within and without the judicial system. 

Billionaires turned social engineers – most notably Michael Bloomberg – created a new industry around more sophisticated and organized anti-gun efforts. 

Elite universities created research departments entirely devoted to engineering empirical support for gun control and rewriting American history as it pertains the Second Amendment and gun ownership.

The same judges with their same lifetime appointments who refused to acknowledge the obvious import of the Second Amendment’s history and text refused to acknowledge the obvious import of the Heller and McDonaldopinions. 

And one lower court decision after another upheld the most sweeping and oppressive forms of gun control, including bans on America’s most popular riflesbans on magazines used for self-defensebans on dealer sales of handguns to military-aged adultsmandatory handgun licensing fees of $340discretionary licensing for the carrying of firearmslengthy waiting periods to acquire guns, and infeasible manufacturing requirements that effectively ban new models of handguns.

Throughout it all, the high court seemed to have turned its back on the Second Amendment, refusing review in case after case. This sometimes provoked impassioned dissents from justices who believed the Second Amendment was being treated as a “disfavored right” and a “constitutional orphan.” 

Only once in all this time did the U.S. Supreme Court revisit the Second Amendment in an unsigned opinion that summarily reversed, without argument, a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court opinion that upheld the state’s ban on electrically-powered “stun guns.” 

That changed on Tuesday when the high court granted review to the NRA-backed case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York. This case concerns a challenge under the Second Amendment and other constitutional provisions to New York City regulations that effectively ban law-abiding handgun owners from traveling outside the city with their own secured and unloaded handguns.

The bizarre and unique nature of this regulation – apparently the only one of its kind in the nation – and the exceedingly thin “public safety” justification for it potentially make the case low-hanging fruit for another positive Second Amendment ruling. 

But whether the Supreme Court will use the occasion to bring lower court defiance of the Second Amendment to heel or simply to rule narrowly on this particular regulation remains to be seen.

The development does, however, underscore the importance to gun owners of President Trump’s appointments to the high court, including Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brent Kavanaugh. 

The latter replaced Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was considered the crucial swing vote in the Heller and McDonald cases. Yet Kennedy’s sustained commitment to a robust Second Amendment was always in question, leading to speculation that neither the court’s pro- or anti-gun blocs had the confidence to take another case.

Unlike Kennedy, however, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are committed originalists, the same mode of judicial interpretation that the late Justice Antonin Scalia used in authoring the Heller opinion. Fidelity to that method and to the court’s opinions in Heller and McDonald are the surest guarantees we can have that the Second Amendment will get the respect it is due by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Left-leaning pundits are already issuing hysterical predictions about what this development means for gun control in the United States. 

May they be right and then some. 

The more sober and mature outlook, however, is a wait-and-see attitude, along with a healthy appreciation of how President Trump’s appointments to the court may finally reenergize a Second Amendment that has been neglected for too long. 

Those appointments would not have happened without the steadfast work of NRA members who understand the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court as the final backstop against infringements of our Second Amendment rights. We may now be on the threshold of realizing the fruits of that labor.

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EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash.

Keep Telling Your Members of Congress to Oppose “Universal” Background Check Bills

On January 8, two bills were introduced in Congress to impose so-called “universal” background checks. The bills, H.R. 8 and S. 42, are being misleadingly described as simply requiring background checks on all sales of firearms, but this is just a small part of what these overbroad pieces of legislation would do.

A vote on this gun control legislation could take place as early as the first weeks of February. Therefore, it is vital that gun owners immediately contact their members of Congress to urge them to oppose this legislation, and that gun owners encourage their freedom-minded family and friends to do the same.

Traps for Law-Abiding Gun Owners

Both bills would make it a crime, subject to certain exceptions, to simply hand a firearm to another person. Any time gun owners carry out this simple act, they would potentially be exposing themselves to criminal penalties. While the bills do create some exceptions, they are overly complicated and create many traps for unwary gun owners. Accidental violations of these complicated provisions are not excused under the proposed legislation.  

Keep Telling Your Members of Congress to Oppose “Universal” Background Check Bills

Ask your Representative and Senators to oppose H.R.8 and S.42. Additionally, you may call your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators using the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

This legislation is not about public safety. These bills attack law-abiding gun owners by placing further burdens on gun ownership and use. For the anti-gun groups and politicians intent on criminalizing the private transfer of firearms, this legislation is just another step in their effort to extinguish America’s vibrant and legitimate gun culture.

Expanded Background Checks Don’t Work

Proponents of so-called “universal” background checks claim that this legislation is the “most important” thing that can be done to stop dangerous people from obtaining firearms. This is a lie. There is no evidence that expanded background checks are useful for this purpose.

Just last year, a study by anti-gun researchers confirmed that expanded background checks in California did not reduce gun homicides or gun suicides.

This finding is consistent with a review of past studies on expanded background checks by the RAND Corporation that found that “evidence of the effect of private-seller background checks on firearm homicides is inconclusive.”

In 2013, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice researched so-called “universal” background checks and determined that they would be not be effective without further harsh firearms restrictions and efforts to combat straw purchasing.

Criminals are not deterred by background checks. ATF has reported, “[t]he most frequent type of trafficking channel identified in ATF investigations is straw purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers. Nearly 50 percent … .” A Chicago-area inmate explained this reality to researchers from the University of Chicago in relation to Illinois’s stringent firearm licensing regime for a 2015 study, stating, “All they need is one person who got a gun card in the ‘hood’ and everybody got one.”

A 2016 Department of Justice survey of “state and federal prisoners who had possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were serving” found that the most common source of prisoner firearms was “Off the street/underground market.” This was defined as “Illegal sources of firearms that include markets for stolen goods, middlemen for stolen goods, criminals or criminal enterprises, or individuals or groups involved in sales of illegal drugs.” Less than one percent had obtained their firearm from a gun show.

 The research confirms that anti-gun members of Congress aren’t interested in actually addressing violent crime; they’re just trying to deflect the blame on law-abiding gun owners. Please use this link to let your elected officials know that you won’t be blamed for the actions of violent criminals. Ask your Representative and Senators to oppose H.R.8 and S.42.  Additionally, you may call your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators using the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with images is republished with permission.

An Elementary Student Claims a Square Root Symbol Looks Like a Gun, Mayhem Ensues

“Why isn’t the student who used his First Amendment right to make a comment about something the Second Amendment protects on every nightly news cycle, being made into a hero? Why haven’t we heard the words ‘square root student’ trending?” —Dana Loesch

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is from Pinterest.

The Push for Universal Background Checks Is Nothing More Than a Worthless PR Stunt

“Despite the evidence showing that [anti-gunners’] number-one legislative priority doesn’t work, they’re still pushing it. Why? Because it polls well. They’re looking for a public-relations victory, not a public-safety victory.” —Cam Edwards

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EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with video and images is republished with permission. The feature photo is by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash.

Florida Alert! Where Do Anti-Gun Legislators Get this Stuff?

Some newly elected anti-gun legislators can’t seem to resist the media spotlight. Like moths to a flame, some swoop in with anti-gun rants and dishonest, deceitful statements.  

Most recently two newly elected anti-gun legislators issued false statements to media about guns. Rep. Margaret Good and Rep. Cindy Polo both gave disinformation to the media. 

FIRST, REP MARGARET GOOD’S STATEMENT: 

As reported by TV reporter Jake Stofan, “Eighty percent of guns used in violent crimes, were purchased without a background check, said Representative Margaret Good”   See the video clip below:.   

Where Rep. Good came up with that statistic or who fed her that disinformation is a mystery to us.  It clearly is false.   

Even The Washington Post outed Barack Obama for falsely claiming forty percent of guns used in violent crimes, were purchased without a background check. 

In January 2013, the Washington Post gave President Obama “Three Pinocchios” for claiming that 40 percent of firearms are sold without a background check, and noted that the authors of the study upon which the claim is based say, “we don’t know the current percentage, nor does anyone else.”Nevertheless, gun control supporters still repeat the “40 percent” claim in their propaganda materials. Whatever the percentage, the fact remains that the nation’s murder rate is at an all-time low. 

Click below for a new study is reported here: 

New Report on Where Criminals Get Their Guns

SECOND, REP. CINDY POLO’S STATEMENT: 

A statement posted Friday, January 10, 2019  on  Orlando Political Observer  from newly elected state Rep. Cindy Polo (D)  proves once again that facts simply don’t matter to the anti-gun crowd. 

Rep. Polo rushed to bash NRA saying NRA sponsored HB-175, but NRA had nothing to do with that bill or any other bill that has been filed so far this session.  Rep. Polo is either ignorant of the facts or is being deliberately untruthful. 

This irresponsible behavior happens all too often after an election.  The newly elected legislators come to Tallahassee determined to “make a name for themselves.”  They issue statements, hold press conferences, and sponsor legislation with reckless abandon, casting aside the facts.   

Click below to see the posting: 

Rep. Cindy Polo: HB 175 is NRA Sponsored and Not the Way to Honor Parkland Families

Floridians have a right to expect facts and honestly, not false statements, from their elected representatives.  Rep. Good and Rep. Polo need to be more careful.

EDITORS NOTE: This column is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

Boston Mayor Proposes Draconian Interrogation Health Care Measure In The Name Of Gun Safety.

On January 10, City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced his legislative agenda for 2019.  In what represents the latest leftist assault on privacy rights and gun ownership, the Mayor proposed that medical professionals be required “. . . to ask patients about the presence of guns in their homes. . . ”  The government mandated interrogation is to be undertaken “. . . with the goal of identifying red flags that could indicate risks relative to suicide, domestic violence, or child access to guns.”  

In point of fact, the Mayor’s proposal is the latest end-around towards developing a comprehensive registry of gun ownership within Boston, a clear violation of Bostonians’ privacy rights and an intimidation tactic designed to shame gun owners into relinquishing their guns.  

Amazingly, the topic of physician inquiries into their patients’ gun ownership status is marred with controversy.  This is largely due to the incredulous position and legislative efforts undertaken by the American Academy of Pediatrics in support of banning handguns.  In 1992, the AAP, an organization created for the purpose of promoting pediatrician education and representing issues important to pediatricians, actually thought it was sound legislative policy to intrude onto the expressed constitutional rights of American citizens by supporting legislation that would “prohibit the possession, sale or manufacture of handguns in the United States.” Stupidly, the AAP then went on to post it on their website as one of its stated missions.

The issue came to a head when, in the State of Florida, legislation was introduced that would fine a physician $5 million for merely asking a patient if he or she had a gun in his or her home.  The proposed legislation arose from an incident where a dense physician in Ocala, Florida, refused to see a patient because she would not disclose her gun ownership status.  The logical and sane conclusion to the controversy would have been for the woman to simply see another doctor and share with her friends and community the lunacy of the physician through personal or media communications.  At most, she could have reported this physician’s unethical practice to the Board of Medicine and let the issue play itself out that way.  Instead, she chose to approach her state legislator who propagated the insanity by proposing a multi-million dollar punishment for physicians who merely ask a question.  The fact that the state legislature even considered the bill is a testament to the absurdity of the times in which we live.

Ultimately, the bill was watered down so that what was passed, the Firearms Owners’ Privacy Protections Act (FOPA), prohibited physicians from documenting a patient’s gun ownership status unless it was directly relevant to the care of the patient.  The bill also prohibited physicians from discriminating against an individual based on the person’s gun ownership status.  Violation of the law was punishable by “. . . a fine of up to $10,000.00, a letter of reprimand, probation, suspension, compulsory remedial education, or permanent license revocation.”

The ensuing multi-year, multi-million-dollar, social and legal controversy ended with an Eleventh Circuit Federal Court ruling tossing the law out as unconstitutional, but the ridiculous, unnecessary, and painful process did bring to light a number of issues regarding the nexus between health care, medical documentation, and personal liberties.  

First, indisputably, a physician ought to be able to ask a patient about guns.  The issue of accidental gun deaths is a serious problem in American society.  Anywhere between 77 and 113 pediatric, gun-related deaths take place in our country each year.  Efforts at curtailing these deaths are generally laudable, and the fact is that primary care physicians such as pediatricians engage in all sorts of health screenings designed to prevent disease or injury.  Gun safety should be no different.  

On the other hand, gun ownership is a cherished right that is to be zealously guarded. Any organization, including the AAP, seeking to decimate that right must be vehemently opposed.  The act of refusing a gun owner service merely because that owner is wishing to protect a right expressly enshrined in the Constitution is unconscionable and becomes even more egregious when the patient’s ownership status becomes part of his or her permanent record and accessible by the government.  Perhaps, the greater problem is our acquiescence to government funding of our health care and to giving it access to our personal information, but that is another issue altogether.  

The principal benefit to our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is to provide a check upon the power of government.  That effect is undoubtedly endangered when the government is allowed to know exactly who owns such weapons and unduly regulates who accesses them.

Florida and its physicians learned valuable lessons about gun rights and health care through its experience with the Doc v. Glocks drama; lessons that apparently were not heeded by Mayor Marty Walsh.  

Mayor Walsh’s proposal is vastly more draconian than either the Ocala physician’s actions or the state legislature’s response to it.  Walsh wants to mandate that physicians interrogate patients about gun ownership.  This would no longer be a situation where a pretentious physician on an individual basis decides to ask a question to the point of sacrificing his relationship with his patient.  What Walsh is proposing is that physicians work as agents of the state to collect information from patients regarding their most sacred rights and record it for the government’s benefit.  The very idea of this proposal strikes a dictatorial and oppressive tone. 

Adding to the tyrannical optics, it is the Police Commissioner who is out in public heralding the benign intent of the proposal. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross explained that the goal would be to identify those at risk for domestic violence, suicide or child access to guns in order to guide people to mental health counseling, resources or other help. In short, he said, “We’re just asking [medical professionals] to help identify ways to save lives.” 

Isn’t it interesting that practically every oppressive idea proposed by the left is buttressed by the goal of saving lives?  And by the way, despite the Police Commissioner’s comment, the government wouldn’t be asking for help, it would be mandating it.  In short, anyone harboring a concern regarding excessive governmental intrusion ought to instinctively recall Benjamin Franklin’s words: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

From a practical nature, it is clear that neither the Mayor nor the Police Commissioner have given their proposal sufficient thought.  Not only does their recommendation clearly intrude on people’s liberties, but what happens when a patient refuses to divulge such information? Are we going to refuse him or her treatment?  Will we fine him or her, or jail the person?  What happens if a physician refuses to participate?  And what happens if there is a gun-related accident, death, or suicide following a contact with a physician, does the doctor become liable? 

Mayor Marty Shaw’s proposal is a bad idea at so many levels.  It is draconian, offensive to the Constitution, disrespectful to the free and unencumbered practice of medicine, and an undue intrusion into patient’s privacy rights.  Bostonians must oppose it lest the mayor’s disease spread elsewhere.

EDITORS NOTE: This column from The Federalist Pages is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Jason Leung on Unsplash.

Background Checks: No Impact on Criminals

We have seen a generation of gun-grabbers rise and fall. The new generation of gun-grabbers are pushing for the same tired and baseless policies that won’t so much as inconvenience criminals. We understand the emotional response to violence and the desire to “do something.”

But that “something” has to be the right thing, a policy that will be effective on the target population and is backed by sound evidence. To design a policy that will stop criminals from getting guns, the first step should be to find out where criminals get guns.

Fortunately, the Bureau of Justice Statistics within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice just this week released a report that provides this very information. The report is the “Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016” and its findings are quite clear.   

More than one in five prisoners in state or federal prisons (20.8%) possessed or used a firearm during their crime; 18.4% had or used a handgun.

A plurality – 43.2% – got their guns off the street or on the underground market which does not include gun shows, flea markets, or private sales. The underground market only includes “markets for stolen goods, middlemen for stolen goods, criminals or criminal enterprises, or individuals or groups involved in sales of illegal drugs.”

About ten percent (10.1%) acquired the gun from a retail source. This includes 8.2% whom acquired it from a licensed dealer at a retail source. Just under 7% bought the firearm under their own name and then at least 6.7% underwent a background check; we say “at least” because some number of prisoners are unaware if a check was conducted. The remaining 3.3% includes people who may not be aware they were submitted to a check because, for many people, the check is completed instantly. As you know, federal law requires firearms dealers to conduct background checks.

A quarter (25.3%) of prisoners acquired the firearm they had at the time of their crime from an individual; 14.5% of these bought, traded, borrowed, or rented the gun from a family member or friend. The other 10.8% were given the firearm as a gift or it was purchased for the prisoner.

That sounds like it likely includes straw purchases, which are a federal crime.

Theft was not uncommon, at 6.4%, though not as common as anti-gun organizations would have you believe.

The remaining 17.4% cited some other source; 6.9% found it at the scene of the crime or it was the victim’s, 4.6% say the gun was brought by someone else, and 5.9% from “other” sources. This last category is a catch-all, including sources that are different from all of the other sources listed in the report. It is important to note that none of the types of “other” sources had enough responses to warrant their own category.

In other words, there weren’t enough prisoners saying they bought a gun online or from a stranger to categorize these straw-man arguments into categories. Some quick, back of the envelope math shows that just under 5,200 prisoners surveyed reported having a gun during their criminal offense.

How would so-called universal background checks impact any of these categories?

First, you have to rule out the retail purchases because most already underwent a background check. You would also have to concede that those who obtained the firearm from a family member or friend wouldn’t be affected, because of the exemptions in so-called universal background checks laws for family members and… well, come on. If someone is going to give a known criminal a gun, then they’re not going to change their minds because of a law. It’s already a crime to knowingly give a gun to a prohibited person.

Sellers on the underground market aren’t going to start running background checks because they are, themselves, criminals. Burglars won’t stop burgling to get a background check run on the firearms they’re stealing.

Criminals who somehow manage find a gun at the scene of the crime through no action of their own wouldn’t be affected by a background check.

So, please, tell us: which source of firearms for criminals will dry up under so-called universal background checks?

Unless drug dealers and purveyors of stolen goods set up shop with clipboards, log books, and internet access to run background checks, criminals will still have a source of illegal guns.

Oh, and don’t forget that universal background checks don’t work.

Tell Your Members of Congress to Oppose “Universal” Background Check Bills

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by NRA-ILA is republished with permission.

Are AR-15 Rifles a Public Safety Threat? Here’s What the Data Say

Is it true that the AR-15, a popular firearm owned by millions of Americans, is a unique threat to public safety?

From Parkland, Florida, to San Bernardino, California, the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and its variants have seemingly become the weapons of choice for mass shooters in the United States.

Many people simply cannot believe that regular civilians should be able to legally own so-called “weapons of war,” which they believe should only be in the hands of the military.

According to Pew Research, for example, 81 percent of Democrats and even 50 percent of Republicans believe the federal government should ban “assault-style rifles” like the AR-15. Given the massive amount of carnage AR-15s and similar rifles have caused, it makes sense that the civilian population simply cannot be trusted to own such weapons, right?

Perhaps, but is it really true that the AR-15, a popular firearm owned by millions of Americans, is a unique threat to public safety, so dangerous that it deserves to be banned or even confiscated by the federal government?

It cannot be emphasized enough that any homicide is a tragedy, but in order to get a sense of how dangerous to public safety “assault-style” rifles are, it’s useful to compare their usage in homicide to other methods.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) are the two authoritative sources for homicide statistics in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the CDC reports “produce more accurate homicide trends at the national level” because they capture less under-reporting than the FBI statistics.

However, the homicide data recorded by the CDC includes all homicides committed by civilians regardless of criminal intent. The FBI data instead focuses on intentional homicides (i.e murder) known to law enforcement and excludes non-negligent homicide (i.e manslaughter.)

According to the BJS, the FBI data is “better suited for understanding the circumstances surrounding homicide incidents.” This is especially true given that the FBI, but not the CDC, records the type of firearm used in a given homicide. For the purposes of this analysis, the data from the FBI will be used.

There are two further limitations of FBI data worth noting.

Firstly, the FBI reports do not look at “assault-style” rifles specifically, but rather, murders involving all types of rifles, whether they are committed with an AR-15 or a hunting rifle.

Secondly, each year there are a few thousand homicide cases where the type of firearm used goes unreported to the FBI. This means that some murders listed under “unknown firearm” may, in fact, be rifle murders.

To account for this under-reporting, we will extrapolate from rifles’ share of firearm murders where the type of weapon is known in order to estimate the number of “unknown” firearms that were in actuality rifle homicides.  

If we take the time to look at the raw data provided by the FBI, we find that all rifles, not just “assault-style rifles,” constitute on average 340 homicides per year from 2007 through 2017 (see Figure 1.). When we adjust these numbers to take under-reporting into account, that number rises to an average of 439 per year.

Figure 2 compares rifle homicides to homicides with other non-firearm weapons. Believe it or not, between 2007 and 2017, nearly 1,700 people were murdered with a knife or sharp object per year. That’s almost four times the number of people murdered by an assailant with any sort of rifle.

Figure 1. The Relative and Absolute Frequency of Rifle Homicides 2007-2017

Figure 2. Homicides per year by weapon 2007 – 2017

In any given year, for every person murdered with a rifle, there are 15 murdered with handguns, 1.7 with hands or fists, and 1.2 with blunt instruments. In fact, homicides with any sort of rifle represent a mere 3.2 percent of all homicides on average over the past decade.

Given that the FBI statistics pertain to all rifles, the homicide frequency of “assault-style” rifles like the AR-15 is necessarily lesser still, as such firearms compose a fraction of all the rifles used in crime.

According to a New York Times analysis, since 2007, at least “173 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States involving AR-15s.”

That’s 173 over a span of a decade, with an average of 17 homicides per year. To put this in perspective, consider that at this rate it would take almost one-hundred years of mass shootings with AR-15s to produce the same number of homicide victims that knives and sharp objects produce in one year.

With an average of 13,657 homicides per year during the 2007-2017 timeframe, about one-tenth of one percent of homicides were produced by mass shootings involving AR-15s.

Mass shootings involving rifles like the AR-15 can produce dozens of victims at one time, and combined with extensive media coverage of these events, many people have been led to believe that such rifles pose a significant threat to public safety.   

However, such shootings are extremely rare, and a look at the FBI data informs us that homicide with these types of rifles represents an extremely small fraction of overall homicide violence. Banning or confiscating such firearms from the civilian population would likely produce little to no reduction in violent crime rates in America.

COLUMN BY

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission. Image Credit: Flickr-Aero Precision AC-15 | by Tac6 Media | CC BY 2.0

Firearms Industry Opposes Assault Weapons Ban

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition, today announced that it opposes the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 introduced in the U.S. Senate this week.

The legislation introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), like earlier versions, relies on wrongfully defining commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles based on certain cosmetic features. The new version of this legislation, however, expands ways to ban the most-popular center-fire rifle in America. Since the original Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, more than 16 million of these rifles have been legally purchased for lawful purposes.

“It is disappointing to see politicians continue to pursue a failed policy agenda that has proven ineffective in improving public safety and will deny law-abiding citizens their Constitutional right,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel. “Despite what proponents may say, the record shows that Sen. Feinstein’s original 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban had no demonstrable impact on reducing crime and this one would be equally ineffective.”

Since the original ban, firearms ownership has increased while the criminal misuse of firearms has steadily dropped. FBI crime statistics demonstrate there is no justification for banning modern sporting rifles

Senator Feinstein continues to mislead the American public by demonizing semi-automatic rifles based on external, cosmetic features that have no bearing on the function of a firearm, labelling them with a term invented in 1998 by the Violence Policy Center’s Josh Sugarmann for the purpose of confusing and misleading the public into believing commonly owned semi-automatic rifles are equivalent to fully automatic machine guns. Sugarmann wrote, “anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun (and) – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions of these weapons.” In reality, modern sporting rifles operate in the same manner as other semi-automatic firearms, firing one round with each pull and release of the trigger.

About NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

VIDEO: We Will Never Cease To Fight To Protect Our Children’s Lives

“I’d like to see anyone tell me that, when their student’s on a third floor of a building and there’s a killer walking through that school, and there’s no one in between your student—your loved one, your child—and the killer that they’re not going to want that teacher to be trained and be able to protect their children.” —Andrew Pollack, Parkland father and member of Florida Board of Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by NRA-ILA is republished with permission.

Gun Controllers Want Credit Card Companies to Monitor and Restrict Lawful Purchases

Gun controllers frustrated that their federal agenda has been repeatedly rejected by Americans through their elected representatives are seeking to restrict gun rights by way of the private financial system. The goal is to pressure financial services companies into either not doing business with the firearms industry and gun owners or to comprehensively surveille their lawful activity.

On December 24, the gun confiscation supporters at the New York Times ran a thinly-veiled advocacy piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the news section, titled, “Devastating Arsenals, Bought With Plastic and Nary a Red Flag.” The piece outlined how some of the perpetrators of high-profile mass murders had purchased firearms and ammunition in the same manner that many ordinary law-abiding Americans do, with credit cards. 

The online edition of the piece carried the headline “How Banks Unwittingly Finance Mass Shootings,” suggesting that financial services companies were somehow complicit in violence by facilitating the exchange of lawful goods that were ultimately used for criminal purposes. Under such juvenile logic the U.S. Treasury Department should have to answer for all of the unlawful conduct they’ve facilitated by printing dollars and minting coins.

According to the misbranded op-ed, banks and other financial services companies are “uniquely positioned” to monitor gun owner purchasing habits. Under Sorkin’s preferred scenario, credit card companies would require retailers to tag firearms-related purchases with additional data that could be used by the credit card companies to compile information on gun owners. The surveillance data could then be used to flag suspicious purchases for law enforcement.

Moreover, the piece suggests that this data collection could be used to restrict certain types of lawful firearms transactions outright. Sorkin suggested,

Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods this year announced that they would not sell firearms to anyone under 21. If banks chose to use the systems they already have in place, they might decide to monitor such customers, perhaps preventing them from buying multiple guns in a short period of time.

To their credit, when asked for comment by the Times’s advocate, the major financial transaction firms expressed a reluctance to violate the privacy of their law-abiding customers. A Visa spokesperson explained, “We do not believe Visa should be in the position of setting restrictions on the sale of lawful goods or services… Asking Visa or other payment networks to arbitrate what legal goods can be purchased sets a dangerous precedent.” A Mastercard spokesperson added that the transaction company values the privacy of their customers’ “own purchasing decisions.”

Sorkin’s “news article” echoes many of the ideas he advocated in a February 2018 Times commentary. Making clear Sorkin has none of the objectivity on this topic one might have expected from a professional journalist pursuing a news story, the earlier piece overtly advocated for leveraging the private financial system to restrict firearms transactions. Sorkin contended that it would take “leadership and courage” on behalf of the financial services industry in order to implement his private firearms restrictions, which included a plan to eliminate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms “from virtually every firearms store in America.” Were journalistic ethics as integral to the operation of the legacy press as those institutions purport, Sorkin’s authorship of the more recent item may have drawn interest of a forthright editor, ombudsman, or the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Sorkin article is just part of a wider-ranging effort to attack firearms owners through the financial system. In April 2018, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety expressed their support for increased credit card company surveillance of firearms transactions. Moreover, the anti-gun organization has developed “guidelines” for financial institutions doing business with the firearms industry. Under the guidelines, firearms manufacturers and retailers would be forced to adopt a host of gun control measures in order to do business with financial services providers.

In 2013, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice instituted Operation Chokepoint. Under the program, the DOJ leveraged the power of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to discourage banks from transacting with lawful businesses they deemed to be “associated with high-risk activity,” including members of the firearms industry.

The anti-gun proposals targeting credit card companies should be of grave concern to all gun owners. As the Federal Reserve regularly reports, consumer use of credit and debit cards is growing. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2017 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice reported that “[i]n October 2017, the period covered by this DCPC, consumers made most of their payments with cash (30.3 percent of payments), debit cards (26.2 percent), and credit cards (21.0 percent).”

The recent credit card proposals also prompt important questions. Under what a scenario would a gun owner’s purchases be flagged as suspicious or be outright denied? Might the criteria be defined by anti-gun activists to include any volume of firearms-related goods they consider deviant? Gun owners routinely purchase large quantities of firearms products and ammunition for the same reason consumers buy anything in bulk, to save money.

Moreover, gun owners should be aware that any increase in the information that the financial services companies collect may wind up in the federal government’s hands. A June 2013 item in the Wall Street Journal reported that the National Security Agency was scooping large quantities of data from credit card providers. At the time, experts speculated that the NSA would not be able to obtain the exact products an individual purchased, but could see where the purchases were made and the merchant category codes. Changing merchant category code data to be more descriptive is one of the ways control advocates intend to advance their credit card company gun control scheme.

Even those who do not value the right to keep and bear arms but do cherish their other civil liberties should be concerned with the recent credit card transaction proposals. Back in early 2018, when some of these ideas were first floated, Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin pointed out, “There’s a privacy angle here… There’s the slippery slope danger if it’s guns today maybe it is pornography tomorrow and the day after it’s right-wing literature.” 

And with even mainstream television fare such as “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Simpsons” having come under fire by today’s social justice vigilante mob, it’s difficult to imagine any product or service that could be immune from their perpetually outraged sensibilities.

New rules or surveillance procedures imposed by the credit card industry on firearms transactions would have a profound negative effect on gun owners and the firearms industry and pose a broader threat to all liberty-minded Americans. NRA will continue to monitor these efforts and keep our members apprised of any further developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by NRA-ILA is republished with permission.

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