The Streak Continues: April Gun Sales Sets NICS Record

April 2020 set another record for background checks conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS). The FBI NICS office conducted 2,911,128 background checks last month – a nearly 25% increase from the previous April, which had been the previous record high for the month of April.

April 2020 is now the fourth-busiest month in the history of the NICS office. Moreover, the week of April 13th through the 19th is the 9th busiest week in NICS history.

The more than 2.9 million checks run last month included: 984,872 checks related to the transfer of a handgun; 508,122 checks related to the transfer of a long gun; 68,746 checks related to “other” transfers; and, 34,779 checks related to multiple transfers in one transaction. There were also 311,568 permit checks and an additional 888,385 permit rechecks.

To be blunt: Americans set another record for background checks last month because we are a nation of law-abiding gun owners intent on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. Nearly three-million background checks to purchase a firearm or obtain a permit were conducted in just the thirty days of April. That is not a small group of “super gun owners” stockpiling thousands of firearms or some small subset of the general population.

Gun owners include all, from every race, gender, and creed. We – the gun owning community – reflect the overall population because we are a significant part of the overall population.

April continued the 2020 trend of record-setting months for the NICS office. January was (at the time) the sixth-busiest month ever and the busiest January by far. February saw even more checks than January, making it the third busiest month ever (at the time) and easily set the February record. March reset the all-time record with more than 3.7 million checks.

This is not an emerging trend. December 2019 saw more than 2.9 million NICS checks and was the second-busiest December ever. Before that, each of these months in 2019 had set the record for that respective month: April, May, June, August, September, October, and November. Of course, April 2020 and May 2020 shattered those respective records.

There were more NICS checks run in 2019 than in any other year, and there were more run in 2018 than any prior year except 2016. The four busiest years for the NICS offices have been the last four years. So far this year, there have been 32% more NICS checks run than there were in the same time period in 2019.

We suspect that we may see more NICS records broken this year. The anti-gun billionaires see these numbers, as do their “volunteers” and their bought-and-sold puppets. Do you think that Mike Bloomberg is going to take this as a sign that the American people support 2nd Amendment rights?

This is a man who spent more than a billion dollars on a shortsighted bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination that only lasted three months. Bloomberg and his allies – as well as those that depend on his funding for their campaigns – will double down as they try to eliminate gun rights in the United States.

We respect the millions of Americans who have decided to become law-abiding gun owners in 2020, but their rights may be revoked if they do not vote this November.

Protecting our rights will take every one of us. Every single American that applied for a permit and/or purchased a firearm this year must do everything they can to help us protect our rights.

Volunteer. Spread the word. Get your family and friends registered to vote. Vote and make your friends and family vote, too.


NRA is always looking for volunteers. See how you can help today.


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EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: NRA Endorses ‘Big Dan’ Rodimer for US Congress

LAS VEGAS/PRNewswire/ — Nevada Congressional candidate “Big Dan” Rodimer is proud to announce that he has received the official endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his run for the 3rd District. The NRA officially gave Rodimer an AQ rating, the highest rating possible for a candidate who has not previously held office.

In response to the endorsement, Rodimer stated, “I am very honored and proud to have the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in my run for Congress. The NRA is America’s longest-serving civil rights organization, with tens of thousands of members right here in Nevada and in the 3rd Congressional District. The NRA knows that I will fight to defend our 2nd Amendment Rights against gun-grabbers like Dan Schwartz and Susie Lee. Thank you to the NRA and all of their members here in Nevada.”

The NRA endorsement comes as a major boost to the Rodimer campaign since his primary opponent, former Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz, has openly spoken out in favor of Bloomberg-style, anti-2nd Amendment proposals, including a ban on alleged “assault rifles” in Nevada.

Big Dan Rodimer has made it clear time and again that he is the pro-2nd Amendment candidate in the race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. Rodimer has often described gun rights as “human rights” and proudly possesses a CCW permit.

Since announcing his campaign for Congress last year, Rodimer has received endorsements from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Nevada Right to Life and National Right to Life organizations, former Nevada Attorney General and current Nevada Trump Campaign Co-Chairman Adam Laxalt and highly successful Las Vegas businessman and reality TV star from the hit show “Pawn Stars”, Rick Harrison, among many others.

In February, Rodimer was placed on National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) Young Guns “Contender” status, the highest-ranking status of any congressional candidate in Nevada, signifying continued strength and momentum of his campaign, and opening the door for continued support from across the country. Every other Republican candidate in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District has either refused to fill out the NRA survey or received an “F” rating.

You can learn more about Big Dan Rodimer click here. For regular updates on the campaign of Big Dan Rodimer for Congress, you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Virginia Anti-gun Activist Unveils 2021 Gun Control Agenda

On April 10, disgraced Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed five pieces of anti-gun legislation into law. Those measures criminalize the private sale of firearms, ration handgun sales to one a month, create a “red flag” gun confiscation scheme, punish property crime victims who fail to hastily report a firearm as stolen, and restrict how Virginia parents may store and introduce their children to firearms. Northam sent two pieces of anti-gun legislation back, including legislation that erodes the Right-to-Carry and the state firearms preemption statute, to the general assembly with governor’s amendments. The General Assembly enacted both items of legislation on April 22.

As bad as this session was for Virginia gun owners, it could have been much worse. The General Assembly did not pass the proposed legislation that would have banned, and in some cases confiscated, commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and their magazines and accessories that Northam demanded. Moreover, moderate members of the Senate Democratic caucus helped to limit the background check legislation to sales, leaving gun owners free to loan and gift firearms to their friends and family without government intrusion.

The worst case scenario was avoided thanks to the herculean efforts of NRA members and other gun rights activists across the Commonwealth. Between the sanctuary county movement that now covers the vast majority of the state, NRA members contacting their lawmakers and meeting with them in person, and the massive gun rights rally on January 20 in Richmond, Virginia gun owners have become the model for how a passionate grassroots movement can influence government policy.

That same passion will be needed going forward.

On April 19, podcast Transition Virginia, which describes itself as “an edgy, political news-commentary podcast on the transition of power in Virginia from a red to blue​,” released an episode featuring Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). Virginia gun rights advocates may remember Haas as a vocal cheerleader for Attorney General Mark Herring’s 2015 attempt to remove reciprocity for 25 states Right-to-Carry permits. Haas opposed the compromise legislation with then-Governor Terry McAuliffe that reversed Herring’s maneuver by granting reciprocity to all state Right-to-Carry permits. Longtime gun rights supporters will know that CSGV is the handgun prohibition organization that until 1990 was known as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns.

On the podcast, Haas laid out gun control activists’ plans for the 2021 legislative session. Haas told the interviewer, “We’ll be back… a couple people joked with me [Secretary Moran] one of them, ‘Lori we’ve got seven bills what are we going to do next year?’ Oh I’ve got a big list for you secretary.” Haas made clear that a renewed push to ban commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and their magazines was at the top of gun control advocates’ agenda, claiming that such items “have no place in civil society.” Haas also noted that her group is already working with legislators to pass a ban next year.

For his part, Moran claimed that commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms are not protected under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The secretary also approvingly pointed to Maryland’s ban on commonly-owned firearms.

Banning commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms or their magazines is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that governments cannot ban these firearms as they are “in common use” for lawful purposes.

Taken alone, Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in Heller is enough to dispose of Moran’s comments. In the decision, Justice Scalia made clear that the types of firearms protected by the Second Amendment include those “in common use at the time” for “lawful purposes like self-defense.”

The firearms industry has estimated that Americans own more than 17.5 million semi-automatic rifles. The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in the U.S. and therefore indisputably “in common use” and protected by the Second Amendment.

All doubt as to whether the Supreme Court’s decisions in Heller and McDonald preclude bans on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms was settled in 2015. That year, Justice Scalia joined Justice Thomas in a dissent from the denial of certiorari in Friedman v. Highland Park, a case concerning a local ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms.

Justice Thomas explained,

Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles. The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting. Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.

A sweeping gun ban isn’t all Haas and her gun prohibitionist allies are seeking to accomplish in 2021. Haas also told the podcast that gun control advocates are working on measures to restrict both concealed and open carry, so-called “safe storage” legislation, and a bill to enact an onerous firearm permit to purchase regime. In a decidedly regressive move, Haas even shared her interest in attacking Virginia’s restoration of rights procedure, whereby former criminals who have paid their debt to society are able to regain their civil rights.

Moran and Haas’s interview makes clear that the enemies of freedom are not satisfied with the gun controls enacted in Virginia this year. Therefore, the commonwealth’s gun rights activists must remain vigilant in order to combat this perpetual threat to freedom. Virginians should start by informing their friends, loved ones, and other like-minded individuals of the continuing threat gun owners face in the commonwealth. This year gun owners proved that a determined grassroots effort can preserve freedom. Virginian gun rights supporters must continue to exhibit the same tenacity and determination in the years to come.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Loading a New Database of Defensive Gun Use

For well over a year, The Daily Signal has published a monthly series highlighting lawful gun owners who used their firearms to protect their liberties, lives, or livelihoods.

Although these articles recount just a dozen or so stories each month, the incidents are selected from hundreds of other, similar examples.

Those defensive gun uses are worth highlighting, too. That’s why The Heritage Foundation is introducing its Defensive Gun Use Database, an interactive map featuring all of the news accounts from police reports that we couldn’t fit into installments of the monthly series.

What’s the Defensive Gun Use Database?

The database features an interactive map that allows users to locate instances of defensive gun use in their own states and cities.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


Clicking on a specific dot on the map provides the user with an instant breakdown of important information about the incident of defensive gun use that the dot represents.

For example, users can see the date and location of the defensive gun use, what type of firearm was involved, and the context in which the gun was used—including to defend against a home invasion, armed robbery, or domestic violence).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all major studies on defensive gun use have found that Americans use their firearms defensively between 500,000 and 3 million times each year. Researchers have good reason to believe, however, that most defensive gun uses aren’t reported to law enforcement, much less picked up by local or national media outlets.

For this reason, the Defensive Gun Use Database isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of all such incidents occurring in the United States. Such a database would be nearly impossible to compile.

Instead, this database features only cases that could be discovered and verified through public sources, and where the evidence indicates no wrongdoing on the part of the gun owner.

Why Is This Database Important?

Despite the limitations on data, the Defensive Gun Use Database is an incredibly important tool because these confirmed cases help prove that the “good guy with a gun” is not a myth. Rather, lawful gun owners clearly play an integral role in promoting public safety and protecting individual rights.

As the database proves, every single day lawful gun owners use their firearms to defend themselves and others against criminals when the government simply could not get there in time.

These gun owners are not vigilantes who went looking for trouble. They did not intentionally place themselves in dangerous situations. Many of them even fail to fit the caricature of “typical gun owner.”

They are young mothers defending their children from home invaders.

They are disabled individuals whose firepower enabled them to stand toe-to-toe with criminals who thought they had the advantage.

They are abused women who protected themselves from violent ex-lovers who came to exact revenge.

They are elderly men outnumbered by would-be thieves who believed they picked an easy target.

They’re our mothers, daughters, brothers, and sons. They’re our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. They’re working jobs and living lives in our neighborhoods.

In short, the Defensive Gun Use Database and map provide powerful answers to the common question: “Why would any rational, law-abiding American ever need to own a gun or carry it in public?”

What Can We Expect in the Future?

First, The Daily Signal will continue to publish our monthly series of articles on defensive gun uses. The database will not replace the series, but instead will provide an opportunity for readers to dive deeper into stories we don’t highlight.

Second, the database will keep growing as we update it to include new or newly verified instances of defensive gun use. We also hope to expand the database to include defensive gun uses that occurred in years predating our series.

Finally, our goal is to create a mechanism for readers to send us reports about instances we may have missed or that occurred to them and can be verified independently.

The public rollout of Heritage’s Defensive Gun Use Database is just the beginning.

COMMENTARY BY

Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Gun Control Advocate Assures Americans: There’s No Need to Buy Guns ‘Cause “the Zombies” Aren’t Coming

The FBI performed a record-breaking 3.7 million firearm-related background checks last month. According to an April news release from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF), March 2020 estimates of firearm sales show an increase of over 85% from March 2019 – single handgun sales jumped by 91%, and single long-gun sales increased by over 73%.

In an interview with Cheddar news earlier this month, David Chipman, a “senior policy advisor” for the anti-gun group Giffords, was asked about his “biggest concerns” regarding the “coronavirus gun sales spike.” (If the name rings a bell, Mr. Chipman, formerly a “senior advisor” with Bloomberg’s pre-Everytown group MAIG and an ex-ATF agent, has, among other things, advocated that AR-15 rifles should be regulated “just like” fully automatic machine guns.)

During the interview, he claimed that first-time gun owners may think “in their [own] mind they might be competent.” However, they were really “putting themselves and their families in danger” based on whether these guns were being “stored safely” and properly in the home. Sitting in what appeared to be his own kitchen, Chipman advised “those people who were first-time gun owners” to “secure that gun locked and unloaded and hide it behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky that you’ve stored in a cabinet and only bring that out if the zombies start to appear, and I don’t think they are.”

Of course, following this advice means that the firearm isn’t readily available for defensive use should the need arise. (Hiding firearms among the kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer or in the flour bin also isn’t consistent with the Giffords philosophy of mandating that all unattended firearms be kept unloaded, with a lock in place, and secured in a gun safe or other locked container.)

The real issue – apart from why anyone would take the advice of someone who thinks beef jerky comes in cans – is Chipman’s apparent incredulity at the need to keep guns in the home for self-defense. Even with law enforcement stretched thin due to sick or quarantined officers, and hundreds of inmates being released from jails and prisons (hereherehere and here), this former ATF SWAT team member assures us all that there’s nothing to fear because, well, “the zombies” aren’t coming.

Chipman, quoted elsewhere, had expanded on his jerky-zombie theme. “If we can imagine how horrible this crisis is … the people who hoarded the guns might decide six months from now – once they see no zombies around but they’ve run out of tuna and beef jerky – that they need the money to buy food.” The “horrible” part, apparently, is not just running out of food, but the more disturbing possibility of the private sales of these firearms.

In contrast to the weird pointers on how to store guns in the kitchen, the NRA has launched new online gun safety courses to address “the growing number of first-time gun buyers during the coronavirus outbreak.” Joe DeBergalis, executive director of NRA General Operations, says “[t]hese courses will provide an option for first-time gun owners who don’t have the ability to take an NRA certified instructor-led class at their local shooting range at this time. While there is no replacement for in-person, instructor-led training, our new online classes do provide the basics of firearm safety training for those self-isolating at home.”

The zombies aren’t coming, but regardless of how gun control advocates depict this recent, unprecedented affirmation of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, law-abiding Americans – now as ever – are putting their money on the Second Amendment to keep themselves and their families safe.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Florida Alert! Florida Sets All-Time Record for Gun Purchase Background Checks

Pandemic Exposes Dangers of Severe Gun Controls in Connecticut and D.C.

Florida Alert! History Repeats Itself

Florida Alert! Liberals Angry to Discover Gun Control Laws Infringing Upon THEIR Rights

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Politifact Determined to Get It Wrong on Joe Biden and Gun Confiscation

Another week, another dubious “fact-check” from the professional propagandists at Politifact. This time the Poynter Institute project labeled a claim that Joe Biden has admitted to supporting gun confiscation as “Pants on Fire,” their most extreme rating for a supposed falsehood. In their herculean effort to obscure Biden’s support for gun confiscation, the media outlet went out of its way to avoid discussion of the overwhelming evidence of the presidential candidate’s intent to take guns.

Politifact took issue with an article from Conservative-Daily titled, “Watch: Biden Looks Into The Camera And Promises To Take Away Americans’ Guns​.” As evidence, the Conservative-Daily article cited a viral video of Joe Biden and Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, eating at Texas hamburger chain Whataburger. During the video, Biden states “This guy changed the face of what we’re dealing with regarding guns, assault weapons… and I just want to warn [Beto’s wife] that if I win I’m coming for him.”

By narrowly focusing on only Biden’s statement at the Whataburger, while avoiding all context, Politifact came to the conclusion that Biden was only expressing his intent to have O’Rourke be part of his administration and that the video did not show evidence of the former vice president’s desire to ban guns.

When looking at the totality of Biden’s comments on confiscation, this view is untenable.

Just prior to the Whataburger outing, Biden shared the stage with Beto at a campaign rally where the failed U.S. senate and presidential candidate endorsed him for president. Biden told those gathered, “I want to make something clear. I’m going to guarantee you this is not the last you’ll see of this guy.” Biden went on say, “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re going to be the one who leads this effort. I’m counting on ya.”

By offering Beto a role on guns in a potential future administration, Biden made clear that he supports Beto’s gun control position. That position is gun confiscation.

During the September 12, 2019 Democratic debate, Beto was asked about his proposal to confiscate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. Beto responded in part by saying, “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” The Beto campaign would go on to sell t-shirts with the anti-gun slogan.​

Less than a week later, Beto reiterated his call for gun confiscation on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time. During an interview, Chris Cuomo asked Beto, “All right, so let’s state the proposition. Are you, in fact, in favor of gun confiscation?” Beto responded with “Yes.”

There can be no doubt that Biden understands Beto would confiscate firearms, as he shared the debate stage with him on September 12.

However, it is not necessary to deduce that Biden supports gun confiscation from his support for Beto’s attacks on firearms rights. Biden has stated that he intends to take firearms.

Biden had the following exchange with CNN’s Anderson Cooper when asked about firearm confiscation during an August 5, 2019 interview.

Cooper: So, to gun owners out there who say well a Biden administration means they are going to come for my guns.

Biden: Bingo! You’re right if you have an assault weapon. 

It is revealing that the purported “factcheckers” at Politifact did not make a full accounting of the facts concerning Biden and gun confiscation. Biden and Beto’s statements on gun confiscation are public and have been made widely available by those who support the Second Amendment. Such actions by Politifact suggest a determined ignorance calculated to protect a favored political candidate.

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EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

PODCAST: Second Amendment Rights During Coronavirus Pandemic

States all over America are mandating that nonessential businesses close, which is forcing lawmakers to decide which businesses should be deemed “essential.” In states such as New York and Massachusetts, gun stores already have been told to close their doors. In Texas, on the other hand, the attorney general has said gun stores may remain open during the pandemic.

Cam Edwards, editor of the news and information site Bearing Arms, joins The Daily Signal podcast to explain why gun shops should be considered essential businesses and how the coronavirus has affected firearms sales.

Plus: We share an interview with Maj Toure, founder of Black Guns Matter, who explains the mission of his organization and how communities can combat gun violence without restricting Second Amendment rights.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


Virginia Allen: I am joined by Cam Edwards, the editor of Bearingarms.com. Cam, thanks so much for joining me.

Cam Edwards: Oh, thanks so much, Virginia. I really appreciate it.

Allen: Now, you are super passionate about the Second Amendment, and right now, we’re obviously seeing a lot of debate over whether or not gun shops should be allowed to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re going to get a little bit more into talking about what states are doing and the nitty-gritty of all that in a moment. But I want it to begin just by asking you how, historically, have crisis situations affected gun sales?

Edwards: It’s great question. We really are in uncharted territory right now. We’ve never really gone through anything like this, at least for a hundred years or more in the United States, but … you can go back to 2005 and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

What we saw after Hurricane Katrina on the ground were police officers going door to door confiscating legally-owned firearms in the name of public safety.

As a result of that, the National Rifle Association went state by state, and in about a half of the states around the country, they were able to get emergency powers legislation on the books that prevents governors from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms during the state of emergency.

That’s been a huge help and a big protection for gun owners around the country right now. But unfortunately, we’ve seen in states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Washington state, and a handful of others, governors have either left it up to counties to decide whether or not gun stores are essential businesses or they simply ordered these stores to close.

Allen: Interesting. Did we see an increase in sales at the beginning of March?

Edwards: Well, we did. Absolutely. Yeah. The FBI released the NICS background check numbers—the National Instant [Criminal Background] Check System numbers—on Wednesday of this week, and it’s a new record. More than 3.7 million background checks were conducted.

Now, not all of those were for gun sales. Some states will check firearm ID cards every day.

But the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the firearms manufacturers trade association, they’re able to look at these numbers and decipher, “This was for a gun sale, this was for an ID check.” And what they say is that about 2.5 million firearm background checks were conducted during the month of March. That, again, would be a new record.

What we’re hearing anecdotally from gun stores around the country is that, in many stores, at least half of their customers are new gun owners. Not … people who’ve never owned a firearm in their life, [but] people who don’t currently own a firearm now, but they’re concerned about what the future might hold, and so they are becoming gun owners in the past month.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. No, I know. A lot of people are … concerned where we are. Like you say, these are unprecedented times, and people want to make sure that they have the means to defend themselves and their loved ones.

But like you said, we’re seeing mixed messages from different states. You have states like Texas who are saying, “Absolutely, we’re going to make sure that our gun shops stay open and that Second Amendment rights are protected.” Like you said, very different story in places like New York and Massachusetts.

How is it that states can just kind of pick and choose? Shouldn’t it be across the board they’re allowed to stay open because it’s kind of part of the Second Amendment rights?

Edwards: It’s a great question. I think it comes down to what we’re seeing really around the country and that the Ninth and 10th Amendments are implicated here, not just the Second Amendment. We don’t have a federal lockdown that’s been put in place. President [Donald] Trump is saying, “I’m leaving a lot of this up to the states. The states are the ones that have the authority to do this.”

Under emergency declarations, governors do have broad leeway to do all kinds of things in the name of the public health. What they don’t have the right to do, in my opinion, is to circumvent or infringe on individuals’ constitutional rights.

Even in the state of Virginia, for example, where Gov. [Ralph] Northam has limited public and private gatherings to no more than 10 people, that doesn’t shut down, let’s say, church services. Churches can still offer their services online. If they have the space available, they could put nine people in a Sunday school classroom and nine people in the next one.

They’re allowed to regulate. They’re allowed to try to mitigate the spread of this disease, but they’re not allowed to simply prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights. Your rights don’t disappear during a state of emergency.

And, thankfully, Virginia, what we’re now seeing is a number of Second Amendment organizations are filing lawsuits. They’re taking these cases to court, and we have already seen a number of governors back down in the face of these legal challenges and allow gun stores to reopen.

Allen: Yeah. That’s happened in New York, correct? Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo is being sued.

Edwards: He is being sued. He has not backed down as of yet. But Pennsylvania, we saw that with Gov. Tom Wolf, in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also reversed course. Now we have a lawsuit that’s just been filed in Northern California against eight separate jurisdictions in the Bay Area. Hopefully, we’ll see those jurisdictions back down as well.

But we saw on Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had reopened gun stores for about an hour before his office then suddenly changed its mind and declared them nonessential again.

We’ve seen a lot of success. Unfortunately, it’s been unprecedented 100% success. I suspect that some of these anti-gun governors are going to try to continue to prevent people from acquiring a firearm and ammunition so that they can exercise their Second Amendment rights during this national emergency.

Allen: Yeah. In your opinion, why should gun shops be deemed as essential businesses?

Edwards: I think, again, just look at the number of guns that were sold last month and the number of Americans who went out to purchase a firearm. It is clear that Americans are concerned about their future …

Gun control advocates, their snarky response to this is, “Well, you can’t shoot a virus.” Well, we know this. That’s not why we’re buying firearms. I’m sheltering in place. I’ve put my a home on lockdown. I have a wife who has a compromised immune system. That’s what I’m doing to protect her from the coronavirus.

But I also own firearms because in case somebody were to try to violate these social distancing norms and break into my house and try to get within 6 feet of me, I’m prepared to defend myself and my family. There are a lot of Americans who really are concerned about that.

Look, we have 10 million people over the past two weeks that have all of a sudden lost their jobs. They’re filing for unemployment. We have a stimulus package that will hopefully get these folks the money that they need to survive over the next couple of months, but these are really unprecedented and unparalleled times. It is not unreasonable for people to be concerned about the fraying of the social fabric and an increase in violent crime.

… I think it’s human nature to want to protect yourself and the people that you love in times of uncertainty, and so for that reason, alongside the fact that the Constitution specifically points out that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, in my mind, makes it an easy call that, yes, these gun stores are essential, not only to the personal safety of Americans, but frankly, at this moment in time to their peace of mind as well.

Allen: Yeah. What would you say to the other side of the argument that individuals who are worried that this surge in gun sales in such a time of crisis could actually lead to more violence?

Edwards: I would tell them to put their money where their mouth is. I mean, these are groups that build themselves as gun safety organizations, and yet, they are doing nothing to ensure that any of these new gun owners have basic gun safety advice and training. A lot of these folks can’t get to a range right now.

But it’s been groups like the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, as well as individuals who have really done a great job of putting these resources out online so that if you are a new gun owner, you can’t get to the range, you can’t take your basic pistol course or a concealed carry course, you can at least still get the knowledge of “here’s how I safely load my firearm, here’s how I unload my firearm, here’s how I store my firearm safely.”

That, to me, is the key. We know that Americans want to keep and bear arms, and more Americans than ever before are doing so. To try deny them their ability to keep and bear arms, I think it is completely unconstitutional and downright un-American.

I think the right thing to do is ensure that the folks who are new gun owners have that education and training that they need to be safe and responsible.

Allen: Yeah. For anyone who has recently purchased a firearm or is thinking about doing so, what are just a few of those tips that you can give us for correctly handling and safely handling a firearm?

Edwards: The big one is treat every gun that you own as if it is loaded at all times, even if you don’t have a magazine in your firearm, even if you haven’t loaded a bullet in your firearm, treat it as if it is loaded.

Always keep that muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Don’t point it at anything that you’re not prepared to shoot at. Make sure that you are aware of what is behind your target. Look, you never want to mix alcohol and firearms. You always want to be safe there.

These are some of the basic tips, but there’s also a fantastic resource online called Gun University. If you go in there, gununiversity.com, Ryan Cleckner, who’s a veteran, he’s a firearms attorney, he’s a firearms instructor, has a ton of videos there under [the] section Guns 101.

This is really devoted and designed for new gun owners. It won’t take you a lot of time. But if you’re sitting around the house, you got nothing to do, watch a couple of these videos over a half-hour or so and familiarize yourself with the firearm that you’ve just purchased.

Allen: That’s really helpful. Thank you. Tell us a little bit about your site, Bearingarms.com and what our listeners can find there.

Edwards: Sure, so Bearingarms.com, as the name suggests, is all about the Second Amendment.

We are covering a lot of the political and legal news as well as some of the cultural news where we’re talking a lot right now about the fact that it’s not just conservatives who are buying firearms—we have people on, really, the entirety of the political spectrum who are now becoming gun owners—and what this could mean to the gun control debate in the months and the years ahead.

We’re talking and updating the site constantly. We also have a program, Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. That is a daily show that’s focused on Second Amendment news and information. You can find that on YouTube at Townhall Media. You can also find that on Apple Podcasts at Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co.

Allen: Great. Cam, thank you so much. We just really appreciate your time today.

Edwards: Absolutely, Virginia. Thanks so much for the invite.

PODCAST BY

Virginia Allen

Virginia Allen is a news producer for The Daily Signal. She is the co-host of The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women. Send an email to Virginia. Twitter: @Virginia_Allen5.


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal podcast is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Dozens of GUN CONTROL Bills Died In Florida During the 2020 Session

It was another very tough Legislative Session in Florida this year.  Anti-gun Democrats were emboldened by Michael Bloomberg’s money.  His money had been strategically placed to help pass another major gun control bill.

Democrats filed so many gun ban, gun control, ammo and magazine ban bills this year that one had to wonder if they were filing the worst bills they could think of in order to attract some of Bloomberg’s money for themselves.

Thanks to strong Second Amendment supporting legislators, who are true Republicans, and are committed to protecting constitutional rights, none of those bad bills passed.

We look forward to real Republican leadership in the Florida Senate next Session.

Below is a list of some of the worst bills that we worked to keep from passing this past session. In all, we dealt with a list of over 125 bills that could have spelled trouble for gun and hunting rights.  It is worth noting that the Florida House leadership and Governor Ron DeSantis were standing tall to protect Second Amendment rights the whole Session.

FLORIDA HOUSE BILLS

HB-117 CW License/ Requires Psychiatric/Mental Health Exam – by Rep. AI Jacquet (D) Requires a mental health evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist & a letter attesting that the applicant is of sound mind and competent to carry a firearm for CW License Applicants . DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-245 Firearms Prohibited – by Rep. Cindy Polo (D) Prohibits concealed weapon or firearm license holder from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into any
child care facility.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-289 Background Check to Purchase Ammo – by Rep. Dan Daley (D) Requires background checks for sale or transfer of ammunition.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-451 Universal Background Checks – by Rep. Margaret Good (D) Requires a background check on all persons involved with the sale or transfer of any and all firearms. DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-627 Ban of Assault Weapons and Large-Capacity Magazines – by Rep. Carlos G. Smith (D) Bans sale, transfer and possession of a long list of so-called “assault weapons” and bans sale, transfer and possession of any magazine that holds or is capable of holding more than 10 rounds. DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-885 Gun Control by Local Governments – by Rep. Cindy Polo (D) to specifically allow
local governments to regulate firearms and ammunition and impose gun control.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-809 Fingerprint Database of CW License Holders – by Rep. Javier Fernandez (D) Creates a Permanent Fingerprint Database of CW License Holders;  Decreases the number of years that CW Licenses are valid. Requires PROOF of NEW training at every license renewal.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-923 Mandatory Storage of Firearms – by Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil (D) Mandating specific storage requirements for firearms by licensed importers, manufacturers, & dealers. DIED IN COMMITTEE

HB-6009 Repeal of Firearms Preemption – by Rep. Dan Daley (D) Repeals the firearms preemption law to specifically allow citites and counties to regulate firearms and ammunition and impose gun control.   DIED IN COMMITTEE

FLORIDA SENATE BILLS

SB-94 Universal Background Checks by Sen. Lauren Book (D) DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-134 Repeal of Firearms Preemption / Sen. Annette Taddeo (D) DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-266 Mandatory Firearms Storage by Sen. Gary Farmer (D)   DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-270 Universal Background Checks by Sen. Gary Farmer (D) DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-310 Ban of Three-dimensional (3-D) Printed Firearms – by Sen.
Linda Stewart (D) Prohibits a person from printing, transferring, importing into this state, distributing, selling, possessing, or giving to another person certain 3D-printed firearms; requires persons in possession of a 3-D firearms to turn them in to a law enforcement agency or to FDLE or to destroy them before a deadline.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-398 Firearms Prohibited by Sen. Lori Berman (D) (Identical to HB-245)  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-428 Prohibited Places for Firearms by Sen. Oscar Braynon II (D) Prohibits CW license holders from carrying a firearms into any performing arts center or legitimate theater.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-460 Background Checks on Ammo by Sen. Lauren Book (D) Requires a background check on the sale or transfer of  ammunition.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-548 Excessive Data Collection on Firearms Purchasers by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D) Requires the Department of Law Enforcement to create  a standard form to collect additional data on firearms purchasers. DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-558 Ban of “Large-capacity” Magazines by Sen. Randolph Bracy (D) Defining the term “large-capacity magazine” as more than 10 rounds.  Prohibits the sale, transfer, or possession of
large-capacity magazines.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

S8-586 Private Sales of Firearms by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D) Prohibits private sale or transfer of firearms EXCEPT sales or transfers between two CW License holders. Requires such a seller or transferor to retain a copy of the buyer’s or transferee’s concealed weapons or firearms license and the serial number of the firearm sold, etc.   DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-634 Prohibiting the Lawful Ownership, Possession, and Use of Firearms – by Sen. Bobby Powell (D) Prohibiting a person from owning, possessing, and lawfully using firearms and other weapons, ammunition, and supplies for hunting, fishing, or camping within 1,500 feet of the real property which comprises any school, any house of worship, any government building, or any guarded beach.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-794 Bans Large-capacity Magazines by Sen. Linda Stewart (D) Prohibits POSSESSION or the importing, distributing, transporting, transferring, selling, or giving of large-capacity magazines (1more than 10)  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-1208 Ban of Assault Weapons and Large-capacity Magazines by Sen. Gary Farmer, Jr. (D) Bans the sale, transfer, possession of any assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition magazine .  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-1248 Mandatory Firearms Storage by Sen. Vic Torres, Jr .(D)  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-1300 Assault Weapons Ban by Sen. Linda Stewart (D) Bans sale, transfer, possession of semi-automatic firearms.  DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-1566 Fingerprint Database of CW License Holders by Sen. Oscar Braynon (D) DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-1622 Confiscation of Firearms and Ammunition by Sen.Lauren Book (D). Authorizes Law Enforcement and the Courts to confiscate firearms and ammunition under certain circumstances.   DIED IN COMMITTEE

SB-7028 by Sen. Bill Galvano (R) Massive Gun Control Regulations.   DIED IN COMMITTEE

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: On Guns, Joe Biden is Full of It

Presumptive Democratic 2020 Presidential Nominee Joe Biden is not one for claritytact, or a firm grasp of the facts. However, even an American public that has long been aware of his shortcomings was taken aback this week when the former vice president launched an unhinged attack on a pro-Second Amendment auto worker. Aside from further exposing a waning control of his faculties, the exchange revealed Biden’s deep antipathy towards the Second Amendment, his profound ignorance on the firearms issue, and his willingness to lie for political advantage.

The verbal dispute occurred on Tuesday as Biden toured a Fiat Chrysler plant in Michigan as the state was holding its primary. As Biden made his rounds, auto worker Jerry Wayne went up to the presidential candidate and asked him about his position on the Second Amendment. Speaking with Fox News’s Fox and Friends the following day, Wayne explained that he “asked [Biden] how he wanted to get the vote of the working man when a lot of us, we wield arms. We bear arms and we like to do that. And if he wants to give us work and take our guns, I don’t see how he is going to get the same vote.”

Wayne told Biden, “You’re actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take our guns,” to which a visibly agitated Biden responded, “You’re full of **it.” Following Biden’s use of profanity, a female Biden staffer attempted to quell the confrontation. Biden responded by shushing the assistant.

Biden then claimed that he supports the Second Amendment, providing as evidence his ownership of 12 and 20-gauge shotguns. An angry Biden then professed “I’m not taking your gun away” and denied ever having said that he would take guns away. Wayne responded that there was video of Biden expressing his desire to take guns, to which the candidate responded with a denial.

At that point Biden thought it appropriate to point a finger in Wayne’s face and clarify that he was going to “take your AR-14s away.” The befuddled politician presumably was referring to America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15. When Wayne protested Biden pointing a finger in his face, a now irate Biden challenged the auto worker to a fight, telling him “Don’t tell me that, pal, or I’m going to go outside with you’re a**.”

Demonstrating a firmer grasp on U.S. civics than the Syracuse Law graduate*, Wayne responded to the unhinged “public servant” by saying “You’re working for me, man.” Continuing his profanity-laced tirade, Biden responded with, “I’m not working for you. Don’t be such a horse’s a**.”

Confused, Biden then appeared to conflate commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles with machineguns. Wayne was then forced to explain to the former vice president the difference between semi-automatic and automatic firearms. An addled Biden then shouted “Do you need 100 rounds? Do you need 100 rounds?” before wandering off.

Describing the interaction for Fox News, Wayne recalled that Biden “kind of just went off the deep end.”

That is an understatement.

Joe Biden does not support the Second Amendment

Biden continues to boast about his role as lead sponsor on the Senate crime bill that contained the 1994 Clinton ban on commonly-owned semiautomatic firearms and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. The ban was allowed to expire in 2004 after a federally-funded study determined that “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” Despite this record of failure, in 2007 Sen. Biden introduced S.2237. This legislation would have reinstated the so-called “assault weapons” ban.

At present, Biden’s campaign website touts his plan for a more restrictive ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and magazines. Further, while attending a private $500 a person fundraiser in November, Biden revealed his intent to ban 9mm pistols. According to an article from the Seattle Times, while at the soiree, the 77-year-old asked attendees “Why should we allow people to have military-style weapons including pistols with 9mm bullets and can hold 10 or more rounds?”

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the Second Amendment prohibits the gun bans Biden advocates.

In the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court concluded that the types of firearms protected by the Second Amendment include those “in common use at the time” for “lawful purposes like self-defense.” The AR-15, which it appears Biden was attempting to cite in his most recent anti-gun rant, is the most popular rifle in America and therefore undoubtedly “in common use” and protected by the Second Amendment.

In 2015, Heller decision author Justice Antonin Scalia reiterated that the Second Amendment and Heller preclude so-called “assault weapons” bans when he signed onto a dissent from the denial of certiorari in Friedman v. Highland Park. In the dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas explained,

Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles [with many millions more owning them in 2020]. The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting. Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.

In targeting 9mm pistols, Biden has called for a ban on one of the most popular firearms in America. According to ATF’s Firearms Commerce in the United States FY 2019, there were over 3.6 million pistols manufactured in the U.S. in 2017. This was more than 1 million more guns than the next most popular category of firearms, rifles. Further, over 3.2 million handguns (including revolvers) were imported in to the U.S. in 2017.

In its annual report on the U.S. firearms industry, Shooting Industry reported that 9mm caliber pistols are the most commonly produced pistol and have been for many years. In 2017 alone, there were more than 1.7 million 9mm pistols produced in the U.S. Cumulatively there are tens of millions of 9mm pistols in the hands of law-abiding Americans.

As with so many anti-gun politician, when Biden claims to support the Second Amendment he is not being honest.

Joe Biden wants to take your guns

At a campaign rally in Dallas on the Monday before the Super Tuesday primaries, failed U.S. senate and presidential candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke endorsed Biden for president. Sharing the stage with his former rival, Biden stated, “I want to make something clear. I’m going to guarantee you this is not the last you’ll see of this guy.” Biden went on say, “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re going to be the one who leads this effort. I’m counting on ya.”

Following the campaign event, Biden and O’Rourke went to local burger chain Whataburger, where the septuagenarian continued to heap praise on the former manny’s anti-gun advocacy. Speaking about Beto and gun control, Biden stated, “This guy changed the face of what we’re dealing with regarding guns, assault weapons… and I just want to warn [Beto’s wife] that if I win I’m coming for him.”

By offering Beto a role on guns in a potential future administration, Biden has made clear that he supports Beto’s gun control position. That position is gun confiscation.

During the September 12, 2019 Democratic debate, Beto O’Rourke was asked about his proposal to confiscate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. Beto responded in part by saying, “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” The Beto campaign would go on to sell t-shirts with the anti-gun slogan.

Less than a week later, Beto reiterated his call for gun confiscation on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time. During an interview, Chris Cuomo asked Beto, “All right, so let’s state the proposition. Are you, in fact, in favor of gun confiscation?” Beto responded with “Yes.”

There can be no doubt that Biden understands Beto would confiscate firearms, as he shared the debate stage with him on September 12.

Moreover, Biden himself has stated that he intends to take firearms. Biden had the following exchange with CNN’s Anderson Cooper when asked about firearm confiscation during an August 5, 2019 interview.

Cooper: So, to gun owners out there who say well a Biden administration means they are going to come for my guns.

Biden: Bingo! You’re right if you have an assault weapon. 

Biden must think he can get away with lying to Second Amendment-supporting working people. In the friendly confines of a CNN interview, Biden is more than happy to admit his gun confiscation plans. However, put him in front of a group of workers and he tries to hide his radical anti-gun agenda.

Thanks to autoworker Jerry Wayne, Biden wasn’t able to get away with it this time. Wayne was correct to ask Biden about his history of attacking the Second Amendment and support for firearms confiscation. Biden, on the other hand, was full of it.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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In NRA Supported Lawsuit, Oregon’s Top Court Rejects Flawed “Gun Safety” Ballot Title, Description

Export Reform Rules Take Effect After Anti-Gun States (Mostly) Strike Out in Court

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Florida Man’s Life Ruined Because of False ‘Red Flag’ Laws

Watch the below video – this is what is happening under Florida’s Red Flag Law, SB 7026. and its unconstitutional Risk Protection Orders (RPOs).  Fifty four Republican Representatives voted for this terrible law and all but 6 FL Senators did the same.

QUESTION: Have you asked the Clerk of Court from your county how many of the RPOs issued resulting in ex parte seizures without Due Process were overturned or vacated the after the seizure hearing 14 days later?

Who is being held accountable when these reports to LE of someone being a threat are found to be lies?

Steven Linne for Florida House posted the video titled “Red Flagged – SB7026” below on YouTube.

© All rights reserved.

PODCAST: Her Husband Was Murdered in a Gun-Free Zone. Now Nikki Goeser Is Fighting Back.

Nikki Goeser watched the man who had stalked her murder her husband in a gun-free zone. Because she was a law-abiding concealed carry permit holder, Goeser’s firearm was safely locked away in her vehicle, leaving her defenseless.

Now a gun rights activist, Goeser is working hard to ensure every American has the means to protect themselves and their loved ones. Goeser, author of “Stalked And Defenseless: How Gun Control Helped My Stalker Murder My Husband in Front of Me,” joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to share her story. Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.

Virginia Allen: Nikki, thank you so much for being here today and for being willing to share your story with us.

Nikki Goeser: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


Allen: Your book “Stalked And Defenseless: How Gun Control Helped My Stalker Murder My Husband in Front of Me” is about your husband Ben, really. And so we wanted to start and talk about him. What was Ben like and how did you meet him?

Goeser: Ben was a sweetheart. He was just a happy-go-lucky, fun-loving, lighthearted person. He was always smiling. He was the type of person that if a stranger came into the karaoke venue where I worked at, he would introduce the person around the room to all of the regulars to try and make them feel welcome.

Ben was also a big brother for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. He was a big brother to a child by the name of Trent. And Trent’s father was in prison and his mother really wanted Trent to have a positive male role model in his life. Someone that could spend time with him. And so Ben would take him go kart riding and to the bowling alley, movies. Trent would come over and ride the four wheeler at our house, or I’d cook dinner for him. And Ben was just a remarkable person. He was a really sweet person.

Allen: And when did you all get married?

Goeser: We actually got married on New Year’s Eve.

Allen: That’s so romantic. What year was that?

Goeser: It was 2007.

Allen: 2007, wow. Why New Year’s Eve?

Goeser: You know, I like New Year’s Eve, and he liked New Year’s Eve. It’s a date you never forget.

Allen: I love that.

Lauren Evans: And it was not long after you were married that you had the worst day of your life. Can you walk us through what happened that night at the restaurant?

Goeser: Yes. I need to kind of, I guess, give you a backstory a little bit.

Evans: OK.

Goeser: So my husband Ben and I [had] a mobile karaoke business in the evenings. Now we both had regular corporate jobs during the day. So we did this just as a side job for a little extra gas and grocery money. And it was fun. We both enjoyed it.

I would run karaoke shows in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, for various karaoke jockeys, ladies that were calling in sick or they just didn’t feel like working or any number of reasons. And those venues downtown, they owned their own equipment. So I would just show up and run a karaoke show using their equipment.

And I did this quite often and there was a man that came in to the karaoke venue and Ben and I—Ben was always with me by the way, when I would run these shows, because all of our friends were there, the regulars were there and Ben would just enjoy the evening with them and sing and have fun and then we would drive home together after my shift.

A man showed up and we’d never seen him there. And at first we thought he was just a tourist because, you know, there’s tons of tourists that come through in Nashville. But then he started coming in more often and we figured, well, he must live here. And Ben introduced him around the venue to all of the regulars to try and make him feel welcome.

And this man, I remember there was one night where he gave me $100 tip. Now keep in mind, when you run karaoke shows, the way you make the majority of your money is through tips. So we take around a tip jar at various points throughout the night or you have one up there by the karaoke equipment.

And people will tip you—now, usually people give you a $5 bill. Maybe they’ll give you a $20 if they want to sing next and they want their name moved up the song list because they’re extremely impatient, and they’ve had a little, maybe too much to drink and are not thinking. Sometimes I would think, “Buddy, you need to save that $20 for a ride home.”

But this man gave me a $100 bill and I thought he had made a mistake. I thought he thought he pulled a $10 and he accidentally pulled a $100 so I took it back over to him and I was like, “Are you sure?” And he just gave me this look of accomplishment like he was sure. So I knew it wasn’t a mistake. I’m showing it to him.

And so I said, “Well, thank you.” And I just, it may sound silly now, but at the time I was thinking, “Obviously, he wants to sing a lot tonight.” And … I put him up to sing a lot throughout the evening.

I remember then he sent me a request on social media. At the time it was MySpace back in those days and I added him to my social media account just like I did the rest of my customers. It was a way for me to retain my customer base and let people know where I would be running shows …

He started sending me messages, the kind of private message section, that were normal. I mean, just customer interaction, “Great show. Really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to come to the next one,” or whatever. Normal conversation.

Well, then he started saying things, it started to progress in a different light. He would say things like I was attractive. And now keep in mind, when you work in a venue like that, men tell you that you are attractive and you say thank you and you go about your business. You hear it all the time, no biggie.

Then his messages started to progress even more and he started saying things like, maybe, “Ben is too old for you. It’s OK to admit that you may have made a mistake. Don’t you want to have children?” Just inappropriate. So I showed the messages to Ben and Ben’s like, “Obviously, this guy’s got a crush on you,” and he just kind of, he didn’t think that much of it.

And I was like, “Well, I’m going to have to set this guy straight because that’s not appropriate at all.” So I did. I just said, “Look, you’re fishing in the wrong lake. I’m happily married. What you’re saying is not appropriate.” … I didn’t delete him right away. I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve had to tell men before no, and they just move on. There’s other fish in the sea.

But he sent a message back that was the exact opposite of what he had been saying. He was trying to break me down by my physical appearance. He was really just being mean and obnoxious. And so I showed that message to Ben and we both agreed he needed to be deleted and blocked. And so that’s what I did.

I remember he came back into one of the karaoke venues and now he’s not singing, he’s stopped singing, he’s just standing in the middle of the crowd. Everyone’s having fun around him and he’s just standing there staring at me the whole time while I’m on the stage trying to run the show. And seems like he had come in again and again just staring at me.

And Ben at one point, Ben had told me on our way home, he said, “You know that guy … ” I don’t ever say his name because I don’t want to give him notoriety. My stalker, I guess, walked up to Ben and said, “Hey, Ben, how’s it going?” Like nothing had ever happened. He hadn’t sent me these strange, inappropriate messages.

And Ben just said, “Look, I read the messages that you sent my wife and I read what you had to say about me and you’re scaring her. Please leave my wife alone.”

And he said, “What? Is she mad at me? I swear it wasn’t me. I’ve got a crazy ex-girlfriend who knows how to hack into my account. It was her. It wasn’t me.” And of course Ben did not believe this phony explanation. Ben’s just like, “OK dude, whatever. Just leave her alone.”

And Ben turned around and joined the rest of our friends and this man left. We didn’t see him again for at least a solid month and I’m thinking it’s taken care of and he shows up to this restaurant where Ben and I ran our own mobile karaoke using our equipment. This restaurant was a good 30-, 35-minute drive away from downtown Nashville where this man normally went for karaoke.

Ben’s already asked him to leave me alone. I’ve deleted him, I’ve blocked him. It’s pretty clear we want nothing to do with him. And now he’s here. What’s he doing here?

I see him and I’m like, “Oh my God, this man is stalking me.” At that point I realized this is stalking. He’s not just a dedicated karaoke customer. He doesn’t have just a simple crush on me. This guy is stalking me.

So I turned to Ben and I said, “Honey, that man is here. The one that sent me the strange messages.” And he said, “Yeah.” He looked up and saw him and I said, “I don’t feel comfortable at all. I’m going to ask management to remove him.” And Ben said, “OK babe, do whatever you need to do.”

So I went to get management and … He had walked around behind Ben at the point that they confronted him and he had gone to the restroom before and he came back out and he’s standing behind Ben. Ben’s now at the karaoke equipment because I’m not there anymore to run the show, so Ben’s running it. Ben’s busy on the computer typing in songs and this man is just loitering behind him. He’s acting anxious, he’s looking all around the restaurant. I assume he’s looking for me.

I had walked the manager through the back kitchen up against a side brick wall where I could see out into the dining room, but he wouldn’t be able to see me and something just told me, “Don’t get involved. You’ve got no way to protect yourself. You don’t know what he’s capable of.”

Obviously, I’m concerned. I tell the manager, “Please get him out of here. He’s stalking me. Here’s what he has on.” And when they went to confront him.

I later learned during the trial that the manager said, “We need to ask you to leave.” And he said, “Why?” And she said, “Because you’re making someone here feel uncomfortable.” And he said, “Who?” And she said, “I think you know who.” And he said, “Well, I have to go to the restroom.” She said, “No, you’ve already been to the restroom. I think you need to leave now.”

And that’s when he pulled a .45 caliber handgun out from under his jacket. He had it in a shoulder holster. And at this moment he’s pulling the gun and I’m thinking, “Oh my God, I don’t have my gun.” And I can see the lights reflecting off of the metal slide.

He lowers the gun to Ben’s head and he fires one round and shoots Ben in the head and Ben falls to the ground and he stands over Ben and continues to fire six more rounds into him in front of myself and everyone in the middle of a busy restaurant. There was probably 50 people in there at the time.

And of course you can imagine the restaurant is complete pandemonium. People are running and screaming and trying to get out. And he had very calmly put the gun back inside of his jacket and started to walk around the corner into the pool table room to leave.

Allen: Oh my goodness.

Goeser: Like nobody would know he was the shooter. And I’m running as hard as I can to get to Ben when he turns around that corner and there’s a barrier between us. I later learned that there was a United States Marine who was in the crowd that tackled that man and a handful of other men jumped on top of him as well. They disarmed him and held him until the police came.

But I will probably wonder for the rest of my life if I could have prevented that. Of course, I’ll never know because I was denied a chance. I was stalked and defenseless.

So I’ve taken all of this grief and trauma and loss and I’ve tried to put all of this into a book to describe to people how gu- free zones are extremely dangerous. They make good, law-abiding people helpless. They do nothing other than encourage criminals to attack because, let’s face it, they know everybody in that place is helpless. So I’ve just done what I can to try and educate people and help them understand.

Allen: Nikki, thank you so much for sharing that. So incredibly just tragic what has happened.

During that time when your stalker entered the restaurant and you said you had that moment where you saw the gun come out and you thought, “I don’t have my gun,” you were a concealed carry [permit holder]. You had your permit, you still have it. Where was your gun at that point and why couldn’t you have it in the restaurant?

Goeser: My legal permitted gun that I normally carried for self-defense was locked in my vehicle in the parking lot there because the restaurant we were in, not only did they serve full meals, but they also served alcohol. And in the state of Tennessee at that time, you could not bring a gun, a legal handgun. You’ve got your hand gun carry permit. You could not bring it into those establishments. So I followed the law and left my gun locked in my vehicle.

Of course, my stalker did not have a handgun carry permit. He carried a gun illegally into a gun-free zone.

Evans: Had you been drinking that night? Is there any reason why besides just this law that you shouldn’t be?

Goeser: I was working and in the state of Tennessee, you cannot carry a gun anywhere … It was already the law. You cannot carry a gun anywhere and have alcohol in your system, so.

Evans: So the only reason why you didn’t have your gun on you was because of this law?

Goeser: The law.

Evans: Wow. One thing in your book that really touched me is how God’s fingerprints were on that day. That you never called out sick. You never called out of work sick ever. But that day you just felt like you wanted to spend the day with your husband and you had a conversation with him that most people don’t have on a normal day. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Goeser: Sure. I had never fibbed to a bar to spend time with my husband. I felt really awkward about that. But you know, I woke up that morning and I just could not shake this feeling. I was just like, “I really don’t want to go to work today. I just want to be with Ben.” And I don’t know how to explain it really.

But I took the day off and Ben had been laid off from his job and he was doing various home improvement, fix-up projects for friends to try and make a little extra money. So I just went with Ben that day and worked on the house that he was working on, ripping up old flooring and he was installing a fan that day and several other things.

But I am so glad I fibbed that day and took the day off as a sick day because I got to spend those precious moments with my husband.

Evans: So this happened over 10 years ago. Why choose now to write this book?

Goeser: It started out as a diary and it was a process. … It took three years to go to trial despite the overwhelming evidence and the entire crime was filmed on security cameras there at the restaurant. I mean, there was no question that he did it, who the murderer was. So it was very frustrating waiting that long.

So I would write my feelings just to deal with the grief and the trauma and the loss. And plus, I wanted to be able to remember things. I was concerned that because it was taking so long to go to trial, I knew that I would most likely be a witness in the trial and I wanted to be able to remember key details. And when time passes, sometimes your memory fades.

Then an acquaintance of mine, a friend said, “You should really consider turning this into a book. I think that a lot of people could learn from this.” So that’s what I did.

Allen: How have you been able to find some healing from your husband’s death? I mean, was writing the book an act that helped you to find that healing and in some ways recover?

Goeser: Yes, it was definitely healing. It was tough and it was healing, if that makes any sense. I don’t really know how to explain that, but it’s tough reliving those things. But if I feel like it can benefit others and make them think about their own safety, then I think it’s worth it. But yeah, it was healing.

Evans: You haven’t just written this book. You’ve become a gun rights advocate, doing speeches, working on legislation. What have been some of your proudest moments?

Goeser: Proudest moments? Oh, I guess one of my proudest moments was when the NRA gave me the Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award in 2012. It’s an award given to one woman in the entire nation every year, and I was the recipient of that award for my Second Amendment advocacy work and that was a real honor for me that they would recognize all that I had done. That’s probably one of the big ones.

I’ve had so many moments that are just incredible. Of course, my boss is Dr. John Lott Jr., author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” and I have met some really incredible people and there are famous people I’ve met. But it’s funny because once you get to know them, you realize that they’re just people. They’re just like us. I mean, they put their pants on the same way we do. When you really talk to them and get to know them, I mean, they’re just good people. They’re just regular people.

I got to meet Allen West. I’ve got to meet Ted Nugent, his wife Shemane. I’ve gotten to meet Gunny, he was great. R. Lee Ermey, of course, he’s passed away now. Gosh, who else? There’s so many. I’ve gotten to meet Glenn Beck. I just had an interview the other night with Tucker Carlson.

Evans: Very cool.

Goeser: Just incredible people. Oh, Judge Andrew Napolitano. I’ve got to meet him. I’ve been honored to work for Congressman Thomas Massie. He’s just a great person. I loved working for him. True conservative, totally solid on the Second Amendment. He’s the chairman of the Second Amendment Caucus for Congress and I have a great deal of respect for him. …It’s hard to pick one. There’ve been so many great moments out of this horrible tragedy, but I just feel honored to have the opportunity to work with some really great people.

Evans: And have you had any legislative achievements?

Goeser: Well, I don’t know that I can take full credit. I can tell you that I certainly tried to help.

In the state of Tennessee, I actually worked with a Democrat. Now keep in mind, I am very conservative. I worked with the sponsor of the restaurant carry bill in Tennessee, who was a Democrat in the Senate, Doug Jackson. And he and I talked on the phone. I told him, “You know what had happened,” and I think he had seen it on the news, but the news wasn’t reporting that the wife of the murder victim had her hand gun carry permit, but she had to leave [her gun in] the car because of the law.

So when I told him, he’s like, “Oh my gosh, Nikki, we’re trying to get this bill passed and I may need to call on you to come to the Senate floor and tell your story.” And so that’s ultimately what happened. He had me come on the Senate floor. I don’t know if it flipped any votes or not, but it ended up passing. And then the governor, Phil Bredesen, Democrat, he vetoed it. And then they had to have an override vote and it passed.

Evans: Well, this is such a huge debate that we’ve really been seeing increasingly in America. There are two very passionate sides to the gun rights debate. But gun control advocates would likely argue that it’d only took cops three minutes to arrive on the scene of your husband’s murder.

Goeser: And that’s incredibly fast.

Evans: That is very fast.

Goeser: But I can tell you that when it’s happening to yourself or your loved one, it seems like an eternity.

Allen: Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure.

Evans: And directly after the shooting as, as you mentioned, there were good Samaritans—

Goeser: Yes.

Allen: … that hopped on top of the shooter and took his gun away, but how do you think, if you had had that gun in your hand—

Goeser: Mm-hmm.

Allen: … how do you think the situation might’ve played out differently?

Goeser: You know, it’s really hard to say. I’ve definitely thought about it, but I don’t know that going back mentally over and over again with the should have, coulda, woulda scenario is healthy for me mentally.

Evans: Yeah.

Goeser: I’d like to think that with the training that I had—I was also a range volunteer so I would help with everything on the range when other people were trying to get their handgun carry permits—and doing armed security guard training and that sort of thing, I would like to think that those skills that I learned would’ve come in handy that night.

But here’s the thing, I think we all make decisions based on the options that we have. And when those options are not available to us, it changes the decisions that we make. So that’s hard to answer because those options were not available to me.

Evans: Andrew Pollack, gun rights advocate, and father of Meadow Pollack, we’ve interviewed him at The Daily Signal here before, wrote a very powerful intro to your book. He’s the father of a Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim.

Goeser: Meadow.

Lauren Evans: Meadow.

Goeser: I love that name.

Evans: It’s beautiful. And he wrote, “If Nikki had gone to the press to denounce the Second Amendment, anti-gun activists would’ve flocked to her, propped her up and amplified her message. This book probably would have been published by Simon & Schuster, but when she stood in front of the press in tears and spoke out in support of the Second Amendment, the press edited her words out and she was left to fight alone.”

Allen: Wow. Yeah. So Nikki, this is a tragedy that so much of the media really has ignored and because it doesn’t fit into their talking points. But what is the message that you want the public to hear?

Goeser: I guess the message I want people to hear is I don’t want people to be paranoid. I just want them to be prepared. Because let’s face it, nobody really thinks that something this horrible can happen to them. People tend to think, “Oh, this is something that happens to other people. It happens to people I see on the news.” Well, now I’m sitting here with you and I am one of those people. And bad things happen to good people every day and evil can show up unexpectedly and you just have to be prepared. You just never know when evil is going to show up.

Evans: Yeah.

Allen: And in your mind what is really next in this gun rights debate? I mean, what are you working on now or are you still involved?

Goeser: I feel like the criminal justice system really failed Benjamin and I back in Nashville. Here’s what happened. It was an insanity defense. OK. And I think people just think that insanity means, “OK, they’re crazy. They’re nuts. They’re insane.” No, insanity means you don’t know right from wrong. That’s it. That’s what it means.

And this man knew right from wrong and that was proven in the trial. But it was a bench trial. The murderer insisted on having just a judge. He did not want a jury. And for whatever reason, the prosecutor, I guess, decided to go along with that.

And the judge, his name was Judge Seth Norman, Democrat, unfortunately, despite all of the overwhelming evidence that showed what I believe is absolute premeditation, Judge Seth Norman dropped it from first degree premeditated murder to second degree.

In the state of Tennessee that’s only 15 to 25 years. This man got 23 years at 100% with no parole. But here’s the problem: 100% … I’ve recently learned this. 100% is not really 100%, no. He gets to earn early release good behavior credits while he’s in prison and he can have 3.5 years knocked off his sentence for good behavior. Well, I’ve also recently found out that my stalker has been writing me love letters from prison for years.

Allen: Wow.

Goeser: … I had hired an attorney to represent me and my civil lawsuit against him. I had a wrongful death suit, which I won, but the lawsuit paperwork obviously was sent to him in prison and so he knew my attorney’s address. He would send these letters to my attorney.

When you open them up, all these letters are to me, and there were a few envelopes where he actually put my name on the outside of the envelope and all the prison system does is stamp it and they just say, “This has not been inspected. We are not responsible for the contents of this letter.” And they come out now …

I can tell you this, at first, I was furious with the Tennessee prison system. I thought, “How in the hell can a convicted murderer write their victim while they’re incarcerated?” And I was really mad. I was like, “This is crazy.” But the more I thought about it, I thought, “You know what? If it were mandated that the prison system cannot let these letters out, then I would never know about this continued threat.”

And I think it’s important that women know, as disturbing as it is. I mean, believe me, I’ve had nightmares. This is very difficult to deal with mentally and emotionally on top of everything that I’ve been through. But I think it’s really important that women know.

So I would not want to see a mandate where these types of letters are prevented from leaving the prison. I think that women should know and women should be given the option to prosecute for stalking and harassment while this person’s incarcerated.

So I have hired attorneys and we’re in the process of working on this and hopefully I can do something about this man because I think he’s extremely dangerous. He’s extremely dangerous to myself, to my loved ones. And he should’ve gotten the death penalty, quite frankly. At the very least, he should have gotten first degree, but, unfortunately, he is going to walk free one day and I’m just going to try everything I can to keep him out of society because I believe he’s very dangerous.

He’s already proven what he’s capable of.

Allen: Wow. Twenty-three years. That’s nothing for shooting your husband in cold blood.

Goeser: Yeah. His release date is 10/21/2028. He was supposed to stay in until 2032 but because of the early release credits—

Allen: Oh, he’s already earned it?

Goeser: Yes. … He has an early release because of that.

Allen: So do you fear that date?

Goeser: Absolutely. It’s terrifying.

Allen: Yeah.

Goeser: I mean, it’s kind of strange. I’m terrified and I’m furious at the same time.

Allen: Yeah.

Evans: Will you have your gun on you on that date?

Goeser: Oh, I usually have my gun on me … All the time. Obviously, not here. I’m in D.C. So—

Allen: Yeah, they’re pretty strict here.

Goeser: Very, very strict here.

Allen: So what would you say to women who, obviously, they’re hearing your story and they want to be able to protect themselves, but they might not have grown up around guns, they might be fearful of the idea of carrying a gun? What would you say to them?

Goeser: There are different training facilities in just about every town in the nation. There are a lot of women out there that train other women on firearm safety and shooting skills, justifiable self-defense. …

Not that males are not good at training. I’m not saying that at all, but there are some females that feel a little intimidated by guys training with guns and they might feel a little bit more comfortable learning from another female.

So I always encourage my friends to go get good training and see if you can find a female firearms trainer.

I tell ya, I think one thing I really want to talk about, if you don’t mind—I started doing my own research online as to the advice that women are given about stalking. And how to deal with it. Different women’s advocacy, advocacy groups and stalking resource groups, etc.

And one thing that bothers me—and look, I think some of this advice is helpful or could be helpful. They’ll say things like, “You might want to consider changing your name, moving, getting a new job, don’t follow a routine, get a restraining order,” which I think is just a piece of paper. Let’s face it, it’s not going to do anything for someone who has already murdered, who doesn’t care about the laws.

But one option that is generally not ever given is you might want to consider the basic human right of self-defense, your Second Amendment rights. You might want to go get training on justifiable use of force and take responsibility for your own safety, protect yourself and your loved ones. Why is this subject seen as so taboo? It’s ignored.

I personally think that if all the options were laid out on the table, women can decide for themselves what best course of action to take to protect themselves. But give them all the options.

Allen: Absolutely.

Evans: So being the devil’s advocate, there are a lot of well-intentioned people on the gun control side who just don’t want more guns to be around because they’re worried guns do shoot people and they do harm people. What would your argument to them be?

Goeser: When the bad guys [are] the only one[s] with a gun, guess who wins? And you could ban, try to ban all the guns in the nation, OK? Let’s say that somehow we could wave a magic wand and ban all the guns. The war on drugs hasn’t worked so well, right? I’m pretty sure that criminals, people with evil intent can get illegal guns the same way they get illegal drugs.

I mean, if they banned all guns, how long do you think it would take before guns would start making their way back into the country? Twenty minutes at the border? I mean, what?

Evans: No, not long.

Allen: Not long at all.

Goeser: All it’s going to do is disarm good law-abiding people and then only the outlaws will have guns. This is not smart.

Evans: If our listeners wanted to learn more about your story and read your book, where can they find it?

Goeser: My book is available on Amazon and I believe it’s going to be up on Barnes & Noble soon. And I’ve got an audiobook coming out, so that should be available really soon as well.

Allen: Nikki, thank you so much for joining us and just for being willing to tell your really very powerful story, we so appreciate it.

Goeser: Thank you so much for having me on.

COMMENTARY BY

Lauren Evans is the multimedia manager for The Daily Signal and The Heritage Foundation. Send an email to Lauren. Twitter: .

Virginia Allen is a news producer for The Daily Signal. She is the co-host of The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women. Send an email to Virginia. Twitter: .


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

How America’s Gun Culture Cultivates Civic Virtue

From the colonists winning independence from Great Britain to African-Americans vindicating their civil rights, the role of the gun is inseparable from American identity.


It is through the enjoyment of a dangerous freedom that Americans learn the art of reducing freedom’s perils.” —Alexis de Tocqueville

Many people are often surprised to learn that I am a gun owner and firm defender of the Second Amendment. After all, I, a first-generation Chinese-American immigrant, do not fit the stereotype of the typical American gun owner. Of all of America’s cherished freedoms, the natural and unalienable right of self-defense, recognized and protected (not granted) by the Second Amendment, took me the longest to fully embrace.

But as an open-minded rationalist, the lessons of history and statistical research proved overwhelming (not to mention the sheer fun of learning the basic operations and mechanics of firearms) and eventually helped me understand why tens of millions of my fellow Americans treasure their right to keep and bear arms.

From the colonists winning independence from Great Britain to African-Americans vindicating their civil rights, the role of the gun is inseparable from American identity. The gun is the ultimate multipurpose tool that empowers its user with the means to put food on the table, as well as preserve one’s life, whether against common street criminals or government tyranny. The philosophical underpinnings and lived experiences that shaped American gun culture all matter (and reinforce each other), but I want to focus on one aspect in particular: the cultivation of civic virtue.

Owning and shooting a gun promotes self-reliance, personal responsibility, and community. Whenever I go to a gun range, I see parents teaching their young children how to shoot, men instructing their significant others, and people of all colors and ethnicities enjoying themselves. Nervous skeptics usually end up leaving with a big smile on their faces.

Further, I am surprised by the large number of foreign tourists eager to learn how to handle and shoot a gun for the first time, an activity that is often out of reach—if not outright illegal—for the average person in their homeland.

I served as an unofficial ambassador and taught European exchange students how to shoot my AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.In my experience, a typical day at the range is an ideal snapshot of American diversity tied to common principles. In the United States, gun culture fosters civic virtue and a healthy civil society as admired by Alexis de Tocqueville, one of America’s best foreign observers. In his classic Democracy in America, he was impressed by the young republic’s numerous voluntary associations, which provided the lifeblood and training grounds for self-rule among its people.

The activities and interactions at gun clubs, ranges, trade shows, and conventions have every effect in cultivating a virtuous citizenry as churches, sports teams, debate societies, and other civic groups do. From lectures on current firearms law to practical lessons on self-defense, experts and ordinary Americans alike freely share their knowledge. America’s gun culture is further reinforced by a vibrant online community that covers gun reviewscustom AR-15 buildsmilitary historycurrent politics, and virtually every topic one can think of pertaining to firearms.

After sharing a poignant story of true threats directed at him and his family, National Review writer and Iraq veteran David French describes how carrying a weapon leads to individual empowerment and, as one learns, discovers a welcoming network of support, solidarity, and community:

As your worldview changes, you expand your knowledge. You learn that people defend themselves with guns all the time, usually without pulling the trigger. You share the stories and your own experience with your friends, and soon they walk into gun stores. They start their own journey into America’s “gun culture.”

At the end of this process, your life has changed for the better. Your community has expanded to include people you truly like, who’ve perhaps helped you through a tough time in your life, and you treasure these relationships. You feel a sense of burning conviction that you, your family, and your community are safer and freer because you own and carry a gun….

Confidence is contagious. People want to be empowered. That’s how gun culture is built. Not by the NRA and not by Congress, but by gun owners, one free citizen at a time.

Although I’m fortunate not to have faced a true threat that convinced me of the need for self-protection like French and his family did, I fully understand that evil exists in this world and that under the right circumstances, people can do unspeakable things to each other. On a happier note, I can also confirm that my own journey into American gun culture introduced me to some of the most knowledgeable, kind, and supportive people who are now personal friends.

I especially want to emphasize the gun community’s overwhelming support for newcomers and marginalized groups. In the aftermath of the 2016 Orlando night club shooting, many gun ranges offered free training, and traditional pro-gun groups such as Open Carry Texas offered armed security for LGBT people. Many gun shops reported a rise in LGBT customers, and new self-defense groups, like the LGBT-centered Pink Pistols, experienced a surge in membership. Free citizens with diverse backgrounds united over shared principles and interests. If he were to witness how individual empowerment through the gun strengthened the fabric of civil society, Tocqueville would be proud.

As admirers of their Greco-Roman predecessors, the Founding Fathers of the United States understood that only virtuous citizens are capable of self-rule and preserving a free society. In the early American republic, statesmen and ordinary people alike saw no conflict between the individual right to bear arms and participating in a militia for collective self-defense, unlike many of today’s misguided debates. In his famed Commentaries on the Constitution, Justice Joseph Story articulated the orthodox view of the Second Amendment:

The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people.

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.

As Justice Story and early Americans understood, an armed people upheld free institutions. Far from being lone wolves, individual gun owners throughout American history organized and participated in militia units as a counterbalance against a standing army and the prospects of centralized government tyranny. Even though the militia today no longer plays the important historical role it once did (as Justice Story and others would lament), that certainly does not mean the Second Amendment is obsolete, nor does it even slightly diminish the importance of gun ownership.

The Second Amendment is not a vestigial remnant from a bygone era. It grew out of the experiences of a people who understood the dangers of standing armies and martial law, successfully overthrew a tyrannical government, and recognized the reality of human nature, especially the tendency of men to seek power and dominate others.

Today, as in the Founding generation, our precious right to keep and bear arms remains indispensable for securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and loved ones in our persons, homes, and livelihoods.Most modern gun owners know they are the heirs of a constitutional legacy that stretches across the pages of history. A free society endures only when its people internalize its principles. As a naturalized American citizen, I can’t help but feel proud every time I shoot a gun, knowing I am one of millions who keep our heritage of freedom alive.

COLUMN BY

12 Times Gun Owners Defended Themselves and Others

Many lawmakers around the country welcomed in the new year by pursuing legislation that would severely curtail the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens began 2020 just as they ended 2019—by showing repeatedly just how instrumental that right is to the security of a free state.

According to almost every major study on the issue, Americans use their firearms defensively between 500,000 and 3 million times each year. Even if we assume the lower end of this range, it means an incredible number of times that Americans relied on the Second Amendment—not government getting there on time—to protect their inalienable rights.

During every month of last year, we highlighted some of the stories of average, everyday Americans who used their guns to protect their lives and livelihoods from criminals.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


The first month of 2020 provided still more examples of citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights in defense of themselves and others. Here are 12:

  • Jan. 1, Dublin, California: A lawful gun owner relied upon his Second Amendment rights to defend his life when an ex-girlfriend and her armed acquaintance assaulted him in his own home. Police said the ex-girlfriend and acquaintance showed up purporting to want some of her possessions back, but instead threatened the resident with a gun. He fired at his two attackers as he fled and called police. The ex-girlfriend was killed, and her acquaintance wounded in the exchange of gunfire. Police determined that the lawful gun owner acted in self-defense. The armed acquaintance was charged with her death under the state’s Provocative Act Doctrine, since he ultimately provoked the violent confrontation.
  • Jan. 4, Columbus, Indiana: A homeowner shot and killed an intruder wielding a baseball bat who broke into his home in the middle of the night. The intruder may have been in the middle of a mental health crisis, as the Department of Veterans Affairs recently had requested that local law enforcement take the man to a hospital, but he refused to go. Neighbors reported that, in the minutes before the shooting, the man was seen walking up and down the street in a highly agitated manner, smashing windows and cursing loudly.
  • Jan. 7, Pascagoula, Mississippi: A man suspected in a string of burglaries picked the wrong house to break into, at the wrong time. The armed homeowner returned in the middle of the morning to find the burglar in his bedroom. The burglar tried to pull his gun, but the homeowner instead shot and killed him.
  • Jan. 10, Dallas: A concealed-carry permit holder was socializing with guests at a home cookout when three armed men attempted to rob them all at gunpoint. The permit holder drew his own handgun and fatally shot one of the robbers. The other two fled.
  • Jan. 11, Tulsa, Oklahoma: A homeowner’s son was asleep in the living room when he was awoken by the family dogs barking at a man on the porch. The man demanded to see his fiancée but was told he had the wrong house and needed to leave. Instead, the man broke into the family’s car, then tried to kick in the back door. The homeowner’s son warned the man multiple times that he was armed and would shoot him if he stepped foot in the house. Nonetheless, the man barged inside. True to his word, the son shot and wounded the man, who retreated and was later arrested.
  • Jan. 12, Pittsburgh: A young father used his handgun to defend himself, his fiancée, and their 10-month-old child after an intruder broke into their apartment and threatened them at gunpoint. The man shot and killed the intruder.
  • Jan. 14, Pierce County, Washington: The driver of a pickup truck began passing cars dangerously on a winding two-lane road, then took offense when another driver honked at him. Police said the pickup driver stopped his truck, halting traffic, then climbed out with a gun, pointing it at the people in the car behind him. A passenger in that car also was armed and ultimately was forced to shoot and kill the pickup driver in defense of himself and those around him.
  • Jan19, Danville, Illinois: When several armed men in ski masks kicked in his door one night, a 31-year-old homeowner defended himself with his handgun, firing multiple rounds at the intruders. One was killed and the others fled, police said.
  • Jan. 22, Warren, Michigan: A young man with a concealed-carry permit was returning home from a late night out at a show when he was accosted on his doorstep by a man with a gun. A neighbor’s doorbell camera captured the next harrowing moments: The permit holder drew his gun in self-defense and fired approximately 10 rounds at his would-be attacker. The attacker, wounded, fired back but did not hit the permit holder. About 20 shots were fired, police said, most apparently by the permit holder. Police arrested the intruder.
  • Jan. 24, Cape Coral, Florida: A good Samaritan with a firearm in his truck defended three women from a man who followed them out of a bar in a threatening manner. The women yelled at passing vehicles for help, and the truck driver stopped and allowed the women to take refuge inside as he confronted the aggressive man. The man retreated to his own vehicle when he saw that the truck driver was armed. He then rammed the truck several times while the women were still inside. The truck driver fired a couple of rounds into the tailgate of the man’s vehicle and held him at gunpoint until police arrived. Police charged the man with aggravated assault and determined that the truck driver acted in lawful defense of himself and the women.
  • Jan. 27, Brown County, Texas: A 13-year-old boy used the family rifle to protect his grandmother during a domestic violence incident, shooting and wounding a man because he was “fearful that his grandmother was going to be killed,” police said. Investigators said the man was “actively assaulting” the boy’s grandmother and threatened other family members, including a juvenile.
  • Jan. 31, Detroit: A woman shot and wounded a man who broke into her apartment in the middle of the night. A neighbor told reporters that it is a dangerous neighborhood and that there are regularly “gunshots up and down the area.” This time the gunshots were from a law-abiding citizen defending herself against a criminal.

As we noted in closing out 2019, it’s vital that Americans routinely hear these stories.

The “good guy with a gun” is not a myth but an integral part of American society, serving to protect individual liberty and increase public safety.

We all want safe communities, but our focus should be on doing the right thing instead of just doing “something.” The right thing certainly includes protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, who regularly rely on those rights.

COMMENTARY BY

Amy Swearer

Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

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Parkland Dad, Andrew Pollack: “March for Our Lives” Made Kids LESS SAFE

Andrew Pollack is the father of Meadow Pollack, a victim of the Parkland mass murderer.  He works to get the truth out while gun control zealots work to hide the truth by blaming guns.  This courageous story is a must read for those who really want to know the truth.

Parkland Dad Andrew Pollack: ‘March for Our Lives’ Made America’s Kids Less Safe

By Andrew Pollack

Breitbart

February 14, 2020

Two years ago today, my daughter Meadow and sixteen others were murdered in the Parkland school shooting. For the families of the victims, it was an unspeakable tragedy. But for others, it was an incredible political opportunity.

The shooting propelled a handful of shrill student activists to fame. The most prominent one, David Hogg, later mused, “We really only remember a few hundred people, if that many, out of the billions that have ever lived. Is that what I was destined to become?”

No, David. My daughter wasn’t murdered so that you could fulfill your “destiny” of tweeting about historically marginalized “indigenous lgbtq women and non binary” gun control activists.

She was murdered because of the failures of the Broward County school district, sheriff’s office, and mental health services. Failures that partisan agitprop, spewed by you and the other March For Our Lives (MFOL) activists, helped to shield from the public eye.

Although I disagreed with the gun control kids politically, I made it a rule not to criticize them publicly. Because I figured that despite our differences, we all wanted the same thing: safe schools…

Read the full story here.

PODCAST: ‘Exposing Everything That Went Wrong’: A Parkland Researcher Speaks Out

Today is the second anniversary of the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed. Max Eden, an education researcher, who co-authored “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students,” joins today’s podcast. Read the lightly edited interview, posted below, or listen on the podcast:

We also cover these stories:

  • The Democrat-led House passed a bill that would eliminate the 1982 deadline to ratify the the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticizes President Donald Trump over his protests about the original seven- to nine-year jail recommendation for Roger Stone, a Trump ally.
  • According to a Gallup poll taken in January, 61% of Americans say they are better off than they were three years ago

The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, Apple PodcastsPippaGoogle Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at letters@dailysignal.com. Enjoy the show!

Rachel del Guidice: We are joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Max Eden. He’s an education researcher. Max, thank you so much for being with us today.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


Max Eden: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Del Guidice: Feb. 14 is the second anniversary of the Parkland shooting in Parkland, Florida, that took the lives of 17 people. Max, you co-authored a book about the shooting. The book is called “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.” Max, why did you write this book?

Eden: Immediately after the shooting, kind of two groups of students came forward. And one group got a lot more attention than the other.

The group of students [that] got attention said, “We blame the Second Amendment. We blame the NRA. We blame the gun for what happened.” The other group of students said, “We knew it was him before it was over. The student threatened to kill us. He threatened to rape us. He threatened to kill our families. He brought knives to school. He brought bullets to school. We saw something. We said something. They did nothing. They didn’t protect us from him.”

And kind of from my perch as researcher in D.C. when I saw this, I thought, “Oh, OK. Well, this is in a school district that became nationally famous for fighting the so-called school-to-prison pipeline by lowering arrests, lowering suspensions, lowering expulsions. I wonder if these policies, this kind of leniency pressure played a role in his journey through the school system.”

So I wrote an article kind of posing this question about 10 days after the shooting. And, unfortunately, this question kind of very quickly became an answer in politics, as happens, right? I mean, one side was for gun control and the other side was very quick to take the question and answer, “It wasn’t the gun’s fault. It was these policies. It was [former President Barack] Obama’s policies.”

It became a political football very quickly and nobody answered the question. It was labeled as fake news by the superintendent and most of the media skated on by.

But a couple months after the tragedy, I had wanted to see whether or not the answer was “yes” to the question that I had posed. And I found a way to get down there to talk to some students, talk to some teachers.

While I was down there, Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was murdered on the third floor, heard that there was somebody from D.C. who was looking for answers. And he got my number somehow, texted me, said, “Come over to my house.”

I explained to him what I was doing and kind of gave him some questions to ask and he texted me a couple of days later and said, “Thanks so much for your help, Max. You’re going to be a tremendous asset helping me find justice for my daughter’s murder.”

I came down thinking, “Oh, I’ll just come in for a few days, talk to a couple of people, and maybe write an article.” When I got that text, I knew I had to come down again.

After my second trip, I had talked to enough people that I got through him to realize, “Oh, wow, this is much bigger than our article. And also bigger than the discipline issue that I thought it had to do with.” That was part of it, but it was part of a broader story that needed to be a book for parents to understand it.

Del Guidice: So, Max, in the book you detail how the shooter … slipped through the cracks when there was just really an exorbitant amount of red flags and warning signs.

For example, I know that you said in the book that the police were called to [the shooter’s] home I think about 45 times. What were some of the other warning signs that just went unnoticed?

Eden: Well, they were noticed and ignored. I mean, in middle school, the student, when you read his teachers’ records, he kind of was fixated with guns daily. He would always talk about guns, always talk about shooting. Whenever the topic came up, he would kind of light up or he would bring up the topic himself.

His behavior in middle school was so egregiously bad that he was suspended every other day for about 10 months in middle school. And middle school discipline policy wasn’t the problem. The problem was there was a student whose behavior was so extreme that he required a security escort to walk in the hallways, to go to the bathroom, to do anything outside of the classroom. In some cases, teachers wouldn’t let him into their classroom without a security escort.

When the security escort wasn’t enough, the school got the mom to come and accompany the security escort accompanying him. And they kept him at this school for 10 months before they finally got the paperwork in order to send him to a specialized school where he very desperately needed to be.

At that specialized school, his behavior was so disturbing that they wrote a letter to his private psychiatrist after his first semester, basically saying, “This student told us that he dreams of killing and being covered in blood. He has extreme mood liability. We tried to take away all sharp objects in the home, but there’s a hatchet missing and there are still holes appearing on the walls. We’re very, very worried about the student.”

But after a couple of months of good behavior at that school, they thought, “Oh, he’s ready to attend a normal school again. And he seems to be very interested in the military, very interested in guns. All the teachers say that he’s interested in the military and guns. So let’s try him at a traditional high school for two courses for one semester, see how that goes. And we’ll do maybe one academic course and JROTC,” where he got to practice marksmanship.

I think we can have a gun control debate, we should have a gun control debate, but when you have a school district that’s taking a kid who has literally said, “I dream of killing and being covered in blood,” who talks about guns all the time, and they put them into a normal school and they gave him a gun and teach him how to shoot, maybe it’s something more than the school that we should be looking at.

Del Guidice: In your book, you obtained a lot of information that wasn’t public, at least at the time. How did you go about compiling all that information, gaining access to it? And given that you were so successful in that, what kind of impetus does that have on us to see what you uncovered and act on it?

Eden: It was not an easy process. There are federal education records, privacy laws that protect kids from adults who want to snoop and find out about them. And for good reason. But, unfortunately, those laws still apply after the student has committed a mass murder in school.

So at first, I had to just ask a whole bunch of questions to teachers and students and try to put inferences together. Like, “Oh. Well, you said this and he said that? And how do these pieces fit together? And how can I just take all of the stories that I’m finding and weave it into a story that makes sense, that fits, that coheres?”

After a certain point, though, I realized after one trip when I was talking with people … we never used the word victim to refer to the shooter, but we realized just how profoundly the system failed him. And as Andy has said, he blames the shooter for half of it. He blames the system for the other half.

I said to him at a certain point, “We’re basically going to be acting as your daughter’s murderers’ defense attorney in the court of public opinion. Because our argument is it’s their fault too. And that’s the exact same argument that his lawyer is going to be making. And we can’t get his official records, which would break the case wide open, so it might be worth talking to them about it and seeing if they’d provide it to us.”

He called me a few days later and said, “Yeah. So, I just talked to the defense attorney and they’re going to give us the records. I told them that at the trial I would take the stand and I’d bash the school district, bash the sheriff’s office, bash the mental health provider. So we’ll get the records.”

And that’s how we got a lot of the stuff that had never previously been reported. Because Andy, his sense of justice, his mission has been to expose everything that went wrong, every one who failed, hold as many people as possible accountable, and try to have everybody learn every lesson that there is to be learned.

So what will happen in the trial [is], we’ll see what he chooses to do and how it all plays out. But he took that step because he is so committed to having the full truth be exposed. That’s what we tried to take and weave into the story and put forward a product that parents and schools across the country can read …

It’s an anecdotal thing to say, but I can’t tell you how many people have DM’d him, DM’d me, have emailed us being like, “Oh, wow. I knew what was happening at my kid’s school, but I didn’t know what it all fit together and how big of a problem it was.” Or, “Oh, I read this book and then I started asking some questions and it turns out the exact same thing is happening here.”

So the mission of the book was, as Andy said, to expose. And the hope is that by exposing everything that went wrong with the shooter, every way that the school district failed him, that we can open parents’ eyes a little bit to ways that school districts are failing their kids in ways that will, God willing, never nearly approach the level of what happened there.

But times when there are other red flags being swept under the rug, other violence that goes unaddressed, bullying that is just ignored by administrators who have this pressure to fight the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, lowering suspensions, lowering expulsions, lowering arrests.

The easiest way to do that is to just not do anything, to sweep it under the rug, to say, “Hey, look, our numbers are looking better. That means our school’s getting safer.”

It’s up to parents at the end of the day to speak up against that because teachers are frequently too intimidated to say, “Hey, our principal’s leading our school in a very bad direction and our superintendent’s policies are totally out of whack.”

Teachers aren’t going to say that. If schools are going to start putting the safety of classrooms and the interest of students first, again, before these kind of fake numbers, that has to come from parents.

Del Guidice: In talking about the Parkland shooting, I can’t help but think back to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which killed 58 people and wounded some, I think 413 others.

More than two years later, the motives of the shooter remain a mystery for the Vegas shooting. But in the case of Parkland, we kind of have the exact opposite where there’s a wealth of information on the alleged shooter and his background. But all this information doesn’t really fit the gun control narrative so it hasn’t been covered, at least to the extent that people want to see it covered. What’s been your experience with the media covering your own work?

Eden: The Vegas shooting laid into a much better case for, “It’s the AR-15, the so-called assault weapon.” Because you couldn’t have pulled that off with a handgun. You couldn’t have pulled that off with a shotgun. It was the gun that enabled the Vegas shooting and it was a gun that was legally acquired by a guy who otherwise looked clean. It’s a very alarming thing that fits that narrative very well.

In this case, as Andy has said, he could have killed 17 people with a musket that day. It did not matter what gun he had. He had 11 minutes alone in a school building with 800 kids. It did not matter that it was an AR-15. And he bought that gun legally despite having exhibited every red flag that in a functioning system would have prevented him from buying the gun.

He committed felony-level crimes that could have either got him directly prohibited or when the FBI and Broward Sheriff’s Office received tips, [they] could have showed up, could have made them think, “Oh, wow, this kid who threatened to kill somebody at school committed a hate crime assault, trespassed on campus. We’re getting a call that he might shoot up the school. Let’s look into that.” But they looked him up and they saw nothing.

I think that to answer your question directly about media reception, it’s been something that has been very upsetting to me, more so to Andy. He at one point said in an interview, “The only parents who will know about what really happened in Parkland, and will know what they need to know to keep their kids safe, are the parents who watch Fox News.”

It was no reception whatsoever in so-called mainstream media, no reception whatsoever in education media. It got all the attention in the world that we could have asked for within conservative media. It’s just very, very sad that it had to play out that way. Anything that isn’t pro-gun control is, in the way that the media and political environment shakes out, has to be anti-gun control.

And not that my opinion on gun control matters, but I actually came out of it probably more pro-gun control than I went in because I saw just how hard it can be to stop crazy people from getting guns.

There are pro-gun control changes that I would happily endorse, but it’s just a tragedy that because our book didn’t say, “you have to blame the gun and this is the primary issue,” it was cast as being a right-wing, pro-gun apology book when it was just what actually happened to the school and what parents needed to know to keep their own kids safe.

Del Guidice: Yeah. Wow, that’s really unfortunate. In your book, and you sort of alluded to this at the beginning of our discussion, you talked about how the school created a culture of leniency and part of this was through the school instituting a program called the Promise program. What was that program?

Eden: The Promise program was one part of a broader suite of kind of leniency reforms, and this part focused on lowering arrests. And it accomplished that goal by basically giving students four free misdemeanors a year before they were required to talk to law enforcement, and it reset every single year.

This program … let kids commit up to four crimes before they have to talk to a school resource officer, and at that point, arrest is probably still discouraged. That succeeded in getting arrests down by 70% and it was perceived to be a great success by the Broward County school district.

It became kind of a model for the nation. It was credited with inspiring this 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter by the Obama administration’s Department of Education, which was less focused on decriminalization and more focused on kind of lowering suspensions and detentions and expulsions.

But these same kind of policy pressures on principals and assistant principals, “Lower the numbers. We’re watching the numbers. We expect these numbers to get lower,” that has spread to schools across the country.

Probably at least half of schools, about 54% of schools in America have administrators who say that they’re implementing restorative justice, which is kind of what these new leniency policies go by.

We have situations where a teacher will send a student to the office and the student will come back five minutes later smiling with a lollipop and the teacher will be the one who will get flack from the administrator for sending a kid there because that means that you’re not doing your job as a teacher.

Now, the Promise program was the highest-profile aspect of it because it was just the most egregiously, “Oh wow, you’re going to lower arrest by not arresting kids.” But it was one part for the whole of these policies that prioritize almost transparently fake statistical progress in the name of allegedly fighting institutional racism, which is, of course, an allegation predicated on the idea that teachers are racist or ablest or can’t be trusted and need to be micromanaged and second guessed, which is fundamentally wrong and leads to all sorts of problems in and out of the classroom. Far short of what happened in Parkland.

Del Guidice: You mentioned that this Promise program resulted in nearly a 70% drop in school-based arrests and you also note in the book it allowed this 90% non-recidivism rate. How did this enable the shooter in the end?

Eden: There was some controversy or argument about this point. The Promise program itself only applied to the shooter once directly when he committed an act of vandalism in middle school that he was supposed to have been sent to the Promise program, but they didn’t keep track of him effectively because the program itself was just kind of fraudulent all the way down. It was chaotic. It was a very poorly run, a very toxic environment at the school.

So he seems to have been referred to the Promise program once in middle school. Didn’t go. They couldn’t figure out why he didn’t go. They couldn’t figure out whether or not he really didn’t go. They didn’t send them to the court system as they were supposed to, given that they didn’t go. The state commission looking into this kind of came to the conclusion that, well, that one incident itself wouldn’t have made a decisive difference in the course of events. So that’s not really the issue.

I don’t dissent from the opinion that that one act of vandalism wouldn’t have made a difference, but when he got to high school, he was committing crimes that did not qualify for the Promise program, that were felonies, not misdemeanors. Things that did not technically fall under the umbrella of the Promise program.

Not only was he not referred to the Promise program, nothing happened to him when he threatened to kill other students; when he called a student the N-word and attacked him, it was pretty clearly a hate crime assault; when he was no longer a student, when he trespassed on campus, having been labeled already by the security staff as like, “Oh, if there’s any kid who’s going to shoot up the school, it’s going to be that kid.”

So the Promise program directly only touched him once in a way that wasn’t decisive, but it created this broader culture of leniency that allowed him to commit crimes such that—and we only figured out this last part after the book released so it’s not in it—they eventually not only prohibited him from wearing a backpack to school after a series of kind of assaults and after, I believe, they found bullet casings in his backpack, they also frisked him every day to make sure that he wasn’t bringing a deadly weapon to school.

So you have a situation where you’re saying, “You’re not allowed to bring a backpack. We’re going to frisk you every day because as we admit later in our testimony to the police, we’re worried that he might bring a weapon and kill people, but arrest, not even on the table.”

Del Guidice: Wow. That is … definitely very alarming. So looking at all of this, were parents aware of all these changes that were made when, for example, the Promise program was implemented? Did they know the extent of everything that this program meant?

Eden: No. What Andy has said repeatedly is that he will never forgive himself for not knowing what was actually going on at his daughter’s school. Having no idea that there was somebody there who was so dangerous that they had to frisk him every single day. For knowing that kids could get away with that many crimes in a single year scot-free.

He had absolutely no idea, and his mission with everything that he’s done since, kind of our mission with the book, as he says, is that he wants to be the last father who can honestly say, “I had no idea what was going on at my daughter’s school.” …

The purpose of the project was, as you asked earlier, to not allow any other parent to make the excuse. Even when something happens like this again and it resembles Parkland, and sometimes it won’t—there was the shooting in California—sometimes they are out of the blue and there are no warning signs, but sometimes there are.

And schools will continue to sweep the warning signs under the rug unless parents take it to them. And the hope is that by opening their eyes to the example of what happened in Parkland, we can make it such that parents know … “I know what’s happening in my kid’s school. I understand the risks. I understand the dynamics and I have some idea what to do about if I find that what I’m reading about here fits what’s going on in my kid’s school too.”

Del Guidice: In the book you mentioned that [a] campus security guard, Andrew Medina, spotted [the shooter] the day of the shooting and he later told the police, “I saw him with a bag, with like a rifle bag, beelining to Building 12,” and that this officer said the shooter looked like he was on a mission and walking with purpose. And then this officer recognized [the shooter] and he thought, “Man, that’s the crazy boy, why wasn’t school security called?”

What was the breakdown at this point? Just looking back with all of the research you’ve done, the security guard is asking this question himself and looking back and telling listeners, “Why wasn’t security called?”

Eden: At that point, his job was to call a Code Red. You see a suspicious intruder. You fear that something might happen. You call a Code Red that’s broadcast over the intercom and everybody shelters in place.

If a Code Red had been called, then I think everybody on the third floor could have lived because everybody who died on the third floor died because the fire alarm went off.

When the fire alarm went off, one or two of the teachers knew the sound of gunshots when they heard them before. The other teachers didn’t put it together. They put their kids out into the hallway. Everybody who died in the third floor died in the hallway.

So if a Code Red had been called before the fire alarm went off, Meadow would be alive. Five other students would be, or four other students, one other teacher would be alive. But he did not call a Code Red himself.

And as he said, shortly after, he sees him go in, he starts to hear these loud percussion noises, like pow, pow, pow. “It’s not a firecracker noise,” he says. But he doesn’t call a Code Red because, these are his words, not mine, “If I call it and everybody comes in and it’s not really, I don’t want to be the guy who made that call.”

So this is the reductio ad absurdum slash ad infinitum of the whole story. You have a security guard. His one job is to call a Code Red when you see something like this happen. And when it almost couldn’t possibly be more clear what it was, he still doesn’t because he doesn’t want to get in trouble in case kids aren’t actually getting murdered.

That’s part and parcel of what happened with the shooter his whole way through. There was an obviously responsible decision that could have been made by an adult around him after he displayed disturbing behavior, and the obviously morally wrong decision was made by the adults and authority many times over because that’s what they were incentivized to do, because it was a path of least resistance for them, because it’s what their bosses wanted.

On the one hand, the Parkland school shooting has been called a total system failure, but on the other hand, you can’t really call what happened a failure because everybody who made a wrong decision made it for a reason, and made it pursuant to a policy.

These policies are not confined to Broward County and not confined to South Florida. They are found in many, many schools across the country and lead to thousands of tragedies every day that come nowhere near approaching the scope and the horror of what happened in Parkland, but will also never be reported and never acted on and won’t be changed unless parents take a really hard look at what happened there.

Del Guidice: We’ve talked a lot about how the school failed parents and students that day. In all of your research for this book, how did law enforcement fail students?

Eden: There is the before and the during. Before, as you said, the consistent behavior that he displayed wasn’t just displayed in school.

The police were called to his house 45 times before the shooting. They received tips. The FBI received tips. Broward Sheriff’s Office received tips. This is a guy who might shoot up the school. Never arrested. Every tip is dropped.

A lot of the attention of what happened that day has gone to Scot Peterson, who was the school resource officer on duty, who gets the memo of what happened, approaches the building, but then takes a step back, takes cover behind the building nearby, and stays there for what ends up being over 50 minutes, and not only doesn’t approach the building, but actually gets on the radio and basically tells the other police officers to make a perimeter, to not approach the 1200 building where he seems to have a very good reason to know exactly what’s happening.

And the tension focused mostly on him, but before the shooting was over, there were eight Broward sheriff’s officers on the scene hearing gunshots and none of them approached the building.

You can see body cam footage of one of them who gets out of the car. You can hear the shots in the background. [He] goes back to the car, takes his gun off, puts on his bulletproof vest, puts the gun back on, and then takes position behind the car.

You can listen to statements from other police officers. They take positions behind trees. And eventually, the Coral Springs police officers, officers who are given good training, not under the umbrella of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, they start coming in.

According to one of them, as they’re approaching, a Broward Sheriff’s officer who’s standing behind a tree says, “Don’t go in there. He’s got a gun.” At which point in time the Coral Springs police officer, who has a son inside the building, basically says “F you” and runs in, and the other Coral Springs officers run in as well.

But unfortunately, the good cops running into the building isn’t the end of the story. They get very delayed in their job of going through the building to try to clear it because the school district did not give the sheriff’s office access to their video equipment. You don’t want the cops to see what’s going on in schools because you’re trying to lower arrests, probably.

So as they’re going through the building, there are school administrators who are in the camera room saying to another school administrator what they’re seeing on the camera without having made it clear or it’s somehow getting lost in translation that the school administrators had rewound the tape several times and were describing delayed footage to the police.

So the police were being told, “The shooter is on the second floor,” when they were on the second floor, when they could see that there was no shooter. And ultimately, this confusion made it such that it took medical personnel 43 minutes to reach Meadow on the third floor.

She was shot nine times. It probably wouldn’t have helped. But other students who it might have—another student who might have died if it had been a couple of minutes longer, who could’ve been spared a lot if it had been a half-hour sooner.

It’s not just that parents should take a close look at what happened for all the warning signs of what went on in the school. I think the police offices, police departments need to understand the second-by-second, blow-by-blow of what happened that day because it’s hard to imagine a broader failure that could have occurred on their part.

Del Guidice: Looking at all of what we’ve discussed today and even what Andy said about him wanting to be the last dad who really can say, “I didn’t know what was going on in my daughter’s school,” and knowing everything you know now, what are some lessons for schools as well as parents going forward? And how can we avoid future things like this happening?

Eden: There’s a hardware and a software side to it. A lot of the attention went to the hardware side of it in the immediate aftermath. If you don’t want weapons getting into buildings, then a metal detector or an armed guard and a single point of entry will do more than almost anything. And if worse comes to worst and something like that happens, you want the police to be able to see what’s happening instantly.

So these are things that parents can—and, in my opinion, should—advocate for in their own communities. It’s things that can be kind of controversial, aren’t going to fit everywhere.

But then there’s the software side of it too. There’s the question of, are the dynamics that we describe in the book, that engendered and enabled the Parkland shooter, are those dynamics playing out in your kid’s school too?

And it’s ultimately on parents to find out because teachers aren’t going to stand up and point a finger at their bosses. They’re not going to go talk to the press immediately and say how bad everything around them is.

Parents need to talk to their students, talk to their teachers, and just ask a couple of basic questions, like, “Do you feel supported when it comes to discipline? Do you feel like your administrators, like the principal is sweeping problems under the rug? Is there a student in my son or daughter’s classroom who everybody knows shouldn’t be there?”

If the answer to any of those questions are “yes,” then it’s on the parents to take another step, to try to talk to the school board members, talk to the superintendent, and effect policy change.

These policies come down partly from pressure from the Obama administration Department of Education, partly from outside social justice activist groups, sometimes, and partly from state bureaucrats.

It’s framed as a social justice thing, right? Like lower suspensions because we’re trying to reduce bias and everything will get better. And if you’re a school board member or a superintendent, it’s very easy to want to believe these things, to believe these things.

But if there are parents who are coming to you consistently and saying, “Hey, this might have sounded nice, but my kid says that he was assaulted and that your principal did nothing,” or, “My daughter says that she was harassed and told the assistant principal and they didn’t do anything.” If the people who run schools at a local level hear that from parents, they’re in a position to actually address it.

I think part of the tragedy of Parkland is that, as I said, it was the most avoidable mass murder in American history.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong, all for a reason, all at the local level, and it immediately became subsumed into a big, national political fight that distracted from what really went wrong.

And if such an avoidable tragedy hitting such a, frankly, high socioeconomic class community can’t make parents take a hard look at what’s going on in their kids’ schools, then it’s cause for a lot of concern.

Del Guidice: Well, Max, we appreciate you being with us here on The Daily Signal Podcast today, talking about everything you’ve learned, about your book. Thank you for taking time to be with us.

Eden: Thanks for having me.

PODCAST BY

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a congressional reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.


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