Sep 19, 2014
With Washington ready for a ballot initiative fight this November and the accompanying debate over who is and isn’t showing up, I thought it would be important to look at a couple of historical votes relevant to the subject of ballot initiatives.
One is recent history. Very recent. As in, yesterday. There were were many polls showing that the Yes and No votes on Scottish Independence were in a dead heat, and even some showing that Yes was taking the lead in the days prior to the vote. The real result was a 10 point vote against independence with massive turnout.
Another, more relevant example, is from Massachusetts in 1976. I’ve posted about how important it is for gun owners to read about and learn from this example before. It shows why we keep fighting, even in sometimes clearly uphill fights. From Dave Kopel’s article on the ballot initiative fight:
Early polling suggested that a handgun ban would pass handily. Further, in the 1974 election, voters in several state legislative districts had overwhelmingly supported measures instructing their state legislators to vote for strict anti-gun legislation. …
The final poll, a few days before, had showed Question 5 with a 10-point lead. Everyone anticipated a long night waiting for the election results. Everyone was wrong.
Handgun confiscation was crushed by a vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. Of the approximately 500 towns in Massachusetts, only about a dozen (including Cambridge, Brookline, Newton and Amherst) voted for the ban. Even Boston rejected the ban by a wide margin.
There are notable differences in that it was certainly a far more extreme policy than Washington. However, it still shows that what people feel they “should” tell a pollster may not match how they vote in a closed voting booth. That’s the kind of tendency that Washington activists need to appeal to there.
Now, NRA cannot, even if they empty their entire campaign war chest into Washington State and completely ignore the rest of the country, outspend Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They can’t. Just accept it right now that you cannot look at this situation strictly through the lens of campaign finance reports. I’m not in Washington, but I do see some evidence of NRA work. There’s a Facebook page they’ve created that partially documents some of their work, and I can also say that from the moment I met our new EVC coordinator back in March, she’s been aware of this and trying to work with local activists to make sure they have what they need and help them out. Even in our Friends of NRA program that isn’t political, we saw record turnout for people showing up to participate, even though they couldn’t quite open their wallets as much as last year. Fights like this aren’t accurately portrayed in financial reports.
These issues are complex, and there’s a chance that we may lose. However, if gun owners study their history on ballot initiatives, they’ll know these things are won with volunteers on the ground and that sometimes polls on policy efforts to support more gun control are very, very wrong when you actually stick a ballot with that issue in front of someone’s face.
Sep 18, 2014
Back in 1938, a Texas hunter decided to get ready for his hunting trip by posing for cameras in DC. That Texas hunter was Senator Tom Connally.
The caption from the Library of Congress: Looking forward to a hunting trip in his native state as soon as Congress adjourns this week, Senator Tom Connally, Democrat of Texas, checked his guns and did a little fancy shooting for the benefit of the cameramen at the Capitol today, 6/14/38.
I can’t even fathom how that would go over today.
Sep 18, 2014
Bob Owens notices that CeaseFire PA has jumped quick on attempting to exploit the ambush murder of two Pennsylvania State Troopers by a crazed gunman. They are claiming that murders committed with long guns has doubled since 1996. That number is, of course, a complete fabrication. Bob looks at the actual figures and notes the number of murders with long guns has, in fact, halved. Bob notes:
The attempt to target long-guns comes after numerous media outlets sympathetic to gun control curious chose last week to abandon their 30-year fixation on so-called “assault weapons.”
Apparently, they’re now going to go after bolt-action rifles used for hunting, calling them “sniper rifles,” comparing their owners to “insurrectionists” and”terrorists” as they attempt to push universal background checks as a de facto gun registry.
I don’t think that can be stressed enough. If they get the “background check” bill they want, there will be de facto firearm registration in this country. We already have this for handguns in Pennsylvania, and nationally there is registration for firearms bought at retail through 4473. But the exceptions are important. Because you can buy, sell, and trade firearms privately, when the knock comes, they can’t prove anything. If that knock comes (don’t ever let anyone tell you they aren’t out to take your guns), you don’t want to be in a position where you have to turn it over, or admit to another serious crime.
Sep 18, 2014
Quinnipiac also has Corey Gardiner up by 8 over incumbent Democratic senator Mark Udall. I wonder what could have happened in Colorado since 2012 that’s gotten people so angry at the Democratic Party and Mark Udall? Remember, Coloradans, that both your Democratic senators voted for the awful Manchin-Toomey compromise which would have gutted the safe travel provisions of FOPA, among other things. They also voted for Lautenberg’s magazine limits. Don’t forget that when November comes around.
Sep 17, 2014
Dave Hardy, who unlike me is a lawyer, looks at the Brady Center suit against Lucky Gunner and declares it weak tea. As a reader mentioned yesterday, LG is owned by former law students of Glenn Reynolds. If I were them, I’d be looking into what sanctions are available in Colorado against plaintiffs who file frivolous lawsuits with an aim to punch back twice as hard.
I believe the best strategy to discourage the Brady Center from continuing to harass and harangue people out of exercising their constitutional rights is to make sure they pay for this to the fullest extent available under the law. I believe in the past, our side was generally reluctant to play dirty with the Bradys, for fear of the negative PR associated with the big, bad gun industry attacking poor little gun control advocates. I think in this case, based on comments I’ve seen around non-gun sites, most people view this as suing car dealers for DUIs. We shouldn’t fear the news cycle on this one.
I think we should ensure that the costs for these legal adventures is borne as much as possible by the Brady Center. If the Brady’s don’t accomplish anything except enriching our pro-2A attorneys, I’m pretty certain this strategy will be declared a loser, and they will stop.
Sep 17, 2014
I have been rather skeptical of NRA’s ads which wander out of the realm of gun rights and into the realm of the vague and lofty. These are the NRA “good guys” (whoever they are) commercial spots:
But I’ll say this, they are at least sending the right people into spastic fits. I continue to be skeptical that this foray into the high and inspiring is going to work, but then again, I’m a cynical bastard compared to most people.
Sep 17, 2014
It’s becoming a tradition of mine at our Bucks County Friends of the NRA Dinner to pick out the kitschiest thing I can find and aim to win it. Last year I got the NRA branding iron. The year before that the tobacco walking stick. This year was the NRA fan:
This was won on silent auction. Our silent auction items weren’t doing very well this year, so I managed to get it for cost. Friends of the NRA Dinners raise money for things like the East Stroudsburg South rifle team. Half the funds we raise stay right here in Eastern Pennsylvania.
There were 200 people at our dinner last night, which is a record for us. I’d note that’s a bigger turnout than Shannon Watts can draw to a national protest even with all of Bloomberg’s money. Our people also paid 45 dollars a person to attend (which really just covers the cost of the meal). We didn’t do as well in our raffles and auctions as last year, but that’s been typical for most dinners. In 2013, for obvious reasons, people were a lot more eager to open their wallets for the cause. Overall we’ll end up raising more than $15,000, which mostly goes to fund youth shooting programs.
That’s from one dinner, in one county. Our budget each year to promote the dinner? Five hundred dollars. Our staff? About ten volunteers. I’d challenge Shannon Watts to set up a dinner for Moms Demand under similar restrictions, and see how many people they can draw. Both Chester County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia all have dinners as well, each raising that much or more (in the case of ChesCo, significantly more). Lancaster County has a dinner that draws 800. They can’t even seat them all in a room, and so have to resort to buffet hot seating. It’s standing room only during the auction. So, Shannon, up for the challenge?
Sep 17, 2014
Quinnipeac has Hick down 10 points over Bob Beauprez. This is certainly welcome news, but we should be wary of getting cocky. I’d love to see Hick’s political career served up on a silver platter after he sold Colorado’s gun owners out to Bloomberg.
Dan Malloy in CT is down by six points as well among likely voters. Bloomberg and Obama sold these two guys on the idea that gun control was a winning issue, and it’s looking very likely both of them are going to see the demise of their political careers as a result.
Things don’t really look that good for Martin O’Malley’s presidential ambitions either. This sets things up so nicely for Hillary, you’d almost expect the big gun control push was concocted by Clintonites to pave the way for Hillary and ensure any potential rivals ruined themselves with voters.
The lesson here is not only that gun control won’t save you, it’ll quite likely ruin your political career. Bloomberg is selling politicians snake oil. It was conventional wisdom among Democratic circles that gun control was a loser of an issue, and I’m sincerely hoping that the 2014 elections send that message in a big, big way. This will be our first opportunity, post the big Sandy Hook gun control push, to express our great displeasure.
Sep 16, 2014
I hate to news links you guys so soon after doing it previously, but today is our Bucks County Friends of the NRA Banquet, for which Bitter is co-chair and I serve on the committee (and will be co-chair next year, as Bitter is stepping down) and Bitter’s Mom and Grandmother are visiting, so lots of stuff going on this week.
Shooting in defense of pets.
A lot of folks are talking about the New York Times admitting the Assault Weapons issue was bullshit. I think there’s a concerted effort by anti-gun groups to spread this story so gun owners feel safe and go back to sleep. Once that happens, next Sandy Hook like pretext, they are going to come after us differently, not trying to get everything and the kitchen sink. But that will open the floodgates.
$350 million for gun control from another rich asshole.
Speaking of rich assholes, looks like NRA has started a site meetbloomberg.com. Bloomberg is a great villain. What we have to hope is that he stays at the center of the debate.
I don’t know about the antis, but I personally prefer it when our nation’s police officers can shoot straight.
Turns out that there is mounting scientific evidence showing that natural supplies of lithium in water correlate to suicide rates. I’ll be it correlates better than gun ownership does with suicide rates. (h/t Instapundit)
The Brady Center is suing Lucky Gunner for selling the Aurora killer ammo. I will analyze that complaint when I come across it. “[T]he case will allege that BulkAmmo.com was negligent in allowing the purchase without any ‘screening mechanism to determine his identity or intent for the products.’” This is sure to be even worse than the case I mentioned yesterday. I actually think someone needs to countersue the Bradys. There are usually sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits. Punch back twice as hard.
Remember, our opponents are against the very notion of self-defense. Well, maybe they’d agree hitting someone repeatedly with a flower would be a reasonable level of force one could use in self-defense.
I guess Kathy Kane doesn’t want to make people think she’s too anti-gun. She’s pooped in a lot of punchbowls in Harrisburg. She can’t really afford powerful enemies.
Things are looking better for Shaneen Allen, but we should keep the pressure on.
I suspect this is a ploy to derail ATF 41P. ATF can’t define person to mean one thing in one context, and another thing in another context.
Sep 15, 2014
The Brady Campaign, no doubt in an attempt to thwart their slide into utter irrelevancy at the hands of the much better funded Bloomberg effort, has filed suit against a suburban Philadelphia gun dealer. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was intended to stop lawsuits like this, but PLCAA allows exceptions for negligence, and that’s what the Brady lawyers are arguing in the case of Fox v. In Site Firearms. They are also being careful to only make state claims, which will make it more difficult to remove it to federal court (where it could be more easily killed). The case against Gander Mountain in New York, for instance, the defendants failed to remove the case. I believe the Bradys are intending to blow a hole in the PLCAA a mile wide and deep, probably because this is an area of activism that Bloomberg’s outfits haven’t had much to do with. The Bradys are demanding a standard that essentially boils down to requiring Federal Firearms Licensees be clairvoyant. Let’s take a look at their complaint:
7. In Site, acting through its owners, operators, employees and/or agents, including the individual defendants named heron, unlawfully sold the handgun used to kill Officer Fox to Michael Henry (“Henry”), a known drug addict, who acted as a “straw purchaser” for Thomas.
8. Thomas was prohibited by federal law from purchasing or possessing firearms due to a 2005 felony arrest. Thomas also was the prime suspect in the disappearance of his fiance in 1999. Despite being unable to pass a background check himself, Thomas was able to acquire the 9mm Beretta from In Site by having Henry act as a straw purchase and illegally and fraudulently complete firearm purchase paperwork required under both federal and Pennsylvania law, falsely claiming to be the actual purchaser. See Bureau of Alcohol, Tobbaco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) Form 4473 and Pennsylvania State Police Form SP4-113.
This is a common means that criminals obtain firearms. In this case the firearm was sold unlawfully, but it’s the straw purchaser who committed the crime, along with the actual felon buyer. The dealer shares no criminal responsibility for a person who deceives the dealer about the legality of the purchase.
9. In fact, from April 10, 2012 through July 31, 2012, Henry straw purchased at least nine different guns for Thomas. Six of the guns Thomas bought through Henry were acquired from In Site. The gun used to kill Officer Fox is the only gun of the nine to have been recovered. According to authorities, the remaining guns are believed to remain in circulation in the criminal market.
Six guns in four months is hardly a high rate of gun buying, especially for a collector. If you’re a high volume business, are you going to remember someone coming in about once every three weeks to make a purchase? Is it even going to look suspicious? I know collectors who buy a lot more than this.
10. On each occasion that Henry straw purchased a gun for Thomas, In Site allowed Henry to submit and/or aided and abetted him in submitting the required Form 4473 and Form SP4-113, falsely claiming to be the actual and qualified purchaser of guns.
So filing legally required paperwork is now “aiding and abetting?” What next? Suing Buick dealers because they “aided and/or abetted” a DUI fatality by helping file for tags on a new car purchase? This is exactly what Brady is doing here. The analogy is perfect. They are doing the equivalent of suing the car dealer over a DUI fatality. Most people, I believe, agree such a thing is ridiculous. Remember, these are extremists. They are modern day Carrie Nations.
11. In Site was aware of facts and circumstances sufficient for it to have known or to have had a reasonable cause to believe that Henry was a straw purchaser and drug addict, who was not purchasing the handgun lawfully for himself but rather was profiting by making an unlawful purchase for another individual prohibited from buying a firearm.
How the hell were they supposed to know he was a drug addicts? Do drug addicts have that fact tattooed on their foreheads? Look, if the guy was coming in every couple of days and purchasing a gun in cash, I would agree they had reason to be suspicious. But six guns over four months is below that which could be reasonably expected of any retailer to notice.
The owner of In Site firearms is a retired West Norriton police officer. Does the Brady Campaign really think that a former cop is going to knowingly sell to a straw buyer knowing there’s a likelihood that illegally obtained firearm might be used against one of his fellow officers?
It’s also worth noting that Brady is not just suing the company, but the two owners personally, even given that the dealer’s wife died in 2013. Their arguments for “piercing the corporate veil” in this case are outlined in the complaint, and in my decidedly non-expert opinion very weak. They seem to focus on the fact that In Site is not the name of the company, calling it a “fictitious name,” and arguing that because the owners hold themselves as owners (it’s an LLC, they are owners), and because the entity, L & J Supply, LLC, uses their initials, this is grounds enough to reach beyond their corporation. This is patent nonsense! This gives you an idea of what scum we’re dealing with in the Brady outfit. I expect the owners should get their suit dismissed, as the proper target of the suit is their LLC and not them personally.
Later in the lawsuit, they turn NSSF guidelines against gun dealers, quoting them in the lawsuit:
“To simply have your customer fill out the required forms and undergo the criminal background check may not be enough under certain circumstances. By including a couple of questions regarding the identify of the actual purchaser in this area of presages screening, retailers can provide a valuable service to law enforcement and to their community without offending a legitimate customer.”
“An effective way to do this is to establish a store police that every potential handgun purchased will be asked the same sequence of questions. You may even want to post a sign in your store that informs the customer of this policy. The sign may read: To assist law enforcement it is our policy to go beyond the law in verifying the identity of the actual purchaser of a handgun.”
When I first got into shooting, I was in a few gun shops that have given me the third degree before they’d sell me a gun, and uniformly I’ve never done business with that shop again. Back then I didn’t have any idea about straw purchasing, and I thought the owners was treating me with suspicion because he didn’t really want to deal with newbs.
Treating your customers as potential criminals is generally not a successful business practice in retail. Most shops I’ve been to haven’t done this kind of screening, and it’s interesting that NSSF’s program is getting turned around against its own members in this suit. The Bradys would like to create a precedent that would mandate it, because it would be unwelcoming to new purchasers. I know if I had been given the third degree on my first purchase, I may have never made another one. The Brady suit goes on to describe what In Site should have known:
These red flags included but are not limited to the number and type of guns Henry purchased; that he was buying semiautomatic handguns; that he purchased multiple semiautomatic handguns; that he was the identified buyer of multiple guns on the same day; that he purchased six guns within a mere 14 weeks; that he purchased two of the same type of gun (a Colt 45) within two weeks of each other; the time frame in which he purchased multiple guns; that he paid for all of his guns with cash; as well as his drug use. In addition, upon information and belief, when In Site illegally sold Henry the six guns and Henry completed the firearms paperwork requiring him to state his address, Henry was living in a house for recovering drug addicts.
Do you know where the halfway houses are in your area? Do they publish a list of halfway houses to crosscheck against anytime someone offers a dealer an address? Does NICS do it? How the hell were they supposed to have known?
And sorry, I can’t resist, they sold him a Colt .45? Really? You couldn’t afford lawyers who perhaps knew something about guns? Colt 45 is a malt liquor beverage promoted by Billy Dee Williams. The actual name for that is the Single Action Army, which is not a semiautomatic handgun. But nit picking aside, they are demanding clairvoyance here. They are trying to achieve through lawsuit what they cannot achieve legislatively. They are trying to render PLCAA without meaning.
Let me tell you that if this works, and there’s a reasonable chance that it will, there is a very good chance gun dealers are going to become very unfriendly and unwelcoming places to first time buyers, and that’s exactly the point. It’s also worth noting that if this Brady legal strategy wins, NSSF will have played a hand in selling the Bradys the rope by which its industry will be hung.