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2017 Gun Law Seminar

Have you planned out your days for the NRA annual meeting yet? I’m just sitting down to do it now, and it’s worth reminding people about one of the best hidden gems of the massive convention. The NRA Foundation’s law seminar is an experience that shouldn’t be missed if you have any interest in gun laws at all. Even if you’re not an attorney, you’ll get something out of it – besides a good time with good and interesting company.

This year’s line-up is, as always, an interesting cross section of areas of gun law that will likely give me something new to chew on. You don’t have to be an attorney to get something out of the seminar. Massad Ayoob will present on avoiding unjust verdicts in self-defense shootings. If you’re a member of a gun club at all, there will be a topic on 501(c) issues related to your activities. Looking at legal issues impacting the industry, one topic will be on defending manufacturers and retailers when they are sued for caused by the criminal misuse of firearms by others. You’ve got broader Second Amendment updates from Stephen Halbrook and Nelson Lund to look forward to as well.

Last year’s topic by Chris Zealand (a Senior Research Attorney at NRA) on the Social Security gun grab was incredibly useful for me as a political activist. The details he gave for the process and what types of issues Social Security lists as mental disability codes were eye-opening and gave great fodder for me to make an informed argument to those who were just reading newspaper headlines about the topic. If, like me (and Sebastian), you’re not an attorney, but want to be informed and serious activists, you should consider attending the legal seminar.

If you are an attorney, then there’s no question you should absolutely attend. If you’re a law student, there’s a discount.

You get breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail reception along with your day of legal education. Not to mention, it’s usually very interesting to talk with others at lunch and during breaks about the issues they are facing at home or the type of work they are seeing come up.

Though neither one of us has ever visited Atlanta, Sebastian’s family has been there before years ago. I’ve made Sebastian promise not to behave like the last time they visited the lovely city. However, if any readers have any suggestions for places we must eat or visit while we’re there, please do share. Local eats are a huge factor in having a solid convention experience.

Women’s Marchers Debase Women’s Monument

A monument dedicated to women on the site of the largest complex of buildings owned exclusively by women seems like it would be a great place to stop and pay some respect during the Women’s March, doesn’t it?

It was, if you define paying respect by climbing up the monuments to slap on signs, clothing, and hanging crap off of the outstretched hands. If respecting the property means stomping over flower beds, kicking the greenery up, pushing through the bushes, leaving trash strewn about, and apparently also smearing paint on statues, then sure, lots of respect was paid to the monument and buildings owned by women. (The paint apparently isn’t visible in the videos below because they were shot after signs were placed on top, but I’ve seen it mentioned by several who visited the site later.)

The buildings owned exclusively by women since the empty city block across from the White House lawn was purchased more than 100 years ago – before women could even vote in this country – and are home to the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR is non-partisan and apolitical. I know women in the group who are far more conservative than I’ll ever be and far more liberal than I’ve ever been. And yet we have a few things in common – a sense of respect for American history and values, and we’re always volunteering for something in our communities.

In fact, the monument that was “decorated” by the marchers is dedicated to the founders who spelled out that DAR was supposed to be a community service organization. Our current goal for recorded service in our community is 19 million hours collectively doing meaningful service – not writing checks or showing up to a gala for a cause – in 3 years. The 19 number comes from the fact that our final year of recording hours will be the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.

I’ve seen marchers defend the mess they left on sidewalks by saying that the City wanted to handle clean up so they wouldn’t have as many trashcans that could be a security risk. Assuming that’s accurate, this mess is not on a sidewalk. In fact, much of it is not even on concrete. It’s in bushes and dropped over gardens. It’s on private property that women have to pay to clean. So all those complaints about the gender wage gap? A man is on video calling for people to leave their trash that women who make less will have to pay to have cleaned. That flower he laughs about kicking out of the ground, sure it’s just one bloom. But those gardens are paid for by women. So much for respect.

Inside those halls, if the people in the video had any interest in history, they would find a museum that primarily runs exhibits relating to women’s connections to history and craft. They would find collections put together by volunteers and staff (paid by women) dedicated to documenting the rich history that covers this country’s recent immigrants to the Revolution’s minority patriots. They would find out about how a group of women raised money to plant entire forests in every state – many of which are still preserved public green spaces today. Instead of actually showing even a reasonable level of respect for those efforts, they spread paint on our monuments and leave their trash behind as a “shrine” for women to clean up. (At least a past national officer reported that the paint seems to have been water based and was removed without further damaging the statue.)

But I have to say that it’s not just the marchers who left their trash behind in an effort to force non-partisan groups into partisan political debates, it’s also the reaction afterwards. Needless to say, the images of this vandalism have been shared widely in various DAR groups online. Some of the liberal members of the group are trying to put a positive spin on the intention, but also recognize that this is a man who is organizing some level of vandalism on our statues and that it will require women’s funds to clean up. I have seen some who have asked their fellow marchers to contribute to those expenses by donating to the DAR’s building maintenance fund in recognition of the fact that it wasn’t appropriate to leave everything behind for a private, non-political group that wasn’t involved to clean up.

Then there are those members who participated who I’ve seen demanding women who share information about the clean up efforts be banned from the organization. Their argument being that DAR is non-political, so a post about cleaning up the trash and paint left on our property by a political march is considered political because it makes their cause look less than perfect. Newsflash ladies, every movement has a**holes. If you’ve been involved in real grassroots action before, you know this. Call them out on their bad behavior and do what you can to correct that image. Instead, they want to silence those who are expressing disappointment in bad behavior. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe that a shared American value should include that even when you’re passionate about an issue, trespass and vandalism of private property is inappropriate.

So Long, Kirk

The Senate is one of those situations where there is no easy answer for the gun voter. There are atrocious Republicans who deserve the boot, but we have to remember the Supreme Court factor on the Second Amendment issue. It gets complicated.

There has been debate here over the role Toomey plays in that calculation. While I held my nose and voted Toomey this year, I did withhold other support for him.

However, one seat that I’m really not sorry to see flip is Illinois – Mark Kirk. It’s not just because he was anti-gun to begin with. He decided to go piss on my other pet group with a blatantly racist attack. This wasn’t an SJW-defined racism that is really just a case of “you disagree with me!” type racism accusation. What Kirk did was make a judgement specifically attacking a woman because of how she looks based on half of her heritage.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), seeking to unseat Sen. Mark Kirk (R) in Illinois, invoked her family’s military service while answering a debate question.

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth said. …

Kirk was offered a chance to rebut. “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” he said.

Duckworth’s mother, Lamai, is Thai, but her late father, Franklin, was a Marine veteran whose family roots in this country trace to before the American Revolution.

From basic opposition research, he would have known she was a) a veteran who lost her legs serving her country, and b) from a family of veterans. That’s simply the basics you’re going to know since you’ll know she’s going to hit you on military issues. He didn’t have to know that she’s actually a member of DAR, but that’s not what he judged her on. He judged her based on just one half of her family history that’s visible in her skin tones and used it as an attack. That is racist. It’s also sloppy opposition research. He should have known she’s a member of DAR since she has spoken to the group and the Illinois state society did actually use her as a model for a statue honoring women who have served the country in our military. There is simply no defense for his statement at all.

Needless to say, that kind of attack reflects poorly on the whole party. Given that he was bad on guns anyway, I just can’t say that I’m sorry to see him go. Because Kirk clearly burned the bridge to his re-election, I made the decision on Toomey to help try and keep the Senate. To see someone booted who would sink as low as Kirk did in order to try and oust an opponent, I think I’m okay with my decision.

Voting Today…

Let’s just say that it was interesting. We live in what’s considered a bellwether county in a swing state. Our voting location is rather unique because two precincts are divided into two rooms that are next to one another. One line is full of mostly apartment dwellers and the other mostly those who live in single family homes.

Because of the division, there end up being some observable demographic differences. In 2008, the line for the apartment folks was down the hall, down another hall, down a third hall and rounded back, and then out the door of the building. It is typically a very minority-heavy line. The line for the single family home neighborhoods is more white, and it really didn’t exist in 2008. In 2012, the apartment line was much shorter, though still long and largely minority. There was a line for the other precinct was one of the longer lines we’d ever seen there and mostly people with other family members.

How did these trends reflect in results? In 2008, well, Pennsylvania was never really in play and that showed. In 2012, our county went more red, the state was less solidly blue, and everything was a bit closer.

Today, the precinct for the apartments was still very long. However, unlike previous elections, there were a substantial number of white voters. I almost wasn’t sure which line we would be in because of the change in demographics. Regardless, we ventured down the hallway toward the precinct line that is practically non-existent just to make sure.

Then, shocking, we had a line. We had a line that went out into the hallway, turned a corner and snaked around, and then came back toward an entrance. It was still shorter than the other line, but wow. We had to wait half an hour. The guy behind us isn’t a regular voter, so he waited in the wrong line for an hour before he found out and still went waited in our line with a great attitude. I have no idea who he was voting for, but if demographics in polling mean anything this year – and I’m not sure how much they do in this area if I’m honest – then our line was pretty old, largely men and older couples voting together, and fairly pale skinned. The woman standing out with Democratic Congressional materials who we suspect came from New Jersey was looking very, very unhappy at the people coming in.

If there’s one rule that Sebastian and I share in this election is that we’re not making predictions. There have been too many surprises both nationally and locally. This definitely has to go down as one of the strangest election seasons I’ve ever lived through. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

Misleading Pennsylvania’s Voters

Pennsylvania voters will be casting votes for a ballot initiative they have already defeated once this year. Why?

Because lawmakers realized what the outcome would likely be and decided at the last minute to invalidate the question wording to put something more misleading on the ballot instead. Based on a test run by a polling firm, they are going to get what they want by playing dirty.

What’s the issue? Judicial retirement ages.

In April, we were asked directly whether or not to increase the age at which judges could retire from 70 to 75. The question before voters was clear:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?

It explained who it would apply to, the proposed change, and the old rule. Perfectly reasonable ballot question! Except that when you look at the history of these types of votes in other states, they almost always go down in defeat. So the lawmakers decided to change the wording at the last minute. Except absentee ballots were already printed and voting machines programmed. Instead, we were told that our votes wouldn’t count, so we shouldn’t bother voting on it. But 2.4 million people voted anyway, and they said no to the increase – exactly what lawmakers feared would happen.

When the new language was announced, a couple of former Supreme Court Chief Justices sued on the basis that it’s deliberately deceitful. You be the judge:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?

Funny how now it sounds like you’re adding a judicial retirement age to the constitution instead of extending the terms of those in office! Even funnier that the current Chief Justice turns 70 this winter, and the next in line for the seat turns 70 next year. What an odd and completely unexpected coincidence! What an even stranger coincidence that the Supreme Court decided to leave the question alone with one Justice recusing, half saying it’s perfectly clear and the other half saying it’s confusing. Average age of the justices voting that it’s clear as day? 62. Average age of those voting that it’s clear as mud? 55. If you count the Chief Justice’s recusal as putting him in the camp of those wanting the new, confusing language, that average age goes up to 64.

While I did vote no on the initial non-binding vote, I could have been convinced that it’s worthwhile to increase the retirement age. But now, no way. This is a deliberate deception, and one columnist mentions that a local polling firm has found it’s likely going to work exactly how lawmakers and the courts wanted it to work.

Berwood Yost, chief methodologist for the Franklin & Marshall Poll, … found in a split-ballot experiment that voters presented with the current wording tended to vote “yes.” When asked if justices should be able to retire at 75 instead of 70, however, most say no.

If you’re a Pennsylvania voter, I would strongly encourage you to vote “NO” on the ballot question this November. More importantly, tell your friends and family who vote about what’s going so they know not to support this kind of deceit. In April, it was a legitimate vote on the retirement age. Next month, it’s a more of a vote on legal ethics. Don’t let them play these games and get away with it.

Guns Kill Sign Appears Locally

Sebastian reports that someone has posted a “Guns Kill” sign on the PA Turnpike overpass for Bustleton Pike in Feasterville-Trevose, Pennsylvania. It just happens to be about a block away from a popular gun shop in the area.

It’s not clear if it’s a coordinated campaign yet, and Sebastian couldn’t get a picture of it since he passed it too quickly.

However, he did say that if some enterprising individual in the area happened to have a rainy Friday off, that a “Control” sign on the end of Gun could easily be added to make the statement far more factual. After all, we support truth in advertising.

Phyllis Schlafly’s College Job

Phyllis Schlafly died today at age 92. I have to say that I was perhaps most amused by the description in this obituary of Schlafly’s job to pay her college tuition:

Mrs. Schlafly paid her way through Washington University working at what was described as the world’s largest ammunition plant, the old Small Arms Plant at Goodfellow and Natural Bridge.

She tested .30 and .50 caliber ammunition and worked nights photographing tracer bullets in flight and inspecting misfires.

She was the fifth generation of her family to attend Washington University and earned her political science degree in 1944 with honors, in just three years.

That’s definitely a highlight to any college career!

Like most people in the conservative movement, there were times when I disagreed with her and other times when I was in absolute agreement. I’m definitely going to have to dig through the DAR archives to pull anything she may have submitted to the national magazine when she was a national committee chairman. I admit that I’m also curious to look up some of her mainstream media columns to see if she ever mentioned my dad’s first divorce case in her writings against the ERA. It did make national headlines because of the bias of a state law against men. (The state law was passed unanimously in advance of presumed passage of the ERA.)

Pat Toomey Reaps the Rewards

Back in March, Sebastian called it when he noted that while Pat Toomey was touting support from CeasefirePA leadership, these are not people who would ever actually cast a vote for him. Granted, we thought that was more of a “won’t vote for you in the privacy of the voting booth” type of prediction, not a “will actively campaign against you despite doing what they wanted” kind of way.

But, it seems that’s how loyalty to gun controllers is rewarded. Toomey’s opponent has been endorsed by the very same group whose leaders were kissing his rear back in March, likely knowing all along that they would throw him under the bus come the run up to November’s general election.

Good call there, Pat.

You know what I was doing 6 years ago in November? Casting a ballot for you, Pat, when polls opened and spending the rest of the day standing outside of a senior citizen’s center asking voters to support your candidacy. You know what I won’t be doing this November? Telling anyone about your campaign – other than the fine readers of this blog about how you screwed us and fell for every pathetic lie from the gun control groups. You can rely on your new best buddies at Ceasefire to help out instead, Pat.

Oh, wait, no, you can’t.

Attorney General Convicted on ALL Charges

Pennsylvania’s proud first female Attorney General hasn’t been able to practice law for months. Tonight, she was found guilty of perjury, obstruction, and other counts of abusing her official position in order to exact illegal revenge on an opponent.

Did I mention that the Clintons are huge supporters?

It shouldn’t be surprising that Kathleen Kane’s attorney indicates that she’s still not going to make any move to resign. The woman won’t give up, despite widespread calls from her party to resign. She has not yet been jailed, but she must come back to court tomorrow to surrender her passport, and she was issued a warning that any hint of retaliation against witnesses will put her behind bars immediately.

Segregation and the Shooting Sports

Shooting competitions from club to collegiate level are rarely segregated by gender, so why do the international shooting groups always insist the little ladies be put in a special category?

This is something I’ve wondered, but never really looked into. I’d love to see the actual arguments of the decision makers, but I’m not quite sure how many original records are really available from the International Olympic Committee or where they could even be found if they are accessible.

However, a few stories I found indicate that I’m definitely not the only one to take notice. And while it’s only a couple of anecdotal incidents that seem to make the news is, the trend does appear to be that when a woman wins over a man, various nations get together and demand that women be booted from the sport. They were largely mix gendered from 1968 until 1980 for most disciplines, though that lasted until 1992 for shotgun.

The WSJ highlighted gender segregation in the shooting sports back in 2012, and they pointed to 1976 in Montreal when Margaret Thompson Murdock tied with her male American teammate in smallbore. He requested a shoot-off, but they weren’t allowed under the rules of the time and the judges declared him the winner. She took silver, but she still holds the title of being the first woman to win a medal in shooting at the Olympics. After that, the article notes that it was primarily European teams who wanted women cut from the competition against men.

In 1992, a Chinese woman took the first ever gold medal in a mixed skeet competition. Not only did the IOC move to segregate the sport in reaction to this result, but they refused to offer skeet to women at all in the next Olympics. It is interesting that the two times that women actually do well and the first reaction of the international body is to kick them out of the boys’ club.

I have seen some people argue that women may have an advantage in shooting rifle standing because of their hips. I’m kind of mixed on my feelings there because, just like men, women don’t all have the same shape. But, I’m open to the argument since I’m far from an expert on that type of competition.

But those issues don’t apply in shotgun or pistol. In this updated article on the topic, the WSJ quotes Kim Rhode, “I’d love to compete against men.” They note that she regularly competes against men here in the US.

The International Shooting Sport Federation defends the segregation in the article by claiming that female participation has skyrocketed. But that kind of seems absurd. If it’s a mixed competition cut into two separate competitions, then of course female participation will increase – so will that of men! You have more spots to fill that must be filled by gender rather than strictly by scores. When they are allowed to compete together and only the top shooters are allowed to move on, then fewer members of both genders will be present.

Even if you want to say that they meant more women are participating at lower levels of competition than the Olympics, I would point out that it’s true across the board and not just for internationally sanctioned disciplines. Every shooting sport in the United States is seeing increased female involvement and it has nothing to do with some international bureaucrat deciding that little ladies need to be put into their own class to keep them from taking medals from the boys. There’s no reason these types of increases can’t happen in other countries.

Back when I was shooting silhouette, some of the longtime shooters would talk about how it wouldn’t take much for me to set a women’s long run record for air gun on at least one animal. Here I was just goofing off at club shoots only some of the time, and when I looked up the records, all it would have taken was one good day to get one. That actually made me feel a bit worse rather than better once I thought about it. They had to show incredible dedication to the sport to even imagine setting a record, but I could have put in only a little more practice to hold the women’s version of the title. It just seemed very unfair that a new female in the sport could achieve so much more than a male who started at the same level. But, hey, since it’s a domestic competition, at least the rules did allow the male and female to compete against one another in the first place. Women can beat men, and vice versa, in the meaningful competition.

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