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The View from the Other Side

Sebastian highlighted John Richardson’s excellent post about the $1 million+ views from the gun controller’s homes.

I just have to add that I think there’s a part of that same way of thinking at work in this series of interviews with gun controllers that’s been making the rounds.

Notice that the question at 1:40 is simply whether a citizen should be able to defend him/herself at all with any weapon in case of attack, and the woman (who probably doesn’t have Mike Bloomberg’s wealth, but probably isn’t hurting in the wealthy Virginia suburbs) simply says, “No.” Later in the video, he uses an example of being in a bad neighborhood, and she simply asks, “Why? … Well, why are you in the bad neighborhood?”

This is someone who can afford to be out-of-touch. It doesn’t take being dirt poor to end up in bad neighborhoods, especially in that area. The apartment I lived in cost a pretty penny in rent each month, and I would go to bed with the sounds of “Stop! Police!” outside my window or walk outside of my building to be passed by running men fleeing authorities. I could simply ask my neighbor not to play music so loud that it knocked pictures off the wall and end up being threatened. It’s not something that most people seek out, it’s something that just happens around them. To her, the notion that a potential victim may not have the financial means to leave just means the person needs to accept the circumstances and take the assault rather than having a tool to fight back should an attack put his or her life at risk. As John so aptly put it:

When you live in a million dollar plus home in a plush neighborhood, your view of the world is just different. You don’t have crime at your doorstep and you really don’t have to worry about home invasions.

The woman I mention in the video is another great example of this kind of thinking. I get the feeling that with the new name and theme of Bloomberg’s group, we’ll see even more of this preaching from the comfort behind the gates of their communities.

Perry County Finds Itself in Hot Water Due to Audit

There’s an interesting situation going on Perry County, Pennsylvania. Auditor Kimberly McMullen may have put the county in some hot water due in a recent interview.

First, she’s demanding permission from the County to spend $6,700 in legal fees to have lawyers research whether she’s allowed access to the confidential files of license to carry holders. (The sheriff won’t hand all of the records over because he notes that that it’s against the law to release the personal information.) The County gave her $2,000 to pursue it instead. Second, she told the media that the law supposedly changed last year and that she would have had access before that “change.”

Well, attorney Josh Prince is doing the taxpayers of Perry County a favor and helping them save $2,000 on legal research. He sent a letter to the auditor making clear that the license to carry applicant information is not to be released to her.

However, McMullen’s claims that the records were available in previous years caught Prince’s attention since he noted that the section of law he cited hasn’t changed since 1997. Oops. McMullen may be regretting that claim since Prince included this little gem in the letter:

Thus, the confidentiality of firearms license information is nothing new and the County and its respective Departments, employees and agents are liable for any disclosures that have occurred. Based on your statement to reporter Sean Sauro that prior to a year ago, all this information was available via right-to-know law requests, I am requesting all information on previous LTCF applicant disclosures by the County and its respective Departments, employees and agents.

So, sorry Perry County taxpayers. Because your auditor doesn’t know the law, now you have to spend resources going through all paperwork to see if the confidential information has ever been released before. Oops.

What Media Bias?

When we saw a Facebook acquaintance post a story about the sheriff of Beaver County, Pennsylvania being place on house arrest with electronic monitoring while his ~700 guns are removed from the home as he awaits trial for threatening the lives of a campaign worker and a local reporter, we noticed something odd.

What was odd? There was no mention of party, nor did they make a big deal about an “arsenal” kept in the home. Sebastian told me, as I hit up Google to find any other stories about the case that might mention party affiliation since Pennsylvania’s sheriffs are elected in partisan elections, that he would put money on the fact that the guy is a Democrat. Well, one, two, three stories with no mention of party affiliation, and I started to believe him.

Then, with a few keystrokes, I found the election results page that confirmed the suspicions. George David ran as a Democrat against a GOP opponent in 2011 and now stands accused of threatening one of the campaign workers who helped him win that election. But isn’t it amazing how the party affiliation just magically dropped out of every single story written by locals and the wire?

UPDATE: A local website reports that the action that caused the order for removal of guns and house arrest is that the sheriff (allegedly) went into an area of his office he was ordered not to go, grabbed a long gun and began “racking” a long gun of some kind. According to the report, two of the alleged victims were in that part of the office the court ordered him to stay out of.

Guns & Social Media Debates

VSSA does a great job of taking apart a story that anti-gun groups are trying to push to promote the narrative that they are somehow going to win the battle over the Second Amendment on social media because they are supposedly being so innovative by going to SXSW and hosting sparsely attended panels on social media.

As VSSA points out, NRA hosts its own panel with volunteers doing different types of work, including how to effectively use social media, every year to a crowd many, many, many times the size of what is featured in the story.

Of course, for those who don’t travel all the way to Austin or Indy to attend such lectures from either group, we always have the numbers:

If you are looking for grassroots support, looking strictly at the numbers, Moms Demand Action has 153,000 followers on Facebook. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has 21,000. The NRA destroys both of them with 3.2 million followers on Facebook. Twitter numbers are lower for NRA but they are still about 10 times higher that the numbers for both Moms Demand Action and Demand Action (the only reference I could find on Twitter to MAIG).

Now, the anti-gun groups have stepped up their game on social media, and there’s no doubt about that. But, that doesn’t mean they are likely to be effectively using it to “beat” us politically any time soon.

Franklin Graham’s “Background Check” Support Becomes an Issue for the NRA

I’ve noticed anti-gun folks jumping on the fact that Franklin Graham is leading the NRA Annual Meeting Prayer Breakfast, and they hope that he’ll publicly challenge NRA at their own event to accept the President’s background check agenda since Graham endorsed the White House’s private transfer ban proposals last year.

First, as much experience as I have with NRA Annual Meetings, I couldn’t tell you which office puts on the prayer breakfast because I have no idea which office is responsible for booking those speakers. I’m 99.99999% sure it’s not ILA, the office that actually keeps up with politics and pays attentions to such important policy details. This is an event that has never been a big deal before, really just an opportunity for people who don’t want to miss church or miss out on the giant three day gun show.

The anti-gunners highlight this interview with Time that Franklin Graham did in early March of last year. The key section:

Graham…told TIME [he and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention] have agreed to back universal background check legislation put forward by the administration in the wake of last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

By specifically citing the administration-backed proposal at the time of the interview, it’s kind of important to look at the details of the legislation anti-gunners want Graham to bring up at the Prayer Breakfast. The language in the Senate that the White House was backing at the time of Graham’s interview came from Chuck Schumer. That language would have made teaching someone to shoot on your own land a felony, as well as loaning your hunting rifle to a friend for a hunting trip. The record keeping requirements would have created a registration system, and spouses would have faced possible felony prosecution if their spouse who bought the gun left home for more than 7 days without officially designating the “transfer” of said firearms as a gift. As Sebastian said in his summary after reading the language:

This bill has nothing to do with ensuring people who are getting guns are law-abiding, and everything to do with getting backdoor registration, and creating a patchwork of rules and laws that will land anyone who uses guns, and isn’t a lawyer, in federal prison for a long time.

The bill that Graham was backing at the time he talked to Time was not Toomey-Manchin, the somewhat less extreme bill that was later voted down in the Senate.

Now, his views on that terrible bill from Schumer aren’t directly related to his ability to preach a sermon. But, given the venue and host group, I don’t think most attendees who paid for tickets really expect a preacher who publicly backed the White House’s bill that would leave many of them open to felony prosecutions for simply passing on their traditions or going on a long business trip.

At this late date, I wouldn’t really put money on a bet that we’ll see any changes to the speakers, but it will be interesting to see if Graham decides to act on the encouragement of the gun control groups. He certainly didn’t come out and condemn the White House-backed Senate bill once the language and summaries became widely available, so presumably he maintains his support of the policies. That certainly could be a very big problem if he does decide to go along with the gun control groups and use NRA’s event as a venue to promote the bill again.

NRA needs to be prepared to handle this issue since they are the ones who issued the invitation with this policy problem hanging out there. Certainly, whoever issued this invitation really screwed up by providing someone who so publicly endorsed these terrible policies a keynote spot without actually looking into their background on the policies that have dominated headlines for the last year and threatened our rights. This wasn’t some questionable comment about some vague policy from 20 years ago, this was a highly discussed interview with a well known media outlet just a year ago about specific bills that forced NRA to spend quite a bit of manpower and money to preserve our Second Amendment rights. It’s a public policy view that should not have been overlooked, and NRA needs to be ready to answer to their members if Graham does stand by his position from last March at their event.

The BLM Debates & Taking a Stand

I’ve only been vaguely following the issues with the Bureau of Land Management out in Nevada, and neither Sebastian nor I will pretend to be experts in either the land use policies or the land use culture of the West which is very different when you consider that the federal government owns about 86% of Nevada, with about 2/3 of the state falling under the control of the BLM.

There are some folks saying that the rancher is completely in the right and not at all behind on payments for grazing access, and others in the media that claim he admits to about $300k in debt over the issues. To make it worse, a local government official apparently had a message for outside protesters: “if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they ‘better have funeral plans.’”

From what I understand, even though local folks are encouraging people to come in, they don’t want it to be about guns and camo-clad masses. Unfortunately, not everyone may listen to them and things could easily end up escalated, as illustrated by the Clark County’s Commissioner’s remarks. Anyone who ventures out there needs to make sure that they do fully understand every legal issue at hand and determine if they truly classify this as a government overreach that is serious enough to warrant possible jail time (multiple people have already been arrested) or worse if the Clark County Commissioner has his way.

I’m rather surprised at the backlash over something like grazing on land that is established as belonging to the federal government when there’s a case in Texas brewing of the BLM preparing to take over the management of 90,000 acres that landowners have deeds on and have paid taxes on for years. This a report from the Texas Farm Bureau on the issue:

Interestingly, BLM inserted itself in the Texas-Oklahoma border dispute after an Oklahoman sort of “invaded” Texas to set up a dredging operation and declared the land his after careful study of the laws and history of the Red River. That man is fondly known by my family as “Uncle Buck.” Because of that opened door, the BLM now wants more land under their control, and I haven’t found any mention of any offers to compensate current owners for it fairly – either by the federal government or Texas agencies that screwed up in including it in deeds and charging taxes on it. I would think that taking privately owned land without compensation would be a much bigger issue to drive protest than one’s desire to graze cattle on established taxpayer-owned land.

I’m not sure I really have a conclusion to this post. It’s just something that Sebastian and I have been observing and talking about the last few days. It’s been interesting to see what kind of policy debates are getting people worked up about federal overreach, but others that are falling by the wayside when they seem to be more direct constitutionally-related issues. Personally, we both hope that people keep their cool in Nevada, contrary to whatever extreme rhetoric is coming from Clark County officials.

“Maybe it was the phony penises.”

That was not the first sentence I expected to read when I opened up an article about a gun club lawsuit in federal court. Regardless, it was the opening sentence, and it was an accurate description of one of the issues raised in a lawsuit filed by members of the Philadelphia Gun Club against animal rights activists who are accused of “stalking, harassment, trespass, intimidation, defamation, libel and privacy invasion.”

The club’s attorney says that the activists have researched personal lives of club members to leave fake reviews on Yelp and other sites when those people own small businesses. They also reportedly spy on these people even after they leave the club grounds. The guys who shoot at the club are not public figures, so there’s a pretty good case there. Not to mention, leaving a fake review online is an issue that’s gaining traction in courts around the country.

Creatively Expanding the Gun Culture

I was just telling Sebastian this morning that I have an idea to get people who otherwise might never even consider taking a shooting class or getting to the range out to try guns in a non-threatening manner that even has a bit of history involved. Because I think this idea is kind of awesome, I’m going to share it in hopes that readers here who have the right guns and the range access either try it or give feedback on it.

I had this idea of offering up a programming day at the range for DAR, SAR, & CAR chapters. Now, these groups are strictly non-political, but they are big into history. (In fact, this could be expanded to any sort of history-related group in your area.) So I thought a day at the range that gives these known descendants a chance to see & shoot the guns (or replicas) their ancestors used in the Revolution would be awesome. It’s history, it’s unique, and it’s relevant to the missions of the groups.

Then, if a hosting club wanted to step it up a notch and make it a more traditional range day, find people who have guns from other American wars and do the same – a bit of a demo and a chance to shoot them.

Thoughts? Would anyone ever consider making this offer to local history-related groups or does it seem like too much work? I was just trying to think creatively about ways to get people out to see that shooting can be a great time and that gun owners are generally pretty awesome and nice people.

Interestingly, Sebastian doesn’t think this a completely crazy idea…

The Mass Stabbing We Feared

While some gun control proponents say that you don’t see mass stabbings, only mass shootings, a Western Pennsylvania high school just proved them very wrong this morning. I’ve waited for a little more to unfold in the story before commenting because it’s not an issue of guns or no guns, knife control, or even metal detectors at every door, as it seems that some people are already pushing while students are still undergoing major surgeries since they are in critical condition.

A local paper featured a comment by a senior that I thought was very telling on how the issue of violence as a whole is very complicated and not easily solved by one policy that focuses on the instrument used:

“Everybody was just freaking out,” he said. “It’s been a tough senior year. We’ve had a lot of fights in school — more than usual — and a suicide this year.”

Mental health issues going unaddressed in the community? Check. Increased violent outbreaks as a whole? Check. Those won’t be fixed with gun control, knife control, or metal detectors. It sounds like there won’t be many easy answers for this community. Certainly, they are in our thoughts as this story continues to be investigated.

“I just don’t see how people can grab a shotgun and rack it and stand on their front porch…”

Those words came from a New Jersey Police Chief who was appalled that, as his officers acted in a way that made a family believe their house was being broken into during a search of the surrounding property, a man grabbed his shotgun and went to check things out to make sure he and his parents weren’t in danger. Even though he never shot anyone, and he appears to have handled the situation reasonably when he believed the safety of his family was in danger, the police arrested him and wanted to put him away for 10 years.

Fortunately, a New Jersey jury acquitted him of the charges.

When someone linked this on Facebook, another person noted that this man was following the first few steps of our Vice President’s advice. He said you should grab your shotgun, load it, and go up to the door. The difference is that this man knew better to actually identify a threat rather than just shooting randomly, as the Vice President encourages people to do.

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