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GOA Sides With the Anti-Gunners

Opposition to the McAuliffe deal has been nearly universal on the anti-gun side. Even Bloomberg’s Everytown, which is generally willing to bend to reality much of the time is pretty angry about it. I don’t blame them. If I were in their shoes, I’d be pretty pissed off too if a big issue like reciprocity was traded for the trifle they got in return. It would be like if a Governor we backed agreed to an assault weapons ban in exchange for some extra money for public ranges and more wildlife conservation.

But the fact that the anti-gun groups are engaged in an effort to twist McAuliffe’s arm out of the deal doesn’t stop a group like Gun Owners of America from joining them. They are urging their members to call their representatives and senators to oppose the deal. We’re fortunate that it has passed the Senate, so I’m not certain GOA had too much of a negative effect.

Their logic for opposition relies on two items. The first is that the voluntary checks is just the first step toward making them mandatory. I’ve long said, legislatures can always pass gun control in the future, and we know they already want to ban private transferring of firearms. The key is whether the concession weakens your position and arguments. Hate to tell you all, but when we argued that NICS would be the bees knees, in leu of waiting periods, we already largely made that concession. State police at gun shows to do voluntary checks doesn’t really further weaken our position. The camel got his nose under this particular tent in 1994.

GOA’s other premise is that there’s no state analogue mens rea requirement of “knowingly” in the state mirror to the Domestic Violence Restraining Order prohibitions from the Lautenberg Amendment. Looking at the federal statute, 18 USC 922(g)(8), I’m not seeing where it says knowingly. The Virginia bill does in fact say “knowingly.” I’m pretty sure if you can show that the person knew they were subject of a DVRO, and knew they were in possession of a firearm, the mens rea requirement is fulfilled. I admit, I don’t really understand GOA’s argument here. Proving mens rea is always part of the state’s burden for a serious offense even if the statute does not explicitly say so.

So if this deal ends up tanked, and we lose all that reciprocity, you’ll be able to thank Larry Pratt right alongside Mike Bloomberg, Josh Horwtiz, and Ladd Everitt.

Now This is Some Spin

Hillary Clinton had Iowa locked up heading into game time. She was ahead of Bernie by twelve points just a few weeks ago. Take a look at RCPs track, and think about when Hillary turned up the gun control talk big time? Last year this time she was ahead by 52 points. Then Hillary started opening her mouth and talking, and as often happens when Hillary does that, she started blowing her lead. She had Gabby Giffords out in Iowa helping her campaign at the last minute. She’s been pushing much more heavily on gun control in New Hampshire, where Bernie is creaming her. Hillary hasn’t been on top in New Hampshire polling since early December. When did those gun control ads start Hil?

Now with all that data screaming that gun control isn’t helping, and may actively be hurting Hillary, “The Trace,” Bloomberg’s media mouthpiece, is trying to argue that gun control saved Hillary. Go ahead and read that wonderfully delusional piece. Careful where you step though.

The threat of OSHA is already here

Sebastian wonders if a firearms-unfriendly OSHA could be used to attack firearms rights. But it’s not a crackdown on firearms-friendly employers that worries me so much as a crackdown on ranges for lead poisoning. Gun ranges are the cradle of gun culture, and we’ve already seen that our most dangerous enemies are attacking our ability to transfer that culture to new people (via “transfer restrictions.”) Most ranges are small-business (or equivalent) operations, which are hard to regulate easily, but easy to stifle by regulation. And the real hard truth is, yes, a lot of ranges are not doing enough to mitigate lead exposure because it’s hard and expensive. The Seattle Times article is a hit piece, but it’s an effective one. And the owners of the ranges highlighted for multiple severe violations are not doing themselves or the cause any good by not addressing the issues.

This is something NSSF and NRA ought to be educating the range owners about, a strong voluntary industry initiative before the smothering hand of government regulation and enforcement descends. (Which they may have started to do. I originally saw the Seattle Times article when Tam went to work at a gun store/range, when someone asked her if her employer was aware of an educational lead abatement program.) We’ve managed to instill the 4 Rules of Firearms Safety as a core value of Gun Culture 2.0; now we need to instill something similar for where to shoot, along with how to shoot. The problem is that a lot of range owner/operators predate Gun Culture 2.0, and it may not be possible to edit this part of the culture until they age out.

Of course, in the end this is another case of “enforce the existing laws.” According to the linked article, some of the highlighted ranges could have been taken down hard for knowing and continuing egregious violations, but they were cut slack and let slide. I have to wonder if nailing a couple of the really egregious examples “pour encourager les autres” would be beneficial in the long run.

I’d Welcome Bloomberg to the Circus

Over the weekend, the big news was Mike Bloomberg talking about throwing his hat into the ring in 2016, especially if Bernie Sanders is the nominee. Gun folks should want him to enter the race. It will help keep his profile up, and there will be a lot of talk about his backing of gun control. If you notice, Everytown has distanced themselves from Bloomberg. He’s kept a low profile. When people think gun control, we want them to think Mike Bloomberg, King of soda control, Baron of bland food. If he enters the race, he’ll be in the spotlight again, and there will be a lot of talk linking him to his unpopular nanny state views, including Everytown. People will be talking about these things, and he’ll more than likely pull votes away from the Democrats. He’d also likely blunt the effects of a Trump independent run, should such a thing happen. I think overall it would be quite beneficial to have him join the circus that is the 2016 election.

Run, Mike, Run

While I can’t say as I’d vote for the man, I heartily encourage Michael Bloomberg to run for president as an Independent. Especially if he’s going to self-fund. All of my political enemies should have an expensive and impossible hobby.

Harrisburg & The Great American Outdoor Show’s Showdown

Merriam-Webster defines extortion as “the act or practice of extorting especially money or other property; especially: the offense committed by an official engaging in such practice.”

The mayor of Harrisburg who has made clear that he hates NRA and its members went to the press whining that NRA isn’t engaging in pay-for-play for hosting the Great American Outdoor Show in his town.

As part of the deal with the county to host the show, NRA did agree to support regional grants in accordance with the typical rules of the NRA Foundation’s policies and by-laws. Just like your local Friends of NRA banquet gives at least 50% of the money to regional grant requests, the Great American Outdoor Show program is following the same model.

Harrisburg’s mayor is fuming that NRA is holding true to the agreement and his city isn’t the automatic, pre-determined grant winner every year. Apparently, NRA did make the offer to fund a smaller grant this year, but the Mayor threw a hissy fit when he learned they wouldn’t agree to make that a set fund for him annually in direct violation of the NRA Foundation’s by-laws. So, he seems to have rejected their grant offer.

The city officials are fuming since they thought the cash would pad their budgets each year, and now they learn that other worthy area entities in need will benefit. This will not stand for Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter who believed they would be the exclusive beneficiaries of the grant request process. As it is, NRA already pays somewhere around $200,000 in amusement taxes to the city and school district. Plus, the city gets the tax revenue from the millions brought in by vendors, hotels, eateries, and other sales associated with the event. But that’s not good enough.

So, when the Mayor and Police Chief were angered to learn that the rules and by-laws wouldn’t be bent to hand the cash to them, they demanded a bigger payoff in other forms. They wanted to increase the rate that NRA would have to pay for off-duty police officers to assist with the event. Since the rate was apparently agreed to be on the low side, NRA offered to pay more, working up to a 33% increase over the next three years. This was not acceptable to the City, and the mayor demanded an immediate 67% increase. Since the rate the Mayor wanted apparently wasn’t remotely market rate compared to even larger cities, NRA has now turned to the county and departments from other cities who will likely gladly take the money. Harrisburg now loses $10,000 in fees associated with that deal.

However, that wouldn’t stop officers from taking vacation time to work the NRA show, something that has apparently been done with the support of the department for nearly 30 years. Since Harrisburg has now declared war on the Great American Outdoor Show, the Police Chief is banning his officers from taking vacation during that period so they can’t earn extra money from the huge event. He’s also going to mandate overtime to more patrolling to try and keep them away.

While the behavior may not meet a legal criminal definition of extortion, it sure does seem to me like the quotes in the article by the mayor and police chief fit the spirit of the dictionary definition of the term.

Obama’s “Town Hall”

Because I don’t have cable, I had to watch President Obama’s “Town Hall” forum 10 minutes at a time on “CNN Go” free trial, so I missed a lot of it. Based on what I did see, I think the forum was a lot less stacked toward the gun control side than I expected it to be. Obama was asked some hard questions, which he not so delicately danced around. Overall, I don’t think things went all that well for him.

He did an awful lot of describing serious federal crimes as “loopholes,” perhaps channeling Joan Peterson’s “if it happens, it’s legal” philosophy. But unlike her, he knows better. This was his normal schtick of throwing out half-truths and outright lies to low-information types, while absolutely enraging people who actually understand this stuff.

Why Have the Dems Become so Gun-Ho for Gun Control?

Bob Owens did a tweet string that explains the motivations behind the Dems embracing gun control. I agree that philosophical progressives are terrified of an armed citizenry, because such an idea runs counter to technocratic central planning, but I view most politicians as opportunists, rather than die hard ideologies. There’s two reasons the Dems are so crazy for gun control today.

One is the Democrats mounted a comeback strategy that culminated in retaking Congress in 2006 largely by running “blue dog” candidates that were good on guns and could win in their local districts. The theory was that the gun vote could deliver a lot of single issue voters, and would therefore help Democrats hold their seats. NRA issued a lot of endorsements to blue dogs in the 2010 election, despite taking a lot of crap from their members. They bent to the will of their members and pulled Harry Reid’s endorsement largely because he voted in favor of Sotomayor and Kagan. The blue dogs were laid to waste in the 2010 election. Democrats took the lesson, rightly or wrongly (I would argue wrongly), that there was no use chasing gun votes, since they weren’t reliable for Democrats.

The second reason the Dems are so gung-ho for gun control in 2016 is because of the vast sums of money that Mike Bloomberg’s bringing to the table. He’s not necessarily bringing all that money in for guns, but you can bet when a big donor is willing to dump a million bucks worth of ad buys into a state-level race, even of those ads aren’t on guns, politicians will start dancing that donor’s tune on gun control if they know that’s a big issue for him.

The older I get the less I think politics has really anything to do with political philosophy and reason. Sure, there has to be enough of that for the chattering classes, but for the most part it’s really just a bunch of hucksters, grifters, and opportunists vying for media time in order to manipulate poorly informed people they are worth coming out for and checking their name in the box at the next election. The people who are good at that win elections, and the people who suck at it lose.

What keeps me from becoming completely jaded is that I do believe it’s possible for motivated groups of people to play this game, manipulate the manipulators, and come out ahead. What will make the Democrats listen on the gun issue? A motivated group of people (it would probably only take a million nationwide) willing to be visible in the Democratic coalition and willing to withhold their votes and money solely on the issue of gun rights. If we had that, they’d start to listen.

Why I’d be Angry at Obama if I Favored Gun Control

The positive reaction of the gun control crowd to Obama’s executive orders frankly astonishes me. It would seem that Elliot Fineman of the National Gun Victims Action Council is the only group that’s willing to see this for what it is. When you don’t have a seat at the table, what have you got to lose, really?

Headlines like this are now spread all over the media, “Obama closes gun background check loopholes with executive action.” I can point to dozens of other stories talking about how Obama is now requiring background checks at gun shows and with Internet sales. The media has fallen for this maneuver hook, like and sinker. It’s not surprising, because understanding the truth requires knowing a thing or two about federal gun laws, a topic with which most non-gun people have little or no familiarity.

Word is spreading like wildfire that Obama closed these background check loopholes, when in reality all he did was have Loretta Lynch wag her finger and issue vague threats of prosecuting people selling guns for being engaged in the business without obtaining an FFL. As Volokh Conspirator Jonathan Adler pointed out at the WaPo, “In other words, it is — as the document says — a guidance, and not a substantive rule. It has no legal effect.”

People are being deceived into believing there’s been substantive reform on background checks. That can only serve to dampen enthusiasm among the general public for further measures, “Didn’t Obama fix this problem? It was all over the papers.”

President Obama may have done himself a tremendous favor, in terms of pleasing certain parts of the Democratic base who will cheer these headlines, completely unaware this represents no substantive reform, but he’s done the gun control movement no favors. If I had to bet, the gun control groups probably realize this, but are concerned about the consequences of not seeming to enjoy their bone. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Clarifies FFL Rule

I suspect President Obama is hoping for ignorant crap like this from the media to make it look like he’s really doing something:

This has always been the law if you have a Federal Firearms License, and it’s always been illegal to be selling guns for “livelihood or profit” without first obtaining an FFL. The new EOs change nothing in that regard. But we do have some guidance from the Attorney General that indicates the Administration may indeed try to prosecute marginal cases it previously would not have:

Lynch insisted Monday that the new guidance on the gun show loophole sets “clear, definitive standards” for anyone who wants to sell firearms. However, the new guidance does not include a specific number of guns that must be sold to qualify as a dealer, since existing law does not specify a number.

However, court rulings have set a precedent that says a person could sell as few as one or two guns and still be considered a dealer, depending on the circumstances. For instance, Lynch explained, if an individual sells a gun clearly for profit, or if they buy and sell a gun kept in its original packaging, they may be considered a dealer.

“It’s important to note the hobbyist and collector exception is still there,” she said. Now, though, dealers can no longer “hide behind that.”

The ATF will engage in a “business educational initiative” in the first part of 2016, Lynch said, to help gun dealers, hobbyists and collectors understand the new guidance. This effort will target gun shows, flea markets and online dealers. Lynch added, “We will be looking for those individuals who seek to avoid registering.”

How many of you have a big tupperware bin full of “original packaging?” I certainly do. A few of my rifles just came in a case. Is that “original packaging?”

So this is not to be part of any rule change, but merely a policy decision to prosecute “gun dealers, hobbyists and collectors,” under the “new guidance.” Rather than change the rule, they will use the current vague rule to send “hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” Though, in this case, it’s not mere harassment, but an intent to imprison.

They know if they don’t put the dampers on the growing gun culture, their dream of destroying the Second Amendment will never be realized.

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