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Who Gabby is Giving Money To

Gabby Giffords is focusing on a local (to me) politician:

Aiming to spend as much as $20 million, the group also will weigh in for Democratic House Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire and Ron Barber of Arizona. Barber has a special meaning for Giffords because he used to work in her congressional office and was also wounded in the 2011 Tucson shooting that gravely wounded Giffords.

Emphasis mine. Fitzpatrick is actually a Republican, but those of you who live here might get a little giggle out of that. One thing we’ve been wondering is whether Fitzpatrick will hold on to his NRA endorsement. By all rights he ought to lose it, because he signed on to the House version of Manchin-Toomey, but his voting record has generally been good otherwise.

The last Democrat we had in Congress supported bans on semi-autos. The last few challenger to Fitzpatrick returned a favorable questionnaire.

National Reciprocity & Pennsylvania Votes

A few years ago, I decided to make a note of which lawmakers sought or ran on NRA’s endorsement who initially refused to step up and support national reciprocity. After people reported calling the offices of the mysteriously missing potential co-sponsors, several stepped up and signed on.

While looking at the Pennsylvania angle again for this year, imagine my surprise when I found some key names left off of the sponsors list – again.

These are the members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation who support the bill:

  • Rep. Mike Kelly (R)
  • Rep. Tom Marino (R)
  • Rep. Tim Murphy (R)
  • Rep. Scott Perry (R)
  • Rep. Keith Rothfus (R)
  • Rep. Bill Shuster (R)
  • Rep. Glenn Thompson (R)

I might add that Rep. Rothfus actually didn’t have the NRA endorsement last time around. He had an A rating, but with the incumbent Democrat’s record, it was issued to the incumbent.

These are the members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation who sought & received NRA’s endorsement in 2012 against anti-gun opponents who are not on that list:

  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R)
  • Rep. Charlie Dent (R)
  • Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R)
  • Rep. Jim Gerlach (R)
  • Rep. Pat Meehan (R)
  • Rep. Joe Pitts (R)

For 2014, Rep. Gerlach is retiring, but the others will be on the ballot. Reps. Dent, Barletta, and Pitts are expected to be pretty safe, so I’m surprised that they are not willing to help their law-abiding license holder constituents. In fact, Charlie Cook has all three of those seats, plus Rep. Meehan, in the “Solid Republican” category as not really competitive.

In 2014, I find it hard to get excited by candidates who don’t even think that law-abiding citizens who undergo regular background checks still can’t be trusted with firearms. If you live in any of these districts, it might be good to let them know that you noticed they wanted your vote in 2012, but that they won’t even get on board with national reciprocity.

California Democrats Like Leeland Yee

Charles C. W. Cooke and others note that being indicted for multiple felonies that include accusations of arming mafia members and arms smuggling doesn’t turn off about 10% of California’s Democratic voter base, at least based on the results of yesterday’s election. Nearly 290,000 primary voters thought these accusations made Leeland Yee a great candidate for Secretary of State worthy of their support.

Perhaps what’s more interesting is that Yee was only polling at 8% before he was arrested, so he actually performed better with California Democrats after the charges came to light. In fact, the same polling firm found that even after he was arrested and the charges against him were disclosed, 15% of voters maintained a favorable view of Yee.

Political Carrots

As Sebastian mentioned, he asked me to write a post about examples of using the carrot as opposed to the stick when it comes to leading politicians in your direction. There’s nothing better to use than a real life example, and we happen to have one from just this week.

Our local state representative who carries an A rating from NRA-PVF held a reasonably priced fundraiser – $50/person with open bar and bites to eat at a local joint that was nice and casual. He also has several events that are in the range of $25/person, and these events aren’t a case of going out to rub elbows with elites or something that you need to get on an inner circle list to join. This was an event where almost everyone was in a t-shirt and jeans. I was one of the most “dressed up” in just a light summer dress and flip flops. The next table over was surrounded by mostly volunteer firefighters from our town who are younger than me. This event was the kind where community members came out to show a small bit of support to someone who represents issues important to them.

In fact, we ran into someone we know because he had his NRA shirt on when he arrived. He sat with us for a while, and the bit of “rubbing elbows” we did was more like a handful of politicians stopping by to introducing themselves and then learning that this small group of normal looking folks turned out because of the representative’s support for our Second Amendment rights. It was casual, and the real message that it sent is that we’re a community that stands together, and we’ll stand up for our friends instead of just getting angry when someone crosses us. I even commented to Sebastian that it’s too bad members of the gun clubs around here haven’t shown more interest in this type of political organization on a broader scale because this was actually a nice and fun event for those types of groups.

The interesting element was that these types of community-focused fundraisers also attract a few of the professional political types. It can be kind of amusing in that regard because they do tend to stand out. We met a professional fundraiser who was the only person to show up in something close to a suit, and we chatted for a bit, catching him off guard when we said that we were there because of the representative’s support for gun rights. He was clearly not expecting that response, and it sends a message that there are gun owners willing to put up money and political support for our primary issue.

Here’s the thing to remember in this case, it’s not just about going to one event where we paid to get in the door (or, really up on the outdoor deck) that serves as a reminder that we’ll really stand up for our friends in the legislature. The carrot from the carrot & stick equation in this situation is the entire scope of engagement. This state representative has run into us when we are going to vote (for him), when I’ve been standing outside of a polling place in his district, and when I have showed up to drop off literature in targeted neighborhoods that aren’t mine. He knows us from community events like the Friends of NRA dinner which he stops by every year. He knew about us as activists doing real get out the vote activities before we ever decided to attend a fundraiser.

These kinds of activities are not that hard, folks. Sebastian commiserated with an older public official who admitted that she’s really not a fan of phone banking. She’ll walk neighborhoods all day long knocking on doors, but she really hates making phone calls. Sebastian is the same way, so that sent a message that even though we’ve never helped this woman out (since she doesn’t have anything to do with our issue) that we aren’t just there as donors, but as volunteers with real experience helping out our allies.

If you’re not the social type, offer to do a lit drop where all you have to do is just drop off literature at targeted homes in a neighborhood. If that even runs the risk to much social interaction for your tastes, offer to deliver signs to people who request them through the campaign. See if your gun club property can host a casual hot dog and hamburger fundraiser for a few bucks for your local friends in the legislature. These aren’t about raising big money, and the lawmakers know it. They’ll still come out because the real message you’re sending is that you’re a community willing to help out friends who stand up to Bloomberg & his paid followers.

A handful of gun owners in local districts participating in events like these and helping out a few times during election season while telling politicians that they are doing it because of their record on gun issues will make it far more likely that your voices will be heard when it comes to moving our issue forward rather than just having to be on the defense as we deal with legislative attacks.

Allyson Schwartz’s Bad Night – A PA Primary Round-Up

Yesterday was primary day in Pennsylvania, and the big race to watch was to see how the Democratic primaries shaped up since those were the main contested races. NRA also offered a few endorsements, so we’ll look at how things shaped up.

Governor’s Race
I can report with 100% certainty that Tom will win the gubernatorial election in November. Unfortunately, we don’t know which Tom – Corbett or Wolf – it will be.

The biggest news from last night is just how terribly Rep. Allyson Schwartz did in an all-Democratic election. She was one who many people wondered if she would be a bit too liberal for a pretty purple state, but the Democratic voting base gave her an embarrassingly low second place finish last night – 40 points behind Tom Wolf. Instead, it turns out that she was ripped apart by progressives who were horrified by the fact that she has, at times in her nine year Congressional career, worked with moderate Democrats. Basically, the fact that she had a record to tear through worked against her.

For the gun issue, it’s not really good news or bad news. On one hand, the Democratic candidate with the lowest grade from Ceasefire won the primary. On the other hand, the entire pool of Democratic candidates for 2014 are far more hostile to our rights than the group in 2010.

Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate now, told Ceasefire that he supports their policy proposal “imposing a ban under Pennsylvania law on the sale and possession of assault weapons.” A ban on possession implies confiscation. That’s a big freaking problem there, beyond the ban on sales which is also a hugely unacceptable response.

Wolf also said he supported their idea to “imposing a limit under Pennsylvania law on magazine capacity” where they did highlight that restrictions on size vary, so that paves the way for a push to something like NY’s SAFE Act coming from a Wolf administration.

On carry, Wolf says he will oppose any form of national reciprocity, and he also added a response to congratulate Attorney General Kathleen Kane for screwing with Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreements. Oddly enough, he didn’t back the push for an outright ban on all campus carry, and he only stated that he believes colleges must make their carry policies transparent.

Wolf also says that he wants a bill “requiring gun owners to keep firearms and ammunition in separate secure locations.” That box of ammo you keep in your range bag? That’s not secure. The shelf you might keep your ammo sorted on? That’s not secure. Oh, and you can’t just stuff it into your 800 pound gun safe bolted to your floor because your guns are in there and they must be secured separately. That’s fine, you say, because it’s not like they’ll send inspectors around for this stuff. Well, just hope you never have to call 911 for a medical emergency in your home or have a fire where public safety staff will enter your home and report whatever they see that may possibly be a violation. Tell Grandma that her ambulance for the stroke she’s having will have to wait because you need to run out to a gun shop and find a new locking case for that ammunition.

Needless to say, those gun owners are going to be given a pretty stark contrast this year at the polls.

Lt. Governor’s Race
Again, the only race here was on the Democratic side. However, there is some news to report on the gun issue. First, the NRA grades for each of the candidates were rather interesting. In Mark Critz you had a man who had an A+ in 2012 drop to a C for this primary race, but who also refused to respond to the CeasefirePA questionnaire. Then there was Rep. Brandon Neuman who actually has a current A rating who also refused to answer to Ceasefire. But the winner came from the three candidates who did respond to Ceasefire with a 100% rating.

Oddly, the winner, Sen. Mike Stack, made a very bizarre claim to Ceasefire: “The NRA has consistently given me a failing grade. I would be honored to have CeaseFirePA’s
endorsement in this election and will wear it like a badge of honor right next to my NRA ‘F.’” Um, he has always had a C-, not an F, so his statement is an outright lie. That grade is based on a voting record, too. Regardless, it’s clear that he wants gun owners to know that he’s got a giant target set on their backs.

Congressional Races
The other negative for Allyson Schwartz last night was that she was so confident in her status as a Democratic front-runner that she said she wouldn’t run again for her Congressional seat, but she would back a close supporter for the seat. That close supporter who also tried running on healthcare, Val Arkoosh, came in dead last in a four-way primary.

Perhaps the most interesting part for this solidly Democratic seat was that the so-called “liberal lion” of Pennsylvania politics came in a very close to last third place. The race really ended up being between Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law who the Clintons campaigned for and the winner, a state lawmaker who was attacked for backing some level of regulation for abortion clinics, especially in light of the Gosnell issues that happened right here in Pennsylvania.

However, it’s not like the winner is a friend of the Second Amendment, either. In his last state house run, he had a D+. One might expect that to drop to an F now that he’s in a solidly Democratic district and in need of a little extra cushion against the progressive wing of the party who has him in their sights.

NRA endorsed in this primary because of the incumbent rule, so it’s good to report that Rep. Bill Shuster won. The other two candidates had AQs, so it’s not like it would have gone into anti-gun hands if he hadn’t made it.

In our own Congressional district, there was a Democratic primary and the one who many would hope would bring the “War on Women” and “SCIENCE!” message to the race didn’t win. The winner, Kevin Strouse, wants the absolutely terrible Manchin-Toomey bill brought back up, and wants to “ban most ammunition—whether from handguns or rifles” that he arbitrarily decides defeats body armor. He offers no definitions of the terms he’s using, no context, just simply anything that police would support. The WaPo likes him because he has no record and is willing to speak in vague terms on the issue that leaves open the possibility of supporting quite extreme or complicated legislation that risks landing non-attorney gun owners trying to comply in jail.

The Democrats has a competition here between a man whose main hiccup with ethics was on using proper account funds to attend a Friends of the NRA banquet on behalf of his boss, former Rep. John Murtha, and a woman who has backed portions of Obama’s gun control agenda. Unfortunately, the most anti-gun candidate won the primary in this case. I don’t know what her final grade will be, as she has no previous record to run on. She’s challenging Rep. Keith Rothfus who will likely carry the NRA endorsement.

Other Races
NRA endorsed in only a handful of primaries this year, but they won almost all of them.

For voters in the 66th State House district, the new GOP nominee, Cris Dush refused to return a questionnaire based on the ? following the name and the endorsement to an opponent who wasn’t too far behind on votes. Dush claims that he supports the Second Amendment on his website, but voters should probably let him know that he should be willing to sign his name to some policy specifics.

On the bad news front, the most hostile Republican to the Second Amendment in 176th State House district in Monroe County has a 19 vote lead right now. The county claims that all precincts have reported, but I’m not aware if any absentee ballots have been counted yet. Unfortunately, Jack Rader, Jr. returned a questionnaire with a pretty dismal C- rating, and local GOP voters opted for him over a candidate with an A. I don’t know what the Democrat’s grade will look like, but hopefully gun owners in that district will find some kind of friend on the ballot.

In one five-way Republican primary for the 17th State House district, one of the losers was the only GOP candidate to refuse to answer a questionnaire. Unfortunately for voters in that area, both Democrats also refused to answer questionnaires. There was a similar outcome in the four-way GOP contest for 169th State House district with the only GOP candidate refusing a questionnaire losing.

Pennsylvania’s Marriage Law Overturned

This is somewhat outside the normal topic for this blog, but I felt I should note that a federal court tossed Pennsylvania’s marriage law that excluded gays. I agree with the end result, but I’m skeptical that having the courts implement gay marriage will be healthy for the Republic over the long run. But regardless of that, the best thing the PA GOP could do for its future is to decline to appeal this ruling.

Given that it’s an election year, I think the chances of Corbett declining to appeal are zero. He has too much trouble with his base in general to just walk away from this. But here’s what’s going to happen: at some point, the Appeals Court will probably overturn the District Court ruling, restoring Pennsylvania’s original marriage law. It might take getting to the Supreme Court for this to happen, but unless the Supreme Court changes in the next three years (for the sake of gun rights, pray that it does not) it’s likely this ruling gets overturned.

And then what? Well, you have a whole generation of young people out there willing to vote on the issue of gay marriage, and to whom it will become quickly apparent that the only way to get gay marriage in Pennsylvania legislatively is to end Republican control of the House, Senate and the Governor’s mansion. I said originally that this is somewhat off topic. When the Republicans eventually fall on the issue of gay marriage, our gun rights are likely to go right along with it. It sucks, and it’s unfair, but Millennials are going to vote on gay marriage over gun rights, and a lot of Gen Xers will too. This is a hopeless struggle the GOP would do better to just give up on.

Jersey City Trying to Manipulate Industry Into Screwing Us

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

Gun-control advocates and firearms industry representatives said Jersey City is the first municipality in the nation to demand such information. Questions include how firms dispose of old weapons and comply with background-check laws, and whether they make semiautomatic rifles—often called assault weapons—for sale to civilians, according to bid documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The requirement went into effect earlier this year for gun and ammunition contracts worth at least $500,000 for Jersey City’s 800-member police force. The purpose: to try to change the firearms industry through the power of the city purse.

This is part of the efforts of the Bloomberg gun control organizations to attempt to strong-arm gun manufacturers and distributors into participating into their gun control schemes. I’d note that any manufacturer or distributor who goes along with Jersey City’s, or any other city’s requirements, will suffer the Smith & Wesson treatment. Smith & Wesson suffered under a massive boycott in the late 90s, early aughts, when their former British owners colluded with the Clinton Administration and Andrew Cuomo (then HUD director):

The two companies that are bidding for Jersey City business—Atlantic Tactical of Pennsylvania and Lawmen Supply Co. of Pennsauken, N.J.—are respected regional companies that sell to law enforcement but aren’t national household names.

Links to the businesses added by me. They look like Law Enforcement supply shops, so we may not have a whole lot of sway over their actions if they mostly don’t sell to civilians. I also don’t want to hang a company out to dry that truthfully answers “Why yes, we sell semi-automatic firearms to civilians if the fulfill the federal requirements and pass a background check, and yes, we do resell surplus police firearms under the same conditions. Here’s our bid, you can take it or leave it.” What we have to watch for are companies who agree to stop selling to civilians, or agree to destroy surplus firearms rather than resell them to civilians.

Some activists in New Jersey may want to familiarize themselves with New Jersey’s FOIA equivalent, if they have one, and start looking into what they are asking, and what answers are being provided. We have to make sure that cities who do this are punished, by no one wanting to do business with them.

Are There Grounds to Sue the Attorney General?

After doing a bit of research with the Wayback Machine, and reading over the letter Kane’s office sent to her counterpart in Utah, it looks like Kane actually revoked statutory recognition, rather than altering a reciprocity agreement. There are two ways to grant reciprocity under Pennsylvania law, the first is by formal agreement with the reciprocal state, and the second is by any state that both recognizes our LTC, and that “[t]he Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.”

Tom Corbett, who is now Governor, determined that both Idaho and Utah’s laws were substantially similar, and granted both Utah and Idaho statutory recognition. Along comes Bloomberg’s bought-and-paid-for Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, and without any change in either states law, she decided that because they issued to non-residents, they were not similar. It should be noted that Pennsylvania issues to non-residents as well, so this should not be a reason to deny statutory recognition under 18 Pa.C.S. 6106(b)(15). I would argue that the statute in question does not offer the Attorney General the power to deny or rescind recognition merely because she disagrees with policy, but requires her to articulate where the incompatibility lies.

The question then is, would this be actionable in court? I’d argue that she simply does not have any power, absent a change in the reciprocal state’s law, to rescind statutory reciprocity with another state merely over a political beef with the existing recognition? If this is not actionable in Court, then 18 Pa.C.S. 6106(b)(15) is essentially meaningless. In that case, we should remove the Attorney General’s discretion, and offer blanket recognition to any state that recognizes us, or even better, just recognize permits from any other state by statute.

NJ Ban Passes: Time to Put Pressure on Chris Christie

The gun and magazine ban passed the New Jersey Senate by a vote of 22-17, so it now heads to the Governor’s desk. Please contact Governor Christie and ask him to veto the magazine and gun ban. Needless to say the other side is pleased:

Let us do our level best to make this a short-lived victory for them. I believe there is a good chance we can convince Governor Christie to veto this.

Kathleen Kane Rescinds Utah Reciprocity

I don’t have a story to link to here, but it appears that Kathleen Kane’s office has quietly dumped our reciprocity agreement with the State of Utah. You will notice it is absent on the AG site, and if you look at handgun, it notes at the bottom that as of yesterday, “Pennsylvania NO Longer Honors Utah.” That she would do this quietly is unconscionable, because it makes it far more likely someone is going to end up in prison because they were unaware of the reciprocity change. This isn’t the first reciprocity agreement she has revoked. On July 29th of last year, the same day that Pennsylvania gained statutory reciprocity with Kansas, she rescinded our reciprocity agreement with Idaho.

The Attorney General’s office, under state law, has an duty to sign reciprocity agreements in 6109(k):

(k)  Reciprocity.–

(1)  The Attorney General shall have the power and duty to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states providing for the mutual recognition of a license to carry a firearm issued by the Commonwealth and a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by the other state. To carry out this duty, the Attorney General is authorized to negotiate reciprocity agreements and grant recognition of a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by another state.

(2)  The Attorney General shall report to the General Assembly within 180 days of the effective date of this paragraph and annually thereafter concerning the agreements which have been consummated under this subsection.

I’d argue that concurrent with that duty is not to exit reciprocity agreements that have been negotiated under this subsection. I’d note that Pennsylvanians can still carry in Utah and Idaho, because those states honor any other state permit. But residents of Utah and Idaho may no longer lawfully carry in Pennsylvania. For residents of those states, I’m very sorry, but elections have consequences, and when we elect a Bloomberg-bought Attorney General, these are the wages.

I’d really like to see NRA put some legislative muscle into fixing this problem. First suggestion would be to blow up 6106(b)(15)(ii):

(15)  Any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm which has been issued under the laws of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists between the Commonwealth and the state under section 6109(k), provided:

(i)  The state provides a reciprocal privilege for individuals licensed to carry firearms under section 6109.

(ii)  The Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.

And by clarifying 6109(k) to make clear that the Attorney General may not revise or rescind existing agreements unless the reciprocal state requests it, or there has been a change in the reciprocal state’s statutory law. Most importantly, I think we all need to work to make sure Kathleen Kane becomes a one-term Attorney General.

UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the letter sent to Utah. I thought she had tweaked all the agreements with states that issued to non-residents so that PA would not recognize non-resident permits? Why suddenly get rid of the whole thing? Also, Superior Court has already ruled that PA residents must have a PA LTC to carry in PA. This is just a way to screw us and to please her patron Bloomberg, if you ask me.

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