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Friday, May 18, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Continues to Undermine Heller Decision

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to take a case brought by the Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation challenging a decision by Alameda, a California county that includes Oakland and other east bay cities, to enact a zoning law so onerous it effectively bans gun stores.   By failing to hear the case, the court essentially tells Californians that they have no right to buy guns.  Reason.com has more:
At least Monday's decision serves one useful purpose: It exposes the federal judiciary's willingness to elevate some constitutional rights over others.

If a city enacted zoning laws that effectively outlawed abortion clinics, and a federal appeals court had permitted it, the Supreme Court would have stepped in a heartbeat later. Under precedents going back to Maher v. Roe (1977), any law representing "direct state interference" with abortion is evaluated using strict scrutiny, the most exacting standard of legal review. Few such laws survive. (The 9th Circuit did not apply strict scrutiny to Alameda's law.)

In today's California, even adult movie theaters enjoy greater legal protections than gun stores. In a 1986 decision, the Supreme Court said the First Amendment allows municipalities to restrict such theaters (apparently they were a thing before the Internet) only if zoning laws provide a "reasonable opportunity to open and operate an adult theater within the city."
The U.S. Supreme court has not taken any meaningful Second Amendment cases since McDonald.  There currently are not four justices that are willing to vote in favor of hearing cases on the issue.  This is possibly because one or more of the remaining four that voted in the majority in Heller and McDonald are unsure whether they have five votes to find in favor of overruling a gun control law that comes before them.  No one really knows, but what we do know is Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Alito have expressed frustration that this fundamental right becomes more and more marginalized with each case that is turned down.

The perils of this reverberate across the nation.  As cases like Maryland's so-called "assault weapons" ban, New Jersey's and Maryland's may-issue concealed carry law, and California's numerous onerous gun control laws continue to survive because SCOTUS will not hear them, the gun ban lobby will use such laws to craft legislation in other states.  Virginia is ever so close to turning anti-gun.  All it will take is to flip one seat in each house of the General Assembly for us to turn into California or New Jersey over night.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

This is the Peril of Publicly Held Gun Companies

You may have heard that at Ruger’s shareholders meeting last week, a shareholder’s proposal which was basically a call for gun control, passed.  Ruger's Board of Directors had recommended that it be defeated. With its passage, Ruger is required to comply.  They did however fail in another proposal that would have loosened the companies ties to the NRA.

Who were the shareholders that made the proposal? According to the New York Times, a coalition of religious women and health care networks which are members of the shareholder advocacy organization Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, representing the Sisters of the Holy Names and 10 other "faith-based organizations" and Catholic Health Initiative.  Members of the group bought shares in Ruger and Smith and Wesson two years ago hoping to influence the way the companies do business. Ruger's largest shareholder, money management firm BlackRock and Vanguard, another large investor in the company, backed the "shareholder's activist resolution" which is how Ruger described the proposal. John Richardson at the blog No Lawyers, only Guns and Money, has a great breakdown of what occurred.  Ruger's response is below:
"The proposal requires Ruger to prepare a report. That's it. A report," Killoy said. The company will follow through on its obligation to produce that report, he said.

"What the proposal does not, and cannot do, is to force us to change our business, which is lawful and constitutionally protected. What it does not do, and cannot do, is force us to adopt misguided principles created by groups who do not own guns, know nothing about our business, and frankly would rather see us out of business."
One of the shareholders, Rev. J. Michael Solberg — a pastor in Hinsdale, Ill., who is also a leader of the Metro IAF's Do Not Stand Idly By campaign; objected to CEO Kilroy's characterization:
"We are not gun control advocates," Solberg said. "We are not encouraging you not to make certain weapons. We are encouraging you to take the reputational risks of this issue seriously, and engage with those who want to make a difference."
While it does not require Ruger to change the way they do business, it does demonstrate the perils faced by publicly held gun companies.  Malcontent shareholders were able to wield more power than the numbers of shares they likely hold would normally have allowed because they were able to convince large shareholders like BlackRock and Vanguard (which have been a target of Parkland activist David Hogg's boycott calls) to support their efforts. The same coalition will be pushing identical efforts at the shareholder meeting of American Outdoor Brands Company (Smith & Wesson) later this year.

Being a public company provides access to capital, but it does come at some price - like activist investors. It's likely most of the time companies are able to beat back such attempts.  This time however nervous large investors like BlackRock and Vanguard helped push these shareholders over the finish line.  Will this give pause to other firearms related companies that are looking to go public?  Only time will tell.

Vote Nick Freitas in the GOP Primary June 12th

Gun owners have an opportunity to nominate a true champion of the Second Amendment on June 12 to run against anti-gun U.S. Senator Tim Kaine in November.  While all three GOP candidates have responded to the NRA Questionnaire in strong support of our firearms freedom (based on their NRA-PVF ratings), one candidate stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that candidate is Delegate Nick Freitas.  Because of his strong record in the General Assembly, Delegate Freitas has earned the endorsement of the NRA Political Victory Fund and has earned the support of the Virginia Shooting Sports Association.  Readers of this blog may recall earlier this year, we shared a floor speech that Delegate Freitas made in support of our rights during the General Assembly session.  The video of the speech went viral and has had over 16 million views.

Delegate Freitas enlisted in the United States Army after High School. Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Nick served two combat tours as a Green Beret in the Middle East. After Nick’s service as a Green Beret, he became Director of Operations for a service-disabled, veteran-owned defense contractor. Nick is currently serving his second term as a Virginia House of Delegates member, originally elected in 2015.   Nick and his wife, Tina, and their three children live in Culpeper, VA.

Gun owners need to do all they can do between now and June 12 to help Delegate Freitas win the primary.  You can find out how to contact the campaign by clicking here.

Yesterday, Delegate Freitas spoke with NRATV host Cam Edwards.  He spoke about the 2017 off-year elections where Virginia went from a two-thirds pro-gun rights majority to a one-vote majority in the House of Delegates. Freitas also said progressives don't want a few "common sense" limitations - they want to gut the Second Amendment. He said it's time to respect the constitutional rights of gun owners. They must stop trying to use the government to disarm us.  You can watch the entire interview below.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Delegate Todd Gilbert: Virginia Gun Rights in Jeopardy

During last weekend's NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits,  NRATV host Cam Edwards ran into Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Todd Gilbert of the exhibit floor.  Delegate Gilbert talked about how after the 2017 off-year elections, Virginia went from a two-thirds pro-gun majority to a one vote majority in the House of Delegates. With an anti-gun governor, lt. governor, and attorney general, everything is at stake for gun owners. Gilbert said it shows how energized and organized the progressive left is. They hate President Trump so much they turned out while gun owners stayed at home. They want "universal background checks," a firearms registry, one-gun-a-month and outright bans of semi-auto long guns.  He said it's not enough to vote. Gun owners must talk to their friends and family to make sure they turn out to vote for pro-gun candidates in the fall.  If we don't start working now to protect and expand the pro-gun majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, with a snap of the finger, much like the Marvel character Thanos in the current blocker buster movie Avengers Infinity War, Virginia will become California or worse, New Jersey, when it comes to gun laws.



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Gun Craft Beer at NRA Annual Meeting.

While walking by the DSArms Booth yesterday, I saw this on the table:

It's Gun Craft Beer and according to the booth staff, it is sold in Illinois where it is manufactured, and available online in 34 states.  It appears from the web site that Virginia is one of those states as we were not in the list of states the site specifically said they could not ship.  Those states are:
Alabama Arkansas Delaware Kentucky Massachusetts Maryland Minnesota Mississippi Montana New Jersey Oklahoma Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Dakota Texas Utah. Just one of the neat things you find when walking the NRA Exhibit Hall floor.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wall Street Journal: Banks, Credit Card Companies Explore Ways to Monitor Gun Purchases

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that banks and credit-card companies are discussing ways to identify purchases of guns in their payment systems. According to the Journal, the discussions are preliminary and they note such discussions could be very controversial.
The financial companies have explored creating a new credit-card code for firearms dealers, similar to how they code restaurants, or department stores, according to people familiar with the matter. Another idea would require merchants to share information about specific firearm products consumers are buying, some of the people said.

Such data could allow banks to restrict purchases at certain businesses or monitor them. The talks, which are informal and might not lead to any action, have occurred against the backdrop of the national debate around guns in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high-school shooting, which left 17 dead.
This move comes after both Bank of America and Citicorp announced new policies related to what activies they would finance for gun manufacturers and retailers.  The Journal also spoke to Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin who said concerns raised buy this type of discussion go beyond the gun issue:
“There’s a privacy angle here,” said Adam Levitin, professor of law at Georgetown University. “There’s the slippery slope danger if it’s guns today maybe it is pornography tomorrow and the day after it’s right-wing literature.”
There are already divisions inside the banking industry with BOA and Citi setting out restrictions while Wells Fargo has said it is not up to them to decide what products Americans can buy.  Citicorp CEO Michael Corbat seems to think he gets to decide who are responsible gun owners and who aren't:
CEO Michael Corbat said at that bank’s annual meeting that the policy “is intended to preserve the rights of responsible gun owners like myself, while relying on best sales practices to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.”   
So, since Citi adopted a new code of conduct for gun dealers and manufacturers that includes retailers restricting sales for buyers under age 21, I guess Corbat does not believe anyone 18-20 can be a responsible gun owner, but they are responsible enough to serve in the military or vote.

Read the entire WSJ article.  While these discussions are preliminary, there are some very specific policies being discussed like one large bank discussing with lawmakers potential legislation to require merchants to share information about specific gun-related products consumers are buying with their cards, and credit card companies making specific codes for gun retailers but not for retailers like Walmart which sell other products as well as firearms and ammunition.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Non-existent Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide

You have probably heard from the gun ban lobby more times than you can count that states with higher gun ownership also have higher homicides committed with firearms.  They trot out studies to "support" their claims and the media regurgitate the talking points created.  There is a great article that explains the fake science behind these studies and provides us with the facts to refute the claims.  It is long, but well worth the read.  In short, here is how the gun ban lobby comes up with their findings:
One: They’re sneaking suicide in with the data, and then obfuscating that inclusion with rhetoric. This is the biggest trick I see in the media, and very few people seem to pick up on it. Suicide, numerically speaking, is around twice the problem homicide is, both in overall rate and in rate by gun.

Two: They’re cooking the homicide data.
The author goes on to fully explain both tactics and how it affects the numbers.  Then he wraps it all up by illustrating how they use the tainted data to come up with their claims.  Go click the link to the article above and read the entire piece.  It's well worth the time it will take.

Hat tip to Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Will the Focus on Guns Hurt Democrats in Mid-terms

A poll released last week seems to indicate that the extreme focus on guns has hurt Democrats as they seek to take control of the House and Senate in November's mid-term election.  The Washington Post has the story:
The poll finds that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates has dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year. At the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Trump’s approval rating, although it remains low. Measures of partisan enthusiasm paint a more mixed picture of the electorate in comparison with signs of Democratic intensity displayed in many recent special elections.

One potentially new factor in the mix of midterm issues is gun policy, which has emerged as a major voter consideration two months after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. More than 4 in 10 registered voters say it is extremely important that ­candidates share their views on gun issues. Fewer voters say it is critical that candidates share their views on Trump or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), leaders who are most likely to be targets in partisan messaging this fall.
According to the Post, white voters are responsible for closing the gap.
The survey shows the GOP making a more pronounced shift among white voters, who now prefer Republicans by a 14-point margin over Democrats, up from five points in January. Republicans lead by 60 percent to 31 percent among white voters without college degrees, slightly larger than an 18-point GOP advantage three months ago.
Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned posed the rhetorical question "what issue could that demographic possibly care about that could account for this?"

The Post noted that the renewed gun-control debate is a "wild card" in the midterm election. Several polls have shown increased support for restrictions aimed at curbing violence involving firearms following February’s Parkland school shooting.  But as is usually the case, support for gun control jumps after events like Parkland, then subside.  The same is true this time as a new Gallup Poll shows that those mentioning gun control as the most important issue facing the country has dropped by over half in April.  Gun control however still continues to be one of the highest-ranked issues named by Americans -- ranking fourth behind dissatisfaction with government, immigration and race relations.

Seven months is an eternity in politics.  Much can change between now and November.  The best way to make sure that the gun ban lobby does not win in November is to get active for pro-rights candidates in this year's campaign.