Grab Bag

No real rhyme or reason this week. It’s Christmas and everything is mostly slowing down barring a hilarious attempt to turn one man being axed from a cable channel into a story about the First Amendment and religious persecution. (Because there aren’t any other cable networks on Earth that’ll take that show, is there?) That pathetic outrage aside, this week we have news via The Armed Novelist about a Georgia school district arming Resource Officers in a big way, Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns are merging, and some more info on gun sales.

1.) Arming Schools. Armed Novelist turned me onto this from Breitbart. The Gainesville, GA school board has voted to buy Colt M4 ARs for officers in middle and high schools. The guns will be locked behind safes with biometric technology which (in theory, as any lock can be defeated) should keep the guns in the hands of the officers and nobody else. The one person on the board who voted against it claimed he “just can’t buy into guns in school.”

2.) MDAFGSIA-MAIG. The two “major” gun control groups of the day, Moms Demand Action etc. etc. and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have announced plans to merge. The press release states:

The organizations will unite their grassroots, policy and field forces to enact common-sense policies that respect the rights of gun owners while keeping firearms out of dangerous hands. Moms Demand Action will continue its work as a moms-focused organization in partnership with the mayors’ coalition.

So we have that. They accomplished next to nothing separately, so I have low expectations for if they can do much together. Favorite part of the release is this:

“Gun violence used to be something that happened only in other cities, other communities, but now every mother and every American knows the fear of ‘what if?’ – what if it were my community or my child’s school?” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

God forbid we have to wargame what a criminal might do….better to think that “it can’t happen here” I suppose.

3.) “Gateway Crime.” This via Armed Novelist. Solidifying every anti-gunners paranoid fears, the chief of the Chicago police said that merely carrying a firearm is a “Gateway Crime” to committing murder. There isn’t much else to say about that, really. So let’s wrap this up and move on before breaking for Christmas.

4.) Gun Sales. Finally tonight, a bit of news about the continuing popularity of firearms. A story on Click Orlando, the main site for WKMG, states that Florida Law Enforcement expect to perform over 1 million background checks this year on private firearm purchases. As discussed back in Optimism, background checks are on track to set a record, with more checks performed this year than in any year prior.

5.) Christmas. Taking a break next week for Christmas and the New Year. Been an epic year for gun rights, and I look forward to covering what is looking to be a packed 2014. From CCW On Campus here in GA, to revived efforts at gun control nationally, the action planned for next year will make this year look like a warm-up act.

Merry Christmas, people. Relax, enjoy time with family (maybe spend some time at a range?), and I’ll see you in the new year.

Reflection

[Originally posted to Tumblr December 14]

A look back at the Newtown shooting, a few notes on recent gun control efforts, and the debate over armed officers/teachers in schools.

1.) Baseline. The archives this week will focus on the POLITICAL aftermath; i.e. attempts to use Newtown to pass gun legislation, and the concept of armed officers in schools. It is pointless to rehash the full timeline. While the NRA is a favorite boogeyman, they aren’t too relevant in a recap of post-Newtown stuff outside of an embarrassment of a post-Newtown press conference so we won’t be treating them like some hero here, either.

Another major part of all this was the spike in gun sales discussed back in Optimism. That was two weeks ago, so there is no real reason to re-tread that ground so early.

It is worth briefly noting the shooting that took place on Friday in Colorado, in which a student with a shotgun injured two before killing himself. We’re not going to get too much into that today, as the first details of a story are usually wrong, but it is worth acknowledging the event…..and the rather horrid timing. Now, on to the Newtown recap.

2.) Dancing in blood. Of course, within hours of the news breaking we had the calls for everyone else to suffer for the killer’s work. Prime among them, of course, was CNN’s Piers Morgan and Michael Moore; the latter of whom claimed the NRA was “doomed” because of the events.

The story brought up another interesting part of the media’s rush to exploit Newtown: deceptive video editing. MSNBC and NBC News aired a  video that appeared to depict gun rights advocates as heckling the father of one of the victims. They were caught, of course (this is the age of the Internet), but refused to really apologize in any significant way.

Also, as expected, we had Fox News blaming video games with CNN later joining the festival. This isn’t worth wasting any more time on, so we won’t.

3.) Political exploits. And then there were the non-media gun control types. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg called for an Assault Weapons Ban because mass shootings “only happen in America”. In the same interview he admitted that his policies couldn’t have stopped the shooter, but that others might have been.

In a bizarre twist, we started seeing a little bit more candor from anti-gun politicos. Jerrold Nadler, who represents NYC said that, in order to pass gun control, President Obama had to “exploit” the shooting. Here in Georgia, a Democrat State Senator looked to introduce gun control in the 2013 session “to protect Georgians”. It should be noted that CCW on Campus/Bars/Church came within minutes of passing this year instead.

On the national level, Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Democrat Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a so-called “compromise” bill called the “Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.” The bill, which both promised was not about gun registration, proposed background checks for all commercial sales of guns. Critics noted that the bill didn’t block the federal government from “recording, storing, collating, compiling, distributing, securing, retrieving, integrating, merging, using or… backing up its records” and also noted that New York Senator Chuck Schumer, famous for his anti-gun stance, also had a hand in crafting the “compromise.” Gun control supporters repeatedly used a poll suggesting “90% of Americans favored the bill” as reasoning for it to pass.

The bill, and many subsequent amendments failed to pass Congress. President Obama slammed the failure, also using the poll, and with some of the families of Sandy Hook victims behind him. The effort was later shelved, though a revival in 2014 is expected.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the families of the victims that supported gun control made more than a few appearances at press conferences held by Obama and others. To the point where Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told CNN they were being used as “props.” They were, as Politico noted, “victims turned lobbyists” A Sandy Hook parent opposed gun control saw next to no airtime.

4.) “Nobody’s coming for your guns.” Throughout the proceedings on the Federal level, the term “registration” was avoided like a disease. Expanded background checks were never referred to as such, any bill that was introduced had to be followed with an explanation that “this is not registration, as our critics claim” or something along those lines. In fact, the constant refrain of “they are coming for our guns” was derided as paranoid by gun control advocates.

But on December 21st, Senator Feinstien suggested that she and others were floating the idea of a compulsory gun buyback program. Furthermore, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that “Confiscation could be an option” for the State’s gun control measures. Gov. Cuomo said “I don’t think legitimate sportsmen are going to say, ‘I need an assault weapon to go hunting.’ ”

The recent confiscation efforts in New York haven’t exactly helped the “nobody is coming for your guns” defense, either.

The gun control movement focused largely on the idea that gun control was supported by “sportsmen.” In other words, that certain gun owners supported gun control because the guns in question “weren’t used for hunting.” (Many gun rights advocates call these people “Fudds” in reference to the asphalt-thick cartoon character Elmer Fudd. In other words, a person who owns guns but will only fight the political battle if it directly impacts hunting.)

5.) Guns in Schools. Floated originally by the NRA in an otherwise humiliating press conference, the Newtown school shooting ignited a debate about allowing teachers to carry guns, or at the very least putting armed officers in schools. The idea was, originally, derided with the usual “more guns is not the solution” bit. The debate even led to a Moms Demand Action ad about whether body armor was a “new school uniform”. Here in Atlanta, APD announced a new unit built specifically to patrol area public schools. Newtown eventually voted to have armed guards in elementary schools as well, and even a school district in California made similar plans.

6). Looking ahead. Lets be honest, gun control simply isn’t popular. The emotional argument has worn out its effectiveness, and there is now a clear shift in opinion against it. The rise in gun sales and permits discussed back in Optimism wouldn’t have happened if there was a massive resistance to firearms.

As 2014 closes, expect to see at least an effort to reheat the emotion of Newtown, as anti-gunners have been trying all year to get that fire back. We are watching a movement desperate to maintain relevance. This does not mean that pro-gunners should slow down. If anything, that means pro-gunners should continue to challenge the rhetoric on a tactical level. The gun control movement is, as Bloomberg Businessweek put it, basically dead. Expect plenty of theatrics and emotional ploys on its way out.

Honesty

A Congressional study shows gun violence on the decline, Black Friday sets records for firearms, and some news for the upcoming Newtown anniversary. Plus, some Armed Citizen stories from across the country.

1.) Epidemic. A new Congressional study reinforces the trend of gun violence decreasing over the last two decades. The study, commissioned by Congress, suggests that gun ownership has surged, but the murder rate has been cut almost in half since 1994. Homicide rates continued to decline even after the expiration of the Clinton-era “Assault Weapons Ban.” The study did not take into consideration the spike in gun sales from last year, nor gun sales from this year.

The Department of Justice released a similar study back in May, showing that gun violence had fallen dramatically over the last 20 years.

2.) Black Friday. The numbers from Black Friday are in. Black Friday was the sixth-biggest day for gun sales going by NICS checks, but were slightly lower than Black Friday last year. By the end of this year, 2013 may see more background checks performed than any year prior. In all, 2012 saw 19,592,303 background checks performed. This is compared to the 19,051,745 as of December 3rd. The Washington Times adds “Put in perspective, the last year that President Bush was in office, there were 12,709,023. NICS checks have risen by more than 50 percent since Mr. Obama has been in the White House.”

3.) Guns Save Lives Day. The Second Amendment Foundation has launched a nationwide TV campaign ahead of its “Guns Save Lives” day on December 15. The campaign will see ads run on FOX News, DISH Network, TheBlaze, as well as SIRIUSXM and “major radio stations” across the country. SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said “While others will exploit national tragedies to push an agenda of victim disarmament, those of us involved in ‘Guns Save Lives Day’ will have a different message that the public has a right to hear. The proper use of firearms in emergency situations can make a difference to the safety of would-be victims, whether they be night-shift grocery clerks, single moms, senior citizens or small business owners.”

The day was initially slated for December 14, but it was moved to the 15 after accusations of “exploiting” Newtown.

The Obama-affiliated group Organizing For Action is asking people to host “Newtown Anniversary Events” designed to “call on Congress to take action to make our communities safer.”

In other Newtown news, the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is out with a new ad campaign. The ad, titled “No More Silence”, encourages viewers to contact Congress to push gun legislation, which the group claims will make schools safer by preventing would-be mass shooters from getting ahold of weapons in the first place.

4.) Gun Control Poll. For some reason, there are a lot of polls this week. John Lott brings word of a CNN poll showing half of Americans opposed to additional gun control. The number is the highest level in the CNN poll’s history. Just something to think about when the “90% of Americans” talking point is reheated.

5.) Confiscation. New York City Police have begun sending out notices to owners of registered long guns that violate a 2010 city ordinance. The notices say that recipients can either move the gun out of the city, or “immediately surrender your Rifle and/or Shotgun to your local police precinct, and notify this office of the invoice number. The firearm may be sold or permanently removed from the City of New York thereafter.”

So that’s what happens when you register your guns…..

5.) Armed Citizen/Good Samaritan.
A cop in New Jersey pulled an unconscious man from his burning pickup last week. Officer Scott Krissinger pulled the man to safety, then ran back to the truck to check if there were others inside. The driver, 61-year-old Gerald K. Ferrill, was in hospitalized in critical condition afterwards. The cause of the fire is under investigation, and officer Krissinger told CNN he hopes to meet Ferrill someday.

A 67-year-old man pepper sprayed by an armed robber managed to stab his attacker in Oakland, California this week. The stabbed suspect, 19-year-old Tarnell Cobbs, was arrested at a nearby hospital and is refusing to talk to investigators. Police believe he might also be behind other robberies in the area. A second suspect in the robbery is still being sought.

Finally, two armed robbers have been killed in Reading, PA when an man who witnessed the robbery confronted them as they were attempting to get away. While the district attorney says the Citizen, whose name is not being released fearing retaliation, will not face charges, the families of both robbers want charges to be pressed against him, saying that “it’s not fair” that the man was deemed to have acted within the law, adding that he “took the law into his own hands.”

Next week. We handle Newtown.

Optimism

[Originally posted on Tumblr November 30th]

It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving. I’m not up for talking about the end of civilization, and I’m pretty sure you aren’t either. In addition, the year is winding to a close, and Congress is deadlocked on other things besides guns.

Also a friend on Twitter who goes by the name Armed And Studious and I got into a conversation about the future of gun rights, and I felt motivated to get an archive together.

This week, we look back at where the gun rights movement has been, where we are now, and what the future looks like. This is by no means an exhaustive look at every minor event in the gun world (to be blunt….is RECOIL/Guns And Ammo really THAT significant?), but rather a look at some of the major stories this year, and how they relate to one another.

1.) Newtown Baseline. I’m not going to reboot the madness regarding Newtown. At this point, we’ve basically memorized.the details. Allow me to go on a brief tangent on this before we get started to get it out of my system.

As I discussed with Studious, this is one of the few topics I track that makes me genuinely and physically angry. We’ve all seen the images of children bolting out of Sandy Hook, a place they believed to be safe. We’ve seen the images of children being led out hand-in-hand by their teachers; walking out of a situation they can neither comprehend the scale of, nor what actually is happening.

And the teachers, who as adults fully understand the basics of what is happening on a level the children cannot hope to, are as defenseless as the children are.

In a speech at a prayer breakfast posted on YouTube, Lt. Col Dave Grossman puts the difference between Sheep and Sheepdog this way:

When the Sheep heard about the 9/11 hijackings, they said “thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” When the Sheepdog heard about the 9/11 hijackings, they said “I wish I was on there. Maybe I could have made a difference.

How many of us felt a sort of burning desire to have been there? To have been able to at least have the chance to stop this guy.

And how many wargamed a similar situation in their own hometowns?

Newtown represented a clear-as-day division between anti- and pro-gun. It caused the fundamental tenants of both to be blatantly obvious. One side chose to believe that future mass murderers would follow “new” laws (but never explained how that would deal with the pre-existing market), the other felt it was time to defend those who cannot defend themselves with something more direct than a sign that essentially said “we’d rather you didn’t but we can’t stop you if you do.” Over time, it has been impossible for the anti-gun side to prove their point on a tactical level; where emotion gives way to hard logic and person-to-person interaction.

While I have more than a few words on the concept of CNN and other “journalists” shoving cameras in the faces of elementary school students (maybe it’s because I’m not a “credentialed” journalist, but that was just repulsive), that rant is a different matter altogether. We will come back to the mindsets of both movements later on, however.

So, with that in mind, let’s get rolling.

2.) Permits, Sales, and Classes. I don’t need to remind fellow gunners that the summer saw a spike in ammo and gun sales, so I ask for forgiveness in advance for treading well-worn ground. An illustration of the progress the gun rights movement has made is impossible without noting that an event antis hoped would make the “difference they wanted it to make” and make pushing gun restrictions incredibly easy, instead gave the firearms world a boost that even those in the industry weren’t ready for.

After Newtown, permit applications surged nationwide. Reports from Georgia, Colorado, and yes even Newtown described the surge as “unprecedented.”  In Pennsylvania, the backlog for background checks was such that the Commonwealth planned a major upgrade of the system while local law enforcement agencies hired new staff to try to speed up the process.

With the climb in gun permits came a climb in gun sales. A report in the Baltimore Sun this October states that Maryland gun dealers sold more guns in 2013 than in 2011 and 2012 combined. This pattern was especially felt in areas that were already seeing a rise in crime, such as after a spike in home invasions in Indianapolis.

Recent surveys suggest that one in four American women now carry firearms.

Of course, this is not just buying a weapon for the sake of having one (mostly, it is impossible to figure out everyone’s exact motive). Classes for gun safety……that is ACTUAL gun safety (The Four Rules, etc.) have also seen a rise in interest this year. One could rationalize that the climb there is merely because it is required. The obvious problem is that states where it isn’t, like my home state of Georgia, are also seeing this increase.

3.) Right-To-Carry. Outside of the surge in gun sales/permits/classes, it is worth noting the expansion of Right-To-Carry laws across the country, and even a few major advancements in reciprocity.

West Virigina announced reciprocity with Colorado and Georgia, A bill in Ohio is working on making reciprocity with Georgia and PA possible, and Alabama basically allows everybody with a permit to carry regardless of whether the person’s home State returns the favor.

And then, of course, there is the news regarding the Stand Your Ground laws. The main focus there is the failure of attempts to change the law in Florida, and the possible expansion of SYG in Ohio. There is a lawsuit here in Georgia from Jesse Jackson’s group to stop the law, but I’m not entirely sure that is going to get anywhere.

As a final point before moving on, let us recap the action in Colorado. We have the successful recalls of two State lawmakers, the resignation of a third who was facing recall, and a governor who is facing a rough re-election campaign. Gun laws in the State are so popular that politicians responsible for them either were recalled or are seen as vulnerable.

Legally, one would be hard pressed to claim that the fight for gun rights isn’t going remarkably well.

4.) Looking ahead. There are two things I would like to close with this week. The first is a look at the action in 2014, the second is a look at the community as a whole.

2014 is expected to see a re-focusing on guns nationally. Democrats are determined to revive efforts for gun control in 2014, and are even going to be campaigning heavily on it come election time. There’s one issue….while Dems are going to be really pushing for it, polls suggest that gun control is not that much of a priority among Americans. In addition, the Federal government’s own data states that “gun violence” has collapsed in the last 20 years, running directly counter to the “blood in the streets” and “Wild West” narratives we’ve been dealing with for equally as long. Even the UN doesn’t have that much ground here, with more than half of the Senate stating its opposition to the UN Arms Treaty.

The purpose of this week’s Run has been to illustrate that the gun rights movement has been defying virtually every media narrative. The narrative that “fewer people are buying guns” doesn’t match up with the surge in CCW Classes or CCW Permits. The narrative that “gun control is popular” doesn’t match up with the CO Recall or the spectacular fashion in which the Federal legislation failed. Stand Your Ground has survived a case the media hoped would end it nationwide, and has infact expanded to other States.

But there is one narrative we haven’t tackled, and that honestly we are in the best position to disprove. That is the narrative that all gun owners are either A.) sociopathic, B.) paranoid, or C.) remarkably arrogant.

In my opinion, one of the main strengths of the gun rights movement is how we welcome newcomers. We show them how to operate the weapon, the Four Rules of Gun Safety, and the mindset required to use a gun safely and within the boundaries of the law. All of which is done fully understanding that they won’t be sharpshooters on Day One. Regardless of the reason; whether it is curiosity about guns, self-defense, or just the fun of target shooting; gun ranges have become fixtures in the community, and we’ve even seen them referred to as the “New Bowling Alleys” in NPR, which I’m fairly sure none of you would suggest is pro-gun.

But there’s a deeper level to this that makes it so powerful. We are, in essence, offering a practical toolset, skillset, and mindset for people to use. Whereas the anti-gun movement is based on the fear of a threat AND the tool, the pro-gun movement is based on the acknowledgement of a threat and the tools needed to deal with it. We don’t ask for them to always be reliant on us or any third party, it defeats the entire purpose of training. In short, the pro-gunner works to ensure others can stand on their own, the anti-gunner works to restrict their defense in the name of safety.

We are in the best position to disprove the “psychotic” narrative, and yet I don’t believe we put much effort into it. Speaking for myself in 2014, I would like to see more emphasis on the difference between pro-gunners working to empower the person next to them, and anti-gunners working to force them to rely on someone who everyone knows cannot physically be there when that person needed most (a concept which is misguided at best, and flat-out evil at worst).

But, despite all that, if I have failed to illustrate the state of the gun rights movement. If, despite all of the above, you still disagree that the gun rights movement has made incredible progress in the last two years, I can only suggest to you an article in the Huffington Post (which I’m also sure nobody would call “pro-gun”) that claims that the buying of firearms after Thanksgiving has become a new American tradition.

2014 is going to be an amazing year for the gun rights movement.The expansion of pro-gun laws, the backlash against anti-gun State lawmakers, and the surge in the popularity of firearms in general give the movement an extreme momentum going into next year. Enjoy the (relative) break, because there is going to be a lot of work to do leading up to the elections.