Tags: NRA

Today’s Reminder That Tom Toles Is the Worst Cartoonist In America


To all the usual vices of editorial cartooning — cheap and half-baked premises; labeling of grossly obvious figures and concepts for the benefit of the irredeemably ignorant; unfunny gags; barnacle-encrusted clichés; a totally predictable point of view; glancing-at-best familiarity with issues in the news, among many others — Tom Toles adds at least two more: He can’t draw, and his conclusions are as bizarrely out of touch as the rightwing phantasmagoria parodied by Ward Sutton in The Onion’s “Kelly” cartoons.

Toles’ innocence of the basics of public life in America expresses itself in a bias toward the left, however, so he’s there on the Washington Post’s editorial page day in and day out. (Like all the most monstrous dictators, he never seems to take a vacation.)

Today, fearless Toles surveys the unfolding tragedy that began when a police officer, serving a department so heavily armed that it apparently has a landmine-proof MRAP, shot and killed an unarmed private citizen. And Toles’s deadeye aim falls directly on the real culprit of this story: an organization that lobbies for the right of private citizens to bear arms. After wowing the reader with his trenchant grasp of the situation, Toles pays it off with one of those Pat Oliphant-style bottom-right-corner buttons. “Film at 11,” the second punchline reads, showing how fully Toles keeps his finger right on the pulse of 1979.

There are a lot of unexamined assumptions encoded in this panel. In fact, there’s really nothing but unexamined assumptions. Obviously, that Toles seems to think the National Rifle Association has a damn thing to do with how much military surplus equipment a podunk police department receives is far more revealing of Toles’s own mind than of anything going on in these here United States.

But the most irritating thing might be the presumption that the John and Jane Q. Public shown giving deadpan commentary on the TV news somehow represent a vital American center, people who reject the NRA’s extremism. In fact, as Charlie Cooke noted yesterday, the Second Amendment right the NRA defends is extraordinarily popular in the United States. It’s not the NRA’s machinations that keep gun control advocates from hitting their targets; it’s that they are advocating something Americans don’t want and continue to vote against. Toles, and the Post more broadly, may not like that fact. But (unlike a lot of what appears in the Post) it’s a fact.

I’m sure there are other banalities to unpack in here, but that would require me to keep looking at the cartoon, and Toles’s draftsmanship is visually repulsive. I never thought I’d say this, but God help me, this man is not worthy to fill Herblock’s old seat.

It will, I hope, come as news to most readers that there are still print newspapers, and that they are still putting out editorial cartoons. Life’s funny that way: Travel agents still handle a third of all travel business in the United States. AOL still makes almost $150 million per quarter from dial-up customers. E-commerce still makes up less than 7 percent of U.S. retail sales. (We underestimate how long extinction takes.) And as I still get the paper delivered, I should point out that my carrier — an ancient lady who is up ere the sun every day, pushing a cart at a snail’s pace down my street — provides the absolute best and most reliable newspaper delivery I have ever experienced. So even in this long twilight, print papers have their pleasures. Tom Toles just isn’t one of them.

Tags: The Washington Post , Cartoon , NRA , Ferguson Missouri , Ferguson

The Left’s War Against the Culture of Gun Owners


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Progressive War Against the Culture of Gun Owners

Permit me to begin with what might seem like a silly observation from the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis late last week: There were a lot of men with beards.

Yes, the crowd is more diverse than you might think, and plenty of women. But the meat-and-potatoes of the NRA Convention crowd is meat-and-potatoes men. Big guys. Tattoos. Guys who work with their hands. Guys who hunt. Farmers, truck drivers, engineers, construction workers, soldiers, retired veterans, law enforcement, firemen . . . 

You could drop these guys back in time to 1950, or 1900, or 1850, or 1776 and most of these guys would be able to function pretty well. They can hunt. They can fix engines and build giant machines, put up houses, operate heavy machinery. Most of ‘em are strong. They’re all over the spectrum, but many of them have great skill (marksmanship and tracking, obviously) and keen minds (engineering, mechanics, material sciences). A lot of military experience. They know the world around them well beyond the most distant Starbucks. (They do have wine connoisseurs among them.)

(This is not exclusive to men, of course; Thursday night I met a woman who might as well be the incarnation of Artemis, as she explained how she killed an eight-point buck with a bow and arrow. In pigtails.)

Anyway, most of the NRA Convention crowd is the distilled essence of anti-metrosexualism. (I’m using the term “metrosexual,” but some argue that “hipster” has replaced it or Muppie (Millennial Yuppie) is a better descriptor.)

Updates from Yuppie Acres have probably revealed I’m, for better or worse, not really one of Those Guys. Ward Cleaver, not Willie Robertson. If you’re not one of Those Guys, you can have two reactions: appreciate them as they are . . . or conclude that because they’re different from you, there’s something wrong with them.

And that’s where the Progressives come in.

What’s wonderful about liberty is that if you don’t want to be one of Those Guys, you don’t have to be. We no longer live in a world where your ability to provide for your family depends upon your ability to hunt and kill an animal. If you can do something that gets other people to give you money, you can go to Safeway or Whole Foods and you trade it for food.

If the way Those Guys live their life isn’t your cup of tea, you can live a life in which you rarely if ever encounter them. There are swaths of the country full of Those Guys, and swaths where they’re pretty rare. (I’ll bet the only people who even remotely seem like Those Guys that Mike Bloomberg sees all day are on his security detail, and I doubt he has many conversations with them.)

But a lot of Progressives seem really, really bothered by Those Guys; I don’t know if Progressive women or men fume about them more.

Mocking NRA members has become pretty standard of the left; a year ago, on CNN’s website, a contributing editor at The American Prospect referred to “the annual festival of conspiracy theorizing, belligerent fist-shaking and anxious masculinity known as the National Rifle Association convention.” . . . 

Some gun-control advocates are a bit more explicit about it than others. After beginning with the usual call for “common-sense safety laws,” Lucia McBath, national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, writes:

No one said this fight would be easy and I fully understand that changing the current gun culture across the nation will not take place overnight.

It will be a slow and sometimes emotionally taxing campaign, a crusade that our opponents will often deride and say can’t be won. But I also understand that it’s a fight on which we must not back down.

They want to change the culture of gun owners, not just the laws they must obey. I’m sure you can imagine other communities that would not react with warmth if you appeared one day and announced, “Hi, I’m here to change your culture!” I’m sure most of these progressive gun-control advocates think that one of history’s greatest crimes was the way that European colonists changed and in some cases eradicated the cultures of native peoples . . . but in the here and now, they see absolutely nothing wrong with going forth, encountering people who live differently from them, and declaring, “these savages have to be civilized!”

In short, these progressives are intolerant of diversity.

Sometimes it’s quite explicit, as in this Frenchman’s letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant:

A normal culture’s response to children being murdered at an elementary school like Sandy Hook would have been total revulsion and an immediate effort to remove the guns from the hands of all citizens except those that must have them for their work.

Got that? If you prefer anything different from what this guy wants — immediate, mandatory nationwide gun confiscation and an abolition of all private gun ownership — you are not merely mistaken or viewing the issue differently — you’re culturally abnormal!

Progressives and lefties scoff that the gun is much more than a tool to these people, and make references and/or crude jokes to Freudian psychology. But I suspect that many gun owners would agree that a gun is indeed a symbol. It’s a symbol of who they are, how they see themselves and what they stand for. They aren’t willing to rely solely on someone else for their own protection. They’re independent; they can pursue animals of the wild and return with food. Looking back in history, you see serfs, servants, and slaves are rarely armed because of the possibility of rebellion and uprising; owning a gun is a statement that “I will never be subjugated.” (You’ve heard the variations of the statement, “God made man and woman, but Sam Colt made them equal” or “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”) Obviously, this doesn’t fit well in a progressive worldview that aims, whether they realize it or not, to restore an aristocracy.

And here we have another example confirming Jonah’s assertion that the Left is the aggressor in the culture war. “Those Guys” may laugh at Metrosexual America, but you rarely if ever see them argue that America must be purged of its metrosexuals. Nobody goes into New York City and Los Angeles and argues that the men there ought to change their ways and do more traditionally manly things. (“You there! Stop getting that manicure and worrying about your haircut! You and I are going to Sears and shopping for power tools!”)

But progressive America really, really wants to change “Those Guys.”

Tags: Guns , NRA Convention 2014 , NRA

Wayne LaPierre: You Know The National Media Is Lying When They Call Themselves Journalists


National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, now speaking to the NRA Annual Meeting’s Leadership Forum, held at the Lucas Oil Stadium:

“One hundred million gun owners will not back down, not now, not ever. Freedom has never needed our defense more than now.”

“The core values that we believe in the things we care about most are changing and eroding: our right to speak, our right to gather, our right to work, our right to practice our religion and raise our family and protect them they see fit.  Those aren’t old values or new values. They are core freedoms – the core values that have always defined us as a nation. And we feel them slipping away.”

“As I travel around this country, I hear it from people. They don’t say it with anger, they say it with sadness: ‘I’ve never been more worried about the future of my country than I am now.’”

“They try to regulate our religion, they give us Solyndra, Benghazi, massive unemployment, debt that will choke our grandchildren and one executive order after another.” 

He also ripped into the national press for covering up and downplaying the failures of elites and the Obama administration’s policies: “Here’s how you know they’re lying: they still keep calling themselves journalists.”


Tags: Wayne LaPierre , NRA , NRA Convention 2014

Sights You Just Don’t See Every Day.


Sights from the Exhibit Hall of the 2014 National Rifle Association Annual Meeting . . . 

Who knew the NRA had a wine club?

Annie Oakley’s pistol:

At last, a laser sight with a lower carbon emission.

In case you’re looking for something in the style of Jack Bauer’s gun (at least from the early seasons) . . . 

. . . or something a little heavier.

I wonder if it’s harder to sell ammunition with Soviet-style marketing since the Crimea invasion. That exhibitor featured a fur-hat-clad booth babe.

If you’re looking for a Browning Semi-Automatic 30 Caliber, Ohio Ordinance Works can help you out.

Or if you’re looking for a nice katana, ask this pirate.

Almost everybody’s enjoying themselves at the convention. Well, except for Porky:

Tags: NRA , NRA Convention , Something Lighter

NRA’s LaPierre: ‘Gun Rights Have Become a Metaphor for Something Larger’


National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, addressing donors and key supporters at the NRA Convention in Indianapolis this morning, said, “Gun rights have become a metaphor for something larger: a feeling, this sense of something that’s slipping away, a yearning for individual rights.”

Despite the recent victories of the Second Amendment supporters in recent years, LaPierre indicated that a key understanding and traditional Constitutionally-backed freedoms is slowly eroding: “We’re at a precipice in this country. I know every one of you feels it. These next two and a half years are going to determine how things go for the rest of our lives. I have never seen it on edge the way it is now. If it’s going to be saved, it’s in our hands. It’s in your hands. People like you throughout the country people I’m going to engage this fight every day, you’re not going to back me down, and we’re going to win it. We’ll save it, by gosh, between now and 2016.”

Tags: NRA , Wayne LaPierre

Jindal on Michael Bloomberg: ‘This Guy Could Use Some Humility.’


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who will be speaking twice at the NRA Convention in Indianapolis today, told an amusing story about why he missed a 2006 meeting with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox: His wife went into unexpected labor with their third child.

The story was a three-fer – a way to remind the audience of his efforts to pass a federal law banning gun confiscation during or after a crisis (inspired by gun confiscation efforts in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, humorous touting of women’s strength and a subtle shout-out to the pro-lifers in the audience.

“My wife and me alone on the bathroom floor, no doctors, no meds for her — I learned a couple of things that night. I learned there’s a reason the good Lord in his infinite wisdom had women be the ones who give birth to babies,” he said with a smile. “If it were up to men, we would never have a baby after the first one of us. I heard the dumbest thing I ever heard a bit after, a friend at church told me, ‘I know exactly what that’s like… I had a kidney stone.’ I didn’t tell that story to my wife. I know that’s not the same!”

Jindal also mentioned what’s likely to be a recurring theme in today’s speeches, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent comment that, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

“In Louisiana, clinging to guns and religion is a good thing – we’ve got both,” he said. “This is a guy who could use his humility, and I think the NRA can be the ones to teach him some humility,”

Tags: Bobby Jindal , NRA , Michael Bloomberg

Cox: Bloomberg’s Millions ‘Start-Up Capital to Take This Freedom Away’


Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (the political and lobbying arm of the organization), kicked off the organization’s annual meeting by declaring that the efforts to push gun control laws at the national and state levels last year constituted “the biggest attack on freedom in 200 years.”

He also called attention to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged to spend $50 million to promote gun control this cycle.

“$50 million is a little start-up capital to try to take this freedom away,” Cox said. “What Michael Bloomberg doesn’t understand is that this freedom isn’t for sale. You can’t buy the hearts and minds with a lot of advertising and press statements and egomaniacal statements like, ‘if there’s a God, I’m going straight into heaven.’”

He added, “The goal shouldn’t be to hand our firearms down to our children. The goal should be to hand this freedom down so that they will have the freedom to purchase whatever they want to purchase.”

Tags: Chris Cox , NRA , NRA Convention , Michael Bloomberg

It’s Tough to Get Distracted When You’re a Single-Issue Group.


From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Greetings from Indianapolis!

Today at the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting, most of the big names come out to speak to the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium. Speakers include Governor Mike Pence, Senator Dan Coats, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator. Rick Santorum and . . . Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. One of these things is not like the other . . . 

USA Today has a fairly even-handed piece on the argument about whether the National Rifle Association is politically powerful because of money or because of manpower. I would note that there are a lot of causes with a lot of money that don’t achieve their goals. Ask Presidents Steve Forbes and H. Ross Perot.

The piece echoes a common answer in response to yesterday’s question about why gun-rights supporters have succeeded in persuading the public and lawmakers when other portions of the conservative movement have struggled:

“They are prodigious fundraisers,” said Robert J. Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York at Cortland.

Spitzer calls the NRA “a classic single-issue group” that allows for a sharp focus in the face of sometimes strong public support for more gun control.

It’s tough to get distracted when you’re a single-issue group. Everybody knows what they’re for, everybody knows what the goal and the mission is, and everybody is on the same page.

But Charlie Cooke reminded me of another factor: 32 percent of Democrats report having a gun in the home. The divide between the Democratic party’s elites and their grassroots may be sharpest on this issue.

Finally, notice this . . . 

More than 100 mothers from across the country and more than 20 gun-violence survivors will come together on the sidelines of the NRA convention in Indianapolis this weekend to speak out for reforms to gun laws.

. . . and this:

By this weekend, an estimated 70,000 people will be in Indianapolis for the city’s first time hosting the annual NRA Convention.

Tags: NRA , Second Amendment

Why Do Gun-Rights Supporters Win When Other Conservative Causes Lose?


From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Why Do Gun Rights Supporters Win When Other Conservative Causes Lose?

Today I’m off to Indianapolis for the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, with a few questions on my mind.

The past two decades have not been a cavalcade of successes for conservatives. The national debt has grown and exploded, and Americans support a smaller government in the abstract but keep electing lawmakers who love to spend more. There’s little or no stigma left to accepting government assistance, and 108 million Americans now live in a household that included people on “one or more means-tested program.” As Charles Murray noted, the white working class now endures problems on par with poor African-American neighborhoods, with high rates of births out of wedlock, children raised in homes without fathers, higher unemployment, lower church attendance rates. A culture of “delayed adolescence” is taking root, with more than a third of Millennials living with their parents and exceptionally high unemployment rates among the young, delaying the launch of careers and independent, responsible adulthood. After we paid a high price in blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world seems as dangerous and unstable as ever. Our borders are unsecured, and there isn’t even a national consensus that entering the country illegally should be punished with a serious consequence.

And yet, in the middle of all this, the gun-rights movement has won, or is in the process of winning, one of the most substantive, far-reaching, and consequential policy victories in recent memory. They’ve won big at the Supreme Court, and we’ve seen gun-control proposal after gun-control proposal get rejected in the legislatures, state and national. Polls show tepid support for gun control, darting up after a horror like Newtown and then sliding back down again. Meanwhile, gun owners and their allies have proven, on regular election days, recalls and pre-emptive resignations, a stunning power to defeat lawmakers they oppose. Deep-pocketed foes like Mike Bloomberg spend fortunes, with little to show for it, at least so far.

So why are progressives so stymied here? What is the gun-rights movement doing right that the rest of the conservative movement can or should emulate? Or is the Second Amendment defenders’ success unique to their issue?

Put another way, gun owners are right, and quickly recognized that this administration and most of its congressional allies will ignore, disregard, subvert, and seek to effectively nullify the Second Amendment.

Of course, this same administration tossed a filmmaker in jail because they needed a scapegoat for the Benghazi attack and had the Internal Revenue Service target Americans based upon their political beliefs, suggesting they don’t care much about the First Amendment.

Then again, Obama’s NSA pretty much shredded the Fourth Amendment.

The assertion that the American government can execute an American citizen by drone strike, without a trial, more or less vaporizes the Fifth Amendment’s declaration that “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” and the Sixth Amendment’s assurance of a right to a speedy trial. While only one American has been targeted by the administration’s drone-centric war on terror, one may conclude the preference for killing as opposed to capture constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth Amendment. (Justice Scalia joked that being forced to read Obamacare’s text constituted cruel and unusual punishment.) Of course, the president’s policies have tried to dictate all kinds of policies to the states, smashing the Tenth Amendment’s declaration that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

To give President Obama credit, he hasn’t attempted to quarter U.S. troops in our homes yet, so he’s managed to leave a few corners of the Bill of Rights intact. For now.

If the NRA and like-minded groups can get millions upon millions of Americans motivated and determined to preserve and protect one portion of the Constitution . . . how do we get folks fired up for the rest of it?

Tags: NRA , Gun Rights

Do Democrats Still Think the NRA’s Clout Is a Charade?


Senator Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, April 11, 2013:

The NRA’s Supposed Clout Is a Charade

He was right in one sense; the NRA doesn’t spend as much as its rivals. It just gets more for its money, it seems.

Above, the illustration on this morning.

The NRA spent $361,703 on the two recalls.

The Denver Post, yesterday:


Total raised: $540,000

Itemized donations in Colorado: $147,000

Itemized donations outside of Colorado: $368,000

Some top donors

•NRA: $360,000

•I Am Created Equal: $56,800

•Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution: $29,800

•Victor Head, Pueblo resident: $5,800

•Dianna Harris, Colorado Springs resident: $4,500


Total raised: $3 million

Itemized donations in Colorado: $1.5 million

Itemized donations outside of Colorado: $1.5 million

Some top donors

•Taxpayers for Responsible Democracy: $620,000

•Michael Bloomberg: $350,000

•DLCC Unincorporated Individual Acct: $300,000

•Eli Broad: $250,000

•Mainstream Colorado: $211,800

Tags: Chris Murphy , Mike Bloomberg , NRA , Colorado Recalls

The NRA Is Not the Same as the NSA


Today’s Morning Jolt begins with a lengthy look at conservative efforts to influence the culture and the role of celebrities; more heartbreaking news out of Syria and a measure of the increasing chaos in the Middle East, a paranoid man insists he isn’t paranoid, and then this news . . . 

Perhaps the First Organization to Learn from Obama 2012 Is . . . the NRA?

Is this sinister? Or just smart politics?

. . . the sort of vast, secret database [of gun owners] the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself. The country’s largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby’s secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy.

That database has been built through years of acquiring gun permit registration lists from state and county offices, gathering names of new owners from the thousands of gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of attendees of gun shows, subscribers to gun magazines and more, BuzzFeed has learned.

The result: a Big Data powerhouse that deploys the same high-tech tactics all year round that the vaunted Obama campaign used to win two presidential elections.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to discuss the group’s name-gathering methods or what it does with its vast pool of data about millions of non-member gun owners. Asked what becomes of the class rosters for safety classes when instructors turn them in, he replied: “That’s not any of your business.”

Others in the business of big political data, however, say the NRA is using similar tools to those employed by the campaigns of its nemesis, President Barack Obama.

“There are certainly some parallels,” said Laura Quinn, CEO of Catalist, a data analysis firm used by Obama For America. “The NRA is not only able to understand people who their members are but also people who are not their members. The more data they have, the more it allows them test different strategies and different messages on different people.”

Of course, this list has a couple of important distinctions from what the NRA warns about, doesn’t it? After all, it’s a private organization collecting this information, not the government. It’s astronomically unlikely that the NRA would ever use this data as part of an effort of national gun confiscation. The purchasing of magazine subscriber lists — hey, that’s been around for a long time.

Our Charlie Cooke: “I’m still routinely surprised at the frequency with which the distinction between public and private, vital for all politics, is ignored.”

The BuzzFeed article seems to emphasize the theme of hypocrisy, or to suggest that gun owners should be or will be up in arms about the NRA using all this data to beat back gun-control efforts. Somehow I suspect that a lot of gun owners will respond, “Well, it’s about time!”

Tags: NRA , Obama Campaign

The NRA Will Be Scoring the Background-Check Vote


As mentioned in today’s Morning Jolt, the NRA will indeed be scoring all of the upcoming votes on background checks and gun owners. But this doesn’t necessarily mean a full-scale divorce between the NRA and the background-check co-sponsors, West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

Wednesday evening, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, issued a letter that indicated that yes, the proposal would be “scored” by the organization.

In addition, the NRA will oppose any amendments offered to S. 649 that restrict fundamental Second Amendment freedoms; including, but not limited to, proposals that would ban commonly and lawfully owned firearms and magazines or criminalize the private transfer of firearms through an expansion of background checks.  This includes the misguided “compromise” proposal drafted by Senators Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey and Chuck Schumer.  As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.  Given the importance of these issues, votes on all anti-gun amendments or proposals will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.

Rather than focus its efforts on restricting the rights of America’s 100 million law-abiding gun owners, there are things Congress can do to fix our broken mental health system; increase prosecutions of violent criminals; and make our schools safer.  During consideration of S. 649, should one or more amendments be offered that adequately address these important issues while protecting the fundamental rights of law-abiding gun owners, the NRA will offer our enthusiastic support and consider those votes in our future candidate evaluations as well.

We hope the Senate will replace the current provisions of S. 649 with language that is properly focused on addressing mental health inadequacies; prosecuting violent criminals; and keeping our kids safe in their schools.  Should it fail to do so, the NRA will make an exception to our standard policy of not “scoring” procedural votes and strongly oppose a cloture motion to move to final passage of S. 649.

I still suspect that the NRA knows that Pat Toomey is probably the best ally they’re going to get elected statewide in Pennsylvania – and that they’re pretty happy with Manchin overall, too. Perhaps the pair are destined to go into future elections with a “B” grade from the organization. (Joe Manchin spoke at the NRA convention back in 2011.)

The deal reflects some basic political realities: Toomey was elected in 2010, and so he’ll next appear before the voters in 2016, a presidential-election year with high turnout. You’ve heard Pennsylvania described as Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama in the middle, but the real battleground that determines statewide elections is the Philadelphia-suburb counties. As I summarized it last cycle:

[Republicans] are increasingly optimistic about Bucks County, where about 435,000 are registered to vote. Toomey won this county over Joe Sestak in the 2010 Senate race, 53.2 percent to 46.8 percent. But the other major suburban counties, Montgomery County (with 553,104 registered voters) and Delaware County (about 395,000 registered voters) are looking like tougher nuts to crack for Republicans this cycle, compared with Bucks County.

These are classic “soccer mom” suburban counties, and the Philadelphia Inquirer is a big media influence here. It is a tough corner of the state in which to sell an uncompromising stance on gun issues.

Toomey needs to be able to say that after Sandy Hook, he did his best to do something — particularly if or when, God forbid, there is another horrific massacre in 2016. Whether or not the bill passes is almost immaterial; he just needs to be seen by those soccer moms as a guy who tried his best to work out a bipartisan compromise to slightly lessen the odds of another massacre. As a Second Amendment fan, you don’t have to like that, but you do have to recognize it.

So when you see folks like Jacob Sullum write . . .

. . . it is hard to see a logical connection between the Newtown murders and the proposal offered by Manchin and Toomey. But that does not matter, because it makes them feel as if they are doing something to prevent such crimes. And isn’t that what laws are for, to make legislators feel better? President Obama certainly seems to think so. Notice that Manchin implicitly endorses Obama’s view that anyone who fails to support new gun controls does not have “a good conscience.”

The cold, hard truth is that yes, this and almost all legislation relating to guns is meant to make lawmakers and the public feel like they’ve done something. Because as we’ve all noted, the only policy that could have prevented Sandy Hook was confiscation of all privately held firearms. But when lawmakers in suburban districts go back and do their town hall meetings, they need to say either A) see, I passed “X” or B) I tried to pass “X.” They will get these questions the next time some lunatic goes on a spree-killing.

Anyway, Toomey summarizes:


The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.

The bill will not ban any type of firearm.

The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.

The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it specifically makes it illegal to establish any such registry.

The bill will not, in any way at all, infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

At Red State, Erick Erickson disputes that, contending that the way the bill is written, doctors can add their patients to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and suggests that they can be added for no real reason. 

The provision could spur a debate on just who should be able to determine if someone is psychologically imbalanced in a way that makes them a threat to others. As I have mentioned in previous Jolts, the only person who can currently place a person on the can’t-buy-a-gun list is a judge. If you see or encounter someone who behaves in a manner that makes you think they’re likely to go on a shooting spree, your employer, school principal, or university administrator can’t do a darn thing about it (other than involve law enforcement and try to get that person before a judge). Sometimes a psychiatrist can explicitly tell the police that her patient had confessed homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public, as in the case of the Aurora shooter, and the police will do nothing.

Tags: Background Checks , Guns , Joe Manchin , NRA , Pat Toomey

Heston and the Long-Forgotten ‘NRA Five Day Loaner Program’


In light of Jim Carrey getting grief about his impression of the late Charlton Heston in a sketch mocking gun owners, it’s worth noting that nobody made fun of Heston better . . . than Heston himself.

Shortly after the Brady Bill was passed, Charlton Heston appeared on Saturday Night Live, in a fake ad for “the National Rifle Association Five Day Loaner Program.” (You may have to watch an ad from Hulu before the sketch begins.)

While you’re waiting for your gun, the criminals are stealing theirs, and running amok! That’s why the National Rifle Association is proud to introduce our answer to the Brady Bill blues: the NRA Five-Day Loaner. That’s right! We will lend you a handgun for five business days while the authorities complete your background checks!

As he holds up the .44 Magnum, the Chyron helpfully explains, “WOULD BLOW YOUR HEAD CLEAN OFF.”

It is utterly amazing, in that Heston joyfully plays with the stereotype of the gun nut who sees all guns of all types as “perfect for home protection.” And yet, he closes the sketch with, “You may be asking, ‘Is this legal?’ Well, they have the Brady Bill; we have the Bill of Rights, so come on down.” The SNL studio audience applauds and cheers.

I’ve never seen this sketch in any of the SNL reruns or “Best of” specials. I only discovered it a few months ago looking around Hulu, and my friend Cam, host of NRA News’s “Cam and Company,” said he had never seen it or heard it discussed by the NRA folks either.

I wonder how the world would react if Wayne LaPierre or Tom Selleck did a sketch like this today.

Tags: NRA

Apparently the Assault Weapons Ban Didn’t Deserve a Vote After All


Hey, remember President Obama’s big rallying cry at the State of the Union, that all the various “common sense reforms” on gun control deserved a vote?

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that her assault weapons ban would not be included in the legislation brought to the floor of the Senate.

Apparently, it didn’t deserve a vote after all!

By the way, all of that chanting at the State of the Union… did everyone know they were chanting at Harry Reid?

And will the usual liberal columnists and talking heads who support gun control lash Reid now? Or will some hold their fire because he’s a Democrat?

And what will Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, say in response? Last month, he said:

MURPHY: I think we will get a vote and I think we’ll get a vote because Newtown changed everything in this country. There were a lot of people wearing ribbons on the floor of the House of Representatives last night, and they were Republicans and Democrats. The NRA said yesterday they were going to wait for the “Newtown effect” or the “Connecticut effect” to dissipate before they went back to lobbying to weaken gun laws. Well, it’s not going to dissipate. The fact is that this nation has been transformed. I think the president was right to say, listen, republicans can’t hide from this. They need to call a vote on the floor of the Senate and House and tell the American public what side they are on. If Republicans want to be the party of assault weapons, of high-capacity magazine clips, they are on the wrong side of the American public and the wrong side of history.

“Newtown changed everything in this country.” No, not really.

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Harry Reid , NRA

Des Moines Register: On Second Thought, We Oppose Dragging Lawmakers from Trucks.


The editor of the Des Moines Registerregrets the missteps” in handling a column that called for “[tying] Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.”

Strangely, the columnist did not mention Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, rated “B” by the NRA, which the columnist said should be designated a “terrorist organization.”

The columnist now laments the number of threatening phone calls he’s received since publishing the column; he also insists it was satire, and compares himself to Jonathan Swift.

Tags: Des Moines Register , Guns , NRA

‘We live in an America that is getting harder to recognize every day.’


From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

NRA: Now Romney Allies

So, if you’re going to offer an expected endorsement of a presidential candidate in a key state, what better day to do it than the day he and his supporters are elated by a thoroughly dominating debate performance?

It’s your lucky day, NRA. From my friend Cam’s world:

Fairfax, VA. – The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund today announced its endorsement of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President and Vice President. NRA’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, and NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) Chairman, Chris W. Cox, made the announcement in Fishersville, Virginia, during a rally with both Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan in attendance. Also, attending and performing at the press conference was country music superstar and NRA Life Member Trace Adkins.

“Virginia is ground zero – the front line of this election. This is where the race could be won or lost. This is where the difference can be made. This is where gun owners must make that difference.” said LaPierre.

“Today, we live in an America that is getting harder to recognize every day led by a President who mocks our values, belittles our faith, and is threatened by our freedom.” said Cox. “So on behalf of the four million men and women of the National Rifle Association, representing tens of millions of NRA supporters, it is my honor to announce the NRA’s endorsement of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President and Vice President of the United States.”

Beltway Baca offers a photo to show turnout in Fishersville was . . . considerable.

Tags: Mitt Romney , NRA , Virginia

Romney to NRA: ‘Consider the Courts.’


I’m not at the NRA convention this year, but Mitt Romney will be there. His campaign has released excerpts of his speech today:

[T]he principles of our Constitution are enduring and universal . . . they were not designed to bend to the will of presidents and justices who come and go. The belief that we are all created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights — these are not relics from another time, they reflect truths that are valid in every era.

The framework of law created by the Declaration and the Constitution is the source of our greatness. It has generated unparalleled opportunity and prosperity. Our Founders understood this, which is why they created a system of government that is limited.

This President is moving us away from our Founders’ vision. Instead of limited government, he is leading us toward limited freedom and limited opportunity.

This November, we face a defining decision. I am offering a real choice and a new beginning. I am running for President because I have the experience and the vision to lead us in a different direction. We know what Barack Obama’s vision of America is — we’ve all lived it the last three years. Mine is very different.

My course restores and protects our freedoms. As President, the Constitution would be my guide, and the Declaration of Independence my compass.

Today, I want to talk about this administration’s assault on our freedoms — our economic freedom, our religious freedom, and our personal freedom. And I want to share my plans to return America to the first principles of our founding.


The President’s assault on economic freedom begins with his tax hikes. By their very nature, taxes reduce our freedom. Their only role in a free economy should be to fund services that are absolutely essential, such as national security, education, and the care of those who cannot care for themselves.

And, yet, President Obama has proposed raising the marginal tax rate from 35% to 40%. The Vice President has proposed a new global business tax. Medical device companies are soon to be subject to a new tax on revenues. And the President is now touring the country, touting a new tax on investment and the wealthy. Congress does not need more money to spend; Congress needs to learn to spend less!


This administration’s attack on freedom extends even to rights explicitly guaranteed by our Constitution. The right to bear arms is so plainly stated, so unambiguous, that liberals have a hard time challenging it directly. Instead, they’ve been employing every imaginable ploy to restrict it.

I applaud true conservationists like Rob Keck who work to preserve lands, herds and flocks for hunting. I applaud Ambassador Bolton for opposing international efforts to erode our rights. I applaud Congressman Issa and Senator Grassley for their work in exposing the “Fast and Furious” scandal. And I applaud NRA leadership for being among the first and most vocal in calling upon Attorney General Holder to resign.

We need a President who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not; I will.

We need a President who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those seeking to protect their homes and their families. President Obama has not; I will.

And if we are going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.


In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of reelection. As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after his re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, “flexibility” to do what he wants. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.

Consider the courts. President Obama has an unusual view of the Supreme Court and its responsibilities, as he reminded us just the other day. He said, quote, “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Of course, what President Obama calls “extraordinary” and “unprecedented,” the rest of us recognize as “judicial review.” That concept has been a centerpiece of our constitutional system since 1803.

Judicial review requires that the Supreme Court strike down any law that violates the Constitution — the founding document that is the bulwark of our freedoms. But President Obama seems to believe that Court decisions are only legitimate when they rule in his favor, and illegitimate if they don’t. He thinks our nation’s highest court is to be revered and respected — as long as it remains faithful to the original intent of Barack Obama.

That’s the problem with those who view the Constitution as living and evolving, not timeless and defining. They never explain just who will decide what the Constitution means and in which way it will “evolve.”

In his first term, we’ve seen the president try to browbeat the Supreme Court. In a second term, he would remake it. Our freedoms would be in the hands of an Obama Court, not just for four years, but for the next 40. That must not happen.

Tags: Mitt Romney , NRA , NRA Convention

The Calmer, Gentler ‘Gunny’ Wants You to Vote


The NRA launches its voter-registration drive today — “Trigger the Vote” — with a web video featuring R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey . . . in his new career as a librarian.

The yokel yakking loudly on his cell phone makes an in-joke referring to the NRA’s last get-out-the-vote ad, which featured Chuck Norris.

Gunny’s message:

Listen up and hear me well! This is a critical time for our nation, and too many people are sitting back to let others do the hard work. So it’s time for all of us to put some gas in it and persuade all eligible gun owners to register. That’s why I volunteered my time to film the ad shown here. Now it’s your turn and I want to see results! Start now by sending this message to everyone you know who supports the Second Amendment. I expect 110% right now from everyone who values our freedoms! NO EXCUSES. And remember — pain is just weakness leaving the body!

Tags: NRA

Shooting, Illustrated, and in Fact, Recorded


I had been meaning to post this since before vacation. In addition to the good guys from NRA News, Shooting Illustrated magazine also taped a video of my first trip to the range at NRA headquarters, and the magazine’s associate editor Ed Friedman explains a bit more about the various firearms I used: the Ruger 22 45, the Smith and Wesson .40, the Sig Sauer M 400 carbine AR-15, and the select-fire Uzi.

Tags: NRA , Something Lighter

Starting Tomorrow, a Lot of Republicans Become the NRA’s Favorites


I’m on with Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he said when asked whether he thought Pres. Barack Obama would push gun control in the remaining two years of his presidency. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”

This election saw a lot of pro-gun Democratic incumbents touting the NRA’s endorsement, as they were challenged by pro-gun conservative Republican challengers.

I note that many of the pro-gun Republicans who didn’t get the NRA’s endorsement this cycle because of the group’s pro-incumbent preference will enjoy that pro-incumbent advantage starting tomorrow.

Tags: NRA


Subscribe to National Review