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Tags: Gun Control

The Twilight of the Gun-Control Movement



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Twilight of the Gun-Control Movement

The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson sums up why yesterday’s U.S. District Court decision is a big deal:

California law forbids the carrying of firearms in public places without a license and provides that the issuance of such a license requires “good cause.” San Diego County, as part of its implementation of that law, has set a number of restrictive policies on what it will consider good cause, which must be exceptional circumstances (“distinguish[ed] . . . from the mainstream”), and it specifies that concern for “one’s personal safety alone is not considered good cause.” . . . 

But it went on, quoting McDonald, to get at the wider constitutional issue (footnotes omitted):

We are well aware that, in the judgment of many governments, the safest sort of firearm-carrying regime is one which restricts the privilege to law enforcement with only narrow exceptions. Nonetheless, “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. . . . Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court [or ours] to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” Nor may we relegate the bearing of arms to a “second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees that we have held to be incorporated into the Due Process Clause.”

We’ve had a generation or two of lawmakers — at first in both parties, then increasingly concentrated in the Democratic party — who believed that the Second Amendment was optional. Increasingly, courts are informing them otherwise.

Chuck Michel, California civil-rights attorney, summed it up quite simply on NRANews.com when he pointed out what’s really at issue in the legal challenge to the San Diego case, as well as the Heller case and the McDonald case challenge to Chicago’s gun laws: local lawmakers persisting in “calling it a regulation when what they really mean is a ban.”

So if courts all the way up to the Supreme Court keep insisting that the Second Amendment means something, and localities can’t use the “we’re just regulating gun ownership, we’re not banning it” excuse, where does the gun-control movement go from here? They haven’t pushed for a repeal of the Second Amendment because they know it will go nowhere. Ace speculates about piecemeal legislative attempts to ban guns from schools, churches, hospitals, and shopping malls, as they’re currently banned from most government buildings. But that will represent a very nickel-and-dime approach, as more and more Americans get used to the idea that they’re legally allowed to carry a gun outside their homes.

At least gun-control supporters still have Wendy Davi– oh, that’s right.

And Wendy Davis’s loud insistence that she’s a loyal friend to gun owners has consequences — not huge consequences, but some small segment of Texas Democrats find her about-faces dispiriting and unacceptable:

Rancher, bookstore owner and 79-year-old iconoclast Bill Bond has been sticking it out in Limestone County for a long time, waiting for Texas Democrats to take back control of the state. He thought Wendy Davis had a good chance to do it. But the lifelong liberal activist says he’s so pissed off by Davis’ open carry talk that he’s shutting the Democratic Party storefront in Groesbeck, housed inside his bookstore. Bond swears that he’ll sit out the rest of the campaign — and that nothing will win him back.

The positions, values and rhetoric required to win a statewide bid in Texas are incompatible with the positions, values and rhetoric that excites big-time Democrat donors in places like San Francisco, Manhattan, Washington D.C., and Chicago. Davis has to pick one.

Tags: Gun Control , Wendy Davis , Second Amendment

Colorado Democrat Resigns to Avoid Recall Fight



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Remember that third recall effort out in Coloradotargeting two-term Democrat Evie Hudak? It is now moot.

State Sen. Evie Hudak has decided to resign rather than risk facing a recall election that, should she lose, would flip control of the senate to Republicans, FOX31 Denver was first to report Wednesday.

Later Wednesday morning, Hudak made her resignation letter public.

“In the interest of preserving the progress made over the last year, I am resigning as State Senator for District 19, effective immediately,” Hudak wrote.

By resigning before the signatures are turned in, she assures that a Democratic vacancy committee will appoint her replacement, keeping the seat — and the senate — in the party’s hands, at least through November, when her successor will be forced to win reelection.

While the Republicans won’t have an opportunity to win the seat until Election Day, Hudak’s departure is a welcome development. You may recall Hudak telling a rape victim that her statistics were incorrect during a hearing on Colorado’s gun laws. The Denver Post later found that Hudak’s statistics were incorrect, declaring, “the episode made Hudak look like she cared not a whit for a rape victim,” and Hudak apologized for “insensitivity.”

Tags: Evie Hudak , Colorado , Gun Control

Why Post-Shooting Gun-Control Debates Are So Insufferable



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In the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt, Democrats begin to lose faith in Obama; a couple of can’t-miss events; the strangest cameo of all time, and why the post-shooting gun-control debates are so insufferable:

Why Post-Shooting Gun-Control Debates Are So Insufferable

Believe it or not, there are some nice people at NPR. One, after reading yesterday’s Jolt, asked for my thoughts on what kind of debates the country should have after a mass-shooting tragedy. I replied:

I begin rather skeptical of most gun-control proposals. The ones that are pitched in the aftermath of mass shootings are particularly cynical, as they often attempt to regulate circumstances unrelated to the shooting. I still grind my teeth at Mayors Against Illegal Guns running ads in my state citing the Virginia Tech shooting, and talking about the need to shut the “gun show loophole” — even though the shooter didn’t obtain his weapons at a gun show. These sorts of arguments strike me as one part craven opportunism, one part feel-good placebo. (I wanted to say “panacea,” but panacea actually means a genuine cure-all.)

If someone wants to propose a new restriction on gun ownership after a tragedy, and cites that tragedy as a reason to pass it, it’s necessary to show how that new restriction would have prevented, mitigated, or impacted that tragedy. For example, almost none of the gun laws proposed after Newtown would have changed much of anything in that awful shooting, as that disturbed young man stole his mother’s legally purchased guns.

I suppose there are two potential changes to the law that would have significantly altered events in Newtown. First, a total ban on private ownership of firearms, which our friends in the gun-control movement keep insisting isn’t their goal.

Second, a restriction on gun ownership by people who live under the same roof as a person who’s deemed mentally incompetent or a threat to himself or others. Of course, then you get into the questions of what constitutes, “mentally incompetent or a threat to himself or others,” what constitutes “under the same roof”, etc.

Then there are the proposals to limit how many rounds each gun can fire before reloading. Almost every spree shooter — we need a better term for this — has had more than one firearm when they’ve launched their attacks. Instituting 10-round limits would mean that future shooters would get off 20 shots before pausing to reloading, presuming they only brought two guns. It’s reasonable to conclude future mass killers will just bring three or four guns when they begin their rampage. This strikes me as a quite modest mitigation in the danger of these shooters, too modest to seriously consider.

The gun-control debate occurs in the context of some very familiar culture-war territory — “blue America” largely supports gun control, “red America” largely opposes it. The “Acela class,” largely living in low-crime areas and working in buildings with private security, concluded that because they don’t see a need for a gun in their own lives, can’t imagine why anyone else could need a gun. (If Mike Bloomberg or Piers Morgan worked the midnight shift at a 7-11, they might be more sympathetic to those who wish to defend themselves with a gun, uncertain that police could respond to a life-threatening situation in time. ) The arrogant, dismissive “bitterly clinging to guns and religion” tone is rarely far from the surface in these debates.

After each shooting, we hear pundits and columnists declare, “it’s time for a national conversation on guns.” But we actually have had national conversations on guns after each one of these awful events; the conversation usually ends with lawmakers rejecting new restrictions on gun ownership. The pundits and columnists pretend the national conversation hasn’t occurred because they keep losing the argument.

There isn’t much of a culture-war component of discussing mental illness, other than a few folks on the Right who blame the Left for deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill in the 1960s. I suspect that there is no real constituency in favor of the Second Amendment rights of the mentally ill — provided, of course, the definition of “mentally ill” is clear, explicit, and taken seriously. (If you think there’s a stigma to admitting you’re seeing a therapist, a psychologist, or getting mental health treatment now, just wait until some of your legal rights can be restricted because of it.)

Thankfully, I’ve never known anyone who has had violent episodes or threatening mental illness. My sense of reading coverage and the literature is that people rarely “snap” and become dangerous killers overnight. As you’ve probably found in your research, there are certain common threads: withdrawal from others and lack of a support network; hostile behavior and temper control, outbursts, etc. It is maddeningly infuriating to hear friends and acquaintances of past shooters describe behavior that seems, in retrospect, to be a warning sign or red flag.

After Columbine, many school administrators tried to institute a new “If you see something, say something” approach to individuals behaving in a threatening manner. Then we saw in Virginia Tech that many, many students reported the gunman for strange and threatening behavior, including stalking. School administrators ultimately couldn’t do enough to stop him — either from fear of lawsuits or from overall bureaucratic inertia.

Fairfax County has tried a “Mental Health First Aid” program; a friend of mine participated in this program.

It’s not clear how effective a program like this would be; one would hope that people would already know to report strange, troubling, or threatening behavior to authorities. In past writings, I’ve emphasized that the only authority that can put someone on the federal firearms restriction list is a judge, and so that these sorts of concerns are best sent directly to the cops, not to a school administrator or company HR department.

However, a country where more Americans are trained to spot signs of serious, untreated and potentially dangerous mental illness strikes me as a better path than yet another effort to restrict the rights of 40 million gun owners because of the actions of a handful.

That’s where I’m coming from.

Tags: Guns , Gun Control , Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Another Awful Shooting, and Another Awful Debate



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Tuesday’s Morning Jolt includes non-Navy Yard news — Bill Daley suddenly loses interest in being the next governor of Illinois, Syria is still a mess, the Obamacare showdown looms . . . but let’s face it, our minds and hearts are still in Washington today.

Another Awful Shooting, Soon to Be Followed by Another Awful Gun-Control Debate

Another horrible day; another day ruined when some loon decides that the best way to address his problems with the world is to murder as many strangers as he can until someone shoots him. Someday it would be nice to actually discuss mental health in this country. Someday it would be nice to know if there are warning signs for these horrors or ways to prevent it before the first shots get fired. Is the shooters’ cruelty ultimately driven by isolation? An inability to cope with adversity? Despair? Uncontrollable rage? Presumably, at some point, the shooter wasn’t too far gone, and he could have chosen a path different from this horrific blaze of terror.

But we can’t have the mental-health discussion, because our leaders insist we must first have the gun-control debate. Immediately. It can’t wait in line. It has to start before the shooting incident is over. Twitchy tracked all the pro-gun-control tweets from celebrities. Henry Winkler got his gun-control Tweet in by 9:50.

David Frum seems to believe that it is somehow good, or useful, or helpful to himself and his cause to begin fuming about the need for gun control the moment the public hears about a mass shooting. He got his arguments for gun control — actually, more mockery of the arguments of Second Amendment supporters — out from about 10:30 to 10:56.

This is a compulsion, right? He knows he’s not going to persuade anyone, right? He knows that a lot of people find it jerky, and small, and petty to cite a mass shooting as an argument for gun control while that mass shooting is still going on, right?

Then again, knowingly or not, he’s just following the advice contained in 80-page document titled “Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging,” and produced by three Democratic political consulting firms led by the polling and research outfit Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Their advice to gun-control supporters:

The most powerful time to communicate is when concern and emotions are running at their peak. The debate over gun violence in America is periodically punctuated by high-profile gun violence incidents including Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, the Trayvon Martin killing, Aurora and Oak Creek. When an incident such as these attracts sustained media attention, it creates a unique climate for our communications efforts.

It’s not a tragedy, it’s an opportunity! The report goes on:

We should rely on emotionally powerful language, feelings and images to bring home the terrible impact of gun violence. Compelling facts should be used to back up that emotional narrative, not as a substitute for it.

Because we don’t want those facts getting in the way, right?

A gentle reminder:

Firearm-related homicides declined 39 percent and nonfatal firearm crimes declined 69 percent from 1993 to 2011, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

Since you’ll inevitably begin hearing about the “gun-show loophole,” whether or not the shooter at the Navy Yard got his gun from a gun show . . . 

In 2004 (the most recent year of data available), among state prison inmates who possessed a gun at the time of the offense, fewer than two percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show. About 10 percent of state prison inmates said they purchased it from a retail store or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.

And, of course, the shooter violated plenty of laws on the books before he fired his first shot:

By just being in the city with a loaded firearm, regardless of whether he was the legally registered owner, the suspect Aaron Alexis would be in violation of D.C. law. Carrying a concealed firearm or carrying a firearm openly in D.C. are both against the law. Bringing a firearm from out of state without registering it in D.C. is illegal. Assault-style rifles are banned. And even traveling through D.C. with a firearm is illegal.

In addition, the Navy Sea Systems Command headquarters is a federal facility that is subject to federal law, which prohibits carrying a firearm onto the premises (except by law enforcement or members of the armed forces).

Tags: Gun Control , Guns , Navy Yard

‘If Gun Control Worked, Chicago Would Be Mayberry Right Now.’



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No getting around it, a lot of bad news in today’s Morning Jolt — new explosions in Tripoli, Lebanon, today — but there’s at least one section that isn’t so grim:

‘If Gun Control Worked, Chicago Would Be Mayberry Right Now.’

My friend Cam Edwards spoke at the Independence Institute’s Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms event last weekend. His speech is supposedly going to air on C-SPAN sometime in the near future, but can be seen on YouTube here.

Two of the many good sections:

If gun control worked, Chicago would be Mayberry right now! And Weld County and El Paso County would be Thunderdome! You guys wouldn’t have [Weld County] Sheriff [John] Cooke, you would have Tina Turner and Mel Gibson running around! It would be horrible! But that’s not real life! Real life is gun control not working in Chicago. Real life is gun control failing in Camden, New Jersey, and Oakland, California, and a lot of other communities in this country . . . 

We are pushing back with the lawsuits, with the phone calls to our legislators, by electing officials and supporting elected officials who listen to us. But we’re also pushing back by being grownups, and by being okay at it. By having hundreds of people show up at a range and fire thousands of shotgun shells . . . and everybody’s okay! And now we’re enjoying cigars and drinks and we’ll all get home safely tonight, right?

Because we can control our lives! We can manage our lives! It’s not too difficult. We’re not perfect. We may eat a little too much dessert every now and then. We may not be able to beat that one bad habit, like smoking cigarettes, whatever. But we’re a heck of a lot more capable than our government gives us credit for, aren’t we?

Tags: Gun Control , Something Lighter , Chicago

Psst. Obama Stopped Talking About Gun Control.



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Here is the entirety of what President Obama said about guns in his two appearances at events for Organizing for Action last night:

At the “OFA Dinner”:

Obviously, the scourge of gun violence is something that we still have to stay focused on.

At the “OFA Event”:

Nothing.

In those remarks, Obama mentioned the Great Recession, job creation, wage and income flatlining, college debt, health-care costs, immigration reform, climate change, Obamacare implementation, wildfires in Colorado . . . basically, almost every major issue except guns.

Until very recently, Organizing for Action’s fundraising e-mails emphasized the issue of gun control, again and again and again . . . and OFA had previously pledged to withhold support from four Senate Democrats who voted against the gun bill — Senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), and Max Baucus (Mont.).

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Organizing for Action

Everything You Need to Know About the Colorado Recall Elections



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The Morning Jolt starts off the week with a look at how New York’s media elite treated Barack Obama a decade ago, fun at the mulitplex, what the president should have called the Sequester, and . . . 

Everything You Need to Know About the Colorado Recall Elections

If you’re a fan of the Second Amendment, and you feel that a whole bunch of lawmakers — mostly Democrats — reacted to the horror of Newtown by rushing to pass a bunch of ill-thought gun control laws that would have done nothing to prevent that tragedy, then you need to pay a lot of attention to the recall efforts against two Colorado state lawmakers.

Second Amendment advocates aim to replace Democratic senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo. (They also tried to recall Senator Evie Hudak of Westminster and Representative Morse won, 48.1 percent to 47.2 percent, with about 250 votes separating the two (and Libertarian Douglas Randall collected 1,258 votes). That year, Giron won more solidly, 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent, a margin of about 4,000 votes. In that November midterm election, about 28,000 votes were cast in Morse’s race, about 40,000 votes in Giron’s. Of course, in a special recall election, turnout may be much lower.

The local Republican parties selected former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin to take on John Morse and George Rivera, former deputy chief of the Pueblo police force, to take on Giron.

Here’s how it works:

The ballot will include the original statement from the petitioners as to why the official in question should be recalled, as well as a no more than 300 word rebuttal from the official, if the official submits a statement.

The ballot will have two boxes, marked “Yes” approving the recall and “No” disapproving the recall. There will also be a list of candidates for whom those that voted for the recall may vote for to replace the official. In this sense, the recall election is held simultaneously with the election of the new official.

If a majority of participants vote “No” in the recall, the official whom the recall was filed against will remain in their position. If there is a majority of “Yes” votes, then the new official will be the candidate on the list with the most votes.

The election will be conducted by mail, and even more so than in regular elections, the details count in this one:

All active, registered voters in Senate district 11 will receive a mail-in ballot. Ballots will be mailed to military and overseas voters by August 9. Ballots will be mailed to local voters starting August 19.

There will be two sections on the ballot. One will ask whether or not Senator John Morse should be recalled. The second section will allow voters to choose a successor candidate.

Voters MUST answer the recall question to have their vote counted. The County Clerk and Recorder’s Office says if a voter skips the recall question their ballot will be voided, even if they voted for a successor candidate.

Ballots have to be received by the Clerk and Recorder’s Office by 7:00 p.m. September 10 in order to be counted. Voters can verify that their ballot was received by visiting the Go Vote Colorado website.

Herpin’s pitch:

I’m running to defend our Constitutional rights and promote an environment where small businesses are free to create jobs and improve our local community.

For too long, John Morse has been more interested in doing the bidding of Big Government interests in Denver and Washington and less interested in the economic concerns and well-being of our community.

We have the opportunity to remove the president of the senate and send a strong message that we will not tolerate elected officials who disrespect our Constitutional rights and ignore their constituents.

Many in our community know about my long standing vocal and public support of our Constitutional rights. I also have a history of serving our city and have always prided myself on being responsive to the people of Colorado Springs.

Rivera is pointing out that separate from Giron’s gun vote, she’s also voted for a slew of bills he deems bad for the district:

A bill that makes it easier for water to be taken from the Arkansas River basin to be moved to Aurora and other northern Colorado cities, the bill calling for higher renewable energy standards that will make the cost of electricity rise by up to 20% for those living in the rural electric areas like Pueblo West, the bill that makes it easier for an employee that has been terminated to sue small business owners like my wife and I and to ask for punitive damages for things like “mental anguish”, “inconvenience” or ”loss of enjoyment of life”, and the bill that completely changes our voting process to an all mail in ballot which greatly increases the risk of voter fraud.

These two state-senate districts will, in the coming six weeks, get a taste of what Wisconsin “enjoyed” recently, having lots and lots of people from outside the state taking an intense interest in their local elections:

Richard Bamberg’s phone has been ringing off the hook — not literally — but three calls last week and then four Thursday have made him a little jaded by the Senate District 11 recall effort.

It’s just the beginning of what may be hectic days until the Sept. 10 recall election for Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

“I asked to talk to their supervisor. I asked them to leave me alone,” Bamberg said of the most recent caller who asked a few questions and then spoke for several minutes about positive things Morse has done as a lawmaker. “The thing I don’t get is I’m not in Morse’s district.”

Christy Le Lait, campaign manager for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, said the calls aren’t coming from its campaign.

Tags: Colorado Recall , Gun Control , Guns

Will Colorado Become the New Wisconsin — Center of the Political World?



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Get ready for two very intense, quick fights in two state-legislative races that will carry a great deal of national weight on the gun-control issue:

A Denver judge Thursday ruled petitions submitted to oust a pair of Democratic senators from office are valid, a pivotal ruling that sets in motion Colorado’s first-ever recall election of state lawmakers.

“The petitions here substantially comply with law,” Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt said in his oral decision from the bench. “Recalls are a fundamental right of Colorado citizens.”

Shortly after Hyatt handed down the decision Thursday, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order to set the recall election date of Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo for Sept. 10.

Both are the targets of recalls by constituents for their support of stricter Colorado gun laws implemented this month.

Suddenly, every gun-control supporter and Second Amendment advocate will be focusing on these two state-legislative districts, hoping to send a signal about the post-Newtown gun laws.

Tags: Gun Control , Colorado , John Morse , Angela Giron

World’s Dumbest Gun-Control Supporter Speaks at Rally



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It’s just one yokel at one rally in New Hampshire, but still . . . 

A man was arrested and two people, including a Concord police officer, were allegedly assaulted during a rally Tuesday in a clash between a gun control group and gun rights supporters.

The event had people supporting the Mayors Against Illegal Guns movement, founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reading the names of those “killed with guns” since the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary outside their “No More Names” bus.

Some of the loudest shouts came when a reader spoke the name of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects who was killed by police during a gunfight.

“He’s a terrorist,” several protesters shouted.

And if you claim him as a victim of “gun violence,” aren’t you forgetting that little matter of his brother running him over with an SUV?

UPDATE: For that one goofball who insisted the story could not possibly be true:

The office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday apologized for including Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev among a list of shooting victims’ names that were read during a demonstration in Concord on Tuesday.

The apology came after several groups, including the New Hampshire Republican Party, blasted the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign for included his name.

Alex Katz, deputy communications director for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign, said rally organizers relied on a list compiled by Slate.com of people killed by guns since the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., “and his name was on the list.”

Tags: Gun Control , Boston Marathon Bombing

Organizing for Action, Fundraising Off Gun Control Again



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Organizing for Action sends out another e-mail on the topic of gun control — even though the legislation is kaput for the foreseeable future.

An interesting line: “In politics, there are two kinds of people: Those who say they’re going to do something, and those who actually do it.” Kind of like a president who makes big promises about a gun-control bill, and then fails to persuade a quartet of his own party’s red-state Democrats, I suppose.

The letter promises a petition to Congress demanding action . . . a short time after the Senate considered action and rejected it. Most likely, the petition is a data-gathering tool, helping Organize for Action refine their list and figure out which members are most passionate on the gun-control issue.

You’ll notice the letter asks for money . . . suggesting that some of these passionate gun-control supporters are just looking for a place to send money in order to “send a message.”

J –

I wrote you last week after 45 senators sided with the gun lobby and voted against expanding background checks for gun sales.

I said we weren’t going to forget — and that we weren’t going to stop fighting until we get the job done.

I’m writing today to follow through on that.

Next week, we’ll deliver an OFA petition to Congress demanding that they take common-sense action to reduce gun violence.

But it’ll only be as powerful as the number of supporters behind it.

Please take a minute and add your name to this petition right now.

In politics, there are two kinds of people: Those who say they’re going to do something, and those who actually do it.

I have no doubt about which of those groups OFA supporters are in.

But if we want Congress to get serious about reducing gun violence, and if we don’t want to see the fire behind this issue slip away, we are the ones who have to keep it going.

We choose who represents us in Congress — and what the constituents want is something that no politician can afford to ignore.

That’s why your voice is such an important part of this fight. People like me can talk all we want, but your representatives want to hear from you.

This letter will go to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on behalf of OFA next week.

Make sure your name is on it:

http://my.barackobama.com/Sign-the-Petition

Thanks,

Jon

Jon Carson
Executive Director
Organizing for Action
@JonCarsonOFA

—————-
A movement of millions elected President Obama. Let’s keep fighting for change. Chip in $5 or more to support Organizing for Actiontoday.

Tags: Gun Control , Organizing for Action

USA Today Poll: Support for New Gun-Control Law ‘Ebbing’



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features a look at some utterly inappropriate responses to the Boston bombing, some polling news that probably depressed the folks at the Huffington Post, a graphic for those who don’t want the immigration bill rushed, and then this intriguing new poll result:

Organizing for Action’s Big Talk on Another Gun-Control Vote

After the defeat of the Toomey-Manchin compromise, you’re hearing a lot of gun-control advocates left in a combination of sputtering disbelief and rage. Midday Monday, Organizing for Action — formerly Obama for America — sent out a message that mentioned the “90 percent of Americans support this” statistic twice, concluding, “90 percent of this country is on our side, not theirs. If we all step up, we will be heard. And we will win the next vote.”

So they think there’s going to be another gun vote sometime soon. Say, as we get closer to Election Day 2014, does this vote get easier or harder for red-state Democrats? Do Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana stay on board? Or do they feel even greater pressure to put daylight between themselves and, say, Mike Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns?

Of course, if you want to pass something like Toomey-Manchin, you have to persuade Democratic senators Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas to switch sides and support the proposal. And in the end, the oft-cited “90 percent” figure clearly doesn’t matter that much to them. A more interesting question is, how do Montanans, Alaskans, North Dakotans, and Arkansans feel? Judging by the votes of those four, the provisions of the Toomey-Manchin proposal weren’t such a slam dunk.

Now USA Today offers a number that demonstrates the wording of the question matters a great deal:

Four months after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a USA TODAY Poll finds support for a new gun-control law ebbing as prospects for passage on Capitol Hill seem to fade.

Americans are more narrowly divided on the issue than in recent months, and backing for a bill has slipped below 50%, the poll finds. By 49%-45%, those surveyed favor Congress passing a new gun-control law. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in early April, 55% had backed a stricter gun law, which was down from 61% in February.

The survey of 1,002 adults was taken Thursday through Sunday by Princeton Survey Research. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

Clip and save the big talk from Organizing for Action, by the way. Because after the 2014 Senate primaries are done, when the Democrats’ hopes of retaining the Senate hang on Baucus, Begich and Pryor . . . let’s see how important this vote really is to them. Let’s see if Organizing for Action really is willing to leave these senators alone because of this issue, when they’re neck-and-neck with Republican challengers.

Maybe they’ll prove me wrong. But I’ll bet that as we approach November 2014, Organizing for Action will be sending out a very different message — about how Baucus, Begich and Pryor must be reelected for the sake of the president’s agenda in the next two years.

Tags: Gun Control , Polling , Organizing for Action

Gun Control Rhetoric Is For Show Without Primary Challenges



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Okay, gun control supporters, including President Obama. Let’s see if you’ll put your money where your mouth is.  If you’re so totally convinced by that 90 percent poll figure you keep throwing around, if you’re so utterly certain that your viewpoint represents the will of the American people, let’s see you back pro-gun-control challengers to the three Democrats who voted against the Toomey-Manchin compromise who are up for reelection in 2014: Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mark Begich of Alaska.

Because if you really believe that voting “no” on that proposal is the equivalent to voting for more dead children, you can’t say that it’s an utterly unforgivable act for the Republican senators but an understandable concession to public will for the Democrat senators.

(Well, you can, but that will just reveal that you’re partisan hacks, posturing opportunists who use the emotion of the Newtown horror as a cudgel against your Republican opponents, with no real principled opposition to their position, since it’s acceptable from a Red State Democrat.)

Here’s how Obama tried to thread the needle yesterday:

A  few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen, because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea…

It came down to politics. They worried that that vocal minority of gun-owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment. And obviously a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to vote no.

If you really think that the only reason to not vote for the bill was shameless politics, you can’t later on tell us that Baucus, Pryor and Begich are good senators who deserve reelection. You can’t come to their states for fundraisers, and you can’t go to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee events where you know the cash will be used to try to keep them in office. You can’t mobilize Organizing for Action to pull out all the stops to keep them in office, because you prefer a ‘D’ who votes for more dead children (your rhetoric, not mine) over an ‘R’ who would cast the same vote.

Of course, there’s almost no chance Obama or the DSCC or OFA will take these steps. Bloomberg’s groups may throw money at pro-gun control challengers, but that’s because they’ve got oodles of money; in all likelihood, they’ll help some no-name gun control advocate go from single-digit support in a Red State Democratic primary to double digits.

What yesterday’s vote demonstrated is that nobody really believes that a vote against the Toomey-Manchin compromise is the moral equivalent to voting for more dead children. And that all of this hyperventilating on camera is empty rhetoric.

Tags: Gun Control , Barack Obama , Max Baucus , Mark Pryor , Mark Begich

Mr. President, Spare Us Your Tantrums During This Crisis



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Spare Us the Usual Partisan Blame Game During Terror Crises, Mr. President

A big reason why no version of any gun control proposal passed the Senate with 60 votes Wednesday was because none, or almost none, of the senators believed it would actually prevent another massacre. Vice President Joe Biden, leading the president’s gun task force, declared, “Nothing we’re going to do is going to fundamentally alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down to 1,000 a year from what it is now.” (Video here.) I don’t need to rehash it much: the Newtown shooter stole the guns he used; none of the recent massacre perpetrators purchased their firearms at gun shows; most of them hadn’t done anything that would flag them in the instant check system until they pulled the trigger; police ignored the warnings of the Aurora shooter’s psychiatrist, and so on.

When we learned the details about the Newtown shooter, it was painfully clear that no policy, short of banning private gun ownership and forcibly collecting every last firearm in private hands could prevent something like that from happening again. And yet the whole argument for this bill was driven by invoking Newtown every moment possible.

Even my half-hearted cut-Toomey-some-slack argument was based upon the political realities, not the sense that the bill would prevent another awful day. Suburban soccer moms who have marinated in the Oprah-fied feel-don’t-think culture for decades demand “something be done” so incumbents who want to appeal to those soccer moms must appear to be attempting to “do something,” regardless of whether it accomplishes the stated goal. (My cynicism may be appalling, but it does enjoy a lot of supporting evidence and footnotes.)

The White House video of kids begging for gun control, the constant use of the parents of slain children as the primary advocates, the knee-jerk declarations from the likes of Piers Morgan that to disagree with any of the legislative proposals is to desire more dead kindergarteners, all of this represented a particularly ruthless and emotionally manipulative form of politics…

… and then Monday, real life intruded.

Mr. President, we’ve got real problems to worry about, much bigger than whether a feel-good, largely-symbolic measure passes the Senate and you get a political win.  Somebody blew up Boston’s happiest day of the year, dozens maimed, families torn apart, and we don’t know (as of this writing) if it’s one guy or a group or whether he’s got more efforts planned or whether he’ll inspire copycats.

(Dear store clerks: if, in the coming days, somebody wants to buy a pressure-cooker and wants to pay cash, take their picture. And if somebody wants to buy a bunch of pressure cookers all at once, feel free to ask a lot of probing questions.)

Some guy decided to take out his grievances with the government by sending Ricin, either not knowing or caring that his most likely victims would be postal workers and unpaid Capitol Hill interns. Across the country, airport terminals, courthouses, high schools,  train stations, and city halls are getting evacuated every time someone absent-mindedly leaves their bag somewhere.

We don’t have time for your usual let’s-start-messaging-for-the-midterms pep rallies, Mr. President. We have some non-symbolic problems we would like to see resolved. It’s time to stop worrying about wasting crises and start focusing on resolving them.

Perhaps the president was in a particularly foul mood because of this headline:

At Pivotal Point in Presidency, Obama Routed on Gun Control

Ron Fournier’s lead lays out the cynicism of the whole gun control push from the beginning:

Blame the gun lobby. Blame Republicans. Blame a handful of skittish Democrats who gave the GOP cover. Blame the entire band of demagogues who killed the modest attempt to close loopholes in a law requiring background checks for guns.

Blame them, too, for jeopardizing President Obama’s entire legislative agenda. That was the point, anyhow, right?

Look, Mr. President, it’s not like it was a secret that Baucus, Begich, Heitkamp, and Pryor would be the likely swing votes on the Toomey-Manchin proposal. Heitkamp’s not up until 2018. The Huffington Post’s Elise Foley notices, “None of the Dems who voted no on background checks were invited to dinner with Obama.” Mr. President, if you needed them, did you act like you needed them?

Fournier continues:

The defeat raises questions about Obama’s ability to unify congressional Democrats and to mobilize supporters via his nascent Organizing for Action, a first-of-its-kind political machine controlled by the White House. The president will need party unity and grassroots muscle to battle the GOP on immigration, federal spending, climate change and other White House interests.

Coming into the week, Obama’s agenda appeared to be at an important juncture—with guns, immigration, and deficit-reduction talks at various stages of progress. Winning an expansion of the background check, even as bolder gun measures failed, would have given Obama momentum to push the other two items.

Conversely, his rivals may now feel emboldened to block Obama’s entire agenda. In their most cynical moments, Republican leaders privately cheer themselves with the fact that a president’s approval rating usually suffers amid gridlock.

Obama’s team took news of the defeat hard Wednesday, with some advisers predicting that gun regulation won’t be revived. It is hard for them to explain the failure of a measure supported by 90 percent of the public without making the president appear weak.

Kemberlee Kaye: “Political opportunism is not an effective means of governance, as @TheDemocrats learned today. Plus, Constitution and stuff.”

Ace: “Obama showed the passion and anger at his personal defeat that he wasn’t able to manage after the Benghazi slaughter.”

Richard Grenell: “More anger on one’s failed Senate vote than on international terrorism is a sure sign of a large ego.”

King Shamus: “Obama throws a temper tantrum because his permanent campaign couldn’t make it happen. He’s basically admitting his failure as a politician.”

John Ondrasik, also known as the voice of Five for Fighting: “I love how politicians only blame politics when they lose.”

Iowahawk: “Most popular president in history can’t persuade own party to vote for commonsense legislation supported by 90% of voters. Or something.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Boston Marathon Bombing

Gun Control Advocates: We Could Win a Secret-Ballot Vote!



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A fascinating quote in Washington Post ‘s coverage of the declining odds of major gun control laws passing this year:

If there was a secret-ballot vote it would pass overwhelmingly, because from a substantive point of view most of these senators understand that this is the right thing to do,” said Matt Bennett, a gun-control advocate and senior vice president at Third Way, a centrist think tank. “What’s holding them back is pure politics.”

So, the only thing holding back these proposals is… public accountability. “Lawmakers would support our ideas, if the public was prevented from ever knowing that they voted for it!”

Gun control advocates consistently overestimate the popularity of their own agenda. There are a lot of Americans who are kinda-sorta gun control supporters. They’re willing to tell a pollster they back an idea like far-reaching background checks, ammunition capacity limits, assault weapons bans, and so on… but they’re not going to vote based upon that issue. In fact, they may not be likely to vote in a midterm election at all.

Gun owners, on the other hand, do vote on this issue. And the lesson of the 1994 midterms, Gore’s defeat in Arkansas and Tennessee in 2000, and so on is that these voters will remember, and vote accordingly.

Tags: Gun Control

Obama’s $1 Million Flight to Denver for a Gun-Control Speech



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features the “I Told You So” Coalition on Obamacare, some thoughts on whether conservative policies can alleviate the agony of traffic-ridden commutes, what our next ambassador to Japan can expect, and . . .

Obama’s $1 Million Trip to Colorado to Talk About Gun Control

Today President Obama  travels to Colorado to “meet with law enforcement and community leaders to discuss the gun control package signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”

That’s a three hour flight, right?

At  $179,750 per hour, that comes out to $1,078,500 in costs for Air Force One for the trip.

That’s just about the cost of public tours of the White House for one year.

“On the road again . . . Just can’t wait to get on the road again . . .”

Eh, you knew I was kidding . . . Obama’s not just flying across the country to give a predictable speech on gun control; he’s also traveling out to San Francisco for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser, and he’ll stay overnight. (Yes, our president is already preparing fundraising for November 2014 midterm elections.) So the cost of the flights for today and tomorrow is really closer to $1.4 million.

Boy, that sequestration demands a lot of sacrifices from all of us, doesn’t it?

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Sequestration

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



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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

Isn’t Gun Control Supposed to Reduce Violent Crime?



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Finally, an honest politician!

A Colorado state lawmaker, discussing her bill to eliminate the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, argues against an amendment that would seek to measure whether violent crime increases or decreases after its implementation.

“I don’t know how on earth they can draw a casual relationship . . . I make no assertion that this bill will either increase or reduce violent crime. That is not the premise of the bill . . . I suppose more knowledge is better than less.”

Oh, I suppose!

This video is the work of Ben Howe and the folks at Revealing Politics.

Tags: Colorado , Gun Control

Gun Control ‘Deserves a Vote.’ Low Bar, Isn’t It?



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A point about last night’s allegedly stirring moment, when Obama listed “background checks that make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun” (already illegal), banning guns for resale to criminals (already illegal), banning “massive ammunition magazines” (define “massive”) . . .

. . .  and then in the emotional climax, he declared, “Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress . . . Gabby Giffords deserves a vote! The families of Newtown deserve a vote! The families of Aurora deserve a vote!”

Notice Obama says the proposals “deserve a vote” — not that they must be passed.

If you genuinely believe that, say, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s renewed assault-weapons ban will save innocent lives — that, literally, lives hang in the balance — doesn’t that make Democrats who oppose it, like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, heartless monsters who would rather see American children die than cross their allies?

And wouldn’t that apply to the other red-state Senate Democrats who are iffy on the legislation? Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Independent Angus King of Maine?

How can Obama deem it morally imperative that the legislation be voted upon, but not morally imperative that it pass?

And by the way, who would be holding up the vote in that chamber? Not the Republicans. Nope. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, sets the floor schedule.

Of course, Obama is trying to thread the needle of demonizing the NRA, most anti-gun-control Republicans, and most gun owners, without actually demonizing any of the Democrats who he knows (or strongly suspects) will vote against those proposals.

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Senate Democrats

Obama to Discuss Guns in Chicago



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This is a good thing:

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country,” a White House official said in a statement.

The president’s visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

“This is an important issue,” said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. “We think of this as a victory for all of us.”

The cover story of National Review is currently Kevin Williamson’s “Gangsterville,” about the violence plaguing the city.

The question is, will President Obama address how Chicago and Illinois have adopted the president’s preferred policy solution to this problem — some of the strictest state and local gun-control laws in the United States — only to see the violence worsen?

The traditional argument from the gun-control groups is that their laws work just fine, as long as they’re adopted everywhere on earth, or at least the country. Our Robert VerBruggen examined the “guns come from surrounding areas” theory a week ago:

. . . the communities these guns come from typically have much lower crime rates than Chicago does.

If we were to spread Chicago’s gun control outward, the city’s gangs would need to get weapons that were originally sold farther away. But would fewer guns actually make it into the city? Given that America has something like 300 million guns, and that guns are easy to conceal and transport, I rather doubt it.

Frankly, I don’t think gun control has much to do with Chicago’s murder problem. It seems to be mostly gang-related, which means that (A) any guns that can’t be bought legally will be bought illegally and (B) arming the law-abiding won’t make much difference either, because the violence is taking place between criminals. We still should arm the law-abiding, so that they may defend themselves against burglaries and the like, but they are rarely the victims of gang murders.

The horrific violence in cities is oftentimes a gang problem, and a sentencing problem as repeat offenders get off with short prison sentences. One study of 35 years’ worth of crime data in Ohio “found that about 69 percent of weapons offenses appeared to be dismissed before reaching a court for a decision. Another 28.5 percent of weapons charges that reached the prosecution stage were dismissed, likely because of plea bargains to other crimes.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Gun Control , Guns

Unemployment Up; Obama to Travel to Talk Gun Control



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The unemployment rate is up to 7.9 percent again.

The new year started off with an old story: Employment grew again in January but not at a pace able to lower the jobless rate.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 157,000 for the first month of 2013 while the unemployment rate edged higher to 7.9 percent, news unlikely to alter the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy or instill confidence that the recovery is gaining steam.

BusinessWeek looks ahead:

Higher Social Security taxes are reducing take-home pay for most Americans. A person earning $50,000 a year will have about $1,000 less to spend in 2013. A household with two high-paid workers will have up to $4,500 less. Taxes rose after a 2 percent cut, in place for two years, expired Jan. 1.

Analysts expect the Social Security tax increase to shave about a half-point off economic growth in 2013, since consumers drive about 70 percent of economic activity.

Today President Obama will awards medals to scientists and inventors; on Monday he travels to Minneapolis for an event to discuss gun control.

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Unemployment

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