VGOF

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Mark Warner is Still Popular

Yesterday was the annual Wakefield Shad Planking. For those not familiar with the event, The Wakefield Ruritan Club has hosted The Planking since 1949 on the wooded property of the Wakefield Sportsmen's club near Route 460 in Sussex County, Virginia, about an hour southeast of Richmond and an hour west of Virginia Beach. It is held on the third Wednesday in April each year.  Originally an all Democrat, all male, all white event, today it is overwhelmingly Republican and open to all interested in drinking free adult beverages and eating shad -- the oily, bony fish smoked for the occasion on wood planks over an open flame.  It's a place for candidates to see and be seen and for the politically active to renew old friendships and talk about the likely winners and losers of the year's coming campaign season. 

U.S. Senator Mark Warner was yesterday's featured speaker and Bearing Drift notes that even though Warner has become uncomfortable talking about his support for Obamacare, he at least should be given credit for doing something that the last two statewide Democrat candidates decided not to do, show up.  Warner hasn't abandoned what go him elected in 2001 - going to rural Virginia.

And Warner played his usual "bipartisan" self in his remarks to the assembled crowd:
“Today, we’re not Democrats or Republicans; we’re Virginians and Americans, first and foremost,” Warner said, thanking the Wakefield Ruritans for raising money for rescue squads, Little Leagues and scholarships.

“Of course, looking at this crowd, I realize I’m here as an endangered species, a Virginia Democrat,” he added, pausing a bit for the laughter to subside.

“Looking around the crowd, that’s kind of like Republican women here as well — not many of either one of us,” Warner said, smiling to a burst of energetic female screams meant to prove him wrong. “I knew I’d get ’em,” he said.
Shows why even with Ed Gillespie raising over $2 million over the last 75 days, why he has an uphill battle unseating Warner this year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bloomberg Plans to Spend $50 Million to Create "Grassroots" Support for Gun Control

The New York Times has this story on how Michael Bloomberg is going to spend $50 million creating an "umbrella group" to create grassroots support for gun control:
Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.
Looking to model his approach after Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Times reports that Bloomberg is going to get away from the usual TV advertising campaigns that have long been a staple of the gun ban groups and plans to:
...put a large portion of his resources into the often-unseen field operations that have been effective for groups like the N.R.A. in driving single-issue, like-minded voters to the polls.


He's basically personally taking over Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Shannon Watts' Moms Demand Action, putting them into a new group called Everytown for Gun Safety.  Never mind that none of these groups have anything to do with teaching gun safety, and everything to do with banning firearms they don't like.

Democrats who want to retain control of the U.S. Senate have been less than thrilled with Bloomberg's efforts of late since he has targeted "Red State" Democrats as well as Republicans who did not support his positions.  Trying to put forth a bipartisan persona, he is also creating an advisory board that include individuals associated with both parties.
Underscoring his desire to work with both parties, Mr. Bloomberg is bringing on a new advisory board with prominent Republican and Democratic figures. Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush; Eli Broad, the philanthropist; Warren Buffett, the investor; and Michael G. Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both Mr. Bush and President Obama, will all be board members.


The difference between the NRA and gun ban groups is the NRA has actual members who have some skin in the game - protecting their rights.  They own firearms and want to continue to be able to do so.  That's why even though the paid membership of the NRA is only about 5 million out of an estimated 110 million gun owners, a lot more than 5 million people associate their views with that of the NRA.  I'm not really sure there is this groundswell in a segment of the public to do for the gun ban lobby what gun owners are willing to do to protect their rights like volunteering to help like minded politicians and get out an vote for that issue, sometimes at the expense of other issues they support.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Have Americans Finally Had Enough of Government Overreach?

Opening up the news feeds this morning and I find what I think is a pattern. 

As Many As One Million Armed New Yorkers Are About To Break The Law

Feds play waiting game at Nevada ranch

Now that second one is a little more complicated and it is not as easy to come down squarely with the ranch owner but there is also some appearance of cronyism by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Having said that, the picture of citizens  (mostly unarmed) standing up to armed federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff is striking

Courtesy of National Review Online
Tom Gresham addressed the latter during the first few minutes of his "After Show" on Sunday.  Add to this the stories of Connecticut gun owners resisting registration of their firearms and ammo magazines by the deadline and you come to the question, has the American people, or at least a portion of the public, finally seen that government is taking away more and more of our liberty and had enough?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bob Marshall Makes National Review's Bad Primary Candidates List

It's primary season and National Review Online had this article by John Fund yesterday on a couple of tea party aligned candidates that Fund considers to be disasters for the GOP if they win their nomination contests.  Virginia's own Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) makes the list.

Marshall is currently one of several candidates hoping to replace retiring 10th District Congressman Frank Wolf.  The so-called GOP establishment has circled the wagons around Delegate Barbara Comstock.  But Comstock is no RINO (Republican in Name Only), which is usually who Tea Party aligned candidates target.  Comstock has an "A" rating from the NRA, and beat back a Bloomberg funded candidate to win reelection in Northern Virginia in 2013.  She has also secured the endorsement of conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin, no fan of the GOP establishment and a big fan of the Tea Party, and movement conservatives like Morton Blackwell.

There is a "fire house" primary scheduled for Saturday, April 26 to decide the GOP nominee.  While not a party convention that usually only the most dedicated activists attend, a fire house primary still has lower turn out than an actual primary.  Fund notes that Marshall has performed well in these low turnout environments in the past, like in 2008, when he lost a U.S. Senate primary to former governor and NRA Board member Jim Gilmore by just 66 votes out of more than 10,300 votes cast at a state GOP convention. And that could be the problem.  If he wins there will be a lot of past statements that Democrats will use against Delegate Marshall:
Marshall’s problem is that his extreme rhetoric marks him as easy prey for Democratic attack ads in November. In my view, he is a dead-weight loser — and I almost never reach such a conclusion about a conservative candidate in a competitive district.

Last Thursday, the Washington Times did an analysis of his record and noted that “Marshall has said disabled children can be God’s vengeance against women who have had abortions.” Indeed, in 2010, Marshall spoke at a rally calling for an end to state funding of Planned Parenthood. “When you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” he claimed. “This is a special punishment, Christians would suggest.”

After an uproar, Marshall waited five days to offer a quasi-apology, saying he had been misconstrued. But days after this walkback, he took to the House floor and claimed his statement had “been repeated endless times in print and in the electronic media without anyone producing the smoking-gun tape.” In reality, his words had been posted on YouTube for several days and can still be found there.

“He’s Todd Akin on steroids,” adds one Northern Virginia conservative activist who has endorsed no one for the seat. He noted that after last year’s Supreme Court decision striking down a gay-marriage ban in California, Marshall said, “For all I know, [Justice Anthony] Kennedy is a homosexual.” When asked by the Washington Times about his comment, he defended it: “Clearly, some of the people making these decisions must be rationalizing their own bad behavior.” Justice Kennedy, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, has been married for 51 years and has five children.
Marshall has support from the Tea Party in his home county.  The fact that tea party booster Mark Levin is on Comstock's side, may be what she needs to overcome Marshall's claims that she is not conservative enough.  Anyone who has listened to Levin knows he is not going to support a squish.  In the end however, she has to turn out more people than the other candidates on April 26.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

McAuliffe Adds Anti-Gun Amendment to Senate Bill 377

Governor Terry McAuliffe has struck again.  Earlier this week, he added a VSSA opposed amendment to Senate Bill 377. Sponsored by state Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17), SB 377, as passed by the General Assembly, would allow federally licensed firearm retailers seeking to purchase, trade or transfer a firearm from a non-dealer individual, to submit information on that firearm to law enforcement to determine if it has been reported lost or stolen. Included in the process is a consent form which must contain all identification taken in writing from the person selling, trading or transferring the firearm to the dealer, as well as information about the firearm. As passed, SB 377 stipulates that if the firearm has not have been reported lost or stolen, the dealer is required to destroy the consent form within two weeks. SB 377 was passed unanimously by the House of Delegates on February 25 and the state Senate concurred unanimously on February 27.
 

McAuliffe’s amendment has serious anti-gun implications. While SB 377 as passed by the Assembly would require the licensed retailer to destroy the consent forms for all firearms determined not to be lost or stolen, the Governor’s amendment would mandate that those consent forms be kept by the FFL for at least 90 days and includes no requirement to ever destroy them. This is a nothing short of a backdoor registration of those seeking to sell, trade or transfer their lawfully owned firearms to a gun dealer.
 
Please contact your state senator today and urge him or her to vote no on the amendment.  Also please contact your member of the House of Delegates and urge him or her to oppose the amendment in the event that the amendment makes it out of the State Senate.  The reconvened session will take place April 23rd. 


Eric Holder and "Gun Bracelets"

Attorney General Eric Holder's comments before the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week related to "Smart Gun" and other technology related devices that make if harder to access firearms have gotten a lot of attention on various firearm related web sites.  The Atlantic Wire via Yahoo News claims all of that attention would never have materialized if the Washington Free Beacon had used a different headline in this story that has been shared widely, including on this blog.
 Holder was talking about things like the Gun Box, a storage device for firearms that can only be opened when the owner passes a radio frequency ID (RFID) chip over it, the sort of thing in your credit cards that lets you tap instead of swiping. The Gun Box embeds its RFID chip in a bracelet. Need your gun? Wave your hand over your storage box and it opens — but your kids and criminals can't gain access.

That's not the headline the Free Beacon put on its story, as Talking Points Memo noted on Wednesday. Instead, the site went with: "Holder: We Want to Explore Gun Tracking Bracelets." That's the headline that carried over to the conspiracy site InfoWars and to Fox News and to the NRA website. There's no tracking in what Holder referred to, unless you're worried about being tracked by your gun. But if the headline had been "Holder: Let's Make Guns Smarter," all those other sites wouldn't have picked it up.
But the Atlantic Wire is not being completely up front either.  Holder did talk about "Smart Guns" not just the "Gun Box"  And, the NRA and NSSF have pointed out the flaws in so-called smart guns on numerous occasions and it is a safe bet that the Attorney General announcing the Justice Department wants to put a significant sum of additional taxpayer money to promoting such technologies would have drawn just as much attention as the Washington Free Beacon story drew.

Fact is, the U.S. Department of Justice, through congressional earmarks, funded so-called smart gun technology research from 2008- 2010, with that last grant award closing out in 2013.   There is no conspiracy theory as the Atlantic Wire infers.  There is a certain segment of congress and the current administration that wants to make access to firearms as hard as possible for the population as a whole, not just prohibited persons.  The Free Beacon, Fox News, and the NRA was simply doing what the mainstream media won't, report the various schemes this administration cooks up to further infringe our rights.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Great Op/Ed by Bart Hinkle on Knife Rights

You can read the article here
A certain fellow — we’ll call him Fred — broke the law a while ago. He didn’t mean to. He didn’t even know he was doing it. Nevertheless, had he been caught he could have gone to jail — for a year.

Fred lives in Virginia. Last fall he went on a camping trip. Not knowing what the terrain might be like, he stowed a short machete in his backpack — in case he needed to clear away some stinging nettles, or behead a stray boomslang. In any event, Fred unwittingly committed a Class 1 misdemeanor. Virginia’s concealed-weapons law makes it illegal to carry “hidden from common observation” not just firearms but also dirks, bowie knives, switchblades, razors and a variety of more exotic items usually seen only in poorly dubbed martial-arts movies. The list also includes machetes.

Fortunately for Fred, he has an ally in his corner — a group called Knife Rights, which is like the National Rifle Association but for knives. Last month Knife Rights won a big victory when Tennessee repealed a law prohibiting switchblades. Tennessee followed the lead of Alaska, which legalized them in 2013. Knife Rights was behind both efforts.
Good to see Knife Rights getting some mainstream notice.

Active Shooter Call at Portmouth's Naval Medical Center Prompts Questions on Firearms on Base

WAVY 10 took a look at the rules related to firearms on Naval Bases after a Tuesday morning "Active Shooter" call at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth.
10 On Your Side has been digging into the guidelines for guns on bases, and here’s what we found out. State issued concealed weapons permits are not recognized on any Navy installation. But the Navy doesn’t altogether say no to personal firearms on base. Sailors and civilian employees should just have a card showing proof that he or she is authorized to carry a personal firearm. That card can be attained with a commanding officer’s prior approval.

We’re told that all personal firearms have to be stored in the installation’s armory, unloaded and secured with a trigger lock, and ammunition has to be far away.
Last weeks Fort Hood shootings have renewed debate on whether military personal should be allowed to carry and/or keep firearms on base.

The Guardian Asks If "Gun Lobby" Can Be Beat Through Social Media

The Guardian asks that question in this article.
Gun control campaigners are making greater use of social media to organise their supporters across the US, in an effort to digitally disrupt better-funded pro-gun lobbying groups like the NRA.

Three groups – Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – came together at the SXSW conference in Austin to discuss their digital strategies.

The first two of those groups may have well-known figureheads – politicians Michael Bloomberg and Gabrielle Giffords respectively – but they are also working hard to spark grassroots online campaigns for supporters to press for changes to state and federal gun laws.

“The problem here is that there are more guns in the United States than there are people. That’s not necessarily a problem in itself, but our laws are letting far too many of those guns fall into the wrong hands,” said Glaze, setting the scene for the groups’ digital efforts.
If you are looking for grassroots support, looking strictly at the numbers, Moms Demand Action has 153,000 followers on Facebook.  Mayors Against Illegal Guns has 21,000.  The NRA destroys both of them with 3.2 million followers on Facebook.  Twitter numbers are lower for NRA but they are still about 10 times higher that the numbers for both Moms Demand Action and Demand Action (the only reference I could find on Twitter to MAIG).  But numbers don't necessarily mean you know how to use social media.  It just means you are good and promotion and getting people to click a "Like" or "Follow" button on a web page.  It seems that NRA has improved their use of the medium

As far as effect grassroots activity, NRA members filled a meeting room for the NRA-ILA Grassroots Seminar at the NRA Annual Meeting in Houston and heard NRA-ILA staff and fellow NRA members talk about the effective use use of social media and how to make a difference during the legislative process and campaigns.  By the looks of this crowd of gun banners at the SXSW conference in Austin last month, it appears they have a ways to go.

Concealed Handgun Application Fees Issue in Lynchburg Council Races

Earlier this year, a bill died in the Virginia General Assembly that would have reduced concealed handgun permit (CHP) application fees from $50 to $25.  The issue has surfaced in Lynchburg City Council Elections.  The News and Advance is currently running a Q&A feature for citizens to ask questions of council candidates and this past Sunday, the paper ran the responses of candidates to the  question of where they stand on reducing the fee charged by the city for CHPs.  Some of the candidates said they were in favor of the current fee and gave justifications:
JOAN FOSTER
I believe that citizens have the right to own a gun and apply for a concealed carry permit. State law permits localities to determine a fee that fits their local cost to complete a background check. I believe that these background checks are paramount to maintaining a safe community - and public safety is invaluable. Our local police department processes each concealed carry application which takes, on average, one hour per application. The $50 fee is good for five years, meaning the cost of a permit is only $10 per year. $15 of the fee goes to the court system and state police, leaving our locality with $35 to pay an officer to complete a comprehensive background check. I voted against reducing the concealed carry permit fee -- I have not received any feedback from citizens opposing my decision. However, I consistently hear from citizens how much they enjoy living in a safe and healthy community. It is my priority to keep our city safe and advocate for the needs of our public safety officials.

RANDY NELSON
Competent, law-abiding citizens have an absolute right to possess firearms. State law prohibits persons from carrying a concealed weapon unless they obtain a concealed weapons permit (CWP). Having a CWP is a “privilege” and not a “right.”

A CWP continues for 5 years and cannot be issued unless a qualified law enforcement officer researches confidential data, verifies 20 issues, and submits a report for a Circuit Court Judge’s approval. State and Court fees for this amount to $15. Police records show the average cost to our Police Department for its services exceeds $35. Since the City cannot lawfully charge more than $35 for these services, it fixes its portion of the fee at $35; resulting in a total $50 fee.

The City prefers that direct beneficiaries of a privilege should bear the costs of that privilege and other City taxpayers not be expected to subsidize it.

There is no evidence that the City’s current fee has deterred anyone from applying for a CWP.
I supported the current fee level for those enjoying this privilege.
Someone needs to tell Nelson that a) It's a Concealed Handgun Permit, not a Concealed Weapon Permit, and b) a permit is not a privilege - we have a right to defend ourselves and states like Vermont, Alaska, and Arizona recognize that right by not requiring a permit.

A couple support looking for ways to streamline the process to reduce the fee:
RHONNIE SMITH
Lynchburg should find a way to lower the fee for concealed handgun permits. Bedford County charges $40.46 for new applications and $30.46 for non-expired renewal applications. If other jurisdictions in Virginia are able to effectively process applications at lower costs, then why can't Lynchburg? Why does Lynchburg charge high tax rates and fees rather than searching for ways to lower the cost of providing services.

During my time as President of the Technical Services Division at B&W, to remain competitive, we constantly looked at competitors and how they effectively lowered costs without comprising quality. Lynchburg needs to do the same where it makes sense.

Just this past week it was announced that the City of Lynchburg is postponing $129 million dollars in projects due to the cost of building Heritage High School. Previously, our City Manager stated that the city’s costs of providing services are increasing. On City Council, I will encourage our administration to look at other localities and find better ways for providing the services that we enjoy.
For more please visit www.meetrhonnie.com

H. CARY
I believe Lynchburg’s CWP application process can be streamlined to provide the same high-level service at a lower rate. The current $50 fee is no barrier to our law-abiding neighbors who want a permit, nor would a lower rate make it easier for criminals to access weapons. Quite simply: lowering the fee is a way to save people money – and I think that’s important.

I’d never recommend a cost-saving measure that puts citizens in danger. Virginia allows CWP fees to range anywhere from $15 to $50. Our neighbors in surrounding counties are getting it done for $15-$35. I felt that a $25 fee would be appropriate.

Detectives from the Lynchburg Police Department earn overtime pay for conducting CWP background checks. I respect the work those detectives do for our city, but I believe we could find more efficient ways to complete this process.

CWP applicants understand that we need a reasonable fee to recoup the costs of a background check. Let’s not take advantage of their understanding by charging the maximum rate!
It's rare that firearm issues come up in local elections given Virginia's preemption statute but issues like fees for permit applications and approval of shooting ranges are perfect examples of why we need to know where the candidates stand.  If you live in Lynchburg, please share this information with your fellow gun owners so they can make an informed decision on May 6th when the council elections will be held.

Hat tip to TheGunwire.com.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Taxpayers to Pay for Gun Control?

Based on this Washington Free Beacon report, it appears that is what Eric Holder wants.
“I think that one of the things that we learned when we were trying to get passed those common sense reforms last year, Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people and we talked about how guns can be made more safe,” he said.

“By making them either through finger print identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon.”
Actually this would not be the first time taxpayers would be funding such projects. As recently as 2010, the Bureau of Justice Assistance provided $1 million (thanks to a congressional ear mark) to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) for "The Child Safe Personalized Weapons Technology" project.  Over the course of three years, NJIT received ear marks totaling $1,504,418 for this work.  That's pennies compared to what Holder wants for his pet projects:
The Justice Department has requested $382.1 million in increased spending for its fiscal year 2014 budget for “gun safety.”
The NJIT project focused on the development of an "electronic handgun disabling mechanism," which along with Grip Recognition "provides a complete child safe weapon demonstrable prototype."  That award closed in September of 2013 and NJIT claims to have developed a working platform for dry and live fire experiments as well as designed and intedgrated a disabling system.




Because congressional earmarks ended when the Republicans regained majority control in the House, NJIT's funding dried up.  Look for them to try to get a slice of Holder's wish list if the new funding materializes. Sounds like it's time to contact your congressman and let them know you oppose increased funding to push gun control schemes like "smart guns" and "gun tracking systems."