Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Schumer Promises New Push For Gun Control

New York U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has joined the chorus started by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey pushing to revive the 2013 efforts on gun control.  The New York Daily News and AM New York reported over the weekend that Schumer wants to try and "strengthen" background checks to keep those with mental illness from getting firearms and requiring background checks at gun shows.
Schumer, author of the Brady Law requiring background checks for gun buyers, said he wants to expand the "weak" laws on federal background checks, saying they let people who shouldn't have a gun get them anyway.

Though he acknowledged it was unclear if stricter laws would have prevented 21-year-old Dylann Roof from allegedly shooting up Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17, he said, "If we toughened up the law on guns, there would be many fewer of these massacres," also pointing to the recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, and Virginia Tech.

"I do hope and think that the horror in South Carolina will serve as a wake-up call," Schumer said.

The senator committed to closing a loophole that allows buyers to avoid background checks by purchasing guns online or at gun shows, placing blame on the National Rifle Association for making it harder to track gun sales.

"It's almost impossible to find them because the NRA has put laws on the books that make it hard to trace where guns come from," he said.
Last week this blog shared a report from the Washington Post that Pennyslvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey said he would like to try and move his proposal that would have criminalized private sales of firearms that died in the Senate in 2013.

E.J. Dionne Dreams of the Right Not to Bear Arms

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne believes that gun ban advocates need to change their tactics.  Writing in a recent Op/Ed:
What's needed is a long-term national effort to change popular attitudes toward handgun ownership. And we need to insist on protecting the rights of Americans who do not want to be anywhere near guns.
Dionne goes on to share the thoughts of a friend who is a "progressive pollster" that people don't spend enough time talking about "accidental deaths" when children get their hands on guns.  Never mind that unintentional firearm deaths are at all time lows.

And crimes committed with firearms have plummeted while sales have increased exponentially.
Dionne uses what he says is the recent change in public attitude on the confederate flag as proof that this can work:
But as long as gun control is a cause linked to ideology and party -- and as long as the National Rifle Association and its allies claim a monopoly on individual-rights arguments -- reasonable steps of this sort will be ground to death by the Washington Obstruction Machine.

That's why the nation needs a public-service offensive on behalf of the health and safety of us all. If you doubt it could succeed, consider how quickly opinion changed on the Confederate flag.
Dionne may have a hard time getting his dream of a public turning against guns based on the results of a Rasmussen Poll released earlier this month found that sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans would feel safer in a neighborhood where guns are allowed.

Hat tip to Bob Owens at Bearing Arms.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Washington Post Gives Senator Murphy, Everytown Claim on School Shootings Four Pinocchios

The Washington Post Fact Checker has weighed in on that Everytown for Gun Safety claim that there has been a school shooting every week since Sandy Hook and it isn't good news for Bloomberg and his minions.  The Post decided to weigh in after Conn. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy repeated the claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 24th, sparked by the church shooting in Charleston, S.C.
A version of this claim circulated after the June 2014 incident in Oregon in which a high school freshman armed with an assault rifle shot and killed a student and injured a teacher. President Obama and other gun-control advocates had said then that there had been at least 74 school shootings between Sandy Hook and the Oregon shooting.

The source for the claim then, and for Murphy’s recent statement, is a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, which describes itself as “a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.”
That list included things like a police chase that ended on school property after hours as a "school shooting." The Post is not the first to rule that Everytown was playing fast and loose with the numbers but having one more source not known to be friendly to the right to keep and bear arms point this out doesn't hurt:
There are many ways to define school shooting. But applying the “reasonable person” standard, as is the standard at The Fact Checker, it is difficult to see how many of the incidents included in Everytown’s list — such as suicide in a car parked on a campus or a student accidentally shooting himself when emptying his gun and putting it away in his car before school — would be considered a “school shooting” in the context of Sandy Hook.

Lawmakers have a responsibility to check out the facts in the reports they use, especially ones that come from advocacy groups. If they are aware there are definitions that are disputed, or that are defined in other ways depending on who uses them, it is incumbent on lawmakers to clarify exactly what they are talking about and not mislead the public. In particular, lawmakers should rely more on official government statistics, such as from the FBI, rather than misleading metrics cobbled together by interest groups.

We wavered between Three and Four Pinocchios. But this is a definition of “school shooting” that was widely disputed a year ago, and lawmakers need to present information — especially for such a controversial topic as gun control — in a clear, responsible and accurate way. Murphy’s failure to do so tipped the rating to Four.
The Post would do well to take their own advice regarding checking the facts.  In 2014, they ran their story (which has been updated since it was originally posted) on the Everytown report without doing any fact checking.  I guess a year of hearing the numbers and seeing folks like CNN question the numbers made the Post decide to check the facts.  Any bets on whether anti-rights politicians will stop using this bogus statistic after this latest discrediting of Everytown's numbers?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Deer Scent Maker Responds to VDGIF Ban on Deer Urine Products

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries banned the use of products made from bodily fluids of deer for hunting.  This includes estrus scent lures like Code Blue and even a product made here in Virginia by Reaper Scents.  DGIF claims these products increase the likelihood of the spread of Chronic wasting disease (CWD) .  But as Steve Lovern of Reaper Scents told the Roanoke Times, as quoted by Grand View Outdoors, there have only been a relative handful of CWD cases in Virginia and the disease is not spread by the use of these scents:
... the ban is unenforceable and based on bad science. Deer pick up CWD from supplemental feeding, not licking each other’s urine, he told the paper.

“As they eat, saliva drips from their mouth and another deer eats that saliva. This is how CWD is transmitted,” Lovern said.
There are over 250,000 hunters in Virginia, many of which hunt on private property.  Most would agree that DGIF has more important things to spend scarce fiscal resources on than enforcing a ban of this type that has little scientific evidence to back it up.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dave Kopel on Doctors and Your Gun Rights

In the new America's First Freedom, Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel writes about the growing practice of physicians asking their patients about gun ownership and gun storage practices. In the article, Kopel shares the stories of patients who have answered these questions and then been subjected to visits from Child Protective Services.
In San Francisco, a man honestly answered his doctor’s questions about whether there were guns in the home. A short time later, Child Protective Services arrived at the residence, and demanded to be let inside so that they could inspect whether the guns were locked up.
There are also instances when patients refused to answer, and had their doctors end their doctor-patient relationship.
In Ocala, Fla., Amber Ullman took her 4-month-old baby to a pediatrician for shots and a checkup. When she refused to answer the gun question, the doctor terminated the relationship and the mother was given 30 days to find a new pediatrician.
Earlier this week, Kopel appeared on Sportsman Channel's NRANews Cam and Company to discuss the article.

Brian Doherty on Connecticut's Background Check Law and Murder Rate

Last week this blog shared Dr. John Lott's thoughts on that new study in the American Journal of Public Health, that purports to show a 1995 tightening in Connecticut's gun permit laws led to a 40% reduction in gun homicides over the next decade.  Now Reason.com is out with a new article investigating that same study. Many gun ban advocates immediately touted the study's finding to bolster their cause, but Reason.com's  Brian Doherty discovers that the study may not actually deliver what is advertised.
Given the amazingly complicated set of causes and incentives feeding into any human decision—and every gun homicide is the result of a human decision—establishing that the change in background check laws that "led to" a reduction in gun homicides "caused" them (even in that one Connecticut case, much less concluding that such laws can be relied on to have that effect in other places and times) is likely beyond any final authoritative conclusion via the usual methods of the social sciences.
Doherty details five specific problems with the study:
  1. How do we know that synthetic-Connecticut really is a good marker for real Connecticut? The weight of that point seems to be almost entirely a pure case of believing that "past performance guarantees future results." Without saying anything about why it was so or should be presumed to always be so, the authors note that in the past Rhode Island's gun homicide levels matched Connecticut's very closely.
  2. To return to the "appear" mentioned above in "Permit-to-purchase laws...appear to reduce the availability of handguns to criminals," given that we are assuming that the law is having all sorts of powerful effects on behavior and outcomes, don't we need to know something about how extensively or effectively the laws are being enforced, and have some decent data or reasonable guesses to be sure that the law's existence almost certainly is preventing many, many gun purchases by murderers that would have occurred without the law?
  3. The authors are sure their gun-related cause leads to a gun-related effect by noting that the effects on homicide rates they allege to have found are almost all in gun homicides, not in other homicides. Curiously to me, the synthetic-Connecticut used to compare the non-gun homicides is very different than the mostly-Rhode Island one used for gun homicides; it is mostly New Hampshire. That comparison seems to be apples-oranges, and one wonders what the results would have been if they'd used the same synthetic Connecticut for both comparisons.
  4. The study traces changes from 1995 to 2005; when I asked the CDC to send me the raw data numbers that the study relied on, the CDC warned me that "the coding of mortality data changed significantly in 1999, so you may not be able to compare number of deaths and death rates from 1998 and before with data from 1999 and after." [UPDATE: In an email sent after this post went up, the CDC says that "the change in...coding has almost no effect on homicide or suicide unlike other causes of death." So this point seems to be of little relevance.]
  5. The study stops looking for effects 10 years after the law went into effect. Why might that be? Six of the eight years since 2005 for which CDC had data show Connecticut with a higher real gun homicide rate than 2005, the year that the authors chose to stop. If they had gone out to 2006, the reduction in rates in real Connecticut from 1995 to 2006 is cut to 12 percent.
Doherty discusses each of the problems in more detail and does a great job of picking the study apart.  It's a good read.

Vote for VSSA in the Lucky Gunner Poll

In September of last year, the Brady Campaign sued Lucky Gunner on behalf of the parents of a child killed in the Aurora CO shooting.  After several months, the case was dismissed and the judge awarded Lucky Gunner $111,971.10 as a partial reimbursement for their legal fees.  As Lucky Gunner noted on their web site, the judge stated in his ruling:
"It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants [Lucky Gunner] into the Colorado court... appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order."
As expected, Brady has appealed the ruling but Lucky Gunner expects to win and when they finally receive the reimbursement, will donate 100% of what is recovered to groups that support and defend the 2nd Amendment:
Please tell us where you want the recovered fees to go by voting in the form below. A number of organizations were added per shooter requests on June 23. We will end the voting on August 1, 2015. Once we have recovered the fees, we'll cut checks to each organization receiving votes on a percentage basis. In other words, if "Organization A" gets 5% of the vote, it will receive 5% of whatever is recovered.
VSSA is one of the organizations on that list.  The more votes VSSA receives, the higher percentage of the reimbursement VSSA will receive to continue protecting your rights against Governor Terry McAuliffe and his gun ban friends.  Please click here and cast your vote for VSSA.  As always, thanks for your support of VSSA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Roanoke Rifle and Revolver Club Hosting 2015 Commonwealth Games Shooting Events

The 2015 Subway Commonwealth Games of Virginia will kick off Friday, July 17th at the Salem Red Sox Stadium with the annual Opening Ceremonies! Going into its 26th year, the Subway Commonwealth Games of Virginia, is known throughout Virginia as Virginia's Olympics. This annual event is held the third week of July (for most sports) and open to all ages and skill levels. From archery to wrestling, this event offers sports competition venues for 55+ different Olympic and Pan American sports.

This year's games will feature High Power RifleRifle Silhouette - Black Powder (200M, 300M, 385M and 500 Yards), Black Powder Muzzleloading Rifle Silhouette Shoot, Black Powder Muzzle Loading Rifle Target Match, and Black Powder Muzzle Loading Pistol Target Match, and Sporting Clays. The Sporting Clays event will be held at Shenandale Gun Club on July 19.  All of the remaining shooting events will be held at the Roanoke Rifle and Revolver Club (RRRC) July 18-19.  You can find more information about registration deadlines by clicking the above links.

Washington Post: Manchin, Toomey Interested in Reviving Gun Control Push

The Washington Post reports that West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in separate interviews during a reception before a ceremony hosted by Sandy Hook families where Toomey was honored, expressed interest in reviving their effort to criminalize private firearm sales.
“We want to make sure we have the votes. Pat’s going to have to, and I’ll work with him, to get some of our colleagues on the Republican side,” Manchin said, adding that he hasn’t talked directly to Toomey about a revival.
Until last night, Toomey has been quiet on the subject since the bill went down in flames in April of 2013 but he offered no apologies for turning his back on law abiding gun owners when he accepted his award:
Accepting his award on Tuesday night, a visibly emotional Toomey said that despite some of the political fallout from his conservative base, he’d “do it again in a heartbeat.” He said he does have two regrets, however. One, that the 2013 bill didn’t pass. And, “that it took me so long before I raised my voice on this very important issue,” he said.
Talk of reviving the so-called "universal background check" bill began after last week's church shooting in Charleston.  President Obama during a much talked about podcast with Marc Maron however seemed to hold out little hope that will occur, and even suggested it is the one area he will not be able to address with his so-called "executive actions" and rule making.  From the Business Insider coverage of the podcast interview:
"Unfortunately, the grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong,” he said. “I don’t foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress, and I don’t foresee any real action being taken until the American public feels a sufficient sense of urgency and they say to themselves, ‘This is not normal. This is something that we can change and we’re going to change it.’”

Obama showed his frustration with Congress, but said that in many policy areas, he has been able to effect change through rulemakings and other executive actions -- even when Republicans in Congress have refused to work with him. Gun control, he said, has been the exception.
Obama even suggested in that podcast interview that mass shootings have been a financial boom for firearm manufactures:
While the president did not attack gun manufacturers directly, he did point out the irony that they tend to do very well financially in the wake of mass shootings.

“Right after Newtown, gun sales shot up, ammunition shot up, and each time these events occur; ironically, gun manufacturers make out like bandits, partly because of this fear that’s churned up that the federal government and the black helicopters are coming to get your guns.”
Maybe the President should point the finger at himself when he talks about churning up fear since he was the one who proposed banning the one of nation's best selling firearm.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Obama Calls for "National Reckoning" After Church Shooting

Not surprisingly, President Obama used his remarks on the Charleston, S.C. church shooting to once again lament the easy access to firearms in this country.  Saying that no other advanced country experiences the incidence of mass shootings and that "it is within our power to do something about it."

What Obama did not say is that all but two of the mass shootings that have taken place in the United States since 1950 have been in places guns are banned.  And as for those other "advanced countries?" They have not been as immune to mass shootings as the President would like us to think. This from a 2010 Op/Ed by Dr. John Lott:
Multiple victim public shootings were assumed to be an American thing for it is here the guns are, right? No, not at all. Contrary to public perception, Western Europe, where most countries have much tougher gun laws, has experienced many of the worst multiple victim public shootings. Particularly telling, all the multiple victim public shootings in Europe occurred where guns are banned. So it is in the United States, too -- all the multiple victim public shootings (where more than three people have been killed) have taken place where civilians are not allowed to have a gun.
Lott also noted in that article at the time of its writing, multiple victim public shootings appeared to be at least as common in Europe as they are here.

Debunking the Violence Policy Center's Not So New Claims on Armed Self Defense

On Wednesday, the anti-rights Violence Policy Center trotted out what they call a "new" report that makes the claim gun owners rarely use firearms for self defense.  VPC based the report on FBI data on "justifiable homicides."  As the NRA and Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center pointed out however, this is just a recycled claim the anti-rights lobby has used for years.  Using justifiable homicides data is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it totally discounts the fact that a number of people defend themselves with a firearm without ever firing a shot.  Lott also points out that only about 1 percent of police departments report justifiable homicides by police and it is even worse for civilian justifiable homicide.  To take it a step further, Dr. Lott noted that even for those states that do report such data, very few localities within those states actually compiled the numbers.

Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz have conducted a more reliable survey on the topic that can be found here.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Traveling with Firearms

If you have considered traveling out of state or even out of the country to hunt, J.J. Reich of Vista Outdoors offers some great tips in this video that was recently posted on AmericanHunter.org.