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Friday, March 24, 2017

Updated: Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Important Self Defense Bills

Photo by Richmond Time-Dispatch
*Note: This post has been updated below to reflect current status of the legislation after it was originally posted.

Update: Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed important self defense legislation.  The bills are:

HB1852/SB1299: Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders, Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. 

HB1853/SB1300: Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course, Creates the Virginia Firearms Safety and Training for Sexual and Domestic Violence Victims Fund. The bill provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course or class approved by the Department free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, or family abuse. 

SB1362: Carrying concealed weapons; exemption for nonduty status military personnel. Provides that a member of the Virginia National Guard, Armed Forces of the United States, or Armed Forces Reserves of the United States in a nonduty status may carry a concealed weapon wherever such member may travel in the Commonwealth, provided that such member is carrying his valid military identification card.

McAuliffe has until midnight Monday to act on the following bill:

SB1023: Concealed handgun permits; sharing of information. Prohibits sharing of information regarding Virginia concealed handgun permits in the Virginia Criminal Information Network with law enforcement in states that do not recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill requires the Department of State Police to maintain and publish online a list of states that recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill does not create a private cause of action.

The Governor has previously vetoed bills similar to HB1853/SB1299, and SB1023.  You can contact the Governor's office and urge him to sign SB1023 at 804-786-2211 or by email by clicking here.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

VSSA Shooters in Florida Highpower Competition

Two VSSA high power rifle shooters competed in the Orange Blossom Regional earlier this month in Malabar, Florida.

VSSA High Power Chairman Mike Jamison shot with member Jon Howell in the 2 man team match, and they won!  Mike also shot with Brad Sutherland in the 4 man team match, which they also won!  Steve Weast shot with the Bridgeville Delaware 4 man team, and they took second place in their class.

Congratulations guys!

RTD's A. Barton Hinkle Explains What's Wrong With Gun Rationing

It didn't take long after it was reported that 22 Virginia residents were involved in a firearm trafficking scheme and arrested by New York City authorities for people like Governor Terry McAuliffe to call for the reinstatement of handgun rationing:

Last week, the Richmond Time-Dispatch opinion writer A. Barton Hinkle had a column titled "Maybe it's time for gun owners and Muslim advocates to join hands."  Hinkle combined two issues into one to make the case that throwing a wide net to deal with bad people often negatively impact the majority who don't do bad things more than it impacts those who do.  On the gun issue, I found this to be a strong argument in response to Governor McAuliffe:
A few things about the story bear noting: Two of the ringleaders are violent convicts. Some of the bulk firearm sales were effected through straw purchases, which are illegal. And shipping the guns up to New York also is illegal. That is, after all, why authorities were able to bring charges in the first place.

This should chasten gun-control advocates, since it shows that the system works: Guns were seized and bad guys charged, and a successful operation makes an odd basis on which to build a case for even more restrictions. But the outcome also should chasten gun-control opponents, since laws against gun-running and straw purchases are part of gun control. Not every attempt at gun control is an abject failure.

Yet a bigger point needs drawing out. The trouble with the one-gun-a-month law is that it truncates the rights of all Virginians, in order to thwart the designs of a minuscule minority who want to run guns to New York. To the ordinary gun owner in Virginia, who follows the law and leaves other people alone unless they mess with him first, it must seem brutally unfair to restrict his right to keep and bear arms because of something somebody else did, or might do in the future.
Current laws worked.  Law enforcement caught a lot of bad actors.  And, they did so without the rest of us having to have our rights infringed.

Kendall Rhodes Receives Award from Amateur Trapshooting Association

On Saturday March 18, 2017, Kendall Rhodes received an award from the Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship (AIM) Program, the official youth program of the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA). The award was for earning first place in the 2016 Junior Class Trapshooting Competition (age 15-17) for the Virginia AIM/ATA target year. Trapshooting is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon shooting (shooting shotguns at clay targets).
The award was received from Billy Wood, Virginia State AIM Program Director. It was presented to Kendall by Jon Yagla, Shotgun Chairman of the Northern Virginia Gun Club (NVGC), King George County, VA at their March Meeting. The award was a beautiful personalized Leather Gun Bag.

In the 2016 season, Kendall shot in AIM/ATA approved matches at the NVGC and The Virginia Trapshooting Association (VTA) Homegrounds, Winchester Gun Club, Stephenson, VA. Her NVGC mentors were Jon Yagla and Richard Dodson, longtime ATA Competition Shooters. Kendall is currently working part time and attending Germanna Community College.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gabriella Hoffman: Let Victims of Domestic Violence Conceal Carry in Virginia

Gabriella Hoffman, a conservative blogger and media strategist, wrote in Monday's Richmond Times Dispatch that Governor Terry McAuliffe should sign two bills currently sitting on his desk, HB1852 and SB1299, which would allow victims of domestic violence to carry a concealed firearm without a permit for 45 days.  If they apply for a concealed handgun permit during that time, they would get an additional 45 days from the date of the application.
Two bills sitting on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk — House Bill 1852 and Senate Bill 1299 — would make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves. If signed into law, these bills would allow anyone seeking a protective order to temporarily carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Virginia already allows law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm openly without a permit. The bill would protect a woman from criminal prosecution if she placed her handgun in her purse or under a jacket. It just makes sense.

In Virginia, a person seeking to carry a concealed handgun must get a state-issued permit. The process requires submitting an application to your local circuit court, paying a $50 fee and consenting to a background check. Under Virginia law, the state has up to 45 days to process a CHP application. That waiting period is often too long for victims of domestic abuse.

In March 2014 a 43-year-old mother of five in Loudoun County, Michelle Castillo, was found murdered in her home, allegedly at the hands of her estranged husband. Last April, a Leesburg mother of three, Christina Fisher, was shot to death at her home, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Last November in Big Stone Gap, 38-year-old Janina Jefferson was allegedly murdered by her ex-husband. What do these three cases have in common? The murdered women each had a restraining order against the men who allegedly killed them. All three women might be alive today if they had been able to protect themselves with a concealed handgun.
Last year, McAuliffe vetoed similar legislation saying:
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 626, which provides that for a period of 45 days after the issuance of a protective order, the person who has issued the order may lawfully carry a concealed handgun. This bill eliminates the application and training requirements associated with concealed handgun permits and allows petitioners to carry a concealed handgun immediately upon the issuance of any protective order.
That bill allowed any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm under state or federal law and is protected by a protective order for 45 days after such order was issued or until such order expires or is otherwise dissolved by the issuing court, whichever occurs first. If the individual applied for a concealed carry permit during that time, the exemption would be extended for an additional 45 days until the application was processed.  So, McAuliffe is presuming that everyone that may take advantage of the statute would just get a gun and not be trained in how to protect themselves.  Remember that even a hunter safety course qualifies someone in Virginia to apply for a CHP so McAuliffe is on thin ice on the training issue.

In his veto message, McAuliffe also referenced the compromise that restored the reciprocity/recognition agreements with 25 states which had been ended by Attorney General Mark Herring in December of 2015.  Part of that agreement included legislation that required abusers that were subject to a protective order to get rid of their firearms (to date 28 firearms have been turned over to law enforcement) as a reason SB626 would be unnecessary, as if someone bent on doing harm is going to comply with the law.

Gun owners need to contact the Governor's office and urge him to sign both HB1852 and SB1299.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Even Bloomberg's "The Trace" Understands Falling Gun Sales Represent a "New Normal"

They say even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then and that must also mean that even Bloomberg's mouthpiece "The Trace" can read background check data and see that lower background checks still means that more people are buying guns than three years ago.
As we pointed out yesterday, the FBI is out with its gun background check data for February — the first full month since the NRA-friendly administration of President Donald Trump took office. On first pass, the numbers, which are the most commonly-cited proxy for gun sales, suggest that the firearms industry has settled into what some analysts are calling a "Trump slump." ( Or, if you prefer, "Trump trough.") While Barack Obama was in the White House and Hillary Clinton was campaigning for it, exaggerated fears of strict new regulations sent some gun fans rushing to stores to stock up while they still could. Now that the fever has broken, demand is slipping: The total number of checks completed by NICS fell to 2.2 million last month, from 2.6 million in February 2016. It’s the third month in a row to end with a year-over-year dip.

But a dive into historical background check stats shows that the gun business is hardly in a freefall. The recent numbers are low only when compared to the unprecedented stretch that lasted from May 2015 through November 2016, during which new monthly background check records were set 18 months in a row. Yes, February 2017 was down, but not by that much: The FBI still processed more background checks last month than in any month before the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012.
The Trace pointed to Ruger CEO Michael Fifer's response to questions from Business Insider for the industry's perspective on the numbers:
"I think we've kind of seen the story before where you'll get a big politically-driven spike: they tend to be fairly short and they're followed by an offsetting decline in demand for a while, and then everything's returned to what I would call normal. You've got the same factors driving interest. You've got more concealed carry in more states. You've got more new shooters coming along. You've got – generally, it's more socially acceptable to admit to your friends that you actually like guns and enjoy having them, and by the way, come look at the newest one I just bought, let me show it to you.

All that stuff drives demand. And in some municipalities, you have the cops backing off. They're being seen by the media too often as the enemy. And so, they're backing off, and crime rates in those cities are soaring to the roof. Those people could care less who's President. They want to defend themselves.

So, all of those drivers come back, so every time you have a really tiny spike or some political reason, it's usually offset. I think we could be observing that now. And then it returns to normal. And I don't think any of the other reasons have changed, so I doubt that the new normal will be materially lower than where we were going before.

It appears to me, if you look over multiple years, that there's wider acceptance of guns, wider availability. There's more exciting, new products from all the competitors, not just Ruger. There's more reasons to have guns now than ever before. And so, I'm not going to read too much into the current situation."
Looking at those background check numbers, you get a picture of what the "new normal" is:
It's all about changing with the market, and it appears that is what the industry is doing.  NSSF has even offered suggestions for dealing with the new times in what will be a four-part series "From the Counter" where they talk with retailers to get a sense of how they are dealing with the new environment.

Just a little anecdotal evidence, I was purchasing a new handgun last month and there were six other people doing the same on the week night evening I was doing so, two were a husband and wife and both purchased a handgun.  The guy behind the counter said he could not believe how many people had been in on a Wednesday night to buy a gun.

Last Chance to Get Friends of NRA Gun Raffle Calendar

The Friends of NRA 2017 Gun Raffle Calendar is still available for sale but this is your last chance to purchase a calendar that gives you the opportunity to be entered in a raffle for a gun every week between now and February 2018.
No calendars will be sold after March 31.  Click the image above to purchase a calendar.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Brady Gun Shop Law Suit Sets Dangerous Precedent

VSSA's Executive Director sent this article to me earlier today about a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the Brady Campaign against a gun shop in Missouri that sold a firearm to a woman whose mother had warned should not be allowed to buy a gun.  Jazz Shaw writes while the situation is a tragedy,  it's a dangerous precedent that may create a template for future suits:
As with most liberal causes, the Brady campaign is seeking to exploit the tragedy experienced by this family for their own benefit. We see the same tactics used in the debate over illegal immigration, where liberal groups find the most heart wrenching example of a child being separated from their parent in an attempt to pluck at the sensitivities of voters. The case of Ms. Weathers is indeed a tragedy which should be a call for action, but not the sort which the Brady campaign is seeking.

Something went desperately wrong in Janet Delana’s family, but it wasn’t the fault of the gun shop. As the article documents, Colby Sue was not some marginal character with a few questionable incidents on her record. She had, by the family’s own admission, been in and out of mental hospitals on numerous occasions and demonstrated worrisome if not outright dangerous behavior. This is clearly not the sort of person who should be purchasing firearms. But whose responsibility is it? Colby Sue had people who cared about her and were clearly worried about both her safety and the safety of others. How is it then that this young woman was not brought before a court and adjudicated as mentally unbalanced? Even more to the point, she obviously was not receiving all the treatment that she needed to deal with her psychosis.
Shaw links back to the Washington Post article that tells the complete story of what unfolded leading up to this tragedy.  The gun shop, likely on the advice of their attorney and their liability insurance carrier settled the suit before it went to trial.  It is one of the rare successes for Brady in such cases.   Shaw points out what the real problem was in this case:
The case of Colby Sue Weathers does highlight a problem, but it’s the fact that mental health services in this country are still woefully inadequate and the families of mentally ill persons need access to a lot more education and resources when dealing with their afflicted family members. The result of this lawsuit will unfortunately open the door to all sorts of additional mischief on the part of gun grabbers. Using this case as precedent, all they need to do is find out when someone is thinking of making a gun purchase and begin calling around to gun shops and making false claims that the person is “crazy.” This will put business owners in a quandary where they have no good options left while doing nothing to help the mentally ill who are truly in need of assistance.

Putting Those Reports of Colt Layoffs in Perspective

You may have seen posts on several firearm blogs late last week about Colt laying off staff at several company facilities.  Today, Mark Keefe adds some perspective to the stories at NRA American Rifleman:
It probably should've happened a while ago. News started leaking out last week that there have been layoffs at Colt’s Manufacturing Co. in West Hartford, Conn. Like many other companies that ramped up when demand was high over the past few years, Colt has been laying off employees, reportedly at least 10 percent of the workforce over the first quarter of this year—and Colt isn’t alone in that.

And many assumed the sky was falling for an entire industry. Well, Chicken Little, put your Big Bird pants on and remain calm. First of all, the Colt Custom Shop has not been closed. It’s under new management. We’ll get to that in minute.

Of course, there is less demand for the principal product manufactured by Colt’s. And that is the M4/AR platform. I say “less demand,” but what I really mean is less frenzied, artificially inflated demand caused by activist anti-gun presidential candidates and an Oval Office hostile to the rights of law-abiding Americans who own firearms. Interest in the semi-automatic AR platform is likely higher than ever, but there is little in the way of external political forces motivating buyers to pick one up today.

I just received an excerpt from my friend Steve Fjestad—he owns the Blue Book of Gun Values and is in the process of completing the 38th Edition—in which he lists the hundreds and hundreds of makers of the AR platform. That's a pretty crowded market. There is a race to the bottom with ARs retailing for less than $500, and as one Colt official told me, “We can’t and shouldn’t compete in that space. That’s not what Colt does.” That's good, because Colt simply cannot.
We are likely going to see a lot of changes in the industry as the market continues to settle down in a "less frenzied" environment.  The antis are going to make much of this but it should be expected without the constant attacks we endured from the Obama administration the last four years.

Vote for Ginny Thrasher - Semi-Finalist for the AAU Sullivan Top Amateur Athlete in America Award

Virginian Ginny Thrasher is a semi-finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award recognizing the top amateur athlete in America. Thrasher, a 19-year-old NCAA national champion and member of VSSA affiliated Arlington/Fairfax IWLA (AFCIWLA), represented the U.S. in Rio, earning the country's first gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in the 10m air rifle. She defeated her veteran opponent in the finals by a full point, a wide margin in perhaps the Games' most precise sport. Thrasher is a West Springfield High School grad, currently attending WVU, and a prodigy from the early days of the AFCIWLA Sills Air Range. Her mom Valerie is an air rifle coach and her dad Roger is the Sills Air Range manager.
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the AAU Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country.

World-renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986) and Michael Phelps (2003). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton (1973), University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) and Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (2014) have also earned the prestigious honor.

Vote now for the 87th AAU James E. Sullivan Award. You can vote once every 24 hours.

Ginny Thrasher:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rob Pincus' I.C.E. Training Coming to Richmond Area

Firearms trainer Rob Pincus is bringing his Two Person Armed Defense (TPAD) and the 1 Day Combat Focus Carbine (CFC) training courses to Doswell, VA (Hanover County) on April 12-13, 2017.

The TPAD course is intended for two people to register together, (couples, co-workers, friends, etc) who are generally both armed and interested in learning about how to coordinate their efforts in a worst case scenario. The training will draw from law enforcement, military and security team training and be applied to the context of personal defense in the public space as well as being at home or in the workplace. It is suggested that students take a Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) Course from an Active I.C.E. Certified Instructor prior to TPAD to get the most out of this training, though it is not a prerequisite. Topics to be covered include:
  1. Review of Fundamentals of Defensive Shooting 
  2. Communication, Coordination & Cooperation, the Three C's of Teamwork during a Dynamic Critical Incident 
  3. Danger Areas & Fields of Fire 
  4. Dealing with Multiple Threats Efficiently 
  5. Coordinated Strings of Fire 
  6. Shooting in Defense of Others (including children) 
  7. Movement to Cover & Evasion 
  8. Home or Workplace Defense Planning 
  9. Emergency Trauma Medicine Basics 
  10. Immediate Aftermath of a Shooting 
  11. Other topics driven by student questions, context and gear.
You will need a pistol, 3 magazines, holster, and a minimum of 400 rounds.

The CFC Program applies the principals of the Combat Focus Shooting Program to the world of semi-automatic rifles, stressing efficiency, working with what the body does naturally and training in context. The CFC is a progressive and dynamic course. Students will engage in a variety of shooting drills and maneuvers designed to make their shooting (sighted and unsighted) more intuitive. In addition to the fundamentals of close quarters defensive rifling, students will be guided through handling techniques, transitions to back up weapons and understanding how a variety of factors affect their balance between speed and precision with a carbine. Improvised shooting positions for heightened precision capabilities (smaller targets & ranges out to 150 yards) will also be covered.

Students should plan on 450 rounds of ammunition for this course-400 rifle and 50 pistol. (Students are welcome to bring extra ammunition, as there will be certain drills where round count can easily be increased.)

For more information on the training, cost, and registration, click here and here.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Registration Open for 19th Annual VSSA's Crush'n Clays

Registration is now open for the 19th Annual VSSA's Crush'n Clays.  Not only is Crush'n Clays the longest running shooting charity that supports the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, but also the longest consecutive running charity shooting event in the country! Over the last 18 years, this event has raised over $320,000.  Proceeds from the event help support the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the largest pediatric research facility in America established solely for the study of childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases including pediatric AIDS and sickle cell anemia. Entries may now be made online.   Credit Cards are accepted. If you prefer to pay by check, you can also download an entry form and mail it to the VSSA office. Credit card payments must be completed online.  But hurry, this event has sold out the last three years and is expect to sell out again this year.

VSSA Seeks Candidates for Board Elections

Every year, three seats on the the VSSA Board of Directors are up for election.  VSSA is seeking candidates for this year's election.  Candidates must be either a VSSA Life Member or have been a member for five consecutive years.  The nominating committee is seeking candidates who have an interest in various shooting disciplines, but who especially have an interest in continuing a strong state association.  If you are interesed in running for this year's Board elections, please contact Tom Ciarula at: or contact the VSSA office at  Interested persons can also download a candidate petition by clicking here.  Petitions must have the endorsement of five(5) VSSA members in good standing and must be received by the VSSA office no later than June 1, 2017.

"Smart Gun" Exec Agrees With NRA That Mandates are Bad

The gun ban lobby likes to blame the firearms industry and the NRA for the difficulty that so-called "smart gun" manufacturers have had getting their projects to be accepted by the market.  The fact is The NRA and the pro-rights community have no problem with advances in technology in firearms, they just don't want there to be legislative mandates that those be the only guns that can be sold and purchased, like was done in New Jersey several years ago.  The NRA is not the only group wary of such mandates, law enforcement is wary too.

Today, Bloomberg's anti-rights mouthpiece The Trace, has a story about a newer model of the Armatix "smart gun" that it hopes will ease the concerns of law enforcement.  The original model was chambered in .22.  This new model is 9MM:
The German gunmaker Armatix has built a prototype of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, the iP9, that it says should ease concerns from law enforcement and the public at large that firearms equipped with technology that prevents unauthorized firing may be unreliable.

The gun looks like a slightly futuristic, streamlined version of the semiautomatic pistols that have been standard police sidearms for the past three decades. In addition to using a wristwatch equipped with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that unlocks the iP9 to fire when it is within 10 inches of the weapon, shooters can activate the gun on a smartphone app, which works at a longer range than the watch (the exact proximity is still being decided) and collects data on the number of rounds fired.

The company has also turned the gun’s pistol grip into a PIN pad. Users who don’t want to rely on a watch or their phone can unlock the gun by squeezing their fingers in sequence, which will enable the weapon to be fired until the same code is re-entered to turn it off.

The new weapon is the closest any company has yet come to a personalized version of the 9mm, single most popular type of handgun in the United States, carried widely by police and civilians. The company believes the iP9’s caliber, and technological improvements, give consumers a product they can actually use — and trust.
Anyone with an IPhone or Android smartphone that utilizes the fingerprint security feature knows that it can fail in everyday use if you don't put your finger on it just right.  Now imagine if you had to do it in a life and death situation at a moments notice.  You can see why law enforcement and everyday gun owners would be wary of legislators, most of whom know nothing about firearms mandate that you must trust your life to a piece of compute technology that can fail any time.  I'm not so sure that using a PIN code would be any easier in a similar situation.  It's one thing for a reporter to demonstrate it under no stress and get it to work.  It is something else to do it under stress when a misstep could cost you your life.

According to The Trace via Al Jazeera, Armatix is hoping to overcome these fears by trying the new model out on law enforcement first to get their buy-in, hoping that the general public will follow.  One law enforcement member Al Jazeera talked to said it's a scary thought that police officers would be used as guinea pigs. Add to that the cost of the gun (the .22 model cost $1800) and you can see the technology has a long way to go before gaining acceptance of the general public.

But the most interesting part of the article came in the last line when Wolfgang Tweraser, the CEO of Armatix’s American subsidiary, he too opposes any kind of smart gun mandate:
“I agree with the NRA,” he said. “I don’t think there should be a mandate. Armatix doesn’t want to be at odds with other gun manufacturers.”
Seems even Tweraser understands the market better than the gun ban lobby and gun ban politicians.