Delaware Court Rights a Long-Standing Wrong; Strikes Down Gun Bans



The Delaware Supreme Court ruling helped reinforce the Second Amendment in Delaware.

By a narrow majority, the Supreme Court of Delaware recently struck down decades-old regulations that it found conflicted with the state constitution by “completely eviscerat[ing] a core right to keep and bear arms for defense of self and family outside the home.”

Article I, Section 20 of Delaware’s Constitution protects the right “to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.” Courts interpreting Section 20 have found this state law is “intentionally broader than the Second Amendment” and specifically protects an independent right to bear arms outside the home. 

Two state agencies had long-standing regulations that effectively banned the carrying of firearms for self-defense in Delaware’s state parks and state forests. The first, adopted by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), prohibited the display, possession, or discharge of firearms “of any description” anywhere within the approximately 23,000 acres of park land controlled by DNREC, unless the person was engaged in approved hunting activities or had written permission from the DNREC Director. In another regulation, the Department of Agriculture (DOA) completely banned guns on an additional 18,000 acres of state forest land, with an exception for limited hunting activities (only licensed hunters selected by lottery and using allotted tree stands at designated times). 

After Delaware gun clubs and their members brought a legal challenge alleging that the regulations violated Section 20 and exceeded the scope of authority granted to the agencies, a lower court upheld the restrictions. In a ruling last December, the Delaware Superior Court found the regulations were justified as being substantially related to the objective of keeping the public safe from guns, and did not unduly infringe on the plaintiffs’ rights because the plaintiffs still had the option of hunting on the lands. The court added, rather loftily, that the plaintiffs’ apprehensions regarding self-defense were misplaced because “the need to respond to a threat with a firearm is diminished when firearms are prohibited in the area.”

Thankfully, on appeal, in a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware reversed that ruling earlier this month. It ruled that not only did DNREC and DOA fail to justify “such sweeping regulations,” but failed to show they even had the authority to enact “such unconstitutional regulations in the first place.” 

The majority opinion by Justice Karen Valihura, joined by Justices James Vaughn and Gary Traynor, surveyed the historical background of the right to keep and bear arms. This right “has existed since our State’s founding and has always been regarded as an inalienable right.” And while the United States Supreme Court has not yet decided whether the Second Amendment protects carrying arms outside the home, it was clear that Section 20 included the right of public carry for self-defense among the “bundle of rights” it protected. (The majority added, peripherally, that “the conclusion that self-defense is the Second Amendment’s ‘core purpose’ suggests that it must allow citizens to be armed outside the home given that ‘in some circumstances a person may be more vulnerable in a public place than in his own house,’ among other reasons….”).

Permitting a select few individuals to “exercise a narrow sliver of their Section 20 rights” when hunting did not adequately implement the more comprehensive guarantee of the right to bear arms, and was no substitute for a more general right to have a firearm for defense of self and family. In evaluating the regulations, the majority determined that because they imposed a ban on the possession of guns for almost every person, at all times, in all state parks and forests (an area “the size of the entire District of Columbia at issue in Heller and four times the size of the City of Wilmington”), a strict standard of review applied. The regulations were so severe – not just infringing but destroying the “core Section 20 right of self-defense” – that they were bound to fail even if the court applied a less demanding level of review, intermediate scrutiny. 

In determining that the restrictions were completely invalid, the majority categorically rejected every argument advanced by the state agencies in support of their regulations. Addressing the public safety argument (“public safety substantially outweighs any individual selfish interest in possession of a firearm”), the court found there was no basis at all on which it could conclude that public safety justified a total gun ban, particularly as carrying of firearms was permitted in Delaware’s much more crowded cities and urban areas. In fact, the DOA specifically warned hunters, campers, and hikers that the Forest Service could not provide “after-hours, nighttime or weekend” security services or other protection for users, and Delaware’s crime rate currently exceeds the national average. Referring to the finding of the court below (that the “need to respond to a threat with a firearm is diminished when firearms are prohibited in the area”), the majority correctly countered this conclusion as one “premised on the questionable notion—unsupported by reference to any evidence—that outlawing possession of firearms in an area makes law-abiding citizens safer because criminals will, for some reason, obey the Regulations.”

The regulations couldn’t be justified as rules restricting guns in “traditional sensitive places,” because parks and forests fell within “a far different” category than places like schools or courthouses, which were equipped with controlled entry points and onsite law enforcement or other security personnel that made the need to carry a firearm for personal protection “less acute.” Even assuming there could be “sensitive areas” within state parks and forests, there was nothing to show that the government had attempted to delineate such areas instead of imposing a blanket prohibition.  Moreover, the regulations were “grossly out of step with the type of ‘place’-based restrictions” already adopted by Delaware’s legislators, being “purposefully narrow and few in number.” 

Turning to the state’s authority as a proprietor or owner of the parks and forests, the court quickly dismissed this as a potential support for the agency restrictions. A prior court decision had made it clear that “the State cannot ignore our Constitution, even when acting as proprietor of State-owned property.”

The DNREC and DOA also contended that a state law protected agency actions through a presumption of validity. That law, however, expressly excluded regulations adopted “without a reasonable basis” or that were “otherwise unlawful.” The regulations here were plainly unconstitutional, and judicial deference to the “unspecified reasons of unelected officials attempting to justify an infringement on a fundamental right” was unwarranted. 

In a let-them-eat-cake statement, the dissenting judges scoffed, “If you don’t like the rules, then you don’t have to go in the park.” In a telling contrast, the majority opined that “[r]esponsible, law-abiding Delawareans should not have to give up access to State Parks and State Forests in order to enjoy their constitutional right to carry a firearm for self-defense.”

One of the avowed objectives of the anti-gun movement is to chip away at constitutional protections of the right to keep and bear arms until nothing remains. This case highlights the great importance of the crucial work done by NRA and our local state affiliates and organizations, the importance of a judiciary committed to upholding constitutional freedoms, and the need to ensure that state constitutions include a clear safeguard of the personal right to bear arms.

The ruling in Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, Ltd. v. Small (Del. Dec, 7, 2017) is available online, here.


Dianne Feinstein Wants to Ban Commonly Owned Semi-Autos Again!



It is time for DIFI to STFU and go away.

On Wednesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S. 2095, which she is calling the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017. The 125-page firearm prohibition fever dream is perhaps the most far-reaching gun ban ever introduced in Congress.

Subject to an exception for “grandfathered” firearms, the bill would prohibit AR-15s and dozens of other semi-automatic rifles by name (as well as their “variants” or “altered facsimiles”), and any semi-automatic rifle that could accept a detachable magazine and be equipped with a pistol grip, an adjustable or detachable stock, or a barrel shroud. And that’s just a partial list. “Pistol grip” would be defined as “a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip,” meaning the ban could implicate even traditional stocks or grips specifically designed to comply with existing state “assault weapon” laws.

Needless to say, semi-automatic shotguns and handguns would get similar treatment.

Also banned would be any magazine with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds or even any magazine that could be “readily restored, changed, or converted to accept” more than 10 rounds.

While Feinstein’s bill would graciously allow those who lawfully owned the newly-banned guns at the time of the law’s enactment to keep them, it would impose strict storage requirements any time the firearm was not actually in the owner’s hands or within arm’s reach. Violations would be punishable (of course) by imprisonment.

Owners of grandfathered “assault weapons” could also go to prison for allowing someone else to borrow or buy the firearm, unless the transfer was processed through a licensed firearms dealer. The dealer would be required to document the transaction and run a background check on the recipient.

Should lawful owners of the newly-banned firearms and magazines decide that the legal hazards of keeping them were too much, the bill would authorize the use of taxpayer dollars in the form of federal grants to establish programs to provide “compensation” for their surrender to the government.

This bill is nothing more than a rehash of Feinstein’s failed experiment in banning “assault weapons” and magazines over 10 rounds.  Except this time, Feinstein would like to go even further in restricting law-abiding Americans’ access to firearms and magazines that are commonly owned for lawful self-defense.

The congressionally-mandated study of the federal “assault weapon ban” of 1994-2004 found that the ban had little, if any, impact on crime, in part because “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction” of firearm related crime.

Don’t let Dianne Feinstein infringe on our Second Amendment rights with a policy that’s been proven to do nothing to stop crime. Please contact your U.S. Senators and encourage them to oppose S. 2095.  You can contact your U.S. Senators by phone at (202) 224-3121, or click here to Take Action.


Gun Banners Forward Ambitious Anti-Gun Agenda



The gun banners are sick ghouls that have no problem dancing on the graves of shooting victims.

Gun control advocates are nothing if not opportunistic. With recent events again focusing the public’s attention on the criminal misuse of firearms, anti-gun members of Congress have dusted off longstanding proposals that would burden innocent Americans at every turn. Never mind that the proposals would have had no effect on the criminals they purport to address. Instead, the object remains their long-term commitment to the idea that firearm ownership among common law-abiding Americans must be curtailed, derailed, and ultimately, ended.

The list of recent bill introductions is instructive.  “Universal background checks,” de facto semi-auto bans, removing protections against junk lawsuits to bankrupt the firearms industry, banning magazines, waiting periods, and even basing firearm prohibitions on incomplete evidence.  All of this in the name of protecting against criminal activity when it’s clear that criminals will simply ignore the new restrictions with the same regularity as the old ones.

Gun control advocates know many of their strongest allies are the increasingly activist and politically-motivated judges who populate courts throughout the country. Thus, one of the most ambitious pieces of legislation is the misleadingly titled “Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act,” currently pending as S. 1939  (Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT) and H.R. 3984 (Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA). 

This legislation would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), an equal justice provision in its own right. The PLCAA was a reaction to a coordinated series of lawsuits designed to litigate the firearms industry into oblivion by holding law-abiding gun manufacturers and dealers responsible for the criminal acts of unaffiliated third parties. 

And while its critics howl that the PLCAA grants the firearm industry an unprecedented shield, it was actually the legal theories advanced in these suits that were the real novelty. There’s no principle of law that would hold a baseball bat manufacturer liable for the acts of a bat-wielding assailant or an automobile dealer liable for damages caused by the driver of a robbery get-away car when neither the manufacturer nor the dealer had any relationship to the criminal. But that didn’t stop the litigants from hoping the courts would create a special rule for the gun industry or at least allow the cases to go on long enough to bleed the defendants dry through litigation costs. Without the PLCAA, the very existence of the domestic firearms industry would be jeopardized, which is why it repealing it remains the highest priority for gun banners. 

Another perennial favorite of the gun control crowd is the concept of “universal” background checks, which seeks to interpose the government (and expensive fees) into every exchange of firearms, including between trusted neighbors, close friends, and even family members. Anti-gun Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is carrying the torch this time with S. 2009.  Murphy told the media he hoped the mere introduction of the bill, which he admitted had little chance of passage, would nevertheless “strike fear” into supporters of the Second Amendment. It’s telling that would be his goal, rather than striking fear into the criminals who actually misuse guns and who would be completely unaffected by his bill.

We have already reported on Rep. Elilzabeth Esty’s (D-CT) so-called “large capacity” magazine ban, which would treat the same magazines most law-abiding citizens have in their pistols as contraband, subjecting their possessors to a possible 10-year stint in federal prison. How could something so many millions of upstanding Americans possess without incident deserve such harsh treatment? Ask Rep. Esty. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) have also introduced legislation to ban bump-fire stocks with S.1916 in the Senate and H.R. 3999 in the House. The proposed bills demonstrate that they would reach considerably beyond bump stocks and threaten almost any part or accessory that would allow the operator of a semi-automatic firearm to fire more quickly. Neither bill has a grandfather provision, meaning they would retroactively turn Americans who obtained their parts or accessories lawfully and in good faith into federal felons. 

Another recent gun control bill simply rehashes an idea that been around since the days when gun controllers were openly advocating for handgun bans. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced H.R. 4018 to impose a three-day waiting period on the sale or “borrowing” of a handgun, whether between private parties or federal firearm licensees and private parties.  

Gun control advocates used to argue that waiting periods allowed local officials to run background checks on prospective purchasers, but that justification went out the window when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System came online in 1998. Then the argument shifted to a supposed “cooling-off” period for people who might buy a firearm in the heat of an angry moment, intending to do mischief with it. Of course, that rationale never made sense in the case of people who already owned firearms and who were still subject to the same wait. These days, it’s clear waiting periods are just another arbitrary hurdle between Americans and the exercise of their Second Amendment rights.

Still other bills seek to make firearm purchases by non-prohibited individuals subject to the discretion of the U.S. Attorney General (H.R. 4057, Rep. Peter King, R-NY) and to deny firearm transfers to people based on incomplete evidence, such as arrests without final dispositions (S. 1923, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, and H.R. 3464, Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-SC). These bill show contempt not just for the Second Amendment but for basic notions of fairness and due process.

All of this just goes to show that even with pro-gun majorities in Congress and a pro-gun White House, legislative assaults on the right to keep and bear arms continue. The ultimate goal is neither crime control nor holding evildoers accountable, it’s to chip away at the right to keep and bear arms until it becomes out of reach to the average American. “The ground is shifting,” anti-gun Sen. Murphy insists, “but you need legislation like this to rally people to the side of those who want change and against those who don’t want change.”  

We’ve already heard that type of rhetoric in American politics. So make no mistake. If you believe in your firearms freedom, maintain eternal vigilance and continue to make your voice heard loud and clear in the democratic process.

Anti-Gun Congresswoman Introduces Magazine Ban Aims Slippery Slope at the Gun on Your Hip

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As gun owners we need to stay alert to the crap the anti-gun crowd is trying to sell.

Last week Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced H.R. 4052, a ban on what she is calling “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.”  

Esty’s bill would ban any “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition … .” It exempts firearms with “an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.” Mere possession, as well as import or transfer, would be prohibited by the bill.

We’ve been down this road before, and we know gun control doesn’t work. 

The bill has a grandfather clause that would supposedly exclude “possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device otherwise lawfully possessed within the United States on or before the date of the enactment,” but it’s hard to imagine how this exemption would work in practice. The simple possession of a non-conforming magazine would be presumptive evidence of its criminality, and because many magazines are not date stamped or serialized, owners would have few options to substantiate eligibility for this “affirmative defense.” This could lead to arrests and confiscations even for lawfully-possessed magazines, with the only recourse by the accused to “tell it to the judge.”

Violations would be subject to ruinous fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years for possession of a single magazine.

It’s pure fantasy on Esty’s part to believe that yet another form of gun control will have an impact on violent crime in America.  We’ve been down this road before, and we know gun control doesn’t work.  Restricting the rights of the law-abiding does only that and has no impact on what violent criminals or deranged madmen will or will not do.

We sure don’t have to guess where things are headed if the decision is left to gun banners like Nancy Pelosi or Elizabeth Esty, who will never be satisfied until what you “need’ will only be defined by what they will tolerate. And this is precisely why America’s law-abiding gun owners must tell their story, again and again if necessary as we continue our fight to protect the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.   


Everytown and Hollywood Launch New Campaign Against Pro-gun Legislation

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The anti gun leftist are getting desperate.

In the wake of the still-unfolding Harvey Weinstein scandal, one might have thought that America would receive a brief reprieve from Hollywood’s ceaseless moralizing. However, on October 18, 2017, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, actress Julianne Moore, and handful of other entertainers launched a new effort aimed at NRA and the right to keep and bear arms.

Dubbed #RejectTheNRA, the Bloomberg orchestrated campaign urges the public to contact their elected representatives to oppose H.R. 3668, the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act) and H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Specifically, an Everytown YouTube video featuring the aforementioned celebrities asks viewers to text REJECT to 64433 in order to receive an automated phone call from the gun control group which will then connect the sender to their congressman after a recorded script tells them to oppose pro-gun legislation in the Congress.  Of course, it’s entirely up to the caller what to tell their congressman once connected.

The Everytown video provides talking points for the constituent to repeat once they are connected to the congressman’s office, including baseless assertions about the purported dangerousness of the bills. For instance, the video includes one entertainer contending that the SHARE Act “would make mass shootings even more deadly than they already are.”

Suppressors do not make firearms quiet, they merely reduce the sound of a gunshot by about 30 decibels. An AR-15 equipped with a suppressor is still about as loud as a jackhammer. Earlier this month, the Washington Postfact-checked similar statements on this topic made by Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine and issued Kaine Two Pinocchios for his misleading remarks. The Post called the idea that suppressors make guns quiet “a movie myth,” which might explain some of Hollywood’s incredible ignorance on the matter.

Another celebrity carelessly asserts that “concealed carry reciprocity will make our communities less safe.” By examining permit revocation data, it has been determined that Right-to-Carry permit holders are among the nation’s most law-abiding demographics. Moreover, no legitimate study has shown that concealed carry laws lead to an increase in crime.

As a veteran in grassroots politics, NRA encourages vigorous participation in the democratic process. At the same time, however, public policy debates should be driven by the facts, not celebrity-driven emotion.  We urge NRA members and supporters to reach out to their Member of Congress and Senators to express their strong support of Right-to-Carry reciprocity and the SHARE Act. You can call your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators at 202-224-3121.  

Gun Banners Unmasked: The Vengeful Face of the Anti-gun Agenda Emerges Once Again



The anti gun crowd is busy dancing on the graves of the shooting victims in Las Vegas and making absurd demands about gun control.

In the aftermath of tragedy, when emotions are running high, some people reveal perhaps more than they intend about themselves and their true intentions. Gun control advocates are feeling especially emboldened in the wake of the terrible murders in Las Vegas, and their predilections and prejudices are again on full display. To no great surprise, they are openly speaking of repealing the Second Amendment, retroactively turning gun owners into criminals, and confiscating firearms en masse. And while their publicly-expressed furor will eventually subside when reason again dominates the national discussion of gun policy, it’s important to keep in mind that what they say now is what they really want. It’s not “reasonable regulation.” It’s give up your gun or the government takes it and you go to jail. It’s always that, in the end.

New York Times commentator Bret Stephens led the way with his call to “repeal the Second Amendment.”Dismissing the fundamental right to keep and bear arms as a “fetish,” Stephens cites a litany of tired and debunked “science” and rhetoric that may do much to ingratiate himself to his new readers at the Times but does absolutely nothing to advance the debate on controlling violent crime. 

He then asks, without apparent irony, why liberals nevertheless continue to lose the gun control debate. On this point, at least, Stephens is largely correct (if completely un-self-aware): Because gun control advocates don’t know what they’re talking about and because their proffered “common sense” solutions won’t make any appreciable difference.

Stephens, therefore, advocates for America to “fundamentally and permanently” change a “legal regime that most of the developed world considers nuts” by getting rid of the Second Amendment altogether. James Madison himself, Stephens insists, would look at modern America and say, “Take the guns – or at least the presumptive right to them – away.” 

What happens to the 400 million or so firearms already in private hands? How does society actually benefit from his plan? Stephens doesn’t say. He apparently just trusts that things would eventually work themselves out if the government had carte blanche over yet another aspect of Americans’ lives.

Paul Waldman also wrote a piece for The Week with an even blunter prescription: “Ban guns.” Waldman at least acknowledges some of the practical problems inherent in his proposal. Yet he still muses that “it’s worthwhile to step back from the concrete debates we’re having, as important as those are, and spend a moment contemplating what kind of society we’d prefer if there were no practical impediments to radical change.” 

Echoing Stephens, Waldman calls Americans’ dedication to their Second Amendment rights “absurd fetishism.” He insists, however, that “I get it.” But it’s not enough, he says, to justify “[o]ver 30,000 Americans dead every year, and tens of thousands more maimed and paralyzed.”

Self-defense would be less of an issue in his proposed Utopia, Waldman argues, because assailants “probably” wouldn’t have a gun, either. “[P]robably.” And besides, he writes, it’s a “ludicrous argument” that “even if you took away everyone’s guns, people would still have evil in their hearts, and if they really wanted to kill they’d find a way.”

We can only assume that Mr. Waldman doesn’t have much experience with the criminal element. Or much familiarity with history. Or even an awareness of the sorts of mass-casualty crimes committed in the relatively gun-free countries he obviously so admires.

Speaking of fetishes, no week’s worth of gun-prohibition rhetoric would be complete without gushing references to Australia, something of a Western democracy that actually managed to take a large number of guns away from peaceable individuals who already legally had them. Well, sort of, anyway.

And who better for this job than Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, who along with his protégé and frenemy Hillary Clinton is America’s foremost proponent of importing Australia’s gun confiscation scheme to American shores?

Writing (appropriately) for the website, Pfeiffer laments that he and his fellow radical Democrats are “now in the midst of another gun debate that we will almost certainly lose.” He blames this on Democrats accepting what he calls an interpretation of the Second Amendment that was “reversed-engineered to pander to fantasies.” He then basically argues that just because the U.S. Supreme Court has authoritatively construed the Second Amendment to protect an individual right, Democrats don’t have to accept that as true. 

Pfeiffer insists the “Democratic gun control strategy fails because it is defined by this poverty of ambition … .” 

He then lists his own policy prescriptions, which are nothing if not ambitious, although not particularly original. These include national registration; “[t]racking and limiting purchases of ammunition;” mandatory “smart-gun” technology; and, of course, an Australian style “national gun buyback program.”

As savvy gun owners know, what happened in Australia was not a “buyback.” Gun owners didn’t return guns to the shops where they bought them. Rather, the government retroactively banned firearms that most people had acquired lawfully and in good faith. It then sternly threatened to imprison anyone who didn’t surrender their gun to the authorities for whatever compensation was offered, assuming the individual even survived the government’s attempt to seize the gun by force.

Many Australians buckled to the threat, and the government confiscated many hundreds of thousands of guns. But many didn’t. In the unlikely event that a the government of the United States somehow amassed the same proportion of its citizens’ firearms, hundreds of millions would still be left in private hands, but with a disproportionate share hoarded by criminals who need firearms for their livelihood.

Ironically, even as he and like-minded gun prohibitionists call for confiscation of America’s guns, Pfeiffer remains incredulous that “the NRA is still producing” what he calls “agitprop aimed at convincing gun owners that liberal Democrats and radical leftists are going to come after their guns.”

How dare we state the obvious: Your guns are not safe, as long as people like Stephens, Waldman, and Pfeiffer continue to have a role in national debate and in politics. 

Which is to say, they’ll never be safe. Pfeiffer essentially admits this and counsels his fellow radical Democrats to stop trying to “fake moderation” and win over gun voters with “insincere pandering on the gun issue.”

It would be nice to think that with a pro-gun president and pro-gun majorities in Congress, statehouses, and governor’s mansions across the country, the battle to secure the Second Amendment is won. But as long as decent, law-abiding gun owners are blamed for the acts of deranged murderers, the battle can never end. 

We don’t have to guess what people who press for gun control really want. People like Stephens, Waldman, and Pfeiffer are telling us themselves.

For us to think otherwise is to sow the seeds of our own undoing.

Urban Myth: Crime Doesn’t Pay – California City Authorizes Stipends to Gang Members

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Only liberals could be this stupid.

Gang members profit through criminal enterprises in a variety of ways: drug, weapon and human trafficking; theft, robbery, intimidation and extortion, and various kinds of fraud. In a win-win for gangbangers, material gains from criminality in one California municipality will soon include government-sanctioned payola.

In a special meeting on August 29, the nine-member City Council of Sacramento unanimously agreed to allocate $1.5 million in funding and to move forward with a “gun-violence reduction strategy” that will include cash payments (“LifeMAP milestone allowances”) and paid vacations for the handful of gang members suspected of committing the majority of gang-related gun crimes in the city.

The report and funding agreement before the council indicate that the program, the “Peacemaker Fellowship,” is to be implemented by a group called Advance Peace. It proposes to reduce gang violence through “transformational opportunities to young adults identified as most likely to be” involved in “gun violence” and by ensuring “greater connectivity to culturally competent human, social, and economic opportunities” for these individuals. The details, as fleshed out during the council meeting, were that participants will be selected from a small group of gang members thought to be behind the “re-cyclical and retaliatory” gun crimes in the community. Among other things, program participants will be required to identify and commit to “LifeMAP goals” (academic aspirations, or more basic things like “getting a driver’s license or improving their relationship with their parents or their kids”). As part of “incentivizing achievement,” the program’s “touchpoints” include “Transformative Travel” and cash stipends for participants. The cost associated with each participant tops out at an estimated $30,000.

The four-year agreement requires the city to pay $500,000 over the course of two years, starting this year. Implementation will consist of two 18-month segments, with 50 participants in each segment. The expected “outcomes” listed in the report are a reduction in firearm assaults and firearm-related homicides by 50 percent” over the four years, “reduc[ing] by $26 million the government costs associated with gun violence,” and the dismantling of “gang war zones within and around the City.”

At the meeting, only one council member, Angelique Ashby, raised significant concerns with the agreement and the authorizing resolution. Among these deficiencies, she noted that out of the “many, many numbers” referenced in the proposal, including “$26 million in government savings,” there was “not one citation” to explain or substantiate these references. The agreement was “front loaded with the cash,” with all of the funding paid out in the first two years but with “zero outcomes” due until year three, meaning the city had no payments that it could withhold if there was a default in performance. More generally, nothing allowed the city to terminate the agreement if the benchmarks and goals weren’t met, which was complicated further by the fact that the goals (like an initial reduction of 20 percent in gun-related assaults and homicides) had no clearly defined baseline or starting point against which performance would be measured. The agreement start and end dates were left blank; the only “quantifiable dates” in the contract were the dates on which the payments by the city had to be made. Nowhere was there a requirement that the program be coordinated with local law enforcement or schools. And despite an assumption that Advance Peace was going to “match” the city funding with an equal amount, this obligation wasn’t documented in the agreement wording.

Determined to waste not a moment, the council rejected councilor Ashby’s request for a one-week delay to address these concerns, although it agreed to incorporate some changes. 

A much more fundamental problem – considering the whole premise is a reduction in gang-related violence – is that nothing in the agreement or resolution requires fellowship participants to make a commitment to forego violence and forsake their gang lifestyle as a condition of participation, or mandates withholding payments and other incentives from participants who commit violent crimes or are charged or convicted of criminal offenses. While fellowship participants will be evaluated for “new gun charges/arrests” as part of the overall benchmarking reports, this doesn’t extend to criminal charges more generally, or operate as a disqualification. A participant who is paid council-approved funds for accomplishing his “LifeMAP goal” of getting a driver’s license is under no agreement-imposed impediment against using that license to facilitate other criminal acts.  

One law enforcement official – Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones – points out the program may actually shield participants who commit crimes. “They do not engage in law enforcement at all, and I have been told that if they become aware of one of the participants committing crime, they will NOT notify law enforcement.”

This funding is not just “counter-intuitive,” it is simply wrong. Apart from the most obvious, glaring lack of anything in the agreement that conditions payments on “good behavior” and a repudiation of gang violence, the perception is this “incentivizing” is compensation for lawbreakers that weakens respect for the law and the criminal justice system. Heather MacDonald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, calls it “an absolute abdication of the law and of the moral authority of the law, and a perfect example of defining deviance down…I mean, you’re basically holding the state hostage.”

These misgivings might arguably be overlooked if there was some guarantee that the spending program significantly reduced gang violence over an appreciable period of time. City residents looking for assurances that their taxpayer funds are being spent wisely will find little in the Council Report. Its lengthy recital of statistics, percentages and cost savings omits, surprisingly, information on the merits and success of this and similar programs. The government bureaucracy may be just as well served, in terms of reducing gang crime and violence in Sacramento, by giving the same participants a bus ticket and $20,000 to stay out of the city. 

Residents who aren’t gang member fellowship recipients will have to wait and see. Unfortunately for them, at the same time that the Sacramento City Council embarks on this bold new program to assist “hard-to-reach” residents to escape crime and violence in their communities, lawmakers across the state continue their efforts to prevent law-abiding Californians from doing the same through the exercise of their Second Amendment rights (here and here and here).

Texas: Governor Abbott Calls for Temporary No-Cost License to Carry Replacements

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A Big Thank-you and Bravo to Texas Governor Greg Abbott for his efforts to support Texas gun owners.

In a press release issued by the Governor’s office today:

Governor Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to provide no-cost replacements of License to Carry a Handgun (LTC) cards and Private Security Board (PSB) licensee cards for eligible residents who have had their cards lost or damaged as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

“As Texas begins the recovery process, we are prepared to respond to a wide range of issues to help victims of this Hurricane,” said Governor Abbott. “By eliminating burdensome fees to replace these important licenses, Texans can focus on rebuilding their lives and communities.”

Residents who live in counties that have received a gubernatorial disaster declaration, and who are currently active Texas LTC or PSB license holders, are eligible to apply for free replacement cards. Affected customers must call the Regulatory Services Division contact center at 512-424-7293 for assistance in waiving the fee (This service is not available online). Cardholders should be prepared to provide proof of identity. LTC standard replacement cards would normally cost $25, and PSB replacement cards normally cost $15.

For more information on the DPS LTC and private security programs, please visit:

For more information on replacement driver license and identification cards and surcharge deferments for those affected by the hurricane, visit:

For a list of the counties covered by the gubernatorial disaster declaration, please see:

National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

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We need to put pressure on our Congress Critters to get this bill passed and sent to President Trump to sign into law.

Gun owners received good news this week with the passage of the SHARE Act by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources (see related story). Meanwhile, progress continued to be made on another NRA legislative priority, as Congressman Rob Goodlatte (R-VA) – chairman of the House Judiciary Committee – signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. The latter bill now has 212 co-sponsors, and its prospects in the House are looking better with each passing week. 

That hasn’t stopped Michael Bloomberg’s gun control cabal, however, from crowing about their supposed “grassroots” effort to defeat the bill. Referencing the practically limitless war chest of their gun-hating patron, the group’s president sneered in an editorial that “Everytown and Moms Demand Action will do, and spend, whatever it takes, including leveraging the full weight of our grassroots network, to defeat the gun lobby.”

While Everytown claims to have a grassroots army, it’s really a vanity project for billionaire and ex-New York City mayor Bloomberg, who funds and inspires the group’s activities virtually single-handedly.  

Urge Your Representative and Senators to Support Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Please contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of S.446 — the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017– in the Senate, and H.R.38 — the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017– in the House. You can contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative by phone at (202) 224-3121


We recently highlighted how a disaffected gun control activist challenged the group’s supposed “grassroots” character in a scathing essay in the Huffington Post. “For too long,” she wrote, “gun control groups like Everytown have implemented top-down organizational models that treat gun violence prevention advocates like servants and gun violence survivors like fundraising fodder, giving us little or no say in our own advocacy.” That author ultimately resigned her position as an Everytown Survivor Fellow after being blocked from the group’s Survivor Network Facebook page for posting comments critical of management decisions. “I was not as empowered as I thought,” she fumed.

Another article from May notes how Shannon Watts, the principal behind Everytown franchise Moms Demand Action, has been described by sources close to the group as a “nightmare” and a “self-promoting tyrant.” That article detailed a number of high-level staff departures attributed to the difficulties of working for Watts.

Nevertheless, another article reported that Everytown has pledged over $25 million specifically to defeat the NRA’s national reciprocity effort. 

That’s certainly no stretch for egomaniac Bloomberg, whose nearly $45 billion net worth and seemingly inexhaustible zeal to control those he considers his inferiors make him a formidable foe.  

In fact, the only hope of defeating Bloomberg’s anti-gun aspirations is to show him what real grassroots activism looks like by keeping up steady pressure on Congress to send a national reciprocity bill to President Trump’s desk.  

Please contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of S.446– the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017– in the Senate, and H.R.38 — the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017– in the House. You can contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative by phone at (202) 224-3121, or click here to Take Action.

“Social Justice Collective” Calls for Four-Year Universities to Ban Veterans, Cites NRA Ties



I am shocked and saddened by the way our veterans are being disrespected.

It’s admittedly getting more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction these days, especially when it comes to the increasingly bizarre world of anti-gun social justice crusaders. But it is apparently true that a publication recently appeared on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) arguing that “we must ban veterans from four-year universities.” Among the reasons the author of the essay cites is that “veterans usually are associated with extremist right-wing groups such as the tea party and the NRA.”

The publication also faults veterans for “openly mock[ing] the ideas of diversity and safe spaces for vulnerable members of society,” frightening fellow students with their “overwhelming presence,” and making “insensitive jokes.”  Nevertheless, it denies any intention to deprive veterans of an education, explaining that they “should be allowed to attend trade schools, or maybe even community colleges.” It asserts, however, that veterans’ military service has left them “permanently tainted” and “no long [sic] fit for a four-year university.” 

report by Colorado Springs news station KKTV said the publication, identifying itself as Issue #1 of the Social Justice Collective Weekly, was posted on a UCCS bulletin board and was also available “in the library and other places,” before students began removing them. A notation on the bottom right of the newsletter states, “UCCS University Center Approved for posting.” The report goes on to state that KKTV viewers contacted an email address included on the publication and were told by the editors of publication that those behind it are “using fake names to protect themselves.” Whether or not these individuals are current or former students of UCCS is unknown. KKTV was not successful in its own attempt to elicit comment from the producers of the publication.

The university, for its part, has not denied that the publication was distributed on campus or that its posting on the bulletin board had been approved. A UCCS spokesman told KKTV, however, that the article “has nothing to do with the school and does not represent the institution’s views.” The university also claimed that “anyone is allowed to post items on the board” (although why, if that’s the case, posting must be “approved” is not explained).

On August 25, UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy issued a press release defending veterans as “positive and valued members of our academic and campus community,” with “experience and viewpoints that enrich our discussions.” Chancellor Reddy also defended the right of the article’s author – identified as Terry Steinawitz – to air anti-veteran views. “I reject the notion that we should censor those who denigrate others,” Venkat stated, “as censorship would have silenced many voices over the decades who needed to be heard.” He went on to insist that UCCS’ “core values” include various forms of non-discrimination and that “[p]eople earn the right to study at UCCS by virtue of hard work and individual effort, and we do not bar the door.”

Although it’s tempting simply to dismiss the publication as satire or the work of extremely immature and underexposed students encountering more worldly peers for the first time, it is largely consistent with the climate on many college campuses toward firearms and those who use them. We’ve recently reported on a campus-wide lockdown caused by an art student with a glue gun, a lawsuit by college professors claiming the Second Amendment itself requires universities to BAN law-abiding students from possessing firearms on campus, and a geography professor who taught class in protective combat gear because he fears students who lawfully carry concealed handguns on campus. We’ve also chronicled how a University of Kansas professor called for the death of NRA members’ children as a token of “God’s justice.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, public opinion polling shows a far greater percentage of Americans who are highly confident in the military than in universities. And more Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA than express high confidence in higher education. 

We certainly agree with Chancellor Reddy that, whatever their motivations, the producers of the anti-veteran publication at the UCCS have a First Amendment right to express their opinions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether they are merely jokers or the more usual intellectually shallow, self-contradictory, elitist, and exclusionary types who haunt academia these days. America’s veterans will not require a safe space to lick their wounds after reading this document. For they, like the NRA, know that protecting freedom is not a job for those who are easily offended, defeated, or deterred or who require thanks from otherwise helpless people who depend on the security their efforts provide.

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