Gunfire shattered another American school yesterday as a student armed with a powerful handgun went on a brief, deadly rampage in Southern California. "It's like a dream," said a sophomore. "But not a good dream, like a nightmare you can't wake up from." —Jennifer Mascia, engagement writerYou learn later down the daily newsletter that what the shooter used was a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
I don't want to get in a debate on whether the .45 is more power than say the 9mm or .40. Depending on what one owns, they will have their reasons and believe they are the best firearm for them. I'm guessing if the shooter had used one of the other two, the Trace would have described it the same as they did the .45. So, get used to seeing "powerful handgun" used more in the future instead of just saying "the shooter used a handgun." It's all about demonizing every firearm.
If you have a Democrat Delegate or Senator, let them hear from you: I can't tell you how many times people have told me it's a waste of time to talk to gun control legislators. That's bull. If they know they have thousands of gun owners in their districts, they will take note. There was one election this year decided by 18 votes, and in 2017, one was decided by a coin toss. Letting a Democrat legislator know they have a significant number of gun owners in their district might be enough to make the difference between going full bore New Jersey in one session, or settling for just their top priorities (handgun rationing, "assault weapons" ban, "universal" background checks). Don't just email them. Find out when they have office hours and meet with them in person. Also get everyone you know that is like minded to do the same thing. We especially need women and youth shooters to be a part of this effort. VSSA has a number of young shooters in the High Power Rifle Program. AR-15s are used in some of this competition. You may know others. They need to be the ones telling legislators this story, not the adults. They should be at the Capitol on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of the lobbying groups are there to talk to legislators. In the past gun control bills have been heard on this day. Since that is a school holiday, we need youth shooters at the General Assembly on that day.
Litigation: In the past, VSSA has been proud to join forces with our sister state organizations to challenge unconstitutional gun control laws. We were part of Heller, McDonald, the case against Maryland's "assault weapons" law, California's Peruta case, and are now part of the NYSRPA vs. New York case. Now we need to be ready to be on the front end and challenge unconstitutional laws that may be signed by Governor Northam. This can be costly, but we are laying the groundwork now.
The good news is there are several cases either already at the U.S. Supreme Court or on their way. If the Court finds in NYSRPA vs New York case that gun laws must be looked at using "Strict Scrutiny" that means the legislature will have to have passed a law to further a "compelling governmental interest," and must narrowly tailor the law to achieve that interest. That is a difficult test to pass and could severely limit what the gun ban crowd can do. VSSA will post more on these efforts as we move forward.
The bottom line is, don't be defeatist. Yes, our work is cut out for us, we have to do the work to protect our rights.
Two things most likely contributed to last night's results - turnout and a court redrawn assembly-district map. Appropriations Chairman Christ Jones lost his race in the 76th House District. Jones' district boundaries were basically flipped on a 90 degree turn by the court after racial gerrymandering was found by the court. Northam failed to come to an agreement on a new map with House Republicans which set up the court to redraw about 11 districts. This year's election will be the only one under the court drawn districts but Democrats and the Governor will have complete control of the 2021 Redistricting. This morning, State Senator Elect Joe Morrissey said on John Reid's WRVA morning program that Democrats should follow through on passing a resolution form a "non-partisan" redistricting commission but he said he fears Democrats will want to exact retribution on Republicans and district them into oblivion. Morrissey said that would be a mistake.
Also, it appears that turnout could be a record for an "off-year" election. Typically these elections feature low turnout. Since President Trump's election Democrats have worked hard to turn out their voters in state and local elections.
Speaking at a victory rally last night, Governor Northam said that voters had spoken in favor of Democratic priorities like gun control. Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, who survived the redistricting of his district to defeat three-time candidate Sheilia Bynum-Coleman, said Republicans would work with Democrats where they could and "speak out against overreaching policies where we must, and always seek to guard the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia." Cox raised an unprecedented $1.8 million in a Virginia House race. While Cox was sounding conciliatory, House Minority leader Todd Gilbert sounded a more ominous tone saying "Make no mistake: radical liberals from out of our Commonwealth will soon demand a return on the tens of millions they invested to elect a far-left Democratic majority."
Earlier this week, Fletch Daniels provided a warning at the American Thinker. He said what has happened in Fairfax, Virginia, a formerly Republican bastion, is a warning for the rest of the country:
My home county of Fairfax, Virginia was once a safe suburban area with some of the best performing public schools in the nation. It's now a blinking warning sign to America as it hangs on the edge of complete disaster thanks to unchecked immigration and Democrat takeover of the government.
Even with the high concentration of government workers, Fairfax County was once a Republican bastion before it became a political battleground. The Bush/Cheney ticket won the county in a close race in 2000 and then lost it badly in 2004 due to a significant increase in Democrat votes.
Fairfax's descent into its current state started with a wave immigration, much of it illegal, into the area which washed away Republican political viability.Former Delegate and VSSA member Bill Janis warned about this very thing - a change in the demographics - when he spoke to the attendees of the 2005 Annual Meeting. He told us then that we needed to reach out to those new residents or they would have no connection to our 2nd Amendment freedoms.
So having said all this, what is the take away from last night's results? One, don't throw away your base when you are running in a re-election simply because you think those issues like the 2nd Amendment that got you elected in the first place, are now an albatross. Glen Sturtevant's campaign is a perfect example of this. Tidewater based talk show host John Fredericks said yesterday:
This is the epitome of the silliest GOP campaign run this cycle. Does anyone have a clue what Sturdevant stands for? Or care? His television ice cream and soccer ball ads were laughable. We mocked them on our show on a daily basis. He abandoned his base on every key issue, and ran clear away from President Trump.While Sturtevant was losing, Kirk Cox won by five points, even while his district went from being 63% GOP to 46.8% GOP (based on previous voting results). He worked hard, and did not abandon his core or support, including his strong support for the 2nd Amendment. Another example was Senator Amanda Chase. She was beat up relentlessly by the Richmond Times Dispatch and an outside pack called Fund Her Virginia PAC. In the end, she never backed away from her strong 2nd Amendment stance and she won by 11%.
In the end, the House lost 6 pro-rights members and the Senate lost 2. Gun owners will need to be engaged so your legislators know where you stand. VSSA will work our relationships with legislators with the intent of defeating legislation. For instance, Senator Chap Peterson has been someone we have been able to work with on concealed carry issues. He was a big reason that Terry McAuliffe overrode Mark Herring's attack on reciprocity. When necessary, we will adopt what has been used in states - the courts - when necessary.
We need all gun owners on board. If you have friends at your gun club that are not VSSA members, encourage them to join. This is an all hands on deck moment.
October brought more donations to candidates in Virginia's elections and more knocks on constituent doors from both sides of the gun lobby.
Democratic coffers — which have reached historic levels of reported fundraising — swelled with October donations from Everytown for Gun Safety, a lobby group focused on reducing gun violence.
Everytown contributed $938,238 to the Democratic party in 2019, according to The Virginia Public Access Project. Over $600,000 of that total was given in September.
Everytown outspent the National Rifle Association this year, which donated $273,000 to Republican candidates. In September, based on campaign finance reports, the NRA donated a little over $54,000.Bloomberg's mouthpiece The Trace is taking delight in sharing the report.
A gun reform group is vastly outspending the NRA in the run-up to Virginia's election. Everytown for Gun Safety contributed more than $600,000 to Democrats in September, while the NRA gave $54,000 to Republicans. Gun violence has emerged as a pivotal issue in the state’s upcoming legislative elections in the wake of the Virginia Beach mass shooting in May, which claimed 12 lives. “The politics of guns in Virginia has changed dramatically over the last few years,” Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, told the Capital News Service. (Everytown's non-political arm provides grants to The Trace. But the fact is, money was never the strength of the NRA in elections, its strength was grassroots activity to turn out gun owners on elections day. NRA's Catherine Mortensen points out that is what they have been focused on this year as well.
The NRA has also been busy encouraging voter turnout this election. NRA grassroots activists knocked on 100,000 doors of targeted voters in recent months, according to Catherine Mortensen, NRA media liaison.
Also, the NRA rallied members at the State Capitol during the July special session that adjourned quickly with no action taken. I was at the Capitol for the Special Session and the line of gun owners stretched around the building and it got longer and the time it took to get in the building took over an hour.
Election day is November 5th. Make sure every gun owner you know votes!
The one area where the anti-gun movement can still damage us is in the wake of a mass killing. (When was the last time you heard an anti argue for gun control as a solution to street crime? It was probably twenty years ago).
I researched the issue, and released a book via Amazon, “Mass Killings: Myth, Reality, and Solutions.” It buries the argument for gun control based on mass killings. Background checks? Mass killers will pass them all. Waiting periods? They plan for months. Ban AR-15s? They rarely use them. Ban standard cap magazines? Almost all carry two or more guns. And in any event, the most deadly mass killing in the world (in China) involved explosives, the most deadly in the U.S. involved a can of gasoline.
What will work? Media self-restraint. The killers are mostly extreme cases of narcissistic personality disorder: they’re willing to kill and die if it makes them an instant (evil) celebrity. If the media begins to ignore the killers’ names and pictures (as they did with the attack on Rep. Steve Scalise), the killers will have no motive. Beyond that, we can arm teachers: civilians have a track good record for stopping mass killers (I found the cases).
Here is the book’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1718142242?At less than 60 pages and less than $6.00, you don't want to pass up this book.
Beto O'Rourke defended his call for a mandatory buyback program on logical grounds, arguing that candidates who conclude that military-inspired rifles are too dangerous for civilian sales should also support removing existing weapons from circulation. But he moderated his rhetoric, saying that "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15" does not mean door-to-door searches. Instead, O'Rourke would appeal to gun owners' sense of responsibility: "The expectation is that Americans will follow the law. I believe in this country. I believe in my fellow Americans. I believe that they will do the right thing." Blatant non-compliers, under his approach, would face unspecified "consequences from law enforcement."
Pete Buttigieg continued his criticism of O'Rourke's mandatory buyback pitch as a campaign ploy: "We cannot wait for purity tests. We have to just get something his done." The South Bend mayor favors pushing for bans on new assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines, universal background checks, and red flag laws, which he notably tied to reducing the suicides "which are not being talked about nearly enough as a huge part of the gun violence epidemic in this country."
Julián Castro explained his opposition to mandatory gun buybacks by touching on the problem of police shootings: “In the places that I grew up in, we weren't exactly looking for another reason for cops to come banging on the door."
Kamala Harris supports mandatory buybacks but pivoted to focus on her vow to use executive actions to enact new gun safety measures in the face of Congressional gridlock. We explored the limits of that approach here.
Joe Biden pitched his alternative to aggressive regulation of existing assault-style weapons: give owners the option of selling those guns to the government, or registering them.
Senator Elizabeth Warren also favors registration, which was successfully used to limit civilian ownership of fully automatic rifles under the National Firearms Act: "I want to use the method we used, for example, with machine guns. We registered them, we put in a huge penalty if you didn't register them, and a huge tax on them, and then let people turn them in, and it got machine guns out of the hands of people.
Senator Cory Booker used his time to highlight his support for mandatory gun licensing: “I'm living with a sense of urgency on this problem ... like millions of Americans, we live in communities where these weapons, where these gun shots are real every single day.” National Review's Jim Geraghty points out this morning that Beto's apparent "moderation" as The Trace put it was short lived as he went back to the "Hell Yes we're going to take them" on MSMBC this morning:
Beto: Okay, Maybe the Cops Will Have to Confiscate Your AR-15This morning, Beto O’Rourke told Joe Scarborough that if people refused to comply with his mandatory buyback of AR-15s, “in that case, I think there would be a visit by law enforcement to recover that firearm.” There are roughly 16 million AR-15s or similar models in private hands in the United States today.Here is that exchange:
.@BetoORourke on his gun confiscation plan: “Has to be consequences” for noncompliance; "in that case I think there would be a visit by law enforcement to recover that firearm" pic.twitter.com/U5PywOgw9D— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 16, 2019 National Review has more on Beto's MSNBC comments here including an exchange on CNN where Alisyn Camerota called him out and reminded him that his plan would not affect mass shooters when they don't follow the law to start with.
Here is that exchange:
This continued talk of gun bans and gun confiscation is starting to have a positive impact on gun sales.
According to the FBI data, last year saw 391 murders, of which 297 involved firearms. Handguns are linked to 141 of those slayings, rifles accounted for eight and shotguns were used in five more. There were 143 murders in which the firearm was not identified. That’s down from the 453 murders reported by the FBI in 2017. Of those, 338 involved firearms, with 156 committed with handguns, and 11 each with rifles or shotguns. There were 160 slayings in which the firearm was “unknown.”The gun ban lobby has coined a new term - "gun reform" - when pushing their agenda. The only thing their proposals equal is an infringement of the rights of Virginia's law abiding gun owners. If we don't show up at the polls in November, they will pass every proposal they have been pushing for the last 20 years, and Governor Northam will sign them.
“We all need to play a role in keeping our communities safe, and we can no longer wait for the General Assembly to act,” Mayor Stoney said. “This piece of legislation will be another tool in the toolbox of our police department that will help reduce crime and improve public safety.”
Mayor Stoney said this ordinance would take effect ‘immediately’ upon passage by City Council. Lamenting that the General Assembly has not done enough to curb so-called "gun violence", he said the ordinance would take effect upon passage. Problem is, Virginia has a pre-emption law so Stoney is putting the cart before the horse on this one.
If you click the image, you can see that Delegate Hugo is touting the legislation he has sponsored, and (with the exception of so-called "red flag" legislation) passed to address those who use firearms illegally. None of the measures that passed impact law abiding gun owners, and it seems that is what the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) doesn't like. The called him out on Twitter, and used an image of a recent post from this blog to accuse him of serving the "gun lobby".
.@TimHugo campaign sent out a mailing on how he “supports” he was on gun violence prevention, yet here is the write up on his race from @vssa & amplified by @VCDL_ORG.
Hugo is trying to fool the voters of #hd40 — he serves the gun lobby, not safety of Virginians. @HelmerVA pic.twitter.com/8xZx9Piwnw— Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (@CSGV) October 9, 2019 It appears they only support measures that infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners because they also called out Ohio Governor Mike DeWine because the anti-violence proposals he outlined yesterday did not included any of the favored gun ban proposals touted by groups like CSGV.
Our Director of State Affairs @Jenifers: “In days following shooting, people across Buckeye state called for state officials to ‘do something’ to address scourge of gun violence. Despite public outcry for action, @GovMikeDeWine has done almost nothing"https://t.co/10SiipQR3J— Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (@CSGV) October 9, 2019 Don't be fooled. Groups like CSGV know nothing about firearm safety. They don't teach how to safely use a firearm because they don't want you to own firearms. They use the term "gun safety" to mask their real agenda - infringing on your right to keep an bear arms. But now that Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke has let the cat out of the bag, the charade is over.
Gun owners support real solutions to address crime committed with firearms, not talking point slogans for the sake of just "doing something". And that is why the gun ban lobby is opposing Delegate Hugo.
"Given the significant interest and enthusiasm gaps measured in this survey, we expect some version of the Trump bump to manifest in the 2019 Virginia state legislative elections,” said Rachel Bitecofer, the study’s author and the Wason Center’s elections analyst.
Voters are more likely to vote for candidates advocating gun control than those who do not, the poll found, with 83% of likely voters in favor of expanding background checks and 67% of likely voters indicating they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports banning assault weapons.The results of the poll were based on 726 interviews of active, registered voters in Virginia including 238 on landline and 489 on cellphone. The poll was conducted Sept. 4 through Sept. 30 and is the first of three surveys the Wason Center will conduct on the upcoming 2019 Virginia state legislative elections.
We have our work cut out for us to say the least.
“I walked out of the bathroom and saw the gunman on the other end of the hallway,” she says in a political ad released at the end of September. “I saw a coworker in the middle, and he looked at me and he yelled, ‘Go.’ So I was lucky, but not everyone was.”
Missy Cotter Smasal, Democratic candidate for the 8th State Senate District, sponsored and released the ad. She’s one of the first candidates in Virginia Beach to explicitly mention in campaign materials the mass shooting that left 13 people dead, including the gunman, and injured four more.
Cotter Smasal is challenging Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, who has served in the General Assembly since 2014. Both are former naval officers. The article goes on to give opposing views of the impact of this past May's shooting on the election.
Joshua Zingher, a political scientist at Old Dominion University, said other states that have experienced mass shootings haven’t had huge political upheaval afterward.
“The effects of mass shootings can be very short-lived. I don’t anticipate some anomaly in Virginia Beach either as a function of guns or gun reform or lack of gun reform or the mass shooting specifically,” he said.
Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University, said he thinks the shooting and gun policy will motivate a key voting bloc — white suburban women, who are “driving politics in Virginia Beach” and areas outside of Richmond. Those are also the areas where the Democratic Party is hanging its hopes to win a majority in the statehouse. One thing is for sure, the gun ban lobby and their financial supporters from outside Virginia are pouring millions into the Commonwealth to try and influence the election and flip the assembly. And remember what we shared earlier this week regarding what former Governor Terry McAuliffe said at a fundraiser in Richmond last week. If we don't want to become California or New Jersey, get out and work for the pro-gun candidate in your district and get as many gun owners to the polls in November as you can.
“We’re going to win this, and guess what. We're going to get gun restrictions overnight, we are going to make Virginia a new state.”We've been saying this for the last two years! Now, Terry McAuliffe, in Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke style, made it known exactly what is in store for Virginia gun owners if we lose the pro-rights majority in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly. McAuliffe's words should be a rallying cry for Virginia gun owners to use the next month to do all we can to support the legislators that support our rights.
Here are several House Districts that need your help.
House District 30 - Delegate Nick Freitas - To vote for Delegate Freitas, you will need to ask for a write-in ballot. Through some snafu, his name was not included on the ballot and we need him in the House of Delegates.
House District 66 - Delegate Kirk Cox - House Speaker Kirk Cox's district was redrawn by the federal court and the U.S. Supreme Court found that the House of Delegates did not have standing to challenge a lower court's ruling that several districts had been racially gerrymandered. As you will see in the link, the redrawn district leans Democratic. The gun ban lobby has targeted Delegate Cox, comparing him to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for blocking their gun control agenda. Delegate Cox needs your help.
House District 40 - Delegate Tim Hugo - Delegate Hugo is likely the most endangered member of the House of Delegates. He is the only Republican member in the General Assembly from Northern Virginia (Fairfax). Delegate Hugo has been a strong supporter of our right to keep and bear arms. He needs gun owners to turn out strong in his district.
In addition to the three above, below are additional members that need your help to win on election day and protect our rights:
Del. Chris Jones, HD 76 (This is another district that was redrawn by the courts to favor Democrats)
Sen. Amanda Chase, SD 11
Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, SD 12
Del. Glenn Davis, HD 84
Del. Chris Stolle, HD 83
Sen. Bill DeSteph, SD 8
Sen. Bryce Reeves, SD 17 (Senator Reeves is a VSSA Member)
Del. Roxann Robinson, HD 27
Del. Rob Bloxom, HD 100
Del. Barry Knight, HD 81
Del. David Yancey, HD 94
Sen. Glen Sturtevant, SD 10
Jen Kiggans, SD 7 (This is an open seat vacated when Senator Frank Wagner took a job in the Northam Administration
ALERT: #SCOTUS re NYSRPA v. NYC in Order List: “The Respondents’ Suggestion of Mootness is denied. The question of mootness will be subject to further consideration at oral argument, and the parties should be prepared to discuss it.” https://t.co/peZTdWTnRK #appellatetwitter pic.twitter.com/ELlAhnHN3q— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) October 7, 2019
VSSA joined the case in an amicus brief in support of our sister association earlier this year. VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment scholar Steve Halbrook will be on Bearing Arms Cam and Company later today to discuss the decision by the court and the importance of this case.
The newly rebranded Green Top Shooting Range will be a big feature at this weekend's annual Green Top Outdoor Expo on Oct. 5-6, which is free to the public. Over two days, this event will host more than 180 of the biggest manufacturers from the outdoor industry’s most loved brands, including Ariat Boots, Sig Sauer, Daniel Defense, Elite Archery, Green Top Outfitters, Jackson Kayaks, Nikon Optics, Remington, Smith & Wesson, Seigler Reels, Penn, Parker Bows, Big Green Egg, Yeti, and more. These manufacturers are sending more than 250 representatives to the event who will be meeting with attendees, offering product demonstrations, giving seminars, and more.
Then VSSA's lobbyist Rich Savage spoke. He reinforced how important this year's election is for Virginia gun owners. During the question and answer period, one member asked what our plan is if we loose the majority in both houses. Rich replied that we will use our relationships with some of the members to try and build coalitions to stop legislation, and in cases when that is not successful, we will try to neuter bad legislation as much as possible. But Rich pulled no punches. He said in the current environment where we have absolutely no pro-rights Democrats, both of those are going to be extremely hard.
Congratulations to this year's Annual Member Raffle. The Winners are below.
First Prize:Leonard J.ChesapeakeSecond Prize:Haywood B.NorfolkThird Prize:Andy H.Rhoadesville