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Over Six Months Out From 2019 Session, Democrats Working on Gun Ban Legislation

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 12:13
WSLS NBC10 has the story here.
Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, held a town-hall style discussion Wednesday on VMI’s post in Lexington. Police chiefs, sheriffs, commonwealth’s attorneys, legal experts and other Democratic lawmakers spoke.

Hurst hopes to present a bill in the Virginia Legislature in the 2019 session that gives police more power to take action in emergency situations. The proposal is called an Extreme Risk Protection Order. It lets officers take someone’s guns for a two-week period if they get a warrant. These are cases where someone is a serious, imminent threat to themselves or others.

It could come into play if someone’s drunk and threatening someone, if someone posts on social media threatening to shoot someone or if there’s reason to believe someone might hurt themselves. The so-called "Red Flag" legislation is what the gun ban lobby believes is the most doable, having already passed in other pro-rights states like Florida.  Of course the devil is in the details and previously there has been a concern over due-process rights before someone loses their Second Amendment Rights.

Ten Years After Heller

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 11:45
Today is the 10th anniversary of the landmark decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller where the U.S. Supreme court held the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm "unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."  Frank Miniter, author of "The Future of the Gun" wrote at FoxNews.com:
Now a decade after the Heller decision pro-gun laws have swept through many states. A dozen states now even have “constitutional” or “permitless” carry for handguns. There are over 100 million gun owners in America and more than 16 million people have permits to carry concealed handguns (up from about 1 million in the mid-1980s). A recent United Nations’ Small Arms Survey found that American civilians now have 393 million firearms (46 percent of all of the guns in civilian hands in the world).While lower courts have done their best to pretend the decision never happened, more and more Americans are exercising their right to keep and bear arms.  But as Jacob Sullum wrote at Reason.com last month, the U.S. Supreme Court has been mostly silent since the 2010 case that overturned the Chicago handgun ban (McDonald vs. Chicago).  Sullum's article dived into a Vox article written by Duke law professor Joseph Blocher and Eric Ruben, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, which makes the case that rather than ignoring Heller, the lower courts are simply applying the exceptions drawn by Heller.  Those "exceptions" from the decision is this part:
"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56."Ruben and Blocher's narrative is also pushed by the gun ban lobby, like the op/ed in today's USA Today, written by Eric Tirschwell, director of litigation and national enforcement policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, and Mark Frassetto, senior counsel, Second Amendment litigation for Everytown.   That piece claims that policy makers and law makers must understand the Second Amendment is what "the courts have actually said it means" rather than what gun rights advocates say.  They claim:

...many obstacles remain as we work to strengthen and enforce our gun laws, Heller and the courts have made clear that the Second Amendment is not one of them.

Until SCOTUS agrees to hear another important case, we will continue to hear such talk.  That makes this year's off year elections very important.  It is possible that President Trump will get one more court appointment before the end of his first term.  Unless we have a pro-rights majority in the U.S. Senate, we won't get a new appointment confirmed.

VSSA High Power Rifle Shooters in Butner, NC June 8-10

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:59
VSSA High Power Rifle shooters competed at Camp Butner, NC, for the 1000 yard regional, 8-10 June.  High Power Chairman Mike Jamison sent along some photos from the weekend.
The picture below is Mike Jamison (in the red hat) shooting his 280 Bolt gun.
The second picture is Alan Lashley watching the shooting and the wind changes from the safety of the tent.  
The third picture is Marc Chicowitz shooting Mike's bolt gun.
The 4th picture is Marc shooting his antique (an M1A).Another good shot for perspective.  That is Mike on the ground shooting 1000 yards.  Mike said "sorry, the targets are too far away to see!"
It was in the 90s all weekend and they were all "well done" by the end of the weekend.  Thanks Mike for sending the photos!

Loudoun Hunting and Shooting Ordinance Beat Back - For Now

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:14
Last night, a large number of people packed the meeting room for the Loudoun Board of Supervisors meeting.  A VSSA member in attendance reported that the Board pushed back the item two hours, then the discussion dragged on for a significant amount of time before the proposal was voted down.  The Loudoun Times reports:
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors turned down a proposal to change the county's weapons and explosives ordinance following an incident in which three homes were inadvertently shot upon in May.

On Thursday, supervisors voted instead to direct county staff to study the safety concerns identified by the board and report back Dec. 4 with solutions.A VADGIF biologist spoke and reinforced what we noted in our legislative alert yesterday regarding the deer population:
District Wildlife Biologist Kevin Rose from the Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries directed the board’s attention to hunting and vehicle safety stating that more than 80 percent of the deer population is harvested with firearms in Loudoun.

The biologist added that the locality has the highest reported number of deer collisions and cause of injuries -- an average of 26 annually in the past five years -- in the commonwealth.

“We rely on firearms deer hunting to control the deer herd,” Rose said. “Any restriction that majorly handcuffs the ability -- for hunters to use firearms to harvest deer -- is going to negatively affect our ability to manage deer.”While this situation was caused by one or more people apparently discharging a firearm in an unsafe manner, it provided the opportunity for gun ban members of the General Assembly to attempt to do at the local level what they currently can't do at the state level.  From the Times report:
In May, Democrats from Loudoun’s state delegation called for the county to outlaw the discharging of firearms.

“It is our opinion that the local zoning code better provides a mechanism to proactively reduce the likelihood of injuries or damages from stray gunfire occurring in the first place,” the letter states.The VSSA member in attendance noted that gun owners had won a complete victory until a couple of squishy Republican members of the board threw a lifeline to the gun ban Democrats on the board, and offered up the study of safety concerns.  So, we won the first round, but may have to fight this again in a watered down form.

A special thanks to VSSA member Chris M. for attending and providing a report of the meeting and to Delegate Dave LaRock and State Senator Dick Black who were also in attendance and spoke in support of defeating the new ordinance.

Loudoun County Proposing to Ban Hunting and Shooting

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 08:11
Tonight (Thursday, June 21), the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (BoS) will consider a proposal from Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) to amend the Loudoun County ordinance dealing with the discharge of firearms.  If this ordinance passes, it will effect both hunting and shooting in the county and have serious consequences.

Supervisor Umstattd is overreacting to a rare incident in Loudoun where a firearm was discharged carelessly and resulted in minor property damage.

Discharging a firearm is always a serious matter but if the Board reacts hastily to an isolated incident, that would be a serious mistake.  Unfortunately that may be what is about to happen in Loudoun County.

The proposal would ban shooting if there is another occupied structure within a half-mile of where you are shooting. That would pretty much ban shooting in the entire county!

You can click here to view Umstattd's proposed ordinance.

You can click here to view a review of current ordinances, laws, and the single incident

Loudoun was once the locality with the Commonwealth's best deer hunting.  Increased development has put a large portion of the county off limits to hunting with firearms, resulting in a large over-population of deer.  Imagine what banning the use of firearms in the entire county for harvesting deer will do to exacerbate that problem.  Just a couple of the effects of deer overpopulation are property loss due to auto collisions, which also sometimes result in the loss of human life.  Lyme disease is also a by-product of deer overpopulation, and that is already at epidemic levels in Loudoun.  Such a policy change could cause Lyme cases to increase further.

In addition to the proposed ordinance, the Board may also consider other changes.

If you live in Loudoun County, it is strongly suggested you attend this meeting. The meeting starts at 5 pm at:

Loudoun County Government Center
Board Room, First Floor
1 Harrison Street, S.E.
Leesburg, VA 20177

Also, please email BOS@Loudoun.gov  to make your opposition known to all supervisors, even if you cannot attend tonight's meeting.

N.J Gun Range Owner Has Message Virginia Gun Owners Should Heed

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:19
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed six draconian gun control bills into law. Within minutes, the NRA and the Association of New Jersey Rifles and Pistol Clubs, VSSA's sister organization, filed a lawsuit against the ban on ownership of magazines holding more than ten rounds. Yesterday, while appearing on NRATV's Cam and Company, Anthony Colandro, owner of Gun For Hire Range in Woodland Park and host of Gun for Hire Radio, told host Cam Edwards that what happens in New Jersey will spread to the rest of the country.  He's right.  Look at the bills that were introduced in the 2018 session of the General Assembly.  It's isn't hyperbole or fundraising type of rhetoric.  It is a real threat.  And if we don't maintain our pro-rights majority in both houses of the General Assembly in the 2019 elections, it will happen here overnight with Governor Northam in office.  Watch the clip below and heed what Colandro says.  Then get involved.  Join VSSA if you are reading this and are not a member, or renew your membership.  If we sit back and are complacent, the rights we have enjoyed as residents of Virginia will be gone overnight.

Vote Nick Freitas On June 12

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 14:53
Tomorrow is the June primary to determine nominees for the GOP U.S. Senate candidate and several congressional races.  VSSA urges all Virginia gun owners to vote for Delegate Nick Freitas for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination.  Delegate Freitas, is a former Green Beret and he currently serves in the Virginia House of  Delegates. You may recall that VSSA shared his impassioned floor speech defending 2nd Amendment Rights in our weekly eBullet member newsletter. In that speech, viewed almost 11 million times on his Facebook page, Freitas challenged common myths regarding crime involving firearms and gun control before questioning why gun rights advocates have been treated unfairly in their representation by the media and his peers.
Frietas is endorsed by the NRA-PVF and by VSSA.   Please make sure you go out and vote tomorrow, and vote for Nick Freitas.  For more on Delegate Freitas' campaign, take a look at his interview on a May edition of NRATV Cam and Company.

A View From Our High Power Shooters

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 13:51
May was a busy month for VSSA's rifle shooters.  Included in the photos High Power Chairman Mike Jamison sent are a couple that give you an idea of what long range shooting looks like.  The first photo It is looking up at the 300 yard firing line from the target pit.

  This one is Mike working the target.
Mike Jamison and Phil Lowry entered the CMP Eastern Games at Camp Butner, NC as the VSSA Sniper Team, shooting Springfield 03A4 bolt action Period sniper rifles.  They were able to placed on a squad with friends from Virginia/NC who were also shooting.  Joining Mike and Phil was Alan Lashley, long-time VSSA coach and recently retired from the Virginia Guard, now living and fishing in Wilmington, NC, and Mark Chicowitz, another Virginian.
Phil Lowry is on the ground shooting, Mike Jamison is laying next to him , coaching him and reading the wind.  Alan Lashley ( former VSSA coach) is scoring. Marc Chikowitz is watching on the scope, (another Virginia shooter)

The VSSA Sniper team (Roanoke Branch) was in action May 19th and 20th at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  The rain let up Sunday just in time for a beautiful day at the range.  Mike Jamison and Don Hanley shot together.  Scores at 300 yards were competitive, but 600 yards is still giving them some trouble. 

U.S. Supreme Court Continues to Undermine Heller Decision

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 11:25
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to take a case brought by the Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation challenging a decision by Alameda, a California county that includes Oakland and other east bay cities, to enact a zoning law so onerous it effectively bans gun stores.   By failing to hear the case, the court essentially tells Californians that they have no right to buy guns.  Reason.com has more:
At least Monday's decision serves one useful purpose: It exposes the federal judiciary's willingness to elevate some constitutional rights over others.

If a city enacted zoning laws that effectively outlawed abortion clinics, and a federal appeals court had permitted it, the Supreme Court would have stepped in a heartbeat later. Under precedents going back to Maher v. Roe (1977), any law representing "direct state interference" with abortion is evaluated using strict scrutiny, the most exacting standard of legal review. Few such laws survive. (The 9th Circuit did not apply strict scrutiny to Alameda's law.)

In today's California, even adult movie theaters enjoy greater legal protections than gun stores. In a 1986 decision, the Supreme Court said the First Amendment allows municipalities to restrict such theaters (apparently they were a thing before the Internet) only if zoning laws provide a "reasonable opportunity to open and operate an adult theater within the city."The U.S. Supreme court has not taken any meaningful Second Amendment cases since McDonald.  There currently are not four justices that are willing to vote in favor of hearing cases on the issue.  This is possibly because one or more of the remaining four that voted in the majority in Heller and McDonald are unsure whether they have five votes to find in favor of overruling a gun control law that comes before them.  No one really knows, but what we do know is Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Alito have expressed frustration that this fundamental right becomes more and more marginalized with each case that is turned down.

The perils of this reverberate across the nation.  As cases like Maryland's so-called "assault weapons" ban, New Jersey's and Maryland's may-issue concealed carry law, and California's numerous onerous gun control laws continue to survive because SCOTUS will not hear them, the gun ban lobby will use such laws to craft legislation in other states.  Virginia is ever so close to turning anti-gun.  All it will take is to flip one seat in each house of the General Assembly for us to turn into California or New Jersey over night.

This is the Peril of Publicly Held Gun Companies

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 14:32
You may have heard that at Ruger’s shareholders meeting last week, a shareholder’s proposal which was basically a call for gun control, passed.  Ruger's Board of Directors had recommended that it be defeated. With its passage, Ruger is required to comply.  They did however fail in another proposal that would have loosened the companies ties to the NRA.

Who were the shareholders that made the proposal? According to the New York Times, a coalition of religious women and health care networks which are members of the shareholder advocacy organization Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, representing the Sisters of the Holy Names and 10 other "faith-based organizations" and Catholic Health Initiative.  Members of the group bought shares in Ruger and Smith and Wesson two years ago hoping to influence the way the companies do business. Ruger's largest shareholder, money management firm BlackRock and Vanguard, another large investor in the company, backed the "shareholder's activist resolution" which is how Ruger described the proposal. John Richardson at the blog No Lawyers, only Guns and Money, has a great breakdown of what occurred.  Ruger's response is below:
"The proposal requires Ruger to prepare a report. That's it. A report," Killoy said. The company will follow through on its obligation to produce that report, he said.

"What the proposal does not, and cannot do, is to force us to change our business, which is lawful and constitutionally protected. What it does not do, and cannot do, is force us to adopt misguided principles created by groups who do not own guns, know nothing about our business, and frankly would rather see us out of business." One of the shareholders, Rev. J. Michael Solberg — a pastor in Hinsdale, Ill., who is also a leader of the Metro IAF's Do Not Stand Idly By campaign; objected to CEO Kilroy's characterization:
"We are not gun control advocates," Solberg said. "We are not encouraging you not to make certain weapons. We are encouraging you to take the reputational risks of this issue seriously, and engage with those who want to make a difference."While it does not require Ruger to change the way they do business, it does demonstrate the perils faced by publicly held gun companies.  Malcontent shareholders were able to wield more power than the numbers of shares they likely hold would normally have allowed because they were able to convince large shareholders like BlackRock and Vanguard (which have been a target of Parkland activist David Hogg's boycott calls) to support their efforts. The same coalition will be pushing identical efforts at the shareholder meeting of American Outdoor Brands Company (Smith & Wesson) later this year.

Being a public company provides access to capital, but it does come at some price - like activist investors. It's likely most of the time companies are able to beat back such attempts.  This time however nervous large investors like BlackRock and Vanguard helped push these shareholders over the finish line.  Will this give pause to other firearms related companies that are looking to go public?  Only time will tell.

Vote Nick Freitas in the GOP Primary June 12th

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 11:35
Gun owners have an opportunity to nominate a true champion of the Second Amendment on June 12 to run against anti-gun U.S. Senator Tim Kaine in November.  While all three GOP candidates have responded to the NRA Questionnaire in strong support of our firearms freedom (based on their NRA-PVF ratings), one candidate stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that candidate is Delegate Nick Freitas.  Because of his strong record in the General Assembly, Delegate Freitas has earned the endorsement of the NRA Political Victory Fund and has earned the support of the Virginia Shooting Sports Association.  Readers of this blog may recall earlier this year, we shared a floor speech that Delegate Freitas made in support of our rights during the General Assembly session.  The video of the speech went viral and has had over 16 million views.

Delegate Freitas enlisted in the United States Army after High School. Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Nick served two combat tours as a Green Beret in the Middle East. After Nick’s service as a Green Beret, he became Director of Operations for a service-disabled, veteran-owned defense contractor. Nick is currently serving his second term as a Virginia House of Delegates member, originally elected in 2015.   Nick and his wife, Tina, and their three children live in Culpeper, VA.

Gun owners need to do all they can do between now and June 12 to help Delegate Freitas win the primary.  You can find out how to contact the campaign by clicking here.

Yesterday, Delegate Freitas spoke with NRATV host Cam Edwards.  He spoke about the 2017 off-year elections where Virginia went from a two-thirds pro-gun rights majority to a one-vote majority in the House of Delegates. Freitas also said progressives don't want a few "common sense" limitations - they want to gut the Second Amendment. He said it's time to respect the constitutional rights of gun owners. They must stop trying to use the government to disarm us.  You can watch the entire interview below.

Delegate Todd Gilbert: Virginia Gun Rights in Jeopardy

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 08:54
During last weekend's NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits,  NRATV host Cam Edwards ran into Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Todd Gilbert of the exhibit floor.  Delegate Gilbert talked about how after the 2017 off-year elections, Virginia went from a two-thirds pro-gun majority to a one vote majority in the House of Delegates. With an anti-gun governor, lt. governor, and attorney general, everything is at stake for gun owners. Gilbert said it shows how energized and organized the progressive left is. They hate President Trump so much they turned out while gun owners stayed at home. They want "universal background checks," a firearms registry, one-gun-a-month and outright bans of semi-auto long guns.  He said it's not enough to vote. Gun owners must talk to their friends and family to make sure they turn out to vote for pro-gun candidates in the fall.  If we don't start working now to protect and expand the pro-gun majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, with a snap of the finger, much like the Marvel character Thanos in the current blocker buster movie Avengers Infinity War, Virginia will become California or worse, New Jersey, when it comes to gun laws.

Gun Craft Beer at NRA Annual Meeting.

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 11:04
While walking by the DSArms Booth yesterday, I saw this on the table:

It's Gun Craft Beer and according to the booth staff, it is sold in Illinois where it is manufactured, and available online in 34 states.  It appears from the web site that Virginia is one of those states as we were not in the list of states the site specifically said they could not ship.  Those states are:
Alabama Arkansas Delaware Kentucky Massachusetts Maryland Minnesota Mississippi Montana New Jersey Oklahoma Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Dakota Texas Utah. Just one of the neat things you find when walking the NRA Exhibit Hall floor.

Wall Street Journal: Banks, Credit Card Companies Explore Ways to Monitor Gun Purchases

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 09:53
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that banks and credit-card companies are discussing ways to identify purchases of guns in their payment systems. According to the Journal, the discussions are preliminary and they note such discussions could be very controversial.
The financial companies have explored creating a new credit-card code for firearms dealers, similar to how they code restaurants, or department stores, according to people familiar with the matter. Another idea would require merchants to share information about specific firearm products consumers are buying, some of the people said.

Such data could allow banks to restrict purchases at certain businesses or monitor them. The talks, which are informal and might not lead to any action, have occurred against the backdrop of the national debate around guns in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high-school shooting, which left 17 dead.This move comes after both Bank of America and Citicorp announced new policies related to what activies they would finance for gun manufacturers and retailers.  The Journal also spoke to Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin who said concerns raised buy this type of discussion go beyond the gun issue:
“There’s a privacy angle here,” said Adam Levitin, professor of law at Georgetown University. “There’s the slippery slope danger if it’s guns today maybe it is pornography tomorrow and the day after it’s right-wing literature.”There are already divisions inside the banking industry with BOA and Citi setting out restrictions while Wells Fargo has said it is not up to them to decide what products Americans can buy.  Citicorp CEO Michael Corbat seems to think he gets to decide who are responsible gun owners and who aren't:
CEO Michael Corbat said at that bank’s annual meeting that the policy “is intended to preserve the rights of responsible gun owners like myself, while relying on best sales practices to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.”    So, since Citi adopted a new code of conduct for gun dealers and manufacturers that includes retailers restricting sales for buyers under age 21, I guess Corbat does not believe anyone 18-20 can be a responsible gun owner, but they are responsible enough to serve in the military or vote.

Read the entire WSJ article.  While these discussions are preliminary, there are some very specific policies being discussed like one large bank discussing with lawmakers potential legislation to require merchants to share information about specific gun-related products consumers are buying with their cards, and credit card companies making specific codes for gun retailers but not for retailers like Walmart which sell other products as well as firearms and ammunition.

The Non-existent Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 11:07
You have probably heard from the gun ban lobby more times than you can count that states with higher gun ownership also have higher homicides committed with firearms.  They trot out studies to "support" their claims and the media regurgitate the talking points created.  There is a great article that explains the fake science behind these studies and provides us with the facts to refute the claims.  It is long, but well worth the read.  In short, here is how the gun ban lobby comes up with their findings:
One: They’re sneaking suicide in with the data, and then obfuscating that inclusion with rhetoric. This is the biggest trick I see in the media, and very few people seem to pick up on it. Suicide, numerically speaking, is around twice the problem homicide is, both in overall rate and in rate by gun.

Two: They’re cooking the homicide data.The author goes on to fully explain both tactics and how it affects the numbers.  Then he wraps it all up by illustrating how they use the tainted data to come up with their claims.  Go click the link to the article above and read the entire piece.  It's well worth the time it will take.

Hat tip to Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned.

Will the Focus on Guns Hurt Democrats in Mid-terms

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:15
A poll released last week seems to indicate that the extreme focus on guns has hurt Democrats as they seek to take control of the House and Senate in November's mid-term election.  The Washington Post has the story:
The poll finds that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates has dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year. At the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Trump’s approval rating, although it remains low. Measures of partisan enthusiasm paint a more mixed picture of the electorate in comparison with signs of Democratic intensity displayed in many recent special elections.

One potentially new factor in the mix of midterm issues is gun policy, which has emerged as a major voter consideration two months after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. More than 4 in 10 registered voters say it is extremely important that ­candidates share their views on gun issues. Fewer voters say it is critical that candidates share their views on Trump or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), leaders who are most likely to be targets in partisan messaging this fall.According to the Post, white voters are responsible for closing the gap.
The survey shows the GOP making a more pronounced shift among white voters, who now prefer Republicans by a 14-point margin over Democrats, up from five points in January. Republicans lead by 60 percent to 31 percent among white voters without college degrees, slightly larger than an 18-point GOP advantage three months ago.Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned posed the rhetorical question "what issue could that demographic possibly care about that could account for this?"

The Post noted that the renewed gun-control debate is a "wild card" in the midterm election. Several polls have shown increased support for restrictions aimed at curbing violence involving firearms following February’s Parkland school shooting.  But as is usually the case, support for gun control jumps after events like Parkland, then subside.  The same is true this time as a new Gallup Poll shows that those mentioning gun control as the most important issue facing the country has dropped by over half in April.  Gun control however still continues to be one of the highest-ranked issues named by Americans -- ranking fourth behind dissatisfaction with government, immigration and race relations.

Seven months is an eternity in politics.  Much can change between now and November.  The best way to make sure that the gun ban lobby does not win in November is to get active for pro-rights candidates in this year's campaign.

Take a Woman Hunting Week

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:01
From the National Wild Turkey Federation:
April 21-28, during the 2018 Virginia Spring Gobbler Season, The Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is promoting our 3rd annual statewide “Take a Woman Hunting Week” with the purpose of encouraging hunters and mentors to introduce women to hunting and share our hunting heritage.

By registering for this event, both the mentor and the woman hunting will be entered into a drawing for a shotgun. In addition, the woman will receive her choice of a custom turkey box call to commemorate the hunt, or a Women in the Outdoors event t-shirt. Registration is limited to Virginia residents.  You can find more information about the event at the above link.

The Future of Deer Hunting in Virginia

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 11:18
The Virginia Gazette has this article titled "Deer Hunting is Endangered."  The point of the article was lack of access will ultimately kill deer hunting in Virginia:
As autumn approaches, Ray Respress gets busy clearing paths, building tree stands and gathering gear for the upcoming deer hunting season. His routine is on hold this fall until his Flat Iron Hunt Club learns if it will have anyplace place to go.

"We don't have a contract on it to date," Respress said about the last James City tract of land that the hunt club can lease. Usually the yearly contract is firmed up by July. "We don't want to go in there and spend three or four days cutting trails and removing brush if we aren't going to have the land," he said.

The situation is a byproduct of growth, as landowners look to more tightly control their lands, often with an eye toward development. For various reasons, hunting has declined by 4% nationally in the past five years, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The tracts are drying up.

"We've lost them all," lamented Andy Priestley, owner of Headhunter's Headquarters in Toano, an official station for hunters to gauge their catch. He said at least 20 hunt clubs have disappeared in the past five years. He can count only five left in the county. His own club, Grove Kennel, disbanded seven years ago after losing its hunting tract in Stonehouse. Years ago most hunting agreements were verbal, between old friends. But as the original landowners died, the land often passed to their children, some of whom were less willing to honor the agreements.The article focused on hunt clubs but lack of land access for private hunters is also a problem.  The state's public wildlife management areas are not always a good option.  With localities ever growing hunger for tax revenue, more and more undeveloped land is being sold to developers.  There was a time when it was relatively easy for a hunter to gain access to prime private hunting land simply by asking.  Today, this is less and less the case.

In an article earlier this year, Outdoor Life addressed the nation's declining hunting numbers and pointed out the larger problem is demographics:
Hunting participation peaked in 1982, when nearly 17 million hunters purchased 28.3 million licenses. Hunter numbers have steadily declined since. We lost 2.2 million hunters between 2011 and 2016 alone, according to the National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-­Associated Recreation, a report issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2016, just 11.5 million people hunted. That’s less than 4 percent of the national population. Outdoor Life looked at the demographics of the hunting population.  They noted that baby boomers make up the largest portion of the nation's hunters, and that they have already begun to age out of the sport.  Outdoor Life went on to point out that in the next 15 years, most will stop buying licenses entirely, and when they do, the hunter ranks could plunge by 30 percent.  The major downside to this is that with a reduction in the number of hunting licenses purchased also brings with it a plunge in critical funding for wildlife management as well as hunting advocacy because those fees go directly to wildlife conservation and management. 

The Outdoor Life article goes on to discuss how to reverse the trend and discuss some models that work.  For those of us who enjoy hunting and want to see it continued for future generations,  the trends are not promising, but, the Outdoor Life article says we turn it around, if we change the way we recruit new hunters.

Washington Post Profile of Texas AR-15 Owner

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:20
Sunday's Washington Post had this profile of Fabian Rodriguez, a Texas gun owner who just purchased his first AR-15.  Given it is the Post, the article has a few things to quibble with (noted below) but it mostly did not put Rodriquez in a bad light given how vociferously anti-gun the editorial page is on the subject.  The author, Abigail Hauslohner, did infer that people who purchase or own AR-15 are mostly people who support the military but didn't serve, and that owning an AR-15 allows them to connect with that service without serving.  This inference was reinforced by the former ATF agent turned gun control proponent, David Chipman, who now works for the Gabby Giffords gun ban group.  He told the author that owning an AR-15 was a way to "kind of act patriotic without having to do it."

For his part, Rodriquez represented the gun owning community well.  He has been a shooter since he was eight and purchased his first gun when he was 18.  He explained why he wanted an AR-15:
But this is a gun that Rodriguez has wanted for a couple of years now, a gun that he thinks has been unfairly maligned because of a few people’s bad actions, and a gun that he believes is his right to own. He’s here this weekend not because he worries about an imminent ban, but because he just sold his Mustang and finally has the cash.

Rodriguez is among the sprawling population of American gun enthusiasts who own or aspire to own an AR-15, the semiautomatic weapon that the National Rifle Association has designated “America’s rifle.” Some say the weapon can be useful for hunting or home protection. For others, like Rodriguez, the sleek, easy-to-use design and customizable features make the high-powered rifle simply fun to own.Of course Hauslohner showed that she knows little about firearms herself with the description of the AR-15 as "high-powered", and later in the article when she described it as a "a gun that can fire 45 high-velocity rounds per minute, bullets that travel so fast that their shock waves mimic an explosion as they enter a body."

If there is one thing that should give us pause, it is Rodriquez's acceptance of some gun control proposals that give many pro-rights proponents concern.  It is likely he is not the only gun owner willing to give up some of his freedom:
“I’m a law-abiding, gun-owning citizen,” Rodriguez says. “If there was a procedure that said I have to go to a class and learn, I’m going to do it.”

If the government said he needed to produce a character witness, provide access to his Internet search history or submit to a home visit or a rigorous mental-health evaluation, he’d comply.

“If it takes a little more to have it, that’s fine,” he says.We've all seen the recitation of "poll results" that show a large majority of gun owners, including NRA members (these have to be self identified because the NRA does not sell it's membership list) support background checks.  It's likely because we've all gone through them for over 25 years that is the case.  But, it is also probably true that if you start detailing what is entailed in the various "universal" background check proposals that the numbers would significantly decrease.  I also don't think I should be required to have my home searched or undergo a "rigourous mental-health evaluation" to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Overall however, it is an article worth reading.

North Carolina Pro-rights Activist Garners National Attention

Mon, 04/09/2018 - 14:46
Greensboro resident Mark Robinson takes his Second Amendment rights very seriously.  Last week, we shared a video in the eBullet of his speech before the Greensboro City Council. In a polite, respectful, fact-based but passionate response, he debunked the talking points of anti-gun activists and asked when they were going to start standing up for the majority, the law-abiding. Since those remarks, he has been featured on Fox News Fox and Friends morning show as well as all of the live NRATV programing, including NRANews Cam and Company.  He told Cam Edwards that he went to the meeting because it was time to stop being a Facebook advocate for the Second Amendment. Robinson also said People need to get out from behind their computer screens and get involved.  You can see that interview below.