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Lies, Damn lies and Statistics

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:14
It almost seems like a weekly occurrence that some new academic study comes out claiming proof that guns are bad things - they either lead to more police deaths, or their easy availability leads to mass shootings.  I'm not an statistician and was never good at math so thankfully there are people smarter than me that can get into the details of studies and find out just what these so-called academics did that led to the conclusions they reached.  Such is the case with a new study by Adam Lankford, Criminal Justice Professor at The University of Alabama, that purports to show mass shootings are caused by the "easy access" to firearms.  Author and blogger James Visor explains how Lankford arrived at his conclusion:
For example, correlating gun availability with the number of mass shootings is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is like saying there is a correlation between obesity and large waist lines. In other words, it makes perfect sense that if there are more guns in circulation that there would be statistically more opportunity for a mentally ill person to buy or steal a gun and then commit a horrific crime. Let’s not forget that every mass shooter purchased their weapons legally, stole their guns or skirted the law by using a straw purchase.

Critics will jump on that previous paragraph and say “Ha! You admitted that a society with guns is more dangerous that one without them! Hypocrite!” Stay with me, folks, there’s more to this story.

Thoughtful observers know that correlation does not equal causation. Bivariate analysis, one involving only two variables, can be compelling because it offers an easy, linear way of looking at complex issues. That some difficult math is involved gives the technique an appearance of having scientific validity and objectivity. The weakness of using only two variables, however, is that the technique can oversimplify too much, and gloss over real world complexities and variables that potentially offer more explanatory power.In other words, when the availability of firearms becomes the sole focus, it excludes all other variables, and falls back on the ideological approach of gun control.  Visor was on NRANews' Cam and Company yesterday to discuss the "study" and its flaws more in depth.

Categories: News

John Lott: Walmart Decision to Stop Selling Modern Sporting Rifles Hit Poor Hardest

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 09:44
The Crime Prevention Research Center posted this link to Dr. John Lott's latest OP/ED on Walmart's announced decision to stop selling modern sporting rifles.  In the piece, Lott writes that the retailer's decision will fall hardest on the poor:
Semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 don’t just make hunting easier. They also help people protect themselves. Should someone miss his first shot or be faced with multiple assailants, having to manually reload the gun could cost him his life.

There’s no evidence that banning these so-called “assault weapons” will reduce crime. Violent crime rates (including murder rates) fell after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in September 2004. In 2003, when the ban was still in place, there were 5.7 murders per 100,000 people. By 2013, the murder rate had fallen to 4.5 per 100,000.

One should also bear in mind that just 2.3% ,of all murders are committed with rifles. Not even studies funded by the Clinton administration found that the ban reduced any type of violent crime.

In the past, Wal-Mart has sometimes made the decision to stop selling guns in high-crime urban areas. Perhaps this made business sense in certain cases, but it also made it harder for vulnerable people to defend themselves.

If Wal-Mart is caving to political pressure to stop selling the country’s most popular firearms, the higher costs to poor people acquiring guns means fewer of them will be able to afford protection. Our loss will go far beyond reduced Wal-Mart profits.When I wrote last week that I did not think the decision would have a large impact on gun owners because Wal-Mart stores in the Richmond area did not carry anything other than shotguns and some hunting rifles anyway, it was pointed out to me in the comment section that for many people, Wal-Mart is the only place to buy firearms in many areas of the country.
Categories: News

NPR Touts Study Claiming People More Likely to Pull Trigger if Target is Black

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 11:32
NPR posted this story Saturday night:
Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they're shooting at is black?

A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question. Yara Mekawi of the University of Illinois and her co-author, Konrad Bresin, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

"What we found is that it does," Mekawi tells NPR's Arun Rath. "In our study we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot black targets with a gun, relative to white targets with a gun. And ... people were more trigger-happy when shooting black targets compared to shooting white targets."

That is, shooters weren't just faster to fire at black targets; they were also more likely to fire at a black target.My gut told me there was something screwy about this, and it turns out my gut was right. Nick Leghorn out over on The Truth About Guns dug in to the meat of the "study" and found it did not even involve people actually shooting targets.  First, for those who are like me and are not familiar with "meta-analysis," here is Longhorn's definition:
...it's when psychology students come up with ridiculous premises for studies (typically designed to appeal to their liberal professors and get as much publicity as possible), and then professors coerce their students to participate in exchange for class credit. So right off the bat the premise of the research is fairly biased, as the entire point is to be as controversial as possible.

For this specific study no actual direct observation was done. Instead, the researchers simply gathered up about fifty different studies and directly compared their results. As the researchers themselves admit, the results weren’t always the same.Now, to the part about not actually shooting targets, participants were placed at a computer and asked to hit two different buttons (“shoot” and “no shoot”) depending on what they saw. This begs the question, "isn't there a psychological difference between pressing a button and actually pulling a trigger?"  I did not take psychology in college but Longhorn did, and he confirms that it's the only thing he does remember, and that there is a difference, thus, there is no 1:1 correlation between what was being tested and what the “researchers” claimed:
That’s like asking someone to choose between a banana and an apple for dinner and claiming that choosing a banana proves they are a racist.Finally, only one of the studies included in this "analysis" had an average participant age of 21 or older.  So, not only were the vast majority of the participants too young to purchase a handgun in the first place, but would also not likely be your average police officer. So, they did not even study the populations for which they were trying to draw conclusions.   It's just another example of cherry picking data and studies that align with a bias against guns and gun owners.
Categories: News

Gun Ban Advocates Protest Roanoke Gun Show

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 08:20
This past weekend, gun ban advocates protested outside a Roanoke gun show, calling for "universal background checks" and other "better laws," in the wake of the killing of two journalists last week.  WDBJ talked to the show promoter and at the end of the report noted that gun owners they spoke with believe lawmakers need to start with mental health laws.  Its not clear however how even that would have prevented the tragedy that occurred last week as there is no evidence that the shooter had been treated or referred for mental health issues.
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Categories: News

Roanoke Times Has A Great Editorial Worth the Time to Read

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 14:48
Today's Roanoke Times has a very good editorial on the shooting of two WDBJ employees that asked the question "What Would Have Prevented This?" The Times notes:
Yet the notion that we need more gun control — what kind of gun control, exactly, would have prevented this? McAuliffe, in that radio interview with WTOP in Washington, said: “We need tougher gun laws in the commonwealth. Everyone who purchases a firearm in Virginia should have to go through a background check.”While the Times dredges up the so-called "gun show loophole", they correctly note that the shooter passed a background check before he purchased his pistol. He was not a convicted felon, he had no protective orders against him, and did not have a history of psychiatric treatment.  They also point out that a waiting period would not have stopped him because he bought the handgun two months before using it.  With this background presented, the Times rightly asks:
What, short of repealing the Second Amendment and prohibiting the sale of any firearms, would have prevented Flanagan from patronizing a gun store?The Times then points out the conversations that do need to be held, one about mental health, which they say is surely underfunded and underappreciated.  The second conversation is about the nature of American culture itself:
The other, perhaps even more difficult, conversation is about the nature of American culture in general. President Obama was correct when he said “the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism.” What if the deepest problem here, though, is not in our laws or our mental health system but in ourselves? Other countries suffer horrendous crimes, too, but not the way we do. Why is that?And that's the real question.  When I was a kid, we could take our shotguns to school in our trucks or cars to go hunting at the end of the day.  No one shot up the school with them.  People in New York that were on rifle teams took their guns to school on the subway.  All of this before background checks and magazine bans and such that have been passed since that time.  What has changed about people in the last 30 years?  The Times closes with this which could explain the change:
The British journalist Tim Stanley, writing in London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, put it this way: “I love America, I sincerely do. But it has an anger problem. Flanagan was a classic example of a man who sought conflict and when he found it, escalated it into hysteria and — crucially — politicised it. In reality, he was probably just a mediocre journalist. But he imagined that he was the victim of a conspiracy and that he had to fight back. This tendency to erupt when reason should have prevailed is behind so much of the social chaos in AmericaWell worth the time to read the entire editorial.  Hat tip to Cam Edwards and NRANews.

Categories: News

Walmart Removing AR-15 Style Rifles from Inventory

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 06:41
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has the story here
The AR-15 rifles and other modern sporting rifles were being sold at less than a third of the company's 4,600 U.S. stores. Company spokesman Kory Lundberg said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will remove the remaining inventory as stores transition from summer to fall merchandise, which should take a week or two to complete.

Lundberg said the decision to remove the weapons was not political and that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer made the decision earlier this year.

"It's similar to what we do with any product. Being what it is, it gets a little more attention, but it's the same process for any other product," Lundberg said.While some in the gun ban lobby who push businesses like Wal-Mart to make these decision will probably use this to claim some sort of victory, I would agree that this is probably not political - I've never seen them in the Richmond area stores anyway.  The guns sold in Wal-mart stores in this area are shotguns and .22s.  Maybe a hunting rifle.   And, unlike my favorite locally owned gun store, I don't see people lined up at the counter in the Wal-Mart sporting goods section to buy a firearm.  I figure most serious gun owners are like me, when they are looking to buy a new firearm, they want someone who knows what they are talking about, and that's not usually your average Wal-Mart sporting goods employee.

Categories: News

McAuliffe Says Police Pursuing Shooter of WDBJ Reporter and Cameraman

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 13:25
Thoughts and prayers for the families and friends of the WDBJ reporter and cameraman that were killed early this morning during an on-air interview.  Governor Terry McAuliffe said police have a suspect and are pursuing.  Unfortunately, even before police have caught him or know the facts of why this sad incident occurred, McAuliffe also calls for more gun control.

Update: WDBJ reports suspect is in custody after shooting himself.  He is a former employee.

Update II: Suspect has died in a Fairfax Hospital from self-inflicted wounds.

Update III: Hillary Clinton and White House spokesman Josh Ernest join McAuliffe in calling for more gun control.
Categories: News

Grant Cunningham on Situational Awareness

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 13:15
Firearms trainer Rob Pincus noted on his Facebook page that he has seen a number of posts today related to this morning's shooting of two Virginia television staff and how it was an example of not being aware of your surroundings.  Video that the shooter took at the time of the shooting shows him standing not far from the victims, pointing his gun for what seemed like an eternity, and the reporter and interviewee (the cameraman's back was to the shooter) had no idea the shooter was there.   Pincus linked to an article on the Personal Defense Network web site titled "The Myth of Situational Awareness" by Grant Cunningham to point out that the way most people think about this topic is severely flawed when compared to real life:
It’s because awareness is too often touted as a talisman against attack, and it’s used to justify training that doesn’t reflect the realities of criminal attacks. Being situationally aware doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to see your attack coming farther out. In fact, the opposite is more likely.

Ever seen a movie or television show where someone is planning a jail break or burglary? They case the joint (usually at night), watching the guard patrol the area. They learn how long it takes the guard to make a complete circuit of the building, and just as he turns the corner, they make their move—secure in the knowledge that they have a predictable amount of time to work before he gets back.

This is the fallacy of situational awareness. You can “check your six” all you want, but if your attacker has determined you’re worth the increased risk, he’ll simply wait until your head starts to turn to the front again, and attack you from the rear. You’ll be ambushed because that’s the safest thing for him to do. He’s not going to stand 21 feet in front of you, knife in hand, and start running while your hands hover over the butt of your gun. He’ll wait until your attention is diverted and suddenly appear from your blind side.

Situational awareness doesn’t reduce your need to prepare for that ambush attack! An ambush, by its very nature, happens when you are least expecting it. Everyone, no matter how aware of their surroundings, has moments (lots of them) when their guard is down. Even if it’s only for a second or two, that’s all an attacker needs once he’s decided on his target. He’s not going to attack you while you’re looking at him—he’s going to wait until you’re not looking and then strike!

Don’t make the mistake of assuming the criminal is going to engage in a protracted surveillance of his target, giving you time to spot him. His assessment can happen in a matter of seconds, because an experienced perp uses the same kind of apperceptive pattern matching and recall that you do when you perform a task that you’re good at. That’s what makes him an expert at what he does, and it’s why he’s so dangerous.That's not to say situational awareness is useless. Cunningham notes it can alter the criminal’s risk-reward assessment in our favor and it might reduce the number of potential attackers simply because not all of them will be sufficiently expert enough to work around your alertness. The article goes on to talk about the best training regimen to help change the risk/reward equation.  It's a good read.
Categories: News

Dave Hardy on Brady's "Empty Suits"

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 14:21
Lawyer and blogger Dave Hardy has a great article over on the NRA America's 1st Freedom website about that law suit against a number of online retailers that the Aurora theater shooter used before going on his killing spree in 2012.  You may remember our post earlier this summer about how Lucky Gunner, one of the retailers named in the suit, was going to give away to 2nd Amendment organizations, the money that the court ordered be paid by the plaintiffs to the defendants after the court dropped kicked Brady's suit.  Hardy calls that decision Brady's "Little Bighorn Moment":
On June 17, Matsch granted the motion, and ruled that Lucky Gunner and the other defendants were entitled to $203,000 in attorney fees! Matsch’s ruling slapped Brady down, and hard.

“It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center, and given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of [the killer] was proceeding appears to be more of an attempt to propagandize the public and to stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order which counsel should have known would be outside the authority of this court,” he ruled.

Brady had argued that the attorneys’ fees claimed were too high; too much effort had been put into the defense. The judge made short shrift of this.

“This was an all-conceivable claims attack on these Internet sellers, attempting to destroy their legitimate businesses and invalidate the federal and state statutes protecting them, …” he wrote. “Those who ignite a fire should be responsible for the cost of suppressing it before it becomes a conflagration.”

The ruling was a stunning blow to Brady’s litigation business model. From this point on, its strategy of sticking dealers with the costs of defense, even if Brady loses, becomes risky. Brady, or its clients, may wind up bearing those costs.Brady has lost cases before.  The "Little Bighorn Moment" comes in because, you see, Brady brought the suit on behalf of survivors of one of the victims.  So, as Hardy points out, the judgment is against "Brady's clients, not Brady.   The judge noted in his ruling that if this puts a hardship on the plaintiffs (Brady's clients) it could be "ameliorated by the sponsors (Brady) of this action in their name."  That puts Brady in the uncomfortable position of either leaving the folks they convinced to bring the suit holding the bag, or coughing up what Hardy states is more than half of their yearly payroll.

Now, as Hardy concludes, they could turn to fundraising to raise the funds, but, they have the choice of say "hey, we screwed up" or "we need your money to pay Lucky Gunner."  Not much of a choice in either case.
Categories: News

As Crime Rises, Criminal With 55 Counts Gets Probation in Milwaulkee

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 13:35
In cities like Washington DC, Chicago, New York, and others, violent crime has been on the rise this summer.  Recently in Milwaukee, one criminal was sentenced to probation at the time he was charged with over 50 felonies.  While sentencing the man who had 55 counts of illegal gun purchase and sale charges, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa, said, “People kill people, guns don’t kill people.” The perp got one year of probation.  Most crime is committed by repeat offenders.  I wonder when this guy will become part of that statistic.

On Friday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke shared his thoughts on the story with NRANews host Cam Edwards, saying that we don’t need more gun laws, we need to do a better job of enforcing the laws we have. 

Categories: News

Brady Campaign and the Indiana National Guard

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 10:31
The gun ban lobby isn't happy that Indiana Governor Mike Pence has asked NRA Instructors to teach concealed carry training to the state's guardsmen.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence criticized Pence for recruiting the NRA, suggesting the organization is "first and foremost" a "lobbying organization."
"There is no institution better equipped to train our servicemen and women than the US military itself," Dan Gross, the Brady Campaigns president said. "This is not a job for lobbyists."Once again, Brady gets it wrong.  Here are the facts via NRABlog.com:
If anyone has done their research or knows a little bit about the NRA, they would know that we were founded on the principles of marksmanship, and have continued till this day to teach firearm competency and safety to civilians through a network of over 120,000 certified instructors. No other organization in the world does more than the NRA to educate people on the safe and responsible use of firearms.

Not only do we instruct civilians, but we also instruct law enforcement. Over 65,000 Law Enforcement instructors have gone through our NRA training programs, and there are currently over 13,000 active instructors - specifically in law enforcement. Protecting our rights in the halls of Congress is just one part of what the NRA does for gun owners. But we already know that.  If the mainstream media was interested in doing its job right, they would have pointed that out too.
Categories: News

Bloombergs Billions vs Our Grassroots

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 08:08
Sebastian makes a great point over on Shall Not Be Questioned talking about the gobs of money that Bloomberg is spending and how it likely tilted Oregon in his favor in this year's legislature:
Bloomberg’s anti-gun movement has been frustrated in many states, except Oregon has recently tilted in his favor. It should be no surprise, then, that Everytown outspend pro-gun rights groups 10 to 1 there too. The other side wants to talk about the well-funded “gun lobby,” but reality is that Bloomberg can outspend us election after election if he really wants to, and money talks. If we don’t match Bloomberg’s cash with real and sustained grassroots energy, he will end up being able to successfully buy legislation, as he succeeded doing in Oregon.

Will he get involved in the handful of state senate races in Virginia this year to try and get a victory here?  We have the opportunity to match his money with grassroots activity.  NRA-ILA has Campaign Field Reps in the handful of competitive senate districts this year.  Please consider contacting them and volunteer to help the pro-rights candidate in your area.  Our grassroots can beat Bloomberg's money.

Virginia Beach
Talmadge East
[email protected]

Michael Rubino
[email protected]

Northern Virginia
Hunter VanDusen
[email protected]

Northern Virginia
Thomas Bingham
[email protected]
Categories: News

Retailers Bass Pro, Cabelas, Thumb Nose at Bloomberg

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 14:19
The Washington Examiner reports that the nation's largest outdoor retailers, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's are not buckling under to Bloomberg funded Everytown for Gun Safety's demand that they ignore the rules put in place by the Brady Act.  Those rules allow an FFL to transfer a firearm to the buyer if the NICS has not denied the purchase with in 72 hours:
Under current FBI rules, the buyers are allowed to get their weapon after the third day, although the check for disqualifying information through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System will continue for a total of 90 days. It's a small number, however, since 91 percent of the background checks are completed instantly, surpassing the attorney general's own goal.

The Examiner also noted that even if a denial is received after the firearm has been transferred that there is a policy in place to recover the firearm from the purchaser.  Add these to Kroger, another company that has not buckled to Bloomberg's bullying.  All three businesses deserve the patronage of gun owners.
Categories: News

Hillary Not Backing Down on Gun Control

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 09:09
National Journal has the story here:
Asked what she would do to strengthen gun-control laws across the country, Clinton said the current situation is "way out of balance" and that she is "not backing off of this fight," mentioning the shooting in Charleston that killed nine black churchgoers. "I don't see any conflict between the legitimate protection of Second Amendment rights and protecting people from gun violence from people who should never have guns in the first place," she said.

On another question, about "Stand Your Ground" laws around the country, Clinton said she thought many of those laws need to be "rewritten" and that reaching for a gun has become a "knee-jerk reaction."

"Yes, there is a role in extreme situations to defend yourself and defend your home, but unfortunately what we've seen too much of in the last few years is a spate of people who have reached for a gun before they really figured out what was going on," she said. "They've been much too eager to use that gun. We've seen it with policing and we've seen it with civilians."The facts don't support Clinton's claim that people are just "too eager to use" their guns.  There are over 100 million gun owners in this country.  We don't see untold numbers of people using them in "knee-jerk" ways to settle arguments or what ever else she may have had in mind when she made that comment.  Clinton and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley have both made gun control a central part of their campaign for the White House.   If you think we've been under attack the last six years, if either one of them wins in 2016, it can only get worse.
Categories: News

Thanks for Keeping Our Costs Low

Thu, 08/13/2015 - 08:00
Last week, the VSSA Executive Director shared this information with me and I intended to post it, but as is the case sometimes with bloggers who have a real job and a family, work and family responsibilities caused it to fall to the bottom of the stack. He sent me a "gentle" reminder late Wednesday afternoon, so here goes:
This marks the ninth year in a row that VSSA annual dues have not seen an increase! While postal rates have increased several times over the same period, and the cost of the renewal forms has also increased, there has been an overall savings to VSSA. This is due in large part to you, the members.

Not long ago, VSSA did a complete revamp of the association web site and began accepting new members and renewals online. As people now do everything from shopping, paying bills, and banking online, it only made sense to add this feature to the revamped web site. That feature has been a contributing factor to the savings. Online renewals save in repeat renewal notices, save in postage and save in time necessary to produce statements.

If you have not used this method for your membership renewal (and War Chest donations too), please take a moment to look at this simple and cost saving feature when it's time to renew your membership. You can access the renewal page at http://www.myvssa.org/renew.  You can visit the War Chest donation page at http://www.myvssa.org/content/vssa-war-chest.
Categories: News

Why Schumer's New Gun Ban Scheme is a Bad Idea

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 09:40
 has a great piece over at Reason.com on the problems with Chuck and Amy Schumer's push to add more mental health records to the National Instant Check System (NICS).  Tuccille points out the main problem with the proposal is the arbitrary way that individuals are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others:
“On one extreme, I've seen at least one case where an applicant was unable to appeal his denial because local police entered an ominous but vague warning in his NICS entry that he was ‘dangerous,’ and thus he had no way of even knowing what motivated police to enter this record in the first place,” notes Jennifer Carlson, an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and author of this year’s Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline.  “And on the other extreme, I've come across cases where individuals with repeated domestic violence issues--including documented physical harm--are told they can have ‘one more chance’ despite--at least in my view--presenting some pretty clear-cut evidence as to their ‘danger to self and others.’"

“This level of arbitrariness is a problem,” she adds. “And I don't think anyone on either side of the gun debate really has come to terms with how uneven our records are--whether because of poor procedure, lack of resources, or arbitrary decision-making.”Another problem with the proposal, one that has been discussed more than once when the issue of mental health comes up, is making sure people who need help are not discouraged from seeking help:
“There’s a lot of criticism about denying more people their Second Amendment rights based on mental illness,” notes Prof. James Jacobs, Director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law and author of Can Gun Control Work?, published in 2002. “Mental health professionals think it will deter people from seeking help and will stigmatize the mentally ill.”

“Would we say that anybody who has ever seen a therapist is disqualified from owning a gun?” asks Jacobs, who wonders where you could draw the line.

Individuals might avoid seeking help if they’re worried that treatment will end up as an entry in a government database—but so might the family and friends of troubled people who think a loved one needs care, but fear a loss of civil liberties as a result.Schumer's legislation is not likely to go anywhere. Unfortunately, Obama's regulatory agencies have found a way around Congress, which is why we now find ourselves fighting to protect the rights of veterans and senior citizens whose only problem is they need someone to assist them with their finances.
Categories: News

Tom Gresham on the Gun Dealio App, and How Honest Gun Owners Get Snared by Gun Control

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 08:55
On Friday, Gun Talk Radio host Tom Gresham talked with NRANews' Cam Edwards about the new Gun Dealio App that allows gun owners and sportsmen to know what sales are going on in their area.  The app is available for both IOS and Android operating systems.  He also talked about new gun control laws passed by the Los Angeles City Council, and explains that the magazine ban and gun storage laws make it easier for law-abiding gun owners to run afoul of the law. It becomes more difficult and dangerous to be a gun owner, but causes no problems for criminals. Further, he responds to the Social Security gun grab, infringing the Second Amendment rights of more than 4 million benefit recipients.

Categories: News