It’s been an “interesting” time lately. Are we seeing the beginning of a full court press?

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “May you live in interesting times” then you understand why it seems so apropos these days.

In the past 6 weeks we’ve seen a number of highly publicized mass shootings in addition to the usual gang related violence that is reported, then ignored by everyone.

June

On June 17, a deranged idiot decided that he’d try to start a race war by shooting up a the oldest African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Southern United States, in Charleston South Carolina

Dylan Roof, pictured below, was a poster boy of how the system has failed to stop mass shootings yet again.

 

He killed 9 and wounded 1, seeking out South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, who was the pastor for the church.

In the days after the shooting took place, the narrative began to take shape – Roof had been arrested for drug possession. Roof was awaiting trial.  Somehow he’d gotten a gun – early reports stated that Roof had been given it by family.  It seemed like this was going to be seized upon as evidence that Universal Background Checks needed to be passed, lest another tragedy like this take place.

Then, just before the UBC bandwagon could reach full speed, law enforcement sources revealed that Roof had purchased the gun at a store and filled out the necessary background check paperwork.

Roof should have been prohibited from buying the gun – under federal law those facing charges where they may be imprisoned for over a year are not allowed to own or purchase firearms.  When Roof filled out his 4473 to purchase the murder weapon, he lied.  This lie should have been caught by the NICS system, but his arresting paperwork hadn’t been filed properly.

The Narrative had changed.  Robbed of their opportunity to blame the “gun show loophole” for this atrocity, the people upset by this pivoted and went after another the Confederate Flag which was prominently featured in Roof’s social media profile and symbolized the racist views expressed in his manifesto.

Ironically, Pinckney had voted against South Carolina’s laws that would have repealed prohibition of  concealed carry in churches without the express approval of church staff.  Obviously the law failed to stop the shooting.

In the aftermath of Charleston, President Obama made a number of statements, but in one televised address he suggested that the US should follow Australia’s example:

When Australia had a mass killing – I think it was in Tasmania – about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’, and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.

This was important, because Australia did several things: They banned multiple classes of firearms, and they confiscated privately owned weapons under the guise of a mandatory “buy back”.

Never before has this been suggested at such a high level in this country.  Previously politicians may have suggested confiscation obliquely, or in unguarded moment, but for a sitting President to state it outright was an eye opening moment.


July

A few weeks later, on July 16, there was another mass shooting.  In contrast to the Charlestown one, this shooting was carried out by a self-radicalized homegrown Islamic extremist decided to target a Chattanooga, TN recruiting office and then a Navy Reserves center. Local law enforcement chased him down, and killed him shortly thereafter.

FBI officials and the media quickly played down any attempt to classify the shooter as a “terrorist” despite him travelling to Jordan shortly before the attack took place.

FBI Evidence technicians process the scene at the Marine Recruiting Center in Chattanooga, TN. Juxtaposed with the bullet holes from the shooter’s attack  is the “Firearms Prohibited” sticker that graced the front door to the offices,

 

The perpetrator was revealed to be Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who carried out the attack with an AK-47 style rifle, a pistol, and possibly a shotgun.  Four Marines were killed at the scene while Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith died later at a hospital.

The Brady Center and other antigun groups didn’t waste any time in immediately calling for more gun control, despite not knowing how the firearms were obtained.   The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation stated that

“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been,”

Attempts were made to try to highlight the need for a renewed assault weapons ban, others wanted to focus on Armslist.  Instead, the public reacted in a wholly unexpected way; they were outraged that military personnel were unable to defend themselves.

Paradoxically, though, people remembered that the military areas were gun free zones – press pool photos and footage showed the front doors of the Marine recruiting center riddled with bullet holes, next to a “Firearms Prohibited” sign.

Despite this, the intended victims fought back.  This was confirmed by statements from various military officials: the Marines did not run, and did not die laying down.  At least one Marine and one Navy officer had fought back with personally owned firearms – despite standing orders prohibiting having them.  No information has been provided on how many lives were saved as a result.

The reaction was swift.  Private citizens showed up in droves to guard the “defenseless” recruiters.   Senior military officials didn’t like that, viewing them as a security threat.  Naturally, it didn’t take long before someone showed off their lack of safe firearms handling skills by having a negligent discharge in the parking lot – and no one was surprised when this individual had previously had firearms confiscated for doing the exact same thing.

Politicians also seized upon the incident – Senator Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation end gun free zones on military installations:

The Safeguarding Service Members’ Second Amendment Rights Act, would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on Armed Forces military installations and Department of Defense (DoD) sites and prohibit the president, secretary of defense and secretaries of military departments from enacting similar restrictions or prohibitions in the future.

Governors in at least a half dozen states ordered that National Guardsmen be armed.    In lieu of active forms of protection, some areas decided that to ‘turtle up’ and stacked sandbags inside recruiters offices.

The antigun side of the debate was not faring well in the court of public opinion.

(Un)fortunately, they soon had another chance to make their opinions heard.


 

On July 23, John Russel Houser opened fire in the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette LA, during a showing of Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” – killing two, wounding multiple others, then killing himself after seeing the police arrive on scene.

Police outside the Grand 16 theater after the July 23 shooting in Lafayette LA. Source: CNN

Details about the shooter quickly made their way into the media: Houser had been involuntarily committed by his family.  Houser had been convicted of arson.  Houser admired Hitler & the Tea Party, and hated President Obama.

You could practically see the antigun talking heads rubbing their hands with glee over this.   They had their perfect example for why gun laws needed to change.  Clearly there was no way that this guy had gotten his gun legally, right?

Wrong.  Houser bought his gun at a pawn shop after passing a background check.

Turns out that despite a well documented history of domestic violence, arson, and involuntary commitment, Houser was never actually prosecuted.  All of this could have been avoided had he been convicted for arson back in 1989, and “[c]ourt documents filed as part of a divorce say Houser had a history of hospitalizations for mental conditions.”

Usually involuntary commitment makes someone a prohibited person in the eyes of the ATF.  Unfortunately, the system failed in this case too:

That’s because Georgia, where Houser was the subject of a mental health evaluation in 2008, removes mental health records from the federal database used to conduct background checks after five years.

Politics waits for no man, though, so at this time various parties are still spinning and attempting to control the message.

Presidential candidate & Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal  suspended his Presidential campaign to handle situation and urged other states to tighten their reporting of prohibited persons like Louisiana has done.  Reactions to this ranged from New York Times claiming he wanted toughen gun laws (instead of the more accurate description of improving proper reporting compliance) to Wonkette’s ever so classy accusation that he was giving the NRA a rimjob.  A Buzzfeed editor showed her overt bias by stating don’t pray, push for more gun control – and got called out for it, resulting in an apology from her superiors.


There seems to be indications that gun control proponents have decided it’s finally time to start calling for the removal of the 2nd Amendment altogether, or at least curtail it severely.

Legendary attorney Alan Dershowitz stated in an interview:

We have tried an experiment for the last 250 years and it’s failed miserably and we have to start a new approach. The new approach has to be guns should not be available to people generally, except if they have a significant need.

Surprisingly, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was actually ahead of this wave, stating in early July:

“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.

A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”

President Obama, who stated outright that gun control was his biggest disappointment with his time in office, said that he was going to devote the last 18 months of his term to gun control and that gun ownership was a bigger problem than terrorism

Even Bernie Sanders has gotten in on the gun control bandwagon, saying  “certain types of guns, used to kill people exclusively, not for hunting, they should not be sold in the United States of America” – apparently not realizing that this effectively be every self defense firearm in the country.

Antigun media allies certainly haven’t changed their tune:

Celebrities like Richard Dreyfuss, Judd Apatow and Rebel Wilson have also been sure to add their two cents.

Interestingly enough, the American public doesn’t seem to agree with the media, politicians, or celebrities, as a recent opinion poll revealed that more Americans see guns as the solution, not the problem


 

Fake update: It would appear that I’m not alone in noticing this trend:

Business Insider: The dark reason why guns are virtually guaranteed to be a major issue of the 2016 campaign

After years of ducking presidential-campaign battles over gun laws out of fear of the powerful gun lobby, it appears that Democrats are finally ready to go on the offensive.

Democrats are becoming more and more outspoken about gun violence in the wake of seemingly ever increasing mass shootings, despite the fact that the American public remains as opposed as ever to many gun-control measures

It remains to be seen whether this represents a turning point in election politics, or a repeat of Clinton’s 1994 mistake.

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#sayyes2moreammo – The Anti’s Are At It Again: Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

Soldier Systems Daily is one of my favorite blogs to read as he provides all sorts of information on new gear and firearms trends.   He posted the following on his site this evening:

Last week, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) unveiled their latest attempt to harm the rights of legal gun owners. The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act would ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Yes, this foolishness again. They were joined at a press conference by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (both D-CT), House Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Ted Deutch (D-FL), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and advocates from the Newtown Action Alliance.

They proposed use of the hashtag sayno2moreammo.

Be heard! Use #sayyes2moreammo instead.

A quick googling of “Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act” found this:

WASHINGTON D.C. –U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is joining the fight on legislation involving gun control.

A new bill called the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act would ban the importation, sale, manufacturing or possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

“It’s clear from the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Newtown, and far too many other horrific shootings in our nation’s history that we must take action to protect our communities,” Sen. Kaine said. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this commonsense legislation to improve public safety and help prevent future tragedies.”

Oh look, the bill is nothing more than “commonsense” legislation.  Yeah, I feel better already.  It will “improve public safety” because in true “Underpants Gnomes” fashion the politicians think that criminals are going to follow another toothless law when they set out to commit mass murder.

The ban would allow exceptions for devices possessed before enactment of the bill, and for certain current and former law enforcement personnel.

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT).


Press release from Sarah Peck, press secretary for U.S. Senator Tim Kaine:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) today to introduce the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, a common-sense bill that bans the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting en masse.

“It’s clear from the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Newtown, and far too many other horrific shootings in our nation’s history that we must take action to protect our communities,” said Senator Kaine, who led efforts to improve Virginia’s background check system and curb incidences of gun violence and mass shootings as Governor following the Virginia Tech tragedy. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this commonsense legislation to improve public safety and help prevent future tragedies.”

The full text of the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act can be downloaded here. In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, the Act includes the below provisions:

Provides limited exceptions for devices possessed before enactment, for certain current and former law enforcement personnel, for certain Atomic Energy personnel and purpose, for tubular devices that can only accept .22 rimfire ammunition, and for certain authorized testing or experimentation;Includes important updates, previously added by late-Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, including modification of the high capacity definition to prevent coupled or joined magazines and other provisions discussed elsewhere;Authorizes a buyback programs for high capacity magazines using Byrne JAG grants;Requires devices manufactured after enactment to have conspicuous serial numbers and date of manufacture to help law enforcement identify restricted magazines;Harmonizes forfeiture provisions for magazines with current law; currently FBI and ATF can seize and destroy certain firearms but not high capacity magazines.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that in mass shootings from January 2009 to January 2013, 123 percent more people were shot and 54 percent more people were killed when assault weapons or large capacity magazines were used.

http://www.nbc29.com/story/28039104/sen-kaine-introduces-bill-to-ban-some-gun-magazines

This is the usual factually bereft nonsense, statistics games and junk science masquerading as a dire threat.

So let’s see what the actual bill says:

http://www.menendez.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/OLL15133.pdf

Right off the bat there’s problems:

‘‘(30) The term ‘large capacity ammunition feeding
10 device’— 2
OLL15133 S.L.C.
1 ‘‘(A) means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip,
2 helical feeding device, or similar device, including
3 any such device joined or coupled with another in
4 any manner, that has an overall capacity of, or that
5 can be readily restored, changed, or converted to ac-
6 cept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition; and
7 ‘‘(B) does not include an attached tubular de-
8 vice designed to accept, and capable of operating
9 only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.

This defines pretty much every rifle & shotgun with the exception of fixed tubular mag .22LR as a “large capacity ammunition feeding device” because of the key phrase: “that has an overall capacity of, or that can be readily restored, changed, or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”

Think your Remington 870 is exempt? Nope:

http://www.rem870.com/2009/08/06/how-to-install-remington-870-magazine-extension-and-remove-dimples-in-magazine-tube/

The fact that it can be readily changed or converted to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition means it’s a “large capacity ammunition feeding device” whether it arrived from the factory with a 3 or 5 round capacity or not.

Your Remington 700 hunting rifle isn’t exempt either: http://www.cabelas.com/product/Kwik-Klip-Remington-Model-Clip-Conversion-Kit/741478.uts

Anything with any sort of magazine that can be aftermarket modified is going to be effected.

The bill goes on to say that existing “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” already in private hands prior to the law’s passage will be exempted, but

17 ‘‘(v)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to import,
18 sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting
19 interstate or foreign commerce, a large capacity ammuni-
20 tion feeding device.

The “in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce” portion should be especially worrisome to anyone familiar with how gun control laws have been prosecuted.

Realistically this bill is probably DOA given the Republican control of Congress but it just goes to show that the anti-gun lobby never quits.

I’m interested in seeing what Volokh has to say about this.

 

 

Skipping straight past Media Bias to full Indoctrination, Everytown offers “Workshop”

So it would appear that Everytown For Gun Safety is not satisfied with the current state of public opinion on gun control and has decided to flex their financial muscles by recruiting (indoctrinating) new allies to the fold by having a “workshop” where they can train willing participants in the best ways to manipulate public opinion.  In order to do this, they’ve teamed up with Columbia’s Journalism School:

Apply Now: Covering Gun Violence

Reporting on gun violence – on individual incidents, policy shifts and polarized political debate – is a major challenge for journalists and news organizations. Every day, 86 Americans die of firearm related injuries, including nearly 12,000 murdered with guns each year – a rate 20 times higher than that of other developed countries. Nearly 100 school shootings have occurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary only two years ago.

Yes, why should statistically infrequent and insignificant events be viewed as random & rare?  And why should we examine the underlying causes of these incidents, such as mental health issues, when there is a handy scapegoat available in the form of firearms?  Notice the use of the debunked “100 school shootings” figure to set the tone.

When it comes to reporting on guns, local and regional reporters bear the primary burden. They are often trapped into narrow deadline-driven beats with little time to develop expert sources, investigative angles or broader perspectives. And newsrooms and news managers are unprepared for the overwhelming, spasmodic tragedy of mass shootings. As a consequence, incidents of gun violence are too often viewed in isolation as random, inevitable tragedy rather than part of a wider phenomenon with complex causes but amenable to prevention efforts. (emphasis mine)

Translation: we need to do better to convince the masses that guns are bad.  Our best bet is to brainwash recruit willing participants into seeing the “truth” about the issues (or some facsimile thereof).

To help journalists and news organizations in the Southwest improve their reporting on guns and gun violence, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School is organizing a two-day regional workshop April 17 and 18, 2015 for reporters, editors, news directors, photographers, producers, and bloggers. The workshop, funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, will offer independent expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on guns and gun violence knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. The workshop will cover such topics as state and federal gun laws; patterns of gun sales and gun trafficking; national trends and polling; education and prevention initiatives; social, economic and public health impacts; and special populations (e.g. children and youth, women and returning veterans.)

Uh-huh.  Sure.  I’m sure it will be “ethically” sound all right.  I’m sure that these “independent expert[s]” will be open to dissenting opinions & give both sides equal play.

The workshop will:

Serve as a forum for improving journalists’ knowledge of guns and gun violence, and the implications of public policies like background check requirements
Explore new research, reporting ideas and best practices with leading public health and policy experts
Confront challenges — and identify opportunities — that exist for local journalists pursuing these stories with limited resources
Provide practical tools to enable journalists to successfully produce meaningful stories on guns and gun violence.

In other words, it will be replete with talking points, bad science, soundbites and pretty graphs.  Actual knowledge like the difference between a fully automatic & semi automatic firearm will probably not be taught.  You can bet that there will be plenty of verbiage on why assault weapons, “high capacity” magazines and the like should be banned though… “for the children” naturally.

Make no mistake, since Everytown is headed by Shannon Watts, former PR wizard for Monsanto & GE Healthcare, this will be replete with the usual PR spin.

Naturally, this will cover old & new media:

Participation is open to reporters, editors, news directors, photographers and producers for print, broadcast and online media. Staff, contract and freelance journalists are eligible to apply. Thirty individuals will be selected for the workshop. Travel stipends of up to $350 for airfare or trainfare, and two nights of lodging, will be provided to 15 selected participants.

Because it’s easier to spread your ideas when you bribe people.

In order to ensure that only “right thinking” journalists attend, here’s some of the weeding out criteria:

To apply, please email Kate Black (kate.black@dartcenter.org) with your resume or CV, full contact information (name, address, city, state, zip, phone number and email address) and a one-page letter of interest that:

1. Describes how and why this workshop is relevant to you and your work;
2. Identifies three issues around guns or gun violence of particular interest to you;
3. Explains a challenge you have encountered in pursuing a story on this topic (or a related one); and
4. Briefly outlines a possible story you might pursue on the topic.

Hm, yes, let’s make sure that only properly screened acolytes may approach the altar.

Looks like I’m not the only person who sees a problem with this either: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/cupp-educating-journalists-guns-article-1.2076455 – of course her opinion and mine diverge because she appears to be mollified by Columbia’s response, whereas I think that their gratuitous bias in the course description is more than enough to cast doubt on their intentions.