Anti-gun Colorado Democrats defeated in recall election

Anti-gun politics are bad for electoral health. That’s a lesson two Colorado Democrats learned on Tuesday night.

Colorado Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and State Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) were recalled by voters in their respective districts in what was considered to be a referendum on onerous new gun control regulations passed by the legislature earlier this year.

Both pro-Second Amendment and anti-gun groups invested heavily in the race. The Denver Post noted earlier this week that anti-gun groups raised some $3.5 million to help the two Democrats, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $350,000 contribution. Pro-gun groups raised $540,000.

Despite the heavy spending from anti-gun groups, voters in Colorado’s 3rd State Senate district recalled Giron, 56/44, and elected George Rivera, a Republican, to take her place in the legislature’s upper chamber.

Morse, the highest ranking official in the Colorado Senate, faced the same fate in the 11th District, though by a smaller margin, at 51/49. Bernie Herpin, also a Republican, was elected to fill the reminder of the term.

Legal challenge against NSA spying forms unlikely alliances

Though the story has lost traction in light of recent events in Syria, the American Civil Liberties Union’s legal challenge against the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs is gaining steam.

The ACLU announced on Wednesday that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who authored the law the government is using to collect phone and Internet metadata of innocent Americans, have filed amicus briefs in support of the legal challenge against the NSA:

An impressive array of organizations and individuals filed amicus briefs yesterday in support of the ACLU’s constitutional challenge to the government’s collection of the call records of virtually everyone in the United States. The range of voices joining the protest against mass government surveillance—not to mention the bipartisan storm that has swept Congress since the recent NSA disclosures — is a real testament to the fact that the government’s dragnet surveillance practices are offensive to Americans from across the political spectrum.

Obama throws more roadblocks for lawful gun ownership

Following the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School late last year, President Obama began his crusade against guns.  This despite a first term election promise to not do anything about guns because he didn’t have the votes.  Well, as President Obama found out, he still doesn’t. But that’s not stopping him from doing whatever he can to solve problems that don’t really exist:

With no chance remaining for a legislative solution on gun control, President Barack Obama on Thursday targetted the issue for the first time in months with a pair of executive actions.

The moves, along with the morning swearing-in of Todd Jones, the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, mark a fresh push to spotlight presidential efforts to fight gun violence in the face of congressional inaction.

The ATF will now require background checks for all guns that will be registered to a corporation or a trust, the White House said.
Obama’s second order will stop authorization that allows the re-importation of military-grade firearms that had been sold to allies or given as military assistance.

The White House said the government has approved requests to re-import more than 250,000 military-grade firearms since 2005.

First, let’s address the issues of trusts and corporations purchasing firearms.  On the surface, this isn’t a big deal.  After all, theoretically, a felon could establish a trust and bypass the background check to purchase firearms.  That’s what the White House says happens.  Of course, they say that without providing anything like numbers as to how many felons have purchased guns this way.

House Democrats want to heavily tax your guns and ammo

The war on gun owners continues in Washington. A pair of House Democrats have proposed legislation that seeks to raise the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition, which they say will curb gun violence:

Called the “Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act,” the bill sponsored by William Pascrell, D-N.J., and Danny Davis, D-Ill., would nearly double the current 11 percent tax on handguns, while raising the levy on bullets and cartridges from 11 percent to 50 percent.

“This bill represents a major investment in the protection of our children and our communities, and reflects the long-term societal costs of gun and ammunition purchases in our country,” Pascrell said.

The lawmakers say the bill would generate $600 million per year, which would be used to fund law-enforcement and gun violence prevention.
The bill would also increase the transfer tax on all weapons (except antique guns) covered under the National Firearms Act (which excludes most common guns) from $200 to $500 and index to inflation and increase the transfer tax for any other weapon from $5 to $100.

It’s two big Democratic talking points — higher taxes and gun control — put into one bill. But it also has no chance of passing the House. Onerous gun control measures couldn’t even pass the Democrat-controlled Senate earlier this year.

Chris Christie signs anti-gun measures

Chris Christie

New Jersey already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, but they were apparently not good enough for Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who signed a number of new anti-gun measures into law last week:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a likely Republican contender for the White House in 2016, on Thursday signed into law 10 bills tightening restrictions on guns in the state.

The measures including banning the purchase of handguns by people on a federal watch list of potential terrorism suspects, stepping up penalties on some firearms violations and exempting gun records from the state’s open public records law.
“These common-sense measures will both strengthen New Jersey’s already tough gun laws and upgrade penalties for those who commit gun crimes and violate gun trafficking laws,” said Christie, who is expected to easily win reelection this year.

In a nod to public pressure from gun-rights activists, he held off on signing other proposed measures that would have banned .50-caliber rifles, required dealers to log ammunition sales and allowed for instant background checks.

Some of the gun control proposals he hasn’t signed — including the ban on .50 caliber rifles and expanded background checks — were part of the package he unveiled, so it’s incredibly likely that he will sign them.

Joe Biden: No More Rand Pauls and Ted Cruzes in Congress

Vice President Joe Biden is calling Democrats to action to stop grassroots conservatives from electing more Republicans in the mold of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

In a fundraising letter for the Democratic National Committee, first reported by Ed Krayewski at Reason, Biden wrote told prospective donors that a “group of freshmen senators are running the show in the Republican Party” and played up the possibility of a government shutdown over ObamaCare.

“Now these aren’t bad guys, but I want you to think about this: not only are they still trying to get rid of health care reform — they’re willing to use the entire federal government as a bargaining chip to get it done,” wrote Biden. “That’s what we’re dealing with in Washington right now, and it’s unprecedented in my lifetime.”

“Make no mistake — one thing we don’t need is to let the Republicans outrun us in 2014, and elect a bunch more people to the House and Senate who think, act, and vote the way Ted Cruz and Rand Paul do,” he added.

Biden’s comments are practically identical to a speech he gave during a recent fundraiser in Massachusetts in which he asked the crowd, “Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate?”

While already notable players given how they won tough primaries against establishment-backed candidates, Paul, Cruz, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) have emerged as the conscience of the Republican Party in the Senate, principled conservatives who are willing to take stands when leaders would prefer they toe the party-line.

Bloomberg’s anti-gun group losing members

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an anti-gun organization founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is losing members due to the group’s focus on expanding gun control laws and the electoral consequences of opposing gun rights:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is finding it hard to keep its membership up, thanks to dozens of resignations and lost elections over the last few months.

Worse for Bloomberg, who has become one of the faces of the gun control movement: the people replacing his lost comrades aren’t particularly eager to sign up with the organization, a rare group battling in the trenches against the well-organized and deep-pocketed National Rifle Association. Some appear not quite to have signed on for that level of political heat.

“The original focus, I thought, was going to be on focusing on better on enforcement of our existing laws, and if anything, we have talked about not getting involved with things like banning assault weapons and banning magazine clips,” said Rockford, Il. Mayor Lawrence Morrissey, who left the group in June because, he said at a town hall meeting, the group had veered from what he originally thought it was about.
According to an old version of its member list, saved on a blog dated back to late February, more than 50 mayors who were then listed on MAIG’s website are no longer there. Most of the mayors whose names are no longer affiliated with the group are off the list either because they resigned or lost an election, but others have specifically asked to be removed.

Obama-backed study confirms firearms are a crime deterrent

Back in January, President Barack Obama signed a number of executive orders into law, including one that ordered the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to study ways to reduce the threat of gun violence. That study has finally been released and it likely doesn’t produce the narrative that the White House wanted.

While it offers insight into gun violence and how to identify and prevent it from occuring, CNS News dug into the study and notes that it points to firearms as an important deterrent to crime and that instances of gun violence have fallen over the last five years:

Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,” says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The $10 million study was commissioned by President Barack Obama as part of 23 executive orders he signed in January.

“Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies,” the CDC study, entitled “Priorities For Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence,” states.

Do Stand Your Ground Laws Lead to More Violence?

Eric Holder hates them.  People like Yours Truly love them.  Folks typically fall on one side or the other.

I’m talking about Stand Your Ground laws. The question is, does the data really support Holder’s idea that they lead to more violence? Well, Michael Doyle over at McClatchy took at look at the numbers, and the conclusion?:

The controversially concluded Florida murder trial of George Zimmerman has prompted fresh debate over whether “stand your ground” self-defense laws hinder violence or, perversely, propel it.

The evidence appears mixed.

Some studies show enhanced public safety. Others suggest the opposite. One study concluded that several dozen men a month are killed as a consequence of the laws. In a speech this week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder showed himself to be among the skeptics.

The resulting ambiguity, like the Zimmerman trial itself, in which he was found not guilty of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, may confound anyone hoping for a neutral finding of fact. It also allows advocates and critics alike to cherry-pick their preferred experts, which can enliven debate but complicate lawmaking.

It’s actually somewhat surprising that the evidence is mixed.  However, the McClatchy piece also boasts an interactive map that, after clicking a state, shows the violent crime rate over a period of years.  It also notes when that state passed its Stand Your Ground law.

Of course, there are some factors that have been missed.

Reasoned perspective on George Zimmerman verdict

George Zimmerman

Over at Slate, William Saletan has joined the plethora of pundits voicing an opinion about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.  However, unlike the vast majority of them, Saletan seems to really understand a little something called “reality” when it comes to this case:

The problem at the core of this case wasn’t race or guns. The problem was assumption, misperception, and overreaction. And that cycle hasn’t ended with the verdict. It has escalated.

I almost joined the frenzy. Yesterday I was going to write that Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions and illustrated the perils of racial profiling. But I hadn’t followed the case in detail. So I sat down and watched the closing arguments: nearly seven hours of video in which the prosecution and defense went point by point through the evidence as it had been hashed out at the trial. Based on what I learned from the videos, I did some further reading.

It turned out I had been wrong about many things. The initial portrait of Zimmerman as a racist wasn’t just exaggerated. It was completely unsubstantiated. It’s a case study in how the same kind of bias that causes racism can cause unwarranted allegations of racism. Some of the people Zimmerman had reported as suspicious were black men, so he was a racist. Members of his family seemed racist, so he was a racist. Everybody knew he was a racist, so his recorded words were misheard as racial slurs, proving again that he was a racist.

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