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McConnell to Allow Collins "Terrorist Watch List" Bill for Senate Vote

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The Hill reports that Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring a bill by Susan Collins to a vote possibly this week.  The Collins bill would block people on two so-called "terrorist watch lists" from buying firearms.  The NRA opposes the bill but McConnell responded through a spokesman that “He will not be dictated to,” regarding lobbying efforts to prevent it from coming to a vote.

No one on our side of the issue wants terrorists to be able to buy guns but as this blog detailed yesterday, there are lot more people than just terrorists on the lists involved.  The position of the NRA and VSSA is that no one should lose civil rights simply because their names are on secret government lists.  In 2014 a federal judge ruled that the government's method for allowing the public to challenge placement on the no-fly list was "wholly ineffective" and unconstitutional.

But that hasn't stopped the gun ban crowd from using the Orlando terrorist attack to push a gun ban scheme they have been pushing since 2007.  They are likely more interested in using the issue as a campaign issue and that has led McConnell to cave according to The Hill article:
Both sides are trying to figure out how the vote might shape this fall’s elections, when Democrats could win back the Senate majority by netting just four Senate seats if they retain the White House.

Some Republicans suggested Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) aren’t interested in a deal because they want to use gun control as a wedge issue in the fall against GOP Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), all of whom face challenging reelections in states won by President Obama in 2012.“Sen. Schumer and Sen. Reid are discouraging Democrats from voting for it, trying to peel off those who have co-sponsored it because they, I don’t believe, really want to come up with a bipartisan solution. They’d just like to keep the issue alive,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) grumbled to reporters at one point on Tuesday.That doesn't mean however that Reid and Schumer won't in the end see this as an opportunity to say they beat the NRA:
“I think you’re seeing in real time the vice grip of the NRA loosening in this place,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphySenate Republicans may defy NRA on gunsSenators roll out bipartisan gun proposalDems blast Republicans after failed gun votesMORE (D-Conn.). “This is a watershed moment whether this gets to the finish line or not. You have Republicans scrambling to try to find a way to remedy their no votes [Monday] night.”

No Dana Milbank, Senate Protected Due Process Rights of Law Abiding Americans

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Dana Milbank wrote this opinion piece posted on the Washington Post web site Monday night after the Senate voted down all four gun control amendments to the Commerce Justice and Science appropriations bill.  The article is titled "A week after Orlando, Republicans protect terrorists' right to bear arms" and is full of misleading information.  Here is a sample:
Nineteen days later, a man whom the FBI had investigated as a possible terrorist went into an Orlando nightclub and, claiming solidarity with the Islamic State, shot 49 people to death with weapons he bought legally.

The legislation couldn’t have prevented the massacre; it wouldn’t have taken effect for months. But it highlights an absurd situation: Lawmakers have known for a long time that those suspected of terrorist activities can legally buy guns, but the Republican majority, putting Second Amendment absolutism above modest national-security considerations, is refusing to fix the problem.Nowhere in Milbank's rant does he tell his readers that the Orlando shooter was not on the "Terrorist Watch List." The shooter had been investigated and removed for lack of evidence.  Milbank, like the gun ban lobby, and Democratic legislators pushing this proposal, uses talking point phrases like "terrorist watch list" knowing that few if any of his readers understand exactly what that list entails.  Here is what Milbank and the gun ban crowd don't want you to know, courtesy of David Inserra at the Daily Signal:
What Is the Terrorist Watch List?
The Terrorist Screening Database is the official name for the main terrorist watch list; it is maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center. The terrorist watch list is the central U.S. repository of known and suspected terrorists, both foreign and domestic.

The list receives names of suspected international terrorists from the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment,  maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center in connection with the U.S. intelligence community and security agencies that have information on terrorists. It also receives data on domestic terrorists from the FBI.

The  terrorist watch list includes only information used to identify terrorists. The database itself does not include classified information on terrorists regarding what they have done and how we have been tracking them. This classified information is maintained in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment for foreign terrorists, and at the FBI for domestic terrorists.

How Is the Terrorist Watch List Used?
From the Terrorism Screening Database, or terrorist watch list, more specific lists are created for different purposes.

For example, the no-fly list and the selectee list are used to prevent individuals from traveling or to subject them to greater scrutiny. For an individual to be included on the no-fly list or selectee list, additional evidence of his threat to aviation security and clear identifying information is needed above and beyond the standard of reasonable suspicion.

Another list extracted from the terrorist watch list is the Known and Suspected Terrorist File, or KST file.  For someone to be included in the KST file, clear identifying information is needed.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, used to check firearm purchases, draws on the KST file. Inclusion in the file does not itself prevent a gun purchase, but flags the purchase for further review.

The individual is allowed to purchase a firearm so long as he is not a felon, adjudicated to be mentally ill, a fugitive from justice, an illegal immigrant, or prohibited from making gun purchases for another statutory reason.

What Is the Standard of Proof to Be Put on the Terrorist Watch List?
To get on the terrorist watch list,  U.S. officials nominate an individual whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is engaged in or aiding terrorist activities.
There must also be a sufficient level of identifying information to include an individual on the list. There have been, and continue to be, legal battles over whether proper avenues for redress exist to get off the no-fly list.

So How Did Omar Mateen Get His Guns?
Omar Mateen, identified as the killer in the Orlando massacre, was subject to two FBI investigations in 2013 and 2014. He was added to the terrorist watch list.

Following the conclusion of the investigations, Mateen was removed from the watch list.  As a result, when he went to purchase the firearms used in the attack, he was not in the KST file and was not flagged by the FBI.

Even if Mateen had been on the list, he likely would not have been prevented from purchasing a weapon. The FBI would have been alerted, however, and could have responded and investigated further.That last paragraph is an inconvenient truth that the gun ban lobby doesn't want the public to know.  If someone on the list purchases a firearm, federal law enforcement is already alerted and can respond and investigate.

Remember that "no-fly list?"  The gun ban lobby uses it to push for their gun ban because it is "poll-tested."  Unfortunately, the list includes the name of a lot of people who are not terrorists.  People like the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, Representative John Lewis, singer Cat Stevens, children under the age of 10 and two journalists have erroneously ended up on the list.  Additionally, Representative Tom McClintock was on the list because he had the same name as an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist.  That means they were all on the Terrorism Screening Database first before being put on the "No-fly" list since Inserra said the "no-fly list" is one of several created from the Terrorism Screening Database. It took Kennedy, Lewis, and McClintock months to get their names off the list.  Can you imagine how long it takes regular American citizen to get the matter cleared up?

American citizens should not lose basic civil rights without due process.  That is the reason all but two GOP Senators and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp (ND), voted against the Feinstein amendment.  It has nothing to do with letting terrorists have access to firearms as Milbank and the Washington Post assert.

You're going to see a lot more about this issue over the next five months.  I'm sure Dana Milbank will be more than happy to help our opponents distract the public from the real issue by continuing with poll tested talking points rather than laying out the facts.

Senate Set for Showdown on Gun Control

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The U.S. Senate is poised to take up four gun related proposals today as amendments to the Commerce Justice Science Appropriations bill today.  Added over the weekend is a "compromise" measure related to the so-called "Terrorist Watch List" offered by Maine's Susan Collins.  From the Wall Street Journal:
Any gun-control measure would need to overcome significant hurdles, including winning support in the Republican-controlled House.

Much of the latest attention has centered on a provision by the Senate’s No. 2 GOP official, John Cornyn of Texas, that would notify the Justice Department if someone on one of the terror watch lists, or someone who has been the subject of a terrorism investigation within the last five years, tried to purchase a gun.

That would trigger a court process in which the Justice Department would have 72 hours to demonstrate to a judge probable cause the weapon would be used in connection with terrorism. Democrats say that would be a high burden of proof in a short period of time. The NRA announced its support for the Cornyn amendment last week after Mr. Trump said he would like to meet with the organization. NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, speaking Sunday on CBS, said the three-day delay “gives law enforcement the opportunity to go before a judge and prove their case.”

The NRA has suggested only people who could be arrested for terrorism should be blocked from purchasing a weapon. The group last year supported a provision similar to the latest Cornyn measure. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker on Sunday said the group wants to ensure due process for people erroneously placed on the lists.

Ms. Collins’s proposal, which could be released Monday, is expected to call for a ban on sales of guns to terrorism suspects who appear on either the government’s “no-fly list” or on a separate “selectee list” that requires additional screening at airports. Individuals could appeal the decision blocking the purchase of a firearm, and be awarded attorneys’ fees if successful. Federal authorities would also be notified of any gun purchases by an individual who had been on the “no-fly list” or “selectee list” over the prior five years, allowing the FBI to put the person under surveillance. “I am optimistic that I can put together a coalition,” Ms. Collins said Sunday on NPR.The WSJ noted that the Collins amendment does not include a provision that actually allows law enforcement to stop a terrorist and take them off the street as the Cornyn measures purportedly allows.

The Hill details other proposals on the calendar:
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who faces a difficult reelection bid, has also introduced his own proposal, though it's been disavowed by Democrats. The Senate will also debate two background check proposals. A measure from GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley Chuck GrassleyWeek ahead: Senate to vote on gun control measures This week: Senate showdown over gun controlWhite House makes last-ditch plea for opioid fundingMOR (Iowa) would reauthorize and provide funding for the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), provide incentives to share mental health records and bolster federal record sharing. The Senate will also take a procedural vote on a proposal from Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.), Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerThis week: Senate showdown over gun controlDems push vulnerable GOP senators on gun controlSenate schedules Monday votes on gun controlMORE (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) to expand background checks. Their proposal would require — with a handful of narrow exceptions — a background check for the sale and transfer of any gun.All of the amendments will require a super majority of 60 votes to advance.

Warnings Signs of Orlando Shooter's Radicalism Takes Shape

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From Friday morning's edition of Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt:
Meet young Omar Mateen:
Things took a dark turn on Sept. 11, 2001. As classmates looked on in shock, Mateen celebrated the terrorist attacks that day, claiming that Osama bin Laden was his uncle, said one person who was present. His antics prompted the school to call his father, and the classmate remembers watching through a school window as Mateen’s father approached his son and then slapped his face . . .Robert Zirkle, who knew him through school in 2001, said: “We joked that he’d become a terrorist. And then he did.”As he grew older, the threats continued:At a barbecue in the spring of 2007, Mateen erupted when his hamburger touched a piece of pork, something he considered a religious affront. He told the class he ought to kill all of them, recalled Susanne Coburn Laforest, 61, who attended the barbecue as a trainee. Mateen told his classmates not to laugh at him because this was serious and “was going to come back and shoot us,” she said.Not long after, Mateen was sitting in his car in the parking lot as classes were about to resume, when authorities swarmed the auto and escorted him off the property. An official told cadets Mateen had threatened to bring a gun on campus, according to Clinton Custar, who was attending the academy at the time and saw the incident from a classroom window.This was the same month Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Mateen threatened to carry out a similar massacre at the police academy because he felt like he was being taunted for being Muslim, said a fellow cadet.A few years later, after he started talking about how he hoped police would kill his wife and child so he could become a “martyr”, his coworkers called the FBI.Mateen first came to the FBI’s attention in May 2013, after making a series of “boasts” to co-workers about his various ties to terrorist groups, a U.S. official told The Daily Beast, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the particulars of the case. “That triggered FBI to investigate.”The FBI investigated more in 2014 when one of the members of his mosque became a suicide bomber.The Islamic Center was also attended on occasion by Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who is believed to be the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Abusalha, who joined Islamist militants fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, was in his early 20s when he died in 2014 after driving a truck loaded with explosives into a restaurant in Aleppo where Syrian government troops were stationed.This mosque has just 130 members. Two of them committed terror attacks.  During this probe, “an informant told the FBI that Mateen had mentioned watching videos by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born terrorist and al Qaeda recruiter who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.” This was the same radical cleric who exchanged messages with the Fort Hood shooter.Earlier this year, Disney World security called the FBI. Disney security officials told the FBI they believe Mateen visited Disney World on April 26 to conduct surveillance, a law enforcement official told CNN. The FBI is investigating that possibility.Then a few weeks ago, the gun store called the FBI. Mateen then called someone on the phone and began speaking in Arabic. Robert Abell says that’s when the salesman became suspicious.“He just made the mistake of asking for an armor that wasn’t normal,” he said. “And then on the phone conversation was another key that you might need to step back and look at this. Our guy made the right decision at the time. I’m not selling him anything.“As soon as we said we didn’t have the bulk ammo he walked out the door.”Abell says they denied the sale, which they have the right to do. But before they could get his name and information, Mateen left the store.The gun shop owner says they immediately alerted the FBI about the suspicious man who wanted to purchase body armor. But the feds never followed up and visited the store.“I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently,” FBI Director James Comey said earlier this week. And government officials wonder why people think they should to own a gun to protect themselves!And more from The Hill on a gun shop that refused to make a sale to the shooter after some suspicious activity during the encounter:
Robert Abell, who owns Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, said that the store turned Mateen away when he tried to purchase 1,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as two types of body armor that the store did not carry.The store owner’s suspicions were heightened when Mateen spoke on the phone to someone in a foreign language.The store contacted the FBI, who were also investigating a group of Middle Eastern men who were buying police gear at the store. The men turned out to be security guards. The FBI asked about Mateen’s visit, but the store couldn’t provide any indentifying details or security camera footage.Clearly, there were some serious red flags about this guy.

Senate Schedule's Vote on Gun Control Amendments for Monday

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The Hill reports in a story about President Obama's visit to Orlando that the U.S. Senate has scheduled votes on several gun control amendments for this Monday.  That gives you time to contact Senator's Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and tell them to vote no on new gun control.  Just because both are predisposed to support new restrictions doesn't mean we should not call them.  They need to hear from every gun owner so they know there are more people opposed to their actions than support them.

You can reach them at the numbers below:
Tim Kaine at 202-224-4024 and Mark Warner at 202-224-2023

These measures are wide-ranging and include an attempt to reinstate the failed federal ban on semi-automatic firearms, commonly referred to as the “assault weapons ban.”  There will also be an attempt to take away the rights of individuals to purchase firearms if their name appears on the so-called "Terror Watchlist." This "list" has become political fodder for the gun ban lobby because less informed individuals won't take the time to learn that it is a list no one knows how their name ends up being added and unless you are famous like the late U.S. Senator Teddy Kennedy or Representative John Lewis, both of which landed on the list, likely will take years to get your name off.

Be sure to call today and tell all of your gun owning friends to do the same.

New Concealed Handgun Permit Application Effective July 1

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Effective July 1, 2016, Virginia will have a new/revised Virginia Handgun Permit (CHP) application form.  On that date and after, applicants should look at the form's top left margin and confirm that they are using form number SP-248 (7-1-2016).  The form currently in use has form number SP-248 (7-1-2013).  On July 1, that form will no longer be valid.  The state police will have the correct, revised form posted at its website on July 1. Any CHP applications filed before 7/1 on the existing form will be accepted. Information about Virginia CHPs as well as the link to download the application can be found by clicking here for Virginia residents and here for non-residents.

National Review's David French on Obama's Great Gun Control Distraction

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National Review's David French lays out some sobering facts:
Something has changed, and it’s not the availability of guns in the United States.

Consider the following facts: According to data from the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, from September 12, 2001, until the rise of ISIS in the late spring of 2014, jihadists killed 21 Americans in terror attacks here at home. Only three Americans died during the post-9/11 phase of the Bush administration.

Since ISIS burst on the international scene, the death toll has more than tripled. Jihadists have killed 73 American men and women in just two years. And that number would be much higher if not for the courage and bravery of local police.French goes on to detail the specific ISIS inspired acts and adds that oversees, the numbers are even more staggering.  Yet yesterday, instead of focusing on the terrorists the focus was on gun control.  This is Obama at his best.  Distract from the real issue by focusing on the so called "easy accessibility of guns." Can anyone really say with a straight face that we are safer today under the Obama administration than we were under Bush?  Can anyone expect Hillary Clinton to be any different than Obama on this issue?

French says pretty much the same thing as NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox when he wrote in today's USA Today, terrorists don't obey gun control laws:
Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws. The San Bernardino terrorist attack wasn’t stopped by California’s so-called “assault weapons” ban. The gun ban in Brussels didn’t prevent the terrorist attack there. And France’s strict gun control didn’t stop the two attacks in Paris, committed with fully-automatic rifles and grenades.
Repeating the same thing but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Law-abiding gun owners are tired of being blamed for the acts of madmen and terrorists. Semi-automatics are the most popular firearms sold in America for sport-shooting, hunting and self-defense.
Congress banned their manufacture for 10 years, from 1994 to 2004. The law also mandated an independent study on its effectiveness. The study proved the ban had no impact because criminals and terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws. To suggest otherwise provides a dangerous sense of false security. We don’t need false promises. We need real leadership.

As Cox concludes, the only way to defeat radical Islam is to destroy them.  Trying to distract us from the real issue with talk of gun bans will not accomplish that task.

Why Are AR-15's So Popular?

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That is the question NBC reporter Peter Alexander asked when he called yesterday asking if  VSSA could recommend someone they could speak with about why AR-15s are so popular, for a piece they were doing for Monday's nightly news.  I won't comment on Lester Holt's use of the terms "assault weapon" and "weapons of war" in the clip below as we have come to expect those from the media.  For Alexander's part, he was truly interested in knowing what is was about the firearm that made it the most popular firearm in the country.  We spent 20 minutes talking about that question.  I told him the ease of use is the number one reason people buy the rifle.  I shared how all of the shooters in my home from myself, my wife, and my 15 and 11 year-old daughters can shoot the same rifle simply by adjusting the stock.  I told him it is also light weight which makes it easy to use for women and younger shooters and that it is used for competition for all those reasons.  In the end, less than 20 seconds of the total interview made the report and none of me talking about why it is the most popular rifle in America.  He did however start out by condensing a lot of what I said into background for the start of the piece by mentioning the versatility of the firearm.


I opened up my daily reads this morning and found this great post by Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned on the very same topic of why the AR-15 is so popular.  I especially liked his closing point:
I think we rest on pretty firm ground to argue that firearms should be easy for novices to use. Unless you’re a seasoned competitive shooter, most gun owners, most police, and most people in the military are novices. They can exercise a base level of competence and safety when running their firearms, but Annie Oakley they are not. We should not be banning semi-automatic rifles, which truly aren’t especially more deadly than other semi-automatic rifles, just because they are easy for novices to use. This gets back to the base argument of gun control vs. gun rights: should arms belong only to the special elite, or is it a birthright of all citizens?Read the entire post.  It ticks off several easy to understand reasons you can share with people who ask why we use an AR-15 without sounding like a gun geek.

Was the Peruta Ruling a Set-up to get Gun Rights Supporters to Appeal

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The Peruta decision was the top topic on the various gun rights radio programs over the weekend.  Tom Gresham had Gene Hoffman of CalGuns Foundation on Gun Talk Radio to talk about the decision, and Gun for Hire Radio had Attorneys Dan Shmutter and Scott Bach on to give their take on the ruling.  Scott Bach is also the Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the New Jersey State Association.  In the clip below, Scott says he believes the majority opinion was actually a set-up to get gun rights supporters to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  He also said we need to be very measured in the cases we bring in the future.

Steve Halbrook: Peruta Appeal Decision Ignores Context of the Law

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Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over ruled an earlier three 9th Circuit three judge panel decision and upheld the lower court decision in Peruta v. County of San Diego, ruling that the Second Amendment does not include the right to carry a concealed firearm.  San Diego appealed the three judge panel decision to the full court which heard the case about a year ago.  The summary of the ruling begins: “The en banc court affirmed the district courts’ judgments and held that there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.” VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment attorney Steve Halbrook told NRANews yesterday that the decision completely ignores the context of the law. The judges have virtually covered their eyes while reaching it. He notes that the longest part of the decision is a discussion of the decrees of English kings, while ignoring today’s realities. Before the death of Scalia this was probably going to be the case that had the best chance of getting us a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court because California not only prohibits open carry but the may issue carry varies from locality to locality.  But now that the court is maybe split 4-4 (one or more of the five judges in Heller and McDonald have not wanted to hear additional cases so who knows if we can even get four on our side), I agree with Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned that the plaintiffs should not appeal this decision:
If Hillary wins this election, there will be no judicially enforceable Second Amendment of any meaning. That’s not hyperbole, it’s what’s going to happen. I also am very skeptical that losing three national elections in a row is going to make a lot of GOP and Dem politicians start whispering among themselves that NRA and the gun vote isn’t such the big deal they think they are.This is one more illustration of why we must do everything we can to defeat Hillary Clinton this fall.

2nd Annual Wendell Thompson Memorial Match and 2016 VSSA State Air Rifle Championship

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On July 30th, the Junior Chapter of the Arlington-Fairfax Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, in Centreville, VA, will host the 2nd Annual Wendell Thompson Air Rifle Match. This will be a 60 shot precision air rifle match. This will be an NRA registered match and will also serve as the Virginia Shooting Sports Association (VSSA) Precision Air Rifle State Championship.  Virginia residents and non-residents are eligible to compete for overall awards, but only Virginia residents are eligible for the VSSA awards.  The Match Director is Hayley Carroll, the AFC-IWLA Junior Chapter President. The entry fee is $25.00. All fees must be paid in advance by July 7th in order to ensure a confirmed spot - after the fee due date, unpaid registrations may be offered to other shooters on the waiting list. All excess proceeds will go to an electronic target fund for the Sills Air Rifle Range. You can download the match bulletin with more details by clicking here.

Loudoun County to Consider Moms Demand Action Anti-Gun Resolution, Changes to Noise Ordinance

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The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will hold their monthly meeting this afternoon at 5:00.  On the agenda is resolution #3 which would officially recognize June 2nd as as “National Gun Violence Awareness Day” in official county records.  The resolution is being promoted by being promoted by a local affiliate of Moms Demand Action.  As NRA-ILA notes, such recognition will do nothing to stop crime:
Resolution #3 would not create harsher punishments for the criminals who abuse firearms or prevent further tragedies from occurring.  Instead, Resolution #3 simply seeks to demonize firearms and those who own them, while providing a foot in the door to drum up support for an anti-gun political agenda in Loudoun.As originally proposed, the resolution mentioned the Moms Demand Bloomberg group.  The Loudoun Times reported yesterday however that after the resolution was condemned by the Loudoun County Republican Committee, the chair of the board removed the reference to the anti-gun group:
Randall on Monday told the Times-Mirror she was willing to alter the resolution to essentially “de-politicize” the proposal. She said she removed MDA and the Brady group after a Republican board colleague said he couldn't support the original resolution because of the political nature of the organizations.

“I still think we need to recognize that gun violence happens,” Randall said. “We need to have the discussion.”

The new resolution still recognizes National Gun Violence Awareness Day and lists statistics about shootings and gun-related deaths, but it doesn't include the Moms Demand Action group. The new proposal also incorporates the name of Naomi Howell, a Leesburg woman who was shot and killed earlier this year.Who wants to bet that those "statistics" were provided by Bloomberg's group.  We all know how accurate those are. If you live in Loudoun and can attend tonight's meeting, please do so and make you voice heard against this proposal.

Another issue of importance to gun owners is a proposed change to the county's noise ordinance.  While current shooting ranges are exempt from any change, there are no exceptions in the proposed amendments for shooting on private property or for discharge of a firearm during hunting, which can still be done on portions of Loudoun County.  Gun owners should make their voices heard and urge the Board to include exemptions for target practice and hunting on private property.

If you would like to speak at the meeting, please call the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors at (703) 777-0200 and sign up to speak.   The meeting will be held at 1 Harrison Street, S.E., Board Room, First Floor, Government Center, Leesburg, Virginia.

The New York Times Takes Up Campus Carry Debate

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On Monday, The New York Times opened up it's editorial space to four guest commentators to "debate" the topic of campus carry.  It was less a debate than it was each writer stating the reasons for their position.  One was rape victim Amanda Collins who wrote why she would have liked to have had her firearm on campus and there was a professor at the University of Texas who wrote that allowing firearms on campus will make them less safe and restrict academic freedom.  There was a recent college graduate who wrote opposing campus carry, and there was George Mason University Law Professor Nelson Lund who wrote in support of campus carry noting that campus police cannot prevent violent crimes.

You may have heard one of Ms. Collins' appearances on NRANews.com where she has discussed what happened to her and how campus rules disarmed her and left her defenseless.  She freely admits that she does not know what would have happened that night had she had her firearm; all she wanted was the chance to defend herself.

The Texas professor, Javier Auyero, uses the same tired reasons for opposing campus carry, namely that not only will it make campuses less safe but will "stifle classroom debate."  He claims that if the legislature had cared about basing their decision on "logical evidence based arguments" they would have listened to people like William H. McRaven, the chancellor of the University of Texas and a former Navy SEAL, and Art Acevedo, chief of the Austin Police Department because they both know "when there are more guns around, there is more risk – it’s as simple as that."  What Professor Auyero does not put forth is the "evidence" found in the state of Colorado from Colorado State University, where campus carry has been legal for years with no issues related to academic freedom. Independence Institute Director of Research wrote in 2009:
Yet, if one drives just a few hours north on Interstate 25 to Colorado State University, where licensed carry is allowed in classrooms, there has been no evidence of any diminution of academic freedom. Nor are there reports of any impairment of academic freedom at the nine public colleges and universities in Utah, at the three Blue Ridge campuses in Virginia, or in Israel, Thailand, or Norway.In fact, Kopel continues, the only evidence of restrictions on academic freedom related to campus carry are on advocates of campus carry.

We know where the New York Times stands when it comes to the right to bear arms but they at least offered a balanced forum for advocates on both sides of this issue to state their case.  I recommend reading all four Op/Eds.

Virginian Ginny Thrasher Gets Two Top Three Finishes at Meeting of the Shooting Hopes

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The DPost.com reports that Virginian Ginny Thrasher finished first in the junior women’s 10m air rifle, over the Memorial Day weekend at the 26th Meeting of the Shooting Hopes, in Pilsen, Czech Republic.  She also placed third in the junior women’s 50m rifle 3 position at the competition.   Thrasher, who shot on the rifle team at West Springfield High School and was the 2015 Virginia air rifle state champion, currently is a member of the West Virginia University Rifle Team and a 2016 Rio Summer Olympics qualifier for the United States and the reigning NCAA air rifle and smallbore champion.  She holds more than 20 National Rifle Association and USA Shooting records.

Eight Year-old Shooting Phenom Alexis Nicole Welch

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Photo by Oleg Volk, American Shooting JournalI mentioned last week that one of the things that caught my eye at this year's NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits were the number of young competitive shooters walking the exhibit hall proudly wearing their shooting team shirts.  Yesterday, I opened my email late in the afternoon and VSSA's Executive Director, Lu Charette, had shared an article from Gun Digest about Alexis Nicole Welch and a link to her Facebook Fan Page.  I Goggled her name and found this article in American Shooting Journal that gives even more information about this hot shot young shooter:
Some people are larger than life. They are rare. Even more rare are children whose accomplishments would make any adult proud. Alexis Welch of western Kentucky is one such kid. If a writer used Alexis as a book character, most of the readers would have accused them of being unrealistic – nobody is that multitalented, at least in the mundane world where most people live. And yet, Alexis is quite real and keeps getting more impressive by the day.  Alexis started shooting at age five. Her grandfather Tryce “PaPa” Welch had already raised one competitor, his daughter Stephanie who became a professional motorcycle racer. Her career was cut short by an injury after a very promising start. Unlike her mother, Alexis had little interest in riding dirt bikes, but a keen desire to shoot guns. The competitive aspects of marksmanship were a mystery to Tryce, so he educated himself and started training Alexis.According to the Gun Digest article, this little shooter overcame being born deaf and she lost her shooting coach as her grandfather recently passed away  That hasn't stopped her though as she has returned to competition and regularly competes against shooters twice her age.

I recommend reading both articles linked above because this kid is something else.  She has participated in NSSF Rimfire Challenge, USPSA and multi-gun competitions. Alexis also won the Indiana State Steel Challenge Champion Ladies 12 and under open category.  She's a well rounded kid too as she also enjoys playing soccer and softball, sings, plays music and practices gymnastics.  As the email Lu forwarded said shooters like these are the future of the shooting sports.

Seen at the NRA Annual Meetings - Young Iowa Shooters Turn Legislative Activists

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

One of the things I noticed at the NRA Annual Meetings this year were the number of young shooters running around in their competitive team shooting shirts.  Two that caught my eye regularly were young ladies with the Iowa Firearms Coalition.  When I would stop by the Press Office to check email or transfer videos from my phone to my laptop, I would sometimes see Meredith and Natalie Gibson, and their father, along with other members of the Iowa Firearms Coalition.  I didn't know it at the time but Meredith and Natalie have an interesting story.  They shoot 3-Gun and have been shooting in the backyard and at the range with their father for years.  Then they learned it was against Iowa law for youth under the age of 14 to use handguns, even under the supervision of a parent or guardian.  That means they can't practice the pistol part of the 3-Gun sport in their home state.  So, Meredith and Natalie have turned activist and are trying to pass House File 2281 - The Youth Safety and Parental Rights Act.

During the NRAAM, they had the opportunity to talk more about their plight with NRANews' Cam Edwards. Due to their testimony and lobbying, the bill passed a House subcommittee, the full committee and the full House. PJMedia reports though that the Senate has a two vote Democrat majority and while the bill passed a subcommittee and a full committee, 4 anti-gun senators will not allow the bill to be brought up for a vote. Meredith and Natalie have begun an email campaign, and will spend the summer knocking on doors to ask voters not to re-elect Senator Steve Sodders, the key legislator blocking the bill from a vote.

Katie Couric's Anti-gun Film Deceptively Edits Gun Group's Interview Response

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

This news comes as no surprise as supporters of firearm freedom should not have expected Katie Couric to be involved in a fair and balanced look at the issue of gun rights.  Several sources  reported yesterday that responses by members of another Virginia gun rights group interviewed for the film Under the Gun were edited out to make it look like they had no answer to a question on background checks.  The Washington Free Beacon reports that a little over 21 minutes into the film, Katie Couric is shown interviewing members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL).  Couric asks the members, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”  The next clip is an "awkward nine seconds" silently sitting saying nothing.  But VCDL has a habit of making recordings when they are interviewed and this was no exception.  According to the Free Beacon, audio of the interview shows that instead of silence, Couric’s question is met immediately with answers from the member's of the group that included a back and forth over the issue of background checks that went on for more than four minutes after the original question is asked.

At first, responses from the cable network EPIX which produced the film, deflected the question and talked about how the film is "critically acclaimed" and stood behind Couric and the film's director Stephanie Soechtig.  The heat apparently got to be too much for them as Soechtig told Erik Wemple of the the Washington Post "the pause was so viewers could consider the question" and "I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”  Wemple, who writes about media for the Post wrote:
Many of those who sampled the discrepancy between the video and the audiotape were already enraged by the depiction of these gun owners. The statements from Soechtig and Couric will surely intensify the backlash, as well they should. An apology, retraction, re-editing, whatever it is that filmmakers do to make amends — all of it needs to happen here.NRA was contacted to participate in this propaganda and rightly decided not to be used.  It looks like Couric and Soechtig had no idea they would be caught.  It will be interesting to see if more mainstream media picks up this story.  The AP this morning has only the briefest of reports and does not include any of the detail that Wemple or the Free Beacon put out yesterday. NRANews.com's Cam Edwards discussed the issue with Stephen Kruiser, a commentator and columnist for PJ Media.


Washington Post: Felon Voting Rights Ease Gun Ownership

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

On Friday, Jenna Portnoy had this article in the Washington Post about how Governor Terry McAuliffe's executive order restoring the voting rights of over 200,000 felons also eases their ability to get their gun rights restored:
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order last month restoring the voting rights of 206,000 felons had an unintended consequence: It’s now easier for those ex-offenders to regain the right to own guns.

Before the order, felons who wanted to legally possess firearms first had to go through the process of having their civil rights reinstated, including the right to vote, to sit on a jury and to run for office.

That process — which involved submitting forms that were scrutinized by the secretary of the commonwealth’s staff, using the governor’s authority — is no longer in place.

Instead, felons who have completed their sentences can go straight to the step of petitioning the circuit court for firearm rights. Prosecutors review those petitions and can intervene if they believe a felon should continue to be barred from owning a weapon.Portnoy quoted Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson as saying the decision to restore firearms rights is solely up to the discretion of local court judges and that local courts have the decision on whether or not to oppose petitions restoring the right to keep and bear arms.   It also appears that McAuliffe did not completely think through what his actions on voting rights would do on other civil rights:
McAuliffe said he hadn’t given much thought to how his order would affect felons seeking firearms. “My actions were about giving you the right to vote, to serve on a jury and run for political office,” he said recently. “My action, I didn’t think it had anything to do with gun rights. I stayed away from that.”We'll have to see what happens with this one now that McAuliffe has been informed of the "unintended" consequences of his actions.

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