Tuesday, February 7, 2012

VA-ALERT: VCDL Update 2/7/12

Not yet a VCDL member? Join VCDL at: http://www.vcdl.org/join.html
VCDL's meeting schedule: http://www.vcdl.org/meetings.html
Abbreviations used in VA-ALERT: http://www.vcdl.org/help/abbr.html

1. Gov. McDonnell and college carry
2. State Police computer checks down for five hours
3. Yet more coverage of Lobby Day [VIDEO]
4. Both sides of gun control issues rally in Richmond [VIDEO]
5. 36 bills concerning guns face legislators this session [VIDEO]
6. Gun issue factions rally to make their point in Richmond
7. Group spends MLK Day raffling off .50-caliber rifle
8. Virginia students seek campus carry [VIDEO]
9. Colleges keeping eyes on legislation
10. Lawmaker seeks to cut concealed carry 'red tape' in Virginia [VIDEO]
11. Self-defense for our fire and rescue companies
12. Editorial: D.C. cleans up its gun ban
13. "Don't resist--just give them what they want" and you'll be fine? Nope!
14. Gun charges dropped against tea party leader
15. Story of citizen arrested with legal handgun in New York
16. Brooklyn store fined $30,000 for selling "realistic" toy guns
17. The strange birth of NY's gun laws
18. Unintentional felon
19. Should I buy a gun?
20. Brady Center runs out of time, suffers stinging defeat in lawsuit
21. 2012 CMP Games Matches information
22. Why U.S. gun sales are shooting for the moon

1. Gov. McDonnell and college carry

James Dinger emailed me this:


Hi Philip,

#4 ("McDonnell on campus carry," VA-ALERT, 1/18/12)- Patrick Henry would have cringed knowing that a Governor of Virginia wouldn't speak out against any type of state institutional infringement regarding the Right to Bear Arms. That's why he was such a fervent supporter of the Bill of Rights. He believed that the US Constitution had too many federal powers against individuals' rights.

Governor McDonnell is essentially stating that he won't sign a bill prohibiting state colleges from enacting gun control regulations. He has got to be kidding. McDonnell will be receiving a letter from me regarding his open statement that he won't sign a bill that prevents state college institutions from enacting gun control. This reminds me of the public schools in Virginia stating that they don't recognize a student's right to self defense under their Student Code of Conduct policy. I've repeatedly warned people to watch out for elected officials like McDonnell who use the soft approach to legislation trying to make themselves look like they support the Constitution. That's how we got to this point in the USA, ie, Homeland Security, NDAA, TSA, and The Patriot Act. Don't think for a minute that any of these provisions support your Constitutional rights or somehow make the USA a safer place to live. They don't. The fact is that societies with high gun ownership by law abiding citizens make their countries a safer place to live.

2. State Police computer checks down for five hours

Josh Kellogg posted this to the VCDL facebook page:

From hamptonroads.com: http://tinyurl.com/867x5tt

State Police computer checks downed for five hours
The Associated Press
January 19, 2012

A network outage crippled Virginia State Police for five hours Thursday, leaving the force unable to perform background checks, run fingerprints or register sex offenders.

State police reported the problem to the Virginia Information Technologies Agency around 1:30 p.m., spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

The network remained down until around 6:30 p.m., when most features were restored.

In the meantime, troopers didn't know if the person they pulled over was wanted by police, if the car was stolen or if the person was a known criminal. It also meant those who went to purchase firearms were turned away because dealers couldn't perform the necessary background checks.

It's the latest in series of periodic outages and snafus involving the state's computer system, which is run by VITA through a 10-year, $2.4 billion contract with Northrop Grumman Corp.

In April, State Police lost internal and external communication capabilities for a week during a software update. A much larger server failure idled at least two dozen state agencies for several days in 2010. Some services, like getting drivers licenses and paying taxes, were unavailable for a week.

An audit later found that Northrop Grumman had not planned for the memory board failure and ignored industry best practices, leading to data loss and the delay in restoration.

A Northrup Grumman spokesman deferred questions to VITA, which said the outage was the result of a network switch failing at State Police headquarters.

"Anytime something in public safety fails, it's all hands on deck," state computer chief Samuel A. Nixon Jr. said.

While he said he was not making any excuses for the disruption, he said the computer network's "footprint is enormous."

"There are literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment from one end of the state to the other that we are responsible for," Nixon said.

The outage crippled the Virginia Criminal Information Network, which serves nearly 700 agencies in Virginia and outside the state. It stores information relating to wanted and missing persons, sex offenders, stolen vehicles and protective orders, among other information.

Last year, the network completed more than 416 million transactions.

While the outage may have halted gun sales, Virginia law allows for a remedy in case the computer problem persisted. Anyone who was turned away Thursday could have been able to buy a firearm without a background check if the system had remained offline for three days.

The computer system contract is the largest with a single vendor in Virginia's history. Since VITA was established to oversee the contract in 2003, both the agency and the company have been criticized by lawmakers and legislative review boards for cost overruns, service outages, slow services and delays that have paralyzed state agencies.

3. Yet more coverage of Lobby Day [VIDEO]

From nbcwashington.com: http://tinyurl.com/74yplbf [video]

4. Both sides of gun control issues rally in Richmond [VIDEO]

VCDL Board Member Dennis O'Connor emailed me this:


"And they'll say things like well look what happened at Virginia Tech. That's why you people shouldn't have guns," said Dennis O'Connor of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. "And we look at those kind of massacres, those kind of horrible things and say that's why we should have guns."

From wdbj7.com: http://tinyurl.com/7d2yyza [video]

Both sides of gun control issues rally in Richmond
Joe Dashiell
News 7 Reporter
January 16, 2012

RICHMOND, Va.-- In Richmond, state lawmakers paused to honor Martin Luther King on Monday.

But the holiday also brought the debate over gun violence.

Familiar arguments could bring a different result.

Members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League wore slogans, and sidearms, as they rallied for gun rights in Capitol Square.

"And they'll say things like well look what happened at Virginia Tech. That's why you people shouldn't have guns," said Dennis O'Connor of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. "And we look at those kind of massacres, those kind of horrible things and say that's why we should have guns."

A few hours later, supporters of the Virginia Center for Public Safety were lying on the ground to bring attention to the victims of gun related violence.

"If the idea that more guns in more places in our country made us safer, the United States of America would already be the safest place in the world," said Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech student who was wounded on April 16th.

Supporters of gun rights, and advocates for gun control, have been frequent visitors to Capitol Square, but with the power shift in the State Senate, both are wondering if this year might be different.

"I think we've got a better chance of getting a fair hearing for all the bills that are up for consideration," said Al Steed, a gun rights advocate from Bedford County.

Lori Haas, the mother of an injured student said: "It's a confusing state right now I think for some people, but we are still determined to do what we can to save lives."

No matter what happens in the General Assembly this year, both sides say they're determined to carry on.

5. 36 bills concerning guns face legislators this session [VIDEO]

From wdbj7.com: http://tinyurl.com/7zoxulg [video]

36 bills concerning guns face legislators this session
Wayne Covil
CBS 6 Senior Reporter
January 16, 2012

Richmond, Va (WTVR)-- First gun advocates, who want to see fewer restrictions when it comes to guns, gathered at the bell tower near the state capitol.

Then later in the day, those who believe stricter laws need to be in place in Virginia, including several who had children killed during the Virginia Tech shootings four years ago, began to assemble.

Hundreds joined the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, some sporting their handguns on their side.

Many in the crowd believe fewer gun restrictions are needed.

"There are a lot of gun rights that need to be restored to the people, constitutionally our rights weren't suppose to be infringed in the first place" said VCDL President Philip Van Cleave.

John Young brought his wife and daughters to the rally from Woodbridge in Northern Virginia. "I'm concerned of course about any laws being passed that would restrict gun owner rights," he said.

J.R. Ferguson from Ivor said he believes it's important to be at the Capitol and let the legislature see their solidarity. "When they try to undermine that, I'm not going to stand still for it, and I see it as my duty to be here and stand up as a Virginian, a native Virginian.

"A few hours later, at the same spot, those who seek stricter gun laws paused to remember more than 800 Virginians who lost their lives to gun violence last year.

In the crowd, family and friends of those killed and wounded during the Virginia Tech shootings four years ago, like Peter Read, whose daughter was killed in her French class. "Making sure that we don't allow concealed carry on our college campuses in a way that makes it more dangerous for students and teachers," he said was his goal.

Colin Goddard, who was severely wounded in the same French class, spoke to the crowd. "I was nearly killed and that day changed my life forever."

Wallace Adams-Riley, a gun-owner and the director at nearby St Paul's Episcopal church, said that he believes more laws need to be in place. "It's not being pro-gun or anti-gun to my mind; it's about being responsible, it's about the kind of community that we want to have, the kind of community we want to be."

Delegates and Senators will discuss 36 bills that host legislation concerning guns during this session of the General Assembly.

The one expected to garner the most attention is the one gun a month bill, which gun advocates would like to see changed, to allow more than one handgun to be purchased in the same month--unlike now, which limits purchases to just one.

6. Gun issue factions rally to make their point in Richmond

From the Washington Times: http://tinyurl.com/6vgrzjv

Gun issue factions rally to make their point in Richmond
By David Sherfinski
January 16, 2012

RICHMOND -- Emboldened by a new Republican majority in Richmond, some 200 people rallied on Capitol Square Monday to push gun-friendly legislation, hours before a crowd occupied the same space to commemorate victims of gun violence.

The long-simmering issue in Virginia has risen to fever pitch in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and, more recently, an opinion last year from Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II saying colleges need to set regulations in order to restrict guns on campuses and that a policy is not sufficient.

"Basically, a gun is a tool," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. "It's no better or worse than the person holding it. ... Our view is real simple. You need to be able to protect yourself."

The VCDL has traveled to college campuses throughout the state in recent months to rally support for more permissive gun policies. Members traveled to the state's Capitol along with many other advocacy groups on Monday as part of the annual "Lobby Day."

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican and newly declared U.S. Senate candidate, has introduced a bill that would allow faculty with concealed carry permits to have firearms on college campuses. Measures like that have died in past years before reaching the House floor.

"It's very important to let faculty carry," said Mr. Van Cleave. "It's a good first step. ... If anything, it'll make college and university campuses safer."

He said that major agenda items for the group in 2012 include repealing the Gov. L. Douglas Wilder-era one-handgun-a-month law, banning state agencies from approving gun control measures without the legislature's permission, and allowing law-abiding gun holders to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Mr. Van Cleave said prospects for gun legislation passing are "much better than the last few years" with a Senate now controlled by the GOP, although a number of rural Democrats have also traditionally been strong gun-rights supporters.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has indicated that he favors overturning the one-handgun-a-month law -- a stance he took during the 2009 campaign after backing the measure as a state delegate. He says that with improved computerized background check technology, the law is no longer necessary.

Mr. McDonnell, however, has also indicated that he would not be inclined to support a VCDL-backed bill to prevent colleges from prohibiting concealed weapons in school facilities.

Dale Gregurich, who traveled with a busload of people from the Roanoke area, said carrying a gun was a simple constitutional right.

"Any barriers they put between an honest citizen getting a gun, I'm against," he said. "Nothing is protected, nothing is sacred, unless you have a right to bear arms."

But many groups, such as the Virginia Coalition for Public Safety, disagree.

Lori Haas, whose daughter was wounded during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, opposes the repeal of one-handgun-a-month and others that loosen the state's gun laws.

"We think that the laws on the books in Virginia are reasonable," she said.

Sen. A. Donald McEachin, Henrico Democrat, said at the afternoon vigil that he planned to introduce legislation calling for universal background checks for gun purchases. Closing the so-called "gun show loophole" that allows unlicensed dealers to sell weapons at gun shows without conducting criminal background checks has repeatedly been introduced and stopped in the state legislature.

"While they may not be accepted on any given day, by and by, our views will prevail," he said.

Pam Pouchot of York County, though, was skeptical.

She said of pro-gun legislators, gesturing toward the Capitol. "What they want to get through will get through."

7. Group spends MLK Day raffling off .50-caliber rifle

From dailycaller.com: http://tinyurl.com/7kc3n4f

Group spends MLK Day raffling off .50-caliber rifle
By Caroline May

Nothing says "Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day" quite like raffling off a .50-caliber rifle in front of the Virginia state legislature.

Monday morning, in an effort to lobby the Virginia General Assembly for favorable gun-ownership laws, a Virginia advocacy group will convene in Richmond on capitol grounds to promote their individual defense agenda.

According to alerts provided by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc., a self-described "grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental human right of all Virginians to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment," the group believes that the Republican control of the Virginia State Senate will give them a leg up in repealing some of Virginia's gun control laws.

"Do I think we have a better chance this year than last? Yes, significantly," said advocate Philip Van Cleave in a statement.

The VCDL will host speakers and hold a raffle for a donated Serbu .50 BMG. All active VCDL members will be automatically entered as well as anyone who requests a free ticket.

The group argues that gun control laws punish all Virginians for the actions of a few criminals.

"A criminal does something wrong, he pays the price-we didn't do anything wrong, he did," said Van Cleave.

According to the Associated Press, there is already legislation filed to allow citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

The group is also pushing to prohibit colleges and universities from keeping guns off campus and to streamline background checks -- by eliminating state checks and relying solely on federal checks for gun purchases.

The VCDL will be busing supporters to the Capitol and expects participation to be in the hundreds.

The Virginia Center for Public Safety will be holding a vigil for the victims of gun violence on the State Capitol Monday afternoon.

8. Virginia students seek campus carry [VIDEO]

Stephen Wenger emailed me this:


From whsv.com: http://tinyurl.com/7pgd3tn [video]

JMU Students Meet to Support Concealed Weapons
Jan 17, 2012

Students at James Madison University met Tuesday night to assert their 2nd amendment rights to bear arms. The topic of concealed weapons on campus is a sensitive one, but this group feels that it should be discussed.

This follows Blue Ridge Community College being forced to ban concealed weapons by state administrators.

The group meets weekly to discuss the laws and law makers who are involved in gun control on the JMU campus.

On student says this discussion is necessary to ensure that the students' rights are not taken away.

"It's kind of a taboo topic. Blue Ridge Community College had a policy that didn't ban weapons on campus, and they had conceal carry there for a year, almost two, if I recall correctly. And never had an incident of somebody carrying a weapon," said Chris Kichinko, Vice President of the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

The students say guns save lives, even if people may take them.

9. Colleges keeping eyes on legislation

Again, the paper dodges reporting on the paltry number of anti-liberty members.

Board Member Bruce Jackson emailed me this:


From martinsvillebulletin.com: http://tinyurl.com/7s3eapt

PHCC and NCI keeping eyes on legislation
January 17, 2012

A proposal to prohibit colleges and universities from barring gun possession on campuses is on the radar of local agencies.

"We are watching," said Kris Landrum, spokesperson for Patrick Henry Community College.

"Currently, we have a policy in place that does not allow weapons on campus unless they are carried by law enforcement officers," Landrum said.

"We are not going to take a stance on this legislation at this point, but we are watching it very closely because obviously nothing is more important than campus safety," she added.

Leanna Blevins, associate director and chief academic officer of the New College Institute, said NCI does not have a specific policy on the issue at this time.

In those situations in which no policy exists, it is NCI's default to use "whatever (are) the standard policies and procedures for state agencies and organizations, in particular institutions of higher learning," Blevins said.

Most public colleges in Virginia do not allow guns on campus.

When "we feel we need to address an issue like gun possession, then we do develop a policy" for NCI, Blevins said.

Before now, "we have not had the need to do so," Blevins said. However, because of the proposed legislation, NCI will consider the issue, she said.

William Wampler, a former state senator who now is executive director of NCI, said, "Obviously, we will be in compliance with whatever statutory requirements the commonwealth sets forth."

Virginia gun-control advocates and opponents had their say at the General Assembly on Monday.

About 200 people attended a rally by the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League at the State Capitol. Most wore stickers saying, "Guns Save Lives," and some openly carried handguns or rifles.

A gun-control group, the Virginia Center for Public Safety, also was lobbying legislators and held a vigil for victims of gun violence.

The two sides differ on an array of gun legislation, including allowing guns on campuses and a bill to allow citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

10. Lawmaker seeks to cut concealed carry 'red tape' in Virginia [VIDEO]

From loudountimes.com: http://tinyurl.com/7xprr4q [video]

Lawmaker seeks to cut concealed carry 'red tape' in Virginia
By Hannah Hess, Virginia Statehouse News
Jan. 16, 2012

RICHMOND -- The Republican-controlled General Assembly may make it legal to carry concealed weapons without a permit, even though gun owners support the current law.

Virginia law requires a permit for concealed carry, but a measure proposed by State Del. Mark Cole, (R-Spotsylvania), would eliminate the permit requirement, making it legal for all gun owners to carry a concealed weapon.

But two gun owners visiting Dominion Shooting Range in Chesterfield on Friday oppose changes to the law.

"I think you should have to get a permit," said registered Republican Craig Perry, 58, of Moseley. "I don't think just anybody should be allowed to have a firearm. They should show safety, and show that they have responsibility to carry a weapon."

Perry on Friday perused the guns held in glass cases at the shooting range. He applied for and was issued a Virginia Resident Concealed Handgun Permit through the Chesterfield County Circuit Court.

The process of applying is "pretty straightforward," said David Washington, 53, of Richmond. He arrived at the shooting range wearing ear protection and hauling his gun in a locked black case.

Washington, an Army veteran, applied for his concealed carry permit by presenting proof of an honorable discharge, then swearing all information provided was true. After a thorough background check, his permit should be issued within 45 days, he said.

Applicants for the permits must be at least 21 and pay a fee of $10 or more. In addition to proof of military service, applicants can submit photo-copied certificates for completing certified gun training courses.

If the background check turns up a restraining order, a drug conviction, a public drunkenness charge, a history of stalking or violent juvenile criminal convictions, applicants will be denied concealed-carry permits.

"With the permit, it kind of makes it a little easier for law enforcement," said Washington, a registered Democrat. "I'm really not into a lot of legal oversight of what we do as citizens .... but in this case, if you want to do it legally, this is the best way to do it."

It's now legal for Virginia residents 18 and older to carry pistols and revolvers openly and without a permit.

"What's going to be more disruptive in public?" Cole told Virginia Statehouse News on Friday. "You know, if you're carrying, somebody who's showing their gun off to everybody, or somebody who's just carrying it concealed?"

"I just think it's the right thing to do and would do away with a little bit of bureaucratic red tape," he said.

Cole's proposal would leave the permit process in place for Virginians traveling across state lines to places that require concealed-carry permits.

Cole has served in the Virginia House for 10 years. He said the proposal has been tried before, but it was defeated in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Since Republicans now rule both chambers of the Legislature and the governor's office, Cole said he believes 2012 could be the year it passes.

But Democratic Sen. Chap Petersen, (D-Fairfax), said the perception that his caucus has been a roadblock to pro-gun legislation is false.

"It's not like the Senate was exactly anti-gun," he said Friday. "We passed a lot of bills which strengthened Second Amendment rights."

As a member of the Senate Courts of Justice committee, Petersen helped clear the way for a bill legalizing concealed carry for permit holders in restaurants, as long as they do not consume alcohol.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed that measure into law in April 2010.

Senate Republicans booted Peterson, who has practiced law for 18 years, off the Courts of Justice committee when they seized control of the evenly divided Senate on Wednesday, using Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's tie-breaking vote.

"With the Republicans controlling both bodies, you're probably going to see more" pro-gun legislation, Petersen said. "Higher quality? I don't think. But more."

Del. Jennifer McClellan, (D-Richmond), vows to vote against Cole's proposal. She said the permit process is a major benefit to public safety within the state.

"If a police officer stops a car, they can run the license plate and they will know if that person has a concealed-weapons permit," McClellan said. "That gives them some information we probably want them to have about whether or not that individual is armed, and that would go away." [PVC: Obviously, Del McClellan believes that law abiding citizens with a CHP are a danger to the police while criminals are not. Therefore, the police must be warned that a law abiding citizen is carrying a firearm but can remain blissfully ignorant if a criminal is carrying. Huh?]

H.B. 139 has been assigned to the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety.

11. Self-defense for our fire and rescue companies

A VA-ALERT reader emailed me this:



New clues related to Virginia laws. Especially self defense for fire & rescue workers. See the section of the article below highlighted with asterisks.

I've got a long background in emergency services, especially rescue & EMS. With lots of relevant stories!

Note - The great majority of fire, rescue & EMS in Virginia are _volunteer_. Only the major cities can afford the paid departments.

And in any case, it's highly questionable if any companies should be able to restrict self -defense rights.

From winchesterstar.com: http://tinyurl.com/7keu6sb [requires log-in]

Changes could sting fire companies
By Sarah L. Greenhalgh - The Winchester Star
January 17, 2012

WINCHESTER- Frederick County's fire and rescue company officials are still waiting anxiously to see if Gov. Bob McDonnell will sign off on new regulations for emergency medical services.

The 216-page document has been sitting on his desk since early September.

To keep up with ever-advancing science, technology and legislative changes, as well as federal mandates, the Virginia Department of Health decided to overhaul the regulations governing EMS workers.

The document, which took more than two years to complete, is chock full of corrections and clarifications from the former rules.

The changes, however, could make life more difficult for the Frederick County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association.

"Were in a holding pattern," President Tim Price said at the group's meeting Monday night. "We have been waiting a long time. There's a whole laundry list of changes that have us concerned.

"If he does not sign off on it, it's business as usual. If he does we have 11 companies that will need to change to adopt to the new regulations."

In the document, there's more accountability for run sheets, and many of the fire and rescue chiefs believe their EMS workers will be mired in paperwork and spend less time in service.

Some of the major changes deal with the hiring of EMS staff and how many hours of training they will have to complete.

There is a more stringent background and criminal check of all EMS staff, ambulance drivers and air transport.

The new regulations read, "an EMS agency shall have a record for each individual affiliated with the EMS agency documenting the results of a criminal history background check conducted through the Central Criminal Records Exchange and by the National Crime Information Center via the Virginia State Police."

A driving record transcript from the individual's state Department of Motor Vehicles office will also be mandatory in the application process.

In addition, the use of tobacco products is forbidden in any EMS vehicle.

One regulation in particular - which removes the ban on firearm possession in an EMS vehicle - has caught the eye of some agencies.

The person or persons must have the mandatory conceal/carry permits before doing so, and according to the Department of Health, it will be up to each individual EMS agency to determine whether or not their workers can carry firearms.

Price said that if the governor signs the documents, there will be a 30-day waiting period where people can comment either by mail or online.

Frederick County Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Dennis Linaburg said that if the document is signed, there will be a statewide "town hall" page online where people can weigh in.

"We will let everyone know when that page is open," Linaburg said. "I don't think we will be the only county posting on there. This is a statewide issue."

A copy of the final draft of Virginia's Emergency Medical Services Regulations can be found on the Virginia Department of Health's website under the EMS department at vdh.state.va.us.

12. Editorial: D.C. cleans up its gun ban

Well, sort of, but not really.

From washingtontimes.com: http://tinyurl.com/8yxdsgz

EDITORIAL: D.C. cleans up its gun ban
District realizing its Second Amendment restrictions go too far

January 18, 2012

The nation's capital is home to some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Washington city leaders intentionally crafted convoluted regulations to make it difficult for citizens to own firearms legally. Now that these obstructionist rules are in the spotlight, the D.C. Council realizes it needs to clean up its act.

The Washington Times' Emily Miller has been closely documenting each step required in the process of exercising her Second Amendment right to keep arms. One of these is the mandatory gun "safety" course consisting of four hours of classroom instruction and one hour on the shooting range. For this, the city hands prospective gun owners a long list of instructors who have been certified by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the class.

As Miss Miller revealed, this sheet of 47 phone numbers hadn't been updated since September 2009. The majority were cellphones that went directly to voicemail when called, seven lines were out of service, two said they don't teach the course anymore and one teaches the class only in Colorado and Georgia.

Within a month after Miss Miller's story appeared, the registry office quietly posted an updated list of instructors online. The new document included Donna Worthy, an instructor who had been trying without success to get on the list for two years, along with another 15 new instructors. The police also deleted 14 obsolete names, undoubtedly saving other residents from wasting time making dead-end calls. The city additionally updated the detailed list of firearms that it will allow residents to purchase.

In July, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals smacked down the city of Chicago over instructional requirements similar to the District's. The Second Amendment Foundation and Illinois State Rifle Association sued the Windy City for requiring training at shooting ranges that were banned by city ordinance.

As The Washington Times has exposed, Washington has created the same impossible situation, requiring residents to trek to Maryland or Virginia if they want to own a gun in the District. Feeling the heat, D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson introduced the Firearms Amendment Act last month to, among other things, allow the gun safety course to be completed within the city - in theory.

Washington, of course, has no shooting ranges for private citizens. For Mr. Mendelson's proposal to be more than a public-relations stunt, the city should allow residents to use the police shooting range to complete the training demand.

The District also needs to do more than just revise a list of instructors' names. The directory ought to provide more information, such as business affiliations, addresses, emails and websites. Women residents ought not be forced by police to go to a stranger's home in order to get a gun to protect themselves, as happens under the current system.

Americans don't have to take a test or pay hefty fees to qualify to exercise their rights to free speech and to vote. It's equally as offensive to set such hurdles before the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court already ruled against the District's decades-long, unconstitutional gun ban in the Heller case. City officials need to try harder if they want their rules to look at least somewhat reasonable before the issue comes back before the high court.

13. "Don't resist--just give them what they want" and you'll be fine? Nope!

Deborah Anderson emailed me this:


You know how cops usually tell folks that if you're the victim of a robbery, "Don't resist -- just give them what they want" as if that's supposed to curb a bad guy from harming you? Well, this story from Philadelphia, just proves once again that bad guys don't play by any particular rule book and they can't be trusted, so you'd better be armed and ready to defend yourself at the very first sign of trouble.

It appears that this incident went sour really fast. Two bad guys come into the victim's restaurant wearing ski masks, and announce that they're there to rob the place. The owner tells them to take anything they want, but the bad guys didn't care. They took down the victim with just one bullet to the left chest, but because he wasn't armed, he couldn't defend himself. We'll never know whether or not he could have successfully defended himself. Had been armed, however, he at least would have had a fighting chance to defend himself at the very first sign of trouble - drawing his own weapon the very moment that the bad guys wearing ski masks entered his restaurant and declared that they were robbing the place.

Such a tragic story, about a defenseless business owner ending up dead - when things might have turned out so differently if he'd had the ability to defend himself.

The only positive thing to come out of this entire incident is that it's a blessing the victim's wife was able to escape unharmed, along with their 8 month old daughter. One can only hope that because the baby is so young that she won't grow up with any psychological scars from having watched her father murdered right in front of her. My heart goes out to them.


Deborah Jane Anderson

From nbcphiladelphia.com: http://tinyurl.com/7a2uyx2

Robbers Shoot, Kill Restaurant Owner in Front of Wife, Daughter
Owner's wife, 8-month-old daughter witness his murder, police say
By Dan Stamm
Jan 21, 2012

Despite telling the robbers they could take what they wanted, the owner of a Chinese restaurant was shot and killed during a robbery in Tacony Friday night, according to Philadelphia Police.

The 27-year-old owner of the Jin House Chinese restaurant on the 4800 block of Longshore Avenue told the robbers to take what they wanted but money wasn't enough, cops said.

"The owner apparently said, 'take what you want,' but for some reason... one of these perpetrators fired one shot and struck the owner in the left side of his chest killing him instantly behind the counter," said Chief Inspector Scott Small.

Around 7 two armed men entered the restaurant and demanded money, police said.

The owner's wife was holding the couple's 8-month-old daughter when the shooting occurred and saw the whole incident, cops said.

After the shooting the owner's wife ran outside screaming for help while still grasping their daughter in her arms, a witness said.

The two suspects ran out of the store and headed up north on Tulip Street, cops said.

"It's horrible for someone who's behind the counter to be shot for no apparent reason," Small said. "From what we understand these perpetrators didn't get anything, got no money."

Police said they were talking to witnesses and neighbors and looking over private surveillance videos to try and get better descriptions of the suspects.

14. Gun charges dropped against tea party leader

From dailycaller.com: http://tinyurl.com/7bfokqt

Gun charges dropped against tea party leader
By Alex Pappas

Felony gun charges have been dropped against Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, who on Thursday agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and pay a fine.

In an episode that outraged 2nd amendment advocates, Meckler in December was arrested at a New York City airport after attempting to check a locked gun box holding his Glock 27 pistol and ammunition with a Delta Air Lines ticket agent.

Authorities said he was arrested because, despite holding a concealed-carry permit for his pistol at home in California, he did not have the gun registered in New York where he was attempting to board the plane.

On his blog Thursday, Meckler called the episode "a horrible nightmare for my family."

Recalling being arrested, he said: "To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. ... I have always considered myself a law-abiding citizen. I have never been arrested before."

He said authorities won't give him his gun back, calling that decision "government robbery."

"There is no law that allows them to confiscate a weapon in this manner," he said. "They simply say 'no' when you ask for your weapon back. This is apparently their 'policy.' It is done regularly in New York."

15. Story of citizen arrested with legal handgun in New York

From markmeckler.com: http://tinyurl.com/7oj99xw

NYC Gun Charges Dropped. Now I Can Speak Out.
By Mark Meckler
January 12, 2012

On December 15, 2011 at approximately 5:15 a.m., I was at LaGuardia International airport preparing to check in for a flight out of the city. During a routine check-in, I requested a firearms declaration form from the ticket agent. It was my intent to declare and check my unloaded firearm.

I purchased this firearm legally, and I have a valid concealed carry permit for it issued in California. The unloaded gun was locked inside a TSA-approved travel case, and the case was locked inside my checked luggage. I carry the firearm for my personal safety, having received numerous threats due to my role in the Tea Party Patriots. I have checked this firearm at airports dozens of times before, all across the country.

As I traveled through LaGuardia that morning, I passed TSA signs telling me I had the right to check this unloaded firearm in my luggage, and that I am required by law to declare the firearm to the ticketing agent. This is exactly what I did.

The ticketing agent provided me with the declaration form, and I signed it and returned it to her. She advised me that she would need to call Port Authority police to inspect. This is not unusual when traveling with a firearm. Procedures vary from airport to airport, from airline to airline, and even from day to day, and as a law-abiding citizen, I have always been happy to cooperate.

Unfortunately, that day, I didn't realize that I was about to cross paths with New York City's anti-Second Amendment stance. Upon showing my case and the weapon to the officer who arrived on the scene, and after a few brief questions, she advised me that she was placing me under arrest for violating New York City's firearms laws.

To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. I am from a law enforcement family. My mother is a retired correctional officer, and I have spent my life around folks from the law enforcement community. I have always considered myself a law-abiding citizen. I have never been arrested before. I have never been in police custody. I can never say those things again. On December 15th, 2011, I was arrested, handcuffed at the ticket counter, and taken to a waiting squad car for transport to the Port Authority Police station at LaGuardia.

I was subsequently transferred, in handcuffs, to the Queens Central booking facility in New York City. I was charged with felony possession of a firearm with intent to do harm. I spent the day in Queens...in jail.

It was a nightmare that I can scarcely describe to you. Until you have felt the handcuffs on your wrists, and until you have heard that cell door close behind you, it is impossible to understand what it means to actually lose your liberty. And since that day, my liberty has been at stake, and because of that threat, based upon the advice of counsel, I've been unable to publicly speak about this case. Today the silence ends.

I am pleased to announce that the criminal case against me has been dropped. Although I was originally charged with a violent felony, the case against me was resolved with a plea to "disorderly conduct. " Disorderly Conduct is not a felony or a misdemeanor, or even a crime. The facts underlying my plea are that I declared a legally purchased, properly licensed and unloaded firearm at an airport counter. Apparently, much to my surprise, in New York City, it is considered "disorderly conduct" to exercise your constitutionally guaranteed, Second Amendment rights.

Strangely, now that the case against me is over, the authorities refuse to return my firearm. There is no law that allows them to confiscate a weapon in this manner. They simply say "no" when you ask for your weapon back. This is apparently their "policy." It is done regularly in New York. This is government robbery. Not only is New York City anti-Second Amendment rights, but they are depriving citizens of their legally owned property. My lawyer has advised me that I can attempt to pursue the return of my firearm, but that to do so would cost me more than the firearm is worth. I am not alone in facing this tyranny. It has happened to hundreds of people in the New York metro area. My lawyer, Brian Stapleton, has handled over 400 of these cases himself, so he is an expert on the subject.

While the end of this case is the end of a horrible nightmare for my family and I, it is not the end of this fight. It is just the beginning. Since the original incident, I have received more emails, phone calls, texts and tweets of support than you can possibly imagine. To those people, I want to say heart-felt thanks on behalf of my entire family. We have come to know that we are not alone in this particular fight. Apparently, this happens to hundreds of people per year in New York City. And New York City is not alone in its attack on our rights. This sort of Constitutional abuse, Second Amendment and otherwise, is taking place all over the nation. And we as citizens must stand against it. We must protect our rights, or we will lose them.

Many of you know me as someone who is willing to stand and fight for self-governance in this country. I'm no politician, and I'm not from a powerful or connected family. I'm an average American citizen. And I stand shoulder to shoulder with millions of other Americans who, despite enormous obstacles, and despite the politicians and ruling elite who oppose us, intend to return this country to the bounds of the United States Constitution.

The politicians and ruling elite will try, but we must not let them label us Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. We cannot let them make us fight against each other. Too much is at stake. We the People are losing our sovereignty to the government. We the People, must stand and fight for our inalienable rights.

I'm not alone in this fight. There are so many laws, that no one can possibly know or understand them. We are all affected. From the inner city to the farm, from the heartland of America to the coasts, people are under pressure from a government that no longer serves them. From my home in California, to the farmland of Kansas... from the small towns of South Carolina to the metropolis of New York, every year the legislatures pass thousands of laws and regulations that do not serve the people.

The legislators don't read the bills they pass, and even if they did, they couldn't understand them. Our criminal justice system is terribly broken, and no longer serves the people and the communities it was intended to serve. Our regulatory system is broken; small businesses and the communities that rely on them crushed under the weight of unnecessary regulation.

We are, step by step, destroying the heart of America. And we are doing so because we are not governing ourselves according to the Constitution. It's up to us...the People.

It's time to stand for self-governance. It is time to stand for the plain meaning of the Constitution. Every word of the Constitution is important, and we must fight for them all. We must fight for every inch of this country, from the inner city to the smallest rural town. We are, all of us, first and foremost, American citizens. We've always governed ourselves...and we always intend to. And we've always been willing to stand when freedom is at stake. It is time to stand...time for all of us, every race, every religion, every gender, every American to stand up and fight for liberty and take responsibility for governing ourselves.

No one should ever have to go through what my family has been through, simply for exercising a fundamental right, specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution. I am committed to making sure no one does. And I'm willing to work with anyone...anyone, who agrees that it's time for the people to govern themselves once again.

Will we as citizens fight for our inalienable right to govern ourselves, or will we quietly allow ourselves to be "governed" into submission by a ruling elite, disconnected from our citizens and our communities? Only history will tell, but I intend to fight.

(Note: Every law enforcement officer I dealt with through the process was polite and professional. They are not to blame for NYC's unconstitutional or tyrannical behavior. From my experience, they seem to be good people, just doing a difficult job.)

16. Brooklyn store fined $30,000 for selling "realistic" toy guns

From nypost.com: http://tinyurl.com/7v48c4z

Fake-gun fine unreal
30G penalty forcing B'klyn store to close
January 17, 2012

Now this is a real stickup!

The owner of a discount store in Brooklyn says the city is holding him up for $30,000 in fines he can't afford -- all because he stocked six toy sheriff sets that included plastic guns.

And now the .44-caliber fines for the orange-tipped, obvious fakes are forcing him to close for good.

"It doesn't make any sense," said Khaled Mohamed, 23, manager of 99c Target in Flatlands, which has been ordered to pay a staggering $5,000 fine for each gun offered for sale -- the maximum under the law.

The store "cannot pay that fine at all," said Mohamed, arguing that the punishment imposed on the Utica Avenue odds-and-ends shop is way out of proportion to the violation.

"They're stopping us from doing any business," he said.

The store's lawyer, Andrew Tilem, doesn't dispute that 99c Target was in violation of a city regulation that makes it illegal to sell toy weapons that look too real.

The rule is designed to prevent cops from mistaking the toys for the real thing -- and shooting an innocent kid -- and to thwart criminals from using them to commit crimes.

Retailers can get around the law by making sure the toy guns are brightly colored.

Tilem and Mohamed said the store initially relied on the word of the gun's vendor, JMD All Star of New Jersey, that the toys were legal for sale. Then, they said, the prior manager failed to inform store owner Jamal Ahmed that a city inspector had written up the shop.

Because of that failure, Ahmed missed a hearing, which led to the $30,000 fine, Tilem said. The lawyer got Consumer Affairs to reopen the case and negotiate a tentative settlement for about $5,400.

But Ahmed couldn't afford that either, so he tried his luck at another hearing.

After the store argued that no reasonable person would believe the guns were real, the hearing officer upheld the original fine, as did an appeals judge last week.

Tilem decried the $5,000-per-toy fine, calling it "a really, really abusive penalty."

But a Consumer Affairs spokeswoman countered, "Realistic-looking imitation guns are illegal and dangerous, and just last week, a 15-year-old in Texas was killed while holding one of these guns."

17. The strange birth of NY's gun laws

From nypost.com: http://tinyurl.com/6w6w5e5

The strange birth of NY's gun laws
By Michael A. Walsh
January 15, 2012

Recent months have seen a former Marine from Indiana, a Tea Party activist from California and a nurse from Tennessee all arrested and charged in New York City for possession of firearms they had legal permits to carry back home. All were "nabbed" when they naively sought to check the weapon with security.

These innocents fell afoul of the nation's toughest gun laws. But few New Yorkers know how those laws came to be.

The father of New York gun control was Democratic city pol "Big Tim "Sullivan -- a state senator and Tammany Hall crook, a criminal overseer of the gangs of New York.

In 1911 -- in the wake of a notorious Gramercy Park blueblood murder-suicide -- Sullivan sponsored the Sullivan Act, which mandated police-issued licenses for handguns and made it a felony to carry an unlicensed concealed weapon.

This was the heyday of the pre-Prohibition gangs, roving bands of violent toughs who terrorized ethnic neighborhoods and often fought pitched battles with police. In 1903, the Battle of Rivington Street pitted a Jewish gang, the Eastmans, against the Italian Five Pointers. When the cops showed up, the two underworld armies joined forces and blasted away, resulting in three deaths and scores of injuries. The public was clamoring for action against the gangs.

Problem was the gangs worked for Tammany. The Democratic machine used them as shtarkers (sluggers), enforcing discipline at the polls and intimidating the opposition. Gang leaders like Monk Eastman were even employed as informal "sheriffs," keeping their turf under Tammany control.

The Tammany Tiger needed to rein in the gangs without completely crippling them. Enter Big Tim with the perfect solution: Ostensibly disarm the gangs -- and ordinary citizens, too -- while still keeping them on the streets.

In fact, he gave the game away during the debate on the bill, which flew through Albany: "I want to make it so the young thugs in my district will get three years for carrying dangerous weapons instead of getting a sentence in the electric chair a year from now."

Sullivan knew the gangs would flout the law, but appearances were more important than results. Young toughs took to sewing the pockets of their coats shut, so that cops couldn't plant firearms on them, and many gangsters stashed their weapons inside their girlfriends' "bird cages" -- wire-mesh fashion contraptions around which women would wind their hair.

Ordinary citizens, on the other hand, were disarmed, which solved another problem: Gangsters had been bitterly complaining to Tammany that their victims sometimes shot back at them.

So gang violence didn't drop under the Sullivan Act -- and really took off after the passage of Prohibition in 1920. Spectacular gangland rubouts -- like the 1932 machine-gunning of "Mad Dog" Coll in a drugstore phone booth on 23rd Street -- became the norm.

Congressional hearings in the 1950s, followed by the feds' prolonged assault on the Mafia succeeded in tamping down traditional gangland violence, but guns are still easily available to criminals.

Today, the spate of tourist arrests has some politicians scrambling to reassess the laws. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he'll hold committee hearings to examine enforcement of the law and recommend possible changes.

That's a good first step. Every state but Illinois has some form of concealed-carry permission -- although some, like New York, California and New Jersey, are heavily restricted. Some sort of reciprocity is needed.

Meanwhile, savor the irony of an edict written by a corrupt politician to save his bad guys from the electric chair's now being used against law-abiding citizens from other states.

And the rest of the story? Big Tim was already suffering from tertiary syphilis when he wrote his law. He went mad soon thereafter and was sent to a sanitarium in 1912. He eventually escaped. His severed body was found on railroad tracks in The Bronx in August 1913.

The dedicated lifelong "public servant" left behind an estate valued at more than $2 million.

18. Unintentional felon

From the Associated Press: http://tinyurl.com/7cs79ky

Woman removed from plane after bringing gun aboard
AP Airlines Writer
Jan 19, 2012

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- A 65-year-old lawyer was arrested Wednesday for carrying a loaded handgun aboard an American Airlines jet at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Judith Kenney was released later Wednesday on her own recognizance, said her attorney, Dallas lawyer David Finn.

Kenney carries a handgun for protection but had forgotten that it was in a computer bag she carried on board the plane, he said. She has no criminal history, he said.

Screeners at a security checkpoint had detected a gun in a woman's carry-on bag but she "picked up the bag and left the checkpoint before the screening process was over," said Greg Soule, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which operates the checkpoints. When TSA screeners spot a gun in a bag, they are supposed to seize the bag and notify police, he said.

Officials got a photo of Kenney from a closed-circuit video system and showed it to airport employees. She was taken into custody by DFW Airport police about an hour and 40 minutes later, Soule said.

An airline spokesman said Wednesday that the plane was headed for the runway when it returned to the gate and was met by airport police.

Kenney was removed from Flight 2385, scheduled to fly to Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. The flight, with 128 passengers, was delayed for just over an hour and passengers were screened again before the plane took off, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said.

Airport officials said that Kenney would be charged with carrying a gun into a place where weapons are prohibited, a third-degree felony in Texas and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

About 10 other flights were also delayed up to 25 minutes after the TSA closed DFW's Terminal D, Smith said. The terminal, one of five at the airport, is used for both domestic and international flights.

Kenney is "absolutely mortified, embarrassed," Finn said. "She feels terrible for putting the pilot and passengers through all that."

The incident comes amid heightened criticism of TSA.

A soldier arrested on Dec. 31 at the Midland, Texas, airport with C4 explosives in his bag said he probably carried the bomb material on a flight from North Carolina to Texas. Screeners delayed him after finding and confiscating a smoke grenade but let him on that first flight.

In other cases, screeners have been overzealous. TSA Administrator John Pistole said in letters made public this week that screeners at New York's Kennedy Airport violated procedures this fall by asking an 85-year-old woman and an 88-year-old woman to reveal medical devices concealed under their clothes. The women said they felt as if they had been strip-searched.

Screeners in Las Vegas were criticized this month for confiscating a traveler's frosted cupcake.

19. Should I buy a gun?

From elle.com: http://tinyurl.com/6svg6ve

Should I Buy a Gun?
After falling victim to a string of traumatic crimes, Amanda Fortini considers a controversial means of protection
JANUARY 12, 2012

One afternoon four years ago, my then boyfriend strides into the den where I'm reading a book and shows me a gun. A metallic silver handgun still wrapped in its original plastic, it lies there, impotent, in a small metal lock box, but it terrifies me anyway. My boyfriend, who I'll call R., lifts the top of the box gingerly, like he's displaying a rare and delicate treasure, a Faberge egg that might shatter if jostled. He wants me to know there's a gun in the house. I wonder when he decided he needed it, where he bought it, whether he applied for a permit to render the thing legitimate. Is owning a gun in Los Angeles even legal? Then, growing irritated, I ask myself: How did he manage to do this without my knowledge?

I'd never seen an actual gun, except in the holsters of police officers. To my mind, guns were verboten, menacing, violent. They were unpredictable contraptions beloved of white supremacists or paranoid meth heads in creepy desert hideouts. My formative years were spent in Illinois, where gun control laws have long been some of the strictest in the nation. I lived in a middle-class suburb, where mall-going was the chief recreational pastime and there wasn't a culture of hunting or shooting for sport. My mother, who raised my two sisters and me alone, was a champion worrier--she forbade us to ride in cars if there was so much as a hint of "precipitation" and hired babysitters for us until I was well into high school, to my great dismay. But she certainly didn't keep a gun at home for protection. Whenever she heard a suspicious late-night noise, a creak or crash that convinced her someone was climbing through a basement window or lurking around our deck, she called George, the sturdy, mustachioed cop who lived with his young family across the street, to sweep through the house and give her the all-clear.

"Why did you buy it?" I finally ask R.

"For self-defense," he tells me, in his best duh voice.

Surprised as I was to see R. with a gun, I understood his desire for protection. Nine months earlier, at 9 a.m. on an ordinary Sunday in Santa Monica, I'd walked into the office we rented together to find it had been burglarized. The intruder had somehow tunneled through three layers of sophisticated security: an electronically coded front door, the Medeco bolt outside our suite, and the more basic lock to our office proper. The third door he'd ruptured with a crowbar; splinters of wood lay scattered across the nubby carpet. As if this weren't sinister enough, R., a scholar of Islam who wrote incendiary books and articles and often appeared on cable TV news shows, was singled out: Our offices had been ransacked top to bottom--my laptop was missing, as were many of R.'s most sensitive documents--while the computers and expensive art belonging to the film executives who shared our suite had been left untouched. More disconcerting still, I'd been at the office until 2 a.m. the previous night, attempting to meet a deadline. Whoever had done this had utilized, exactly, the seven hours of my absence. It seemed likely that they (when the police detective came, he said that damage this extensive was almost surely the work of a they) had been watching me until I left. What if I'd walked in on them?

I became plagued by nightmares and apprehension. I feared that R. and I were being followed. When I saw an unfamiliar Lincoln Town Car idling in the alley behind our apartment building, I was certain "they" were staking us out. I worried that the intruders hadn't found what they came for and would return for it. Next time (a next time seemed inevitable) the crime would be far worse, some atrocity that even my overheated mind couldn't conjure up.

R., for his part, was blithely unconcerned about the whole incident--or at least he acted like it. Later, I reflected that this posture allowed him to continue with his work, the perils of which he had to ignore so he could concentrate. But he also hadn't walked in on the grim aftermath alone, as I had: the succession of broken locks, the bludgeoned door, the disheveled drawers and file cabinets, the ecosystem of the place irrevocably damaged.

"This couldn't have happened to a worse person," R. said, whenever I voiced my roiling anxiety.

"Anyone with a brain would feel afraid," I snapped.

Yet R. was right that I suffered from a certain chronic paranoia--the legacy, very likely, of all that maternal fretting. (Another example: My mother asked relatives who visited me as a baby to don bandannas as face masks.) This bleak, anxious disposition of mine was aggravated by a rash of criminal acts I'd suffered in the preceding decade. To recount them all sounds absurd, like I'm a shameless exaggerator or a pathological liar, but the facts are the facts. There was the three-month sojourn in Los Angeles, during which my car was broken into twice: The first time, the locks were jimmied and stripped, and a duffel bag of personal documents (bills, insurance statements, diaries and notebooks filled with youthful stories and poems) vanished; the second time, the thieves urinated all over my car's upholstery. During this same period, I found myself crouching behind the kitchen counter in my tiny one-bedroom apartment at 4 a.m. while a man threw the full weight of his body against my locked door. With each successive impact, he yelled that I was a bitch and he was going to kill me. (Some divine intervention caused him to pass out moments before the police showed up; apparently he'd imbibed great quantities of a mind-altering substance and then come to torture his girlfriend, who lived upstairs.) A year or so later, in New York City, my home for most of my twenties, I walked in on a hold-up at a bodega in the far East Village. I opened the door to the store, and before I'd even crossed the threshold, I saw the bad guy, whose back was turned, and the people crouched on the floor. Somehow I was able to turn around and walk out, unscathed.

Unscathed only on the surface, however. I was left with the sort of nagging, entrenched fears that aren't easily banished by therapy or new age attitudinal adjustments. These fears, rooted as they are in lived experience, don't fade much over time. Some even grow.

In my teens and early twenties, I tried to define myself in opposition to my mother's skittishness, feigning a boldness I didn't truly feel, especially when it came to physical exploits, which I viewed as opportunities for flamboyant showing-off. I'd ski hairpin-turn slopes without a lesson. I'd ride the stomach-

plunging roller coaster until I vomited. I'd climb on the back of the motorcycle, wrap my legs around the obviously incompetent driver, and cruise down FDR Drive, electrified by fright but refusing to show it. In spite of this, I don't remember worrying that I faced, or ever would face, any real danger, either through my own impulsiveness or, perhaps more relevantly, at another's malevolent hand. I often babysat late into the night, for instance, and I don't recall a moment of nervousness. Maybe this was because my Chicago suburb was as safe as an Amish village; no one I knew had ever been the victim of a crime. Or maybe it was because my hours of after-school ballet practice meant I didn't watch the nightly news until college. Whatever the reason, I saw myself as a swaggering counterexample to my mother.

And then, after the office break-in, the climactic finale to my sketchy, crime-ridden era, I realized that something had changed. My tamped-down or laughed-off vulnerability and panic suddenly flooded back, defining me. It was as though the armor I'd been burnishing had cracked under the years of strain to expose the soft, pale flesh beneath--like the scene at the end of Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader removes his brutal mask to reveal a larvalike pate.

These days, I'm a jittery, irritatingly vigilant person. I insist that the bags go in the trunk because the car will be broken into; that the house must always be locked, lest someone be casing the joint. If I walk into a mini-mart or a restroom at a movie theater, I'm on high alert, my muscles tensed, particularly after dark.

My distress wasn't eased when R. and I moved, post break-in, to the Hollywood Hills, into a restored 1912 Craftsman that was as spooky as it was beautiful. The neighborhood, a shabby-chic melange of movie people, artists, and old-school bohemian types, was mostly gentrified, but it was perched above the seediest section of Hollywood. This meant that drunk, high, and generally shady characters often shambled into our cul-de-sac. The neighbors routinely warned of possible break-ins and informed one another if they came to pass. Several years prior, a guy posing as an air-

conditioner repairman murdered a young woman renting a house at the end of the street; the horror of it lingered like a stain.

R., who'd published a best-selling book, was out of town most of our early days in that house, on an extended lecture tour. At his busiest, he traveled three weeks a month. My memories of that year are of lonely nights spent padding around echoing, unfurnished rooms. The front of the house was composed almost entirely of uncovered windows and glass doors. When it was dark out and our lights were on, I felt like a fish in a public aquarium. I mentioned to R. that I was afraid at night and wanted to put up curtains. He said it would ruin the home's "historical look." An alarm system was installed, but no draperies. (Our eventual breakup should come as no surprise.)

Unable to sleep, I got a prodigious amount of writing done that year. But I also spent an unhealthy number of hours staring into the inky blackness of the front yard. I'd listen to the susurrus of the trees and become convinced that someone was out there rustling and whispering, that I was blind to him even as he could see me. I'd hear twigs cracking, likely from cats or raccoons, and think that it was branches breaking beneath a prowler's feet. More than once I called 911. What's bizarre is that during those nights I never remembered the gun. I didn't even know where R. stored it. It never occurred to me that a gun might quiet my blaring inner alarms.

Until last year, that is, when I moved to Montana to live with my new boyfriend, now fiance. Montana is one of only 12 states that allow residents to carry a loaded gun in public--"open carry"--either on foot or in a vehicle, without a permit. (To carry a concealed weapon, you do need a permit, obtainable after completing a training or safety course.)

Firearms, in other words, are a seamless part of the culture here. I don't see people examining fruit in the produce aisle at Albertsons with a gun in plain sight, but I have glimpsed quite a few guns idly resting, like a map or some other quotidian object, on the dashboard of a car. People also talk about guns casually and often, the way people in New York talk about long workdays and people in L.A. talk about yoga classes. My boyfriend's father's girlfriend, a sixtysomething former stewardess who lives in Jackson Hole, tells me she keeps a pistol in her car because she often drives long stretches, crisscrossing her way between Wyoming and Arizona. Another woman I befriended, a quirky, devoutly Christian two-time divorcee in her fifties, takes her teenage son to the shooting range on weekends instead of to the movies. Leaving a sporting-goods store one evening, I pass a young couple with a yellow Labrador. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" squeals the woman, who has frosted pink lipstick and a blond ponytail snaking down her back. "This is for my birthday, right?" She's carrying a large box containing a shotgun. As Lindsay McCrum, a photographer who published the bluntly titled book Chicks With Guns, has said: "When you get outside of the blue-state cities, everybody has a gun."

Montana's tradition of private gun ownership has long included women. Think of petticoated saloon girls tucking tiny derringers into their garter belts, or Calamity Jane, who once called home the small town where I now live. Traditions aside, there are practical reasons why a woman living here might want to own a weapon. Reasons one and two are grizzly bears and rattlesnakes, which you can encounter on a hike. Then, too, the distances between towns are vast in this sparsely populated state, the weather harsh and capricious. I've often wondered, If my car broke down in a remote area (there are many places beyond the reach of authorities, other people, or cell phone service) and someone tried to harm me under the pretext of helping, would anyone hear me scream?

The question can trouble me at home, too. Unlike R., my fiance doesn't travel much, but when I have spent nights alone in the large commercial building where we live, I've looked out at the desolate wintry downtown streets, listened to the wind rattling the windows, and felt utterly exposed, vulnerable. In situations like these, I begin to think that having a gun in easy reach might not be the worst idea.

Last January, I sat riveted by the harrowing round-the-clock coverage of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' shooting. The pundits focused on the breakdown of the federal background-check system: Accused gunman Jared Loughner had been suspended from college for mental problems, arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, and rejected by the military after admitting to repeated marijuana use, yet his history came up clear when he purchased the gun. I agreed that the system had failed, but I was also absorbed by another concern. Among the bystanders was a woman named Patricia Maisch. While lying on the ground to avoid being shot, she saw Loughner, pinned down next to her by two men, reach into his pocket, pull out a "magazine," fumble, then drop it. Maisch heard someone yell, "Get the magazine!" So she reached out and snatched it. "I was able to grab it before he could," Maisch told the press. Had someone yelled the same to me, I wouldn't have had a clue what to do. I didn't know that a magazine is a detachable device that loads ammunition into a semi-automatic weapon, yet I live in a place where firearms are commonplace. It occurred to me that maybe my ignorance about guns was itself dangerous.

Around this time, I went to see my doctor. The receptionist, a doughy woman dressed in pastel scrubs, came out from her nest behind the front window to tell me, apropos of nothing, about an all-female firearms training course. Assessing me head to toe, she said, with an amiable nod that seemed to indicate she'd been analyzing me for a while: "You look like you need to learn to shoot."

I could tell by her tone that she meant to be solicitous and maternal, but her comment unnerved me. A woman I've never met is telling me I look like I need to learn to shoot? What the hell? What did she see? Perhaps, I thought, she was referring to the fact that I'm not physically prepossessing--delicately built, with bird-bone wrists and arms. Or maybe she'd fixated on my all-black, un-Montana wardrobe and determined I needed some toughening up. I must have been emitting pheromones of unease, I concluded, the way some people signal fear to dogs. I didn't want to be perceived as a human orchid. I decided to learn to shoot.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 61 percent of firearms retailers across the country reported an increase in female customers between 2009 and 2010. If you go into one of these stores or flip through a gun magazine, you'll encounter an industry pitched to women: There's pink camouflage apparel, purses designed for concealed carrying, and candy-colored guns with names like "Lavender Lady" and "Pink Cougar." ("Woe to the man who is shot by a pink gun," my boyfriend joked.) Journalists and industry experts speculate that the rise in female gun ownership owes much to the economic downturn (and an attendant concern with rising crime), as well as to the suspicion that President Obama might pass legislation restricting firearms and/or ammunition sales.

The daylong class I opt for, called Women on Target, is sponsored by the National Rifle Association and is so popular that the first time I try to register, all the spots are full. I'm forced to wait another three months. When the day finally comes, I arrive at the range at 7 a.m. to find approximately 35 women of various ages, from twentysomething to 60-plus, sitting at the sort of long fake-wood tables on which bingo is played in church basements. (The bathrooms are labeled "Does" and "Bucks.") Outside, at the rifle range, people are already shooting. Every time there's a reverberating boom, a few women jump, startled. It sounds like we're in a war zone.

Most of the women have come to this clinic so they can get a permit to carry a concealed gun for self-defense. An elderly woman tells me that she wants to stash one in her bag for shopping trips. "For the parking lot," she says.

Whether having a gun actually makes one safer is something of a statistical morass. Gun-rights advocates are fond of citing statistics showing that criminals typically operate unarmed (by some estimates, guns are used in only 31 percent of robberies and 2 percent of sexual assaults), which thus gives an advantage to citizens packing heat. They note the work of researchers such as Gary Kleck and Jongyeon Tark, whose 2004 paper in the journal Criminology analyzed data from the National Crime Victimization Survey and concluded that trying to fend off an attacker either does no harm or makes "things better for the victim" than had she not resisted. Moreover, the pair found that "forceful" behavior, such as "threatening the offender with a gun," decreases the risk of injury to the victim more than "nonforceful" resistance, like "stalling, arguing, and screaming from pain and fear." In another study that seems to bear out the deterrent effect of guns, nearly 40 percent of 1,874 prisoners reported that they'd decided not to commit a crime because they suspected a potential victim was armed.

On the other side of the corral, the National Research Council's 2004 review of the data determined that there's "no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime." And Duke University economist Philip J. Cook, coauthor of Gun Violence: The Real Costs, contends that studies show that guns in the home are "far more likely to end up being used to kill a member of the household (including suicide) than to kill or injure an intruder."

I'm not sure what to make of all this, but I'm relieved that the main focus of my course is safety. When John, the soft-spoken male half of "John and Connie," the married couple running the clinic, takes out an unloaded gun to demonstrate proper handling, I flinch. "Be sure of your target and what's beyond it," he tells us, turning the muzzle toward the ceiling. "And always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot." Later, another instructor, a gray-haired grandmotherly type named Shirley who speaks with the patrician intonation of a 1930s movie star, reiterates the safety rules. "You don't want to have an accident," she says. "The people who want to get rid of the guns, that's what they talk about." She tells us she carries a revolver in her purse "in case sum'in happens."

For hands-on shooting practice, we separate into three groups: pistols, shotguns, and rifles. On my way to the pistol instruction area, I stop to ask a tall man with an NRA belt buckle for directions. "The handgun clinic is that way," he says, pointing over my head.

"I'm looking for pistols," I say.

"Honey," he tells me, with an indulgent smile, "pistols are handguns."

Most of my classmates aren't firearms virgins like me; they've shot with a husband, boyfriend, or father. I'm handed an unloaded gun. I hold it out at arm's length, like it smells bad or is poisonous. I know it's empty, but I'm afraid it's going to go off. Our instructor is a native Montanan in his forties who seems overly preoccupied with political correctness ("Ladies," he'll say, "is it okay if I correct your stance...?"); the class was supposed to be taught entirely by women, but too many students signed up. Nervously, he shows us the correct firing position and how to "sight" the gun by looking down its barrel at the target.

"Put the ammo in," he tells me.

I follow his directions. My hands start shaking. All that's left to do is shoot the damn thing. I'm intimidated--I'm petrified!--but people are watching. Peer pressure always motivates me. I squint, hold my breath, and...fire.


My first thought is, I can't believe how loud that was. I'm wearing earplugs, but you don't just hear the firecracker noise in your ears; you feel it with your whole body. Even if, like me, you've never handled a gun, they figure so heavily in the entertainment we watch--from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to Sarah Palin's reality show to movie trailers and video game commercials--that firing one for the first time is a weird combination of startling and banal. Guns are (pardon the pun) loaded with so much cultural baggage that you think you know what to expect. You don't. TV gunshots sound and act no more like real gunshots than construction-paper snowflakes resemble real snowflakes.

My next thought is, I want to do that again! I have an immediate, exhilarated reaction. Partly it's that what I've just done initially frightened me, so there's a sense of a limit overcome. For many people I know, guns remain unreal--the accessories of fictional characters, or at least of the Other, not you and yours. Yet to fire a gun is to realize you can do it: You can operate one, understand how it works. Shooting gives me a rush that comes from a feeling of (admittedly incomplete) mastery.

Plus, the sensory experience of target shooting--readying your stance, controlling your breath, focusing on the target--is so absorbing that I can't indulge my free-floating worries. I can't have a self-conscious intellectual reaction when firing a gun. It's almost meditative. At one point I glimpse a woman in her sixties dressed in a white polo, creased khakis, and pristine white sneakers--attire for a day of golf at the country club; she's brandishing a Glock. I have to stop myself from laughing with delight.

As I shoot, I again experience the strange, paradoxical sense of an act that's familiar and unfamiliar at once. I've seen Clint do this; I've seen Arnold do this; I've seen Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton do it. Shooting a gun is like smoking a cigarette or drinking espresso in a cafe in Paris or having sex on a Caribbean beach: You've watched it so many times on-screen that you experience your own actions as an echo. It's impossible not to feel like a cliche.

A revolver now rests on my nightstand. It's small and sleek and black, a Ruger LCR. Weighing 13.5 ounces and no bigger than a half-sandwich, it's easily slipped into a purse. I've tucked it not quite out of sight, among books I hope to read but maybe never will. Several weeks after buying it, I'm still wary, superstitious. I know the chamber is empty, yet I open it every so often to check.

After the clinic, I filled out the forms for a concealed-carry permit at my local sheriff's office. The application asked for character references, and I gave the phone numbers of a few editors, amused at the thought of their bewildered reaction should someone actually call. In the section that asked why I wanted the permit, I wrote, "Personal and home defense, and because I sometimes drive alone at night when reporting." In theory, that's why I want it, and it's satisfying to think I might be able to clobber an assailant, but in reality I don't feel qualified or prepared.

Because, let's face it, if I really could fathom pulling the trigger on an intruder or a looming attacker--on another human being--I'd keep the gun loaded. When you hear floorboards creaking as he creeps toward your bedroom, it's unlikely you'll have the time, not to mention the presence of mind, to fumble with ammunition. To quote the teacher of a subsequent class I took: "When you're in trouble is not the time to start loading. It could cost you your life."

I imagine what I would have done with a gun during any of my past brushes with crime. Would I have fired it? In the end, of course, I didn't need to, but I wouldn't have known that in the moment, only after the fact. This means I might have needlessly killed or maimed someone. And yet without a gun, without the luck that turned events so unaccountably in my favor, I might have been the one killed. My ambivalence hangs in the air, a kind of reproach.

"Every time I look at the gun, it scares me," I tell my boyfriend, as I eye its insolent blackness, leering at me from the shelf next to my bed.

"It's a gun," he says. "It should."

20. Brady Center runs out of time, suffers stinging defeat in lawsuit

Brady Center Runs Out of Time; Suffers Stinging Defeat in Lawsuit Against a Firearms Retailer
By Lawrence G. Keane

A Connecticut Appellate Court recently issued an order dismissing an appeal in Gilland v. Sportsmen's Outpost, Inc. - a Superior Court decision granting a firearm retailer's motion to dismiss all claims against it pursuant to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ("PLCAA"). The PLCAA was passed in 2005 with broad bipartisan support. The purpose of the act is to prevent firearms manufacturers and retailers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products. In this case, the plaintiffs, who were represented by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, sought to hold the firearms retailer liable in a wrongful death and negligence claim because a firearm had been stolen from his store.

In 2010, after the plaintiffs had already amended their pleadings twice, the White Plains NY-based Renzulli Law Firm, representing the retailer, filed another motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint on PLCAA grounds. In response, the Brady Center led an aggressive attack on the defendants, as well as the PLCAA, including a challenge to its constitutionality. On May 26, 2011, however, Judge Robert B. Shapiro granted the motion to dismiss, upheld the constitutionality of the PLCAA and rejected the Brady Center's other challenges.

After the Superior Court granted the motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs continued their attack against the PLCAA by renewing their motion to file a third amended complaint and separate motion to reargue the order dismissing their case. Unfortunately for the Brady Campaign, their attorneys filed their paperwork four minutes after the filing deadline. The Superior Court subsequently denied the motion to reargue as untimely and denied their motion to amend -- in part because the plaintiffs had already been granted several opportunities to establish that their claims were not barred by the PLCAA and failed to do so each time.

The court then granted a motion by the defendants to dismiss the appeal, and an Appellate Court denied another motion by the plaintiffs for reconsideration.

Congratulations to the Renzulli Law Firm. This is a stinging defeat for the Brady Center -- adding to their growing list of defeats in their ongoing effort to sue members of the firearms industry and their desperate and futile attempt to find a court to rule the PLCAA unconstitutional. It's "time" for the Brady Center to stop filing frivolous lawsuits against members of the firearms industry.

21. 2012 CMP Games Matches information

Michael Irvin emailed me this:


Please post this information to the VA-Alert for any members interested in attending these matches. The closest match to us is being held at Camp Butner, NC.

Also, please note the information at the bottom regarding ammo not being provided for the match. This is a sure sign that the surplus ammo stockpiles is drying up.

Subject: 2012 CMP Games Matches Information

Dear CMP Club Contacts,

2012 has arrived!! Mark your calendars for the following dates: The CMP Eastern Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches, The CMP Western Games and Creedmoor Cup Matches and the new CMP Games - Oklahoma.

APRIL 12-15 will be the new CMP Games - Oklahoma, taking place at the Oklahoma City Gun Club in Oklahoma City, OK. The CMP Games - Oklahoma include three days of Garand/Springfield/Vintage Military Matches, an As-Issued Garand EIC match, Carbine match, Vintage Sniper Team Match and EIC Rifle Match. Pistol competitors will not be disappointed with a Pistol EIC Match, As-Issued Pistol match, Pistol Team match and a 40 Shot (President's 100) Pistol Match. REGISTRATION IS OPEN atwww.thecmp.org - THE OFFICIAL MATCH PROGRAM WILL BE RELEASED SOON!

MAY 5-13 is the 6th Annual Eastern CMP Games & Creedmoor Cup matches. This event takes place at Camp Butner, North Carolina and is a great event for all rifle and pistol shooters. The CMP Events take place from May 5-8 and include 3 days of Garand/Springfield/Vintage Military matches, a Carbine match, an As-Issued Garand EIC match, a Rimfire match, and the Vintage Sniper Team Match. Pistol competitors can also come out to compete in an As-Issued Pistol match, Pistol EIC match, 40 shot (President's 100) match and a Pistol Team match. The Creedmoor Cup events take place from May 9-May 13 and include a 4-man Team match and three 80 shot Cup matches (2400 point aggregate) and an EIC Rifle match. REGISTRATION IS OPEN and THE OFFICIAL MATCH PROGRAM IS ONLINE at www.thecmp.org - Registration for the Creedmoor Cup events is open atwww.creedmoorsports.com.

OCTOBER 13-24 will be the 9th Annual Western CMP Games & Creedmoor Cup matches. This event takes place at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ. The beginning of the week will be filled with CMP Games events including an As-Issued Garand EIC Match, a Carbine match, a Rimfire match, a Vintage Sniper Team match and 3 days of Garand/Springfield/Vintage Military matches. We are also looking at the possibility of adding Pistol matches to the CMP events at the Western Games in 2012. The Creedmoor Cup events will take place at the end of the week and include three 80 shot Cup matches, a 4-Man Team Match, and an EIC Service Rifle Match. REGISTRATION FOR THE WESTERN CMP GAMES WILL OPEN SOMETIME AFTER THE NEW YEAR!

All event participants will receive an event T-Shirt and BBQ Ticket as part of there registration fee. Also awards and plaques are issued for the events. We have also received special prizes donated by such companies as COLT, SAVAGE ARMS, DUPAGE TRADING, CRITERION BARREL, SATERN CUT RIFLES, and MANY MORE!!

PLEASE NOTE: The CMP will no longer issue ammunition for the Garand, Springfield, As-issued Garand or the Carbine match. Competitors may purchase ammunition, at a reduced cost, at the match or bring there own. Ammunition will be for sale to all event attendees at a discounted price. Competitors in the Eastern CMP Games, Western CMP Games and CMP Games - Oklahoma events will receive an additional discount.

Please post this information at your club for all your club members. We hope to see all of you at these fun and exciting events.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me.

Thank you,
Christina Roguski
Competition Support
Phone 419-635-2141 ext. 1114
Fax 419-635-2802

22. Why U.S. gun sales are shooting for the moon

James Durso emailed me this:


From forbes.com: http://tinyurl.com/7wdx5o3

Why U.S. Gun Sales Are Shooting For The Moon
By Frank Miniter, Contributor

If James Anthony Bailey and P.T. Barnum had seen the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) they just might have conceded their "Greatest Show on Earth" needed more guns, sideshows and characters. Because come one, come all, the SHOT Show has no comparison on Earth and, in fact, is especially interesting this year because gun sales are breaking records.

I shoulder in with the 60,000 people the show has brought to Las Vegas to find out why guns are selling in a mostly down economy. The people around me have come to buy and sell firearms, ammunition, optics, tree stands (devices hunters attach to trees so they can sit and wait for deer to show), deer urine (for attracting those deer), as well as holsters, knives and enough law-enforcement paraphernalia to keep CBS's show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation filled with cool props for another ten years.

They've come from all over America and from more than 100 countries. They are gun dealers, wholesalers, manufacturers and outdoor personalities. They are perhaps our most misunderstood capitalists: the politically incorrect people who buy and sell things that go bang.

They all seem to be having a hell of a time.

Their very own celebrities are here. Michael Waddell, Ted Nugent and other popular outdoor television hosts are shaking hands and talking guns. Legendary gun designer Dan Coonan, inventor and designer of the Coonan .357 Magnum Automatic 1911-style pistol, is at the Coonan Inc. booth. Richard "Dick" Marcinko, the former Navy SEAL who wrote Rogue Warrior is at the DeSantis Gunhide booth. The heroes from the History Channel's "TOP SHOT" are mingling with fans.

There is a line of people waiting for a signed picture of R. Lee Ermey (better known as "Gunny") at the Glock booth. Shane Carwin, the UFC champ, is due to make an appearance at the GunsAmerican LLC booth. Larry the Cable Guy will perform at the NSSF's State of the Industry dinner.

Years ago I even met Mikhail Kalashnikov at this show, the Russian inventor of the famed AK-47. When asked what he thought of the show, he said with his laborious Russian accent, "It is good to see all the capitalists marketing their products." He was there to merchandise with all the capitalists. He had official Kalashnikov coffee cups and t-shirts to market.

I check out guns of every make and model that are hanging from displays between carpeted isles--all have their firing pins removed, but not their wow factor--and decide that the very sight of all this gun-happy private enterprise just might just make Sarah Brady--the founder of the anti-gun group the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence--give up and move to France.

But I step away from the bustle of the show to have a moment with Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to find out why guns sales are a bright spot in a mostly depressed economy.

The NSSF is a trade group that represents about 7,000 firearms manufacturers and related companies. The NSSF puts on this trade show. Sanetti has been president and chief executive officer of the NSSF since May 2008. He spent 28 years with Sturm, Ruger and Company, a publically traded firearms manufacturer that makes fine American-made guns. He worked his way up in a company that still does CNC machining stateside. His is an American success story.

Sanetti is wearing the dark suit, white shirt and carefree warmth of a successful American CEO. He has reason to smile.

According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers looking to purchase a firearm were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) last December. That's a record. In fact, nearly 500,000 of those background checks occurred during the six days before Christmas--people were putting more than Red Rider BB guns under their trees!

This $4.1 billion industry "has had nineteen months of growth in an otherwise anemic economy," boasts Sanetti. "We're grateful and proud that our industry has helped maintain jobs from the manufacturer through retail levels during these difficult economic times."

However, this upbeat sector of the economy hasn't yet been praised by a president looking for good economic news to tout, which is too bad, as he's helping these manufacturers.

Back in 2009 gun manufacturers labeled President Barack Obama as the "best gun salesman of all time." They weren't even jesting. The FBI recorded a 49 percent rise in gun background checks during the 2008 election week compared to the same week a year earlier. Fear of coming gun-control legislation certainly helped sell those guns, though how much is impossible to say.

Indeed, this prolonged surge in gun sales has driven Sarah Brady's group to some very creative spin; for example, Caroline Brewer, of the Brady Campaign, said, "The research we've seen indicates fewer and fewer people are owning more and more guns."

Sanetti doesn't think the Brady Campaign's spin has a syllable of truth in it; after all, he pointed out that the NSSF's First Shots Program (a program that holds shooting lessons for the public) has been growing fast. "Fun, new action-shooting sports, such as 3-gun and sporting clays, are also bringing in a lot of new shooters, especially women," he says.

And popular shows, such as The History Channel's Top Shots, have helped to showcase how much fun shooting can be; as a result, Sanetti says, "President Barack Obama can certainly be credited with some of the increase in gun sales. His Supreme Court nominees have been anti-gun and his administration has been hostile to the rights of law-abiding gun owners. And anti-gun activist Sarah Brady did stoke this fear when she was quoted in the Washington Post saying President Obama told her he's working on gun control "under the radar."

"However, there is a lot more to it than a president scaring the public," says Sanetti.

Sanetti explained that in 1959 some 70 percent of the American public favored handgun bans, whereas today that number has flipped. "We've been able to conclusively prove scientifically that, as John Lott wrote, more guns do equal less crime. Other factors include the fact that the number of hunters has actually risen in a number of states. Then you have returning servicemen and women who are staying with the shooting sports. Meanwhile, the advocacy of the NSSF, the NRA and other groups have shown that the Second Amendment is a fundamental part of our freedom."

As Sanetti strides off to more meetings with busy manufacturers, I go back to a burgeoning trade that is outgrowing the Sands Expo & Convention Center. This year the NSSF asked exhibitors to voluntarily reduce their booth space so smaller companies could get into the sold-out show. Many were happy to do so. Yeah, Kalashnikov had it right, "It is good to see all the capitalists marketing their products."

This show couldn't happen anywhere else in the world. Let's hope it will keep happening here, no matter what a president says.

VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
(VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization
dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to
Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

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