2013 Year in Review

Posted on January 3, 2014

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2013 was a year full of challenges and opportunities for our Second Amendment rights. While our opponents made some progress in a handful of states, we secured many of our own state level victories, as well as beating back one of the best coordinated and best funded attack on our rights in the U.S. Senate.

Here is a summary of the top stories brought to you in 2013 by the ILA Grassroots Alert.  This coming year, with mid-term elections and the recurring assaults on our freedom, will require even greater resolve to "Stand and Fight" with NRA in defense of the Second Amendment. 

January

-          In response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook, President Obama launched an unprecedented attack on our rights.  Using the same tired rhetoric and disproven theories, the president used children to play on the emotions of the American people in order to solicit support for congressional anti-gun measures.

-          NRA attended the White House Task Force Meeting and vowed never to compromise on the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment.  After the meeting, the NRA stated:  "We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.  Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works -- and what does not."

-          U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced S. 150, a massive ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles, deemed "assault weapons," and magazines defined as "large" or "high capacity."

-          NRA continued to stand and fight against "universal" background checks and the "Manchin-Toomey" bill. 

-          Legislators in Connecticut, New York, and Colorado introduced sweeping anti-gun bills.

February

 -          The Reverend Jesse Jackson continued his descent into political irrelevance by asserting that semi-automatic firearms could "blow up railroads."  He stated he supported Sen. Feinstein's "assault weapons" ban because, among other things, such weapons could "shoot down planes," thus endangering national security.

-          President Obama again used emotion-based arguments during his State of the Union address, reiterating his support for the "assault weapons" ban and "universal" background checks. He ignored a report by his own Department of Justice that concludes the proposals before Congress would be unlikely to have an effect unless they were made even more restrictive.

-          Vice President Joe Biden gave the people of America an example of his thoughtful consideration of issues when he offered up the theory that all one needs for self-defense is a double-barreled shotgun. He went on to say that he had advised his wife to react to home-invaders by going out to the balcony and firing two shots into the air.  Biden failed to explain how this dangerous action, which is illegal in most states, justified ignoring the precise wording of the Constitution.

March

-          From Obama's reelection, to an emotional State of the Union address, to poorly written gun control bills in Congress, the American people weren't sure how long they'd be seeing guns and ammo on the shelves. With the high demand caused by what many believed was impending restrictions came a shortage of ammo, and with the shortage came many a rumor of large government buy-ups and ammunition control conspiracies. NRA continuously tracked the issue and dispelled the various rumors surrounding it.

-          NRA continued to lobby against S. 150, informally known as the "Assault Weapons" Ban, as it was heard and passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

-          The anti-gun media continued its campaign of falsehoods and rumor-mongering.  NBC falsely reported that NRA would not oppose "universal" background check legislation. NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox set the record straight by stating that NRA opposes criminalizing private firearms transfers between law-abiding individuals, and therefore opposes an expansion of the background check system.

-          Two of Washington's most vocal anti-gun advocates, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Joe Biden, made clear their agenda to destroy our constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment rights. In a conference call organized by "Mayors Against Illegal Guns," Pelosi stated that it was "not the end of the day for this issue."  Biden, referring to S. 150 and the "universal" background check proposals, said: "Let me say this as clearly as I can:  this is just the beginning."

April

-          The general assembly at the United Nations passed the Arms Trade Treaty only to be met with strong opposition from members of the U.S. Senate. In a preemptive move, 53 Senators endorsed an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2014 that established a "deficit neutral fund" to oppose America's entrance into the treaty.

-          On April 11, the U.S. Senate voted to move forward with debate and votes on S. 649, the "Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013," more commonly known as the "universal" background check bill. Amendments to this bill included a ban on commonly- owned firearms, a "high capacity" magazine ban, and the infamous "Manchin-Toomey" compromise."  All proposals were defeated in an epic display of NRA members' grassroots commitment to freedom.

-          Our favorite, now-former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, did not let consistent defeat on his various gun control measures keep him from offering his interpretation of the Constitution in order to give the government greater power to "protect" its citizens. "The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry," Bloomberg said during a press conference. "But we live in a complex world where you're going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change."

May

-           NRA hosted another successful and productive annual meeting in Houston, Texas. We saw our members' strong dedication and involvement in the fight to protect our Second Amendment at the NRA-ILA Grassroots Workshop. The Workshop was attended by many of NRA's Officers, who came to thank the members in attendance.

-          In a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a component of the Justice Department, research showed that firearm homicides in general, and violence at schools in particular, have decreased substantially during the last two decades; the percentage of homicides committed with firearms has decreased; and only a tiny percentage of state prison inmates imprisoned for gun offenses obtain their guns from gun shows.  More news ignored by the mainstream media, Obama, and the rest of the established anti-gunners.

June

-          President Obama took a whopping $10 million of the tax payer's dollars and directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to a "gun violence" research agenda.  The purported goal of this effort was "to improve knowledge of the causes of gun violence, and strategies to minimize the public health burden of gun violence."

-          We reported regularly on the extreme cases in which school officials bizarrely and overzealously enforced their school's "zero-tolerance" policies.  One case, however, trumped all others.  A seven-year-old student in Baltimore was suspended from school for two days for biting a breakfast pastry into a shape that the teacher thought looked like a gun. School administrators officially denied an appeal to have the suspension removed from the 2nd grader's permanent record.

-          Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun group, "Mayors Against Illegal Guns",  listed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the mastermind of the Boston Marathon bombing, among the names of those "killed with guns" during their "No More Names" anti-gun tour.

-          Unlike the above-mentioned breakfast pastry incident, a battle against "zero-tolerance" was won when a criminal charge against Jared Marcum, also known as the kid who wore the NRA t-shirt to school, was dismissed. Marcum was charged with obstructing an officer after his teacher demanded he remove his t-shirt that read "Protect Your Rights," with a picture of a semi-automatic rifle on it. The charge against Marcum could have resulted in jail time but, thankfully, a West Virginia judge agreed that Marcum did not deserve a juvenile record from the incident.

July

-          U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did not let a propaganda moment go to waste when he attacked "stand-your-ground" self-defense laws after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman. Holder attacked the laws during a speech at the NAACP's annual convention. NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox responded on behalf of NRA saying:  "The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it's a fundamental human right. To send a message that legitimate self-defense is to blame is unconscionable, and demonstrates once again that this administration will exploit tragedies to push their political agenda."

-          Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) showed us her thorough misunderstanding of the Constitution when she urged members of Congress to uphold it by passing gun control! Pelosi reminded Congress of their oath to "protect and defend" the Constitution in her bid to enact draconian gun laws that would have, themselves, trampled upon constitutional rights.

-          NRA reached an important milestone in a long-term campaign of helping to establish concealed carry laws in all 50 states with the enactment of the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act.  True to form, Governor Quinn initially vetoed the measure, but the legislature overrode the veto to make Illinois the 50th state to have some legal recognition of the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.  HB 183 had passed in the state legislature in May, after an extension of a deadline to comply with a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued on December 11, 2012.  That ruling had invalidated Illinois' total ban on carrying firearms for self-defense outside the home, but the court stayed its order for 180 days to allow the legislature to change the state's laws. While the final Act was not an unqualified success for either pro- or anti-gun constituencies, it marked an important step forward for recognition of the Second Amendment in the Land of Lincoln.

August

-          A poll released by the Pew Research Center found that those who prioritize Second Amendment rights were more politically involved and donate more money to political causes than do their anti-gun counterparts. Liberty-supporting citizens were also more likely to have contacted their elected officials to voice their opinions.

-          "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" took a page out of Vice President Joe Biden's defensive tactics book when MAIG's Executive Director Mark Glaze offered some self-defense advice on MSNBC. When Chris Matthews asked what one should do in a situation where someone is attacking you with an ax handle, Glaze first stated that there are other ways than a gun to resolve the situation, such as "talk." Matthews asked, "Well, how do you talk to a guy with an ax handle? How do you talk to a guy with an ax handle?" Glaze replied, "Well, you fight him. You run away. You deescalate the situation."  

-          We've gotten used to Piers Morgan flaunting his flabbergasting ignorance on the issue of the Second Amendment. After he patronizingly referred to our Constitution and Bill of Rights as "your little book," one would think he couldn't possibly top that, and yet he did. During an interview with military history expert A.W.R. Hawkins, Morgan asserted that more gun ownership leads to more crime. Hawkins countered with proven statistics, noting that Virginia had recently experienced a large increase in gun ownership, yet a large decrease in violent crime followed. Morgan then counter-claimed that, according to the FBI, Virginia had the highest murder rate in the United States in 2009.  In fact, the FBI's 2009 Uniform Crime Report completely refutes Morgan's assertion, demonstrating that Virginia ranked 26th among the 50 states in murder, with a rate 12 percent lower than the national rate.

-          Biden announced that the president will use his executive authority and provisions of the Arms Export Control Act to deny future applications, by private importers, to import "surplus military weapons" for sale to private citizens. Lest there be any confusion, in this instance "surplus military weapons" means rifles, pistols and shotguns, and excludes fully-automatics, which haven't been legal to import for sale to private citizens since 1968. Additionally, BATFE issued a proposed rule to require FBI fingerprint-based background checks on the trustees and beneficiaries of corporations and trusts that acquire NFA firearms.

September

-     On September 25, President Obama's designs on international gun control came closer to reality, as Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of the Obama administration. NRA strongly opposes this treaty, which clearly jeopardizes the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

-          NRA filed a "friend of the court" brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the National Security Agency's (NSA) phone records surveillance and metadata collection program. Through the program, NSA could have access to information that could be used to identify gun purchases and gun owners, despite federal laws prohibiting firearm registries. 

-          A historic victory for gun owners took place in Colorado when Colorado Senate President John Morse (D) and Senator Angela Giron (D) were recalled from office. What began as a grassroots effort quickly became a national issue and even got the attention of Michael Bloomberg, who donated mass amounts of money to keep Morse and Giron in office. The message of the constituency was simple: legislators work for the voters, not the other way around. Morse and Giron were respectively replaced by Bernie Herpin (R) from Colorado Springs, who sports an "A" rating from NRA-PVF, and NRA-PVF "AQ" rated and endorsed George Rivera (R), from Pueblo.

October

-          The U.S. Senate and House continued to make their strong opposition to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty known when both houses released concurrent, bipartisan letters pledging their opposition to the ratification of the treaty. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) led a bipartisan group of 50 Senators and submitted a letter reiterating to President Obama that the Senate overwhelmingly opposes the ratification of the ATT and will not be bound by its obligations. Led by Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), the House released a letter similar to the one released by the Senate; it was signed by 181 representatives--over 40% of the House.

-          Michael Bloomberg took his "protect me from myself" campaign to Virginia. The anti-gun billionaire put a considerable amount of money behind "F"-rated gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D), and sponsored several anti-gun ads lying about the "gun show loop hole" and attacking "A" rated candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) for his consistent pro-gun stance.  McAuliffe prevailed, setting the stage for well-funded gun control efforts in the Commonwealth.

November

-          Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee titled "Stand Your Ground Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force." Sen. Durbin made it clear that his intentions were to further pursue his attack on "Stand Your Ground" and self-defense laws generally through cynical and exploitative demagoguery.

-          Two students at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, were put on probation for the "infraction" of displaying a legally-owned firearm to stop a potential home invasion by a convicted felon. The students lived in off-campus, university-owned apartments and were unaware that having a firearm on the premises violated a Gonzaga policy against possessing firearms on university-owned property, whether or not that property is located on campus. The firearm was confiscated the day after the incident and the students were suspended.

-          New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly showed us how anti-gun elitists really think when he requested a team of six armed NYPD detectives to keep him and his family safe in civilian life. It was reported that each detective would make about $120,000 a year, a salary paid by the taxpayers of New York, the very ones whom Kelly wants to keep unarmed. Kelly is a strong supporter of Mayor Bloomberg's sweeping gun control initiatives., However, he apparently doesn't mind armed protection when it benefits himself.

December

-          Organizing for Action (OFA), a supposedly non-partisan, grassroots group (but in reality a subsidiary of the Obama administration), sent out an email encouraging supporters to hold events advocating gun control on the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It didn't take long for Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" and "Moms Demand Action" to jump on board and release ads exploiting the heinous crimes committed on December 14, 2012, and again using emotional manipulation to promote their gun control agenda.

-          We encouraged the submission of comments--along with submitting NRA's own comments--in opposition to the BATFE's proposed rule requiring chief law enforcement sign-offs and background checks for a large and ill-defined group of "responsible persons" associated with NFA trusts. Hopefully, the overwhelming public opposition to the proposal will force the Obama administration to reconsider this poorly conceived effort that would only serve to further burden law abiding gun owners.

-          In the closing hours of 2013, Judge William M. Skretny of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York issued a decision in a legal challenge to New York's recently-enacted gun control law, commonly known as the SAFE Act.  While the Act's changes to the law are anything but safe for law-abiding gun owners, several aspects of Judge Skretny's decision represent important victories for the Second Amendment.  One of the most important parts of Judge Skretny's decision is that it invalidated the Act's bizarre and unique requirement that magazines used and intended primarily for self-defense be loaded with no more than seven rounds of ammunition. At the same time, the decision let stand other onerous aspects of the law, including most of its expansions to New York's prior "assault weapons" and "large capacity" magazine bans.  The fight will thus continue to vindicate the rights of competent, peaceable New Yorkers to own and use some of America's most common and popular Second Amendment arms.

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