2015 was a successful year for NRA and our members in the fight to protect our Second Amendment rights.
As we move into 2016, our focus will be on what is the most important election cycles in many years, if not decades. We must increase our efforts to ensure we're prepared to meet the great opportunities and challenges we will face. Stay tuned to future Alerts on how we can all work together to ensure our continued success.
As we prepare for the coming election battle, it’s important that we recap the top stories brought to you in 2015 by the ILA Grassroots Alerts:
• DEA Contemplated Mass Surveillance of Gun Show Attendees. Documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that, in 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration contemplated using License Plate Readers (LPRs) to track vehicle traffic from gun shows.
• U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) introduced H.R. 131. The bill would make clear that the transportation of both firearms and ammunition is federally protected, as well as expand the protections afforded to travelers to include "staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental" to the trip.
• Michael Bloomberg staged an anti-gun Indoctrination camp for reporters. The two-day workshop promoted the bogus claim that “[n]early 100 school shootings have occurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary only two years ago.”
• U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) introduced S. 263 and H.R. 578, which would reverse Corps of Engineers policy and restore the right of law-abiding Americans to possess firearms on Corps lands.
• Michael Moore demonstrated that NRA members aren’t the only armed Americans he despises. Moore marked the release of American Sniper with a tweet suggesting that Chris Kyle and other snipers are “cowards,” adding, “Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) unexpectedly announced that it intended to ban commonplace M855 ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” Under a proposed “framework,” BATFE outlined a change to its interpretation of the federal “armor piercing ammunition” law of 1986. The new interpretation would have revoked an almost 30-year-old exemption for M855 ammunition based on BATFE’s finding in the mid-1980s that M855 was usable in commercially available rifles and therefore “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”
• NRA supported four Right-to-Carry Reciprocity bills that were introduced in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. These measures would require states to respect an individual’s right to self-defense regardless of state boundaries. These bills were: S. 498 by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), H.R. 923 by U.S. Representative Marlin Stutsman (R-Ind.), H.R. 986 by U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), and H.R. 402 by U.S. Representative Rich Nugent (R-Fla.)
• Controversial statements made by Michael Bloomberg at the Aspen Institute regarding minorities and firearms surfaced, despite his attempt to suppress them. In a recorded speech, Bloomberg said, "…ninety-five percent of your murders and murderers…are male minorities 15 to 25. That’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city in America."
• Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson placed Michael Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety on the Top 10 Astroturfers list. The list highlighted fake grassroots movements that posture as if they represent the American people.
• BATFE responded to pressure from gun owners and majorities of both houses of Congress and applied the brakes on its federal “armor piercing” ammunition regulation proposal. Among other serious problems, BATFE’s planned move would have banned M855 “green tip” ammunition. Fifty-three U.S. senators, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and 239 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), had rebuked the agency for overstepping its bounds. BATFE Director B. Todd Jones resigned shortly after.
• Three days after the BATFE rescinded its proposed ammo ban framework regulation, anti-gun U.S. Representative Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 1358, a bill designed to ban civilian use and possession of M855 ammunition. The bill went nowhere.
• Twelve freshman Senators expressed their opposition to ratification of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty in a letter to President Barack Obama. The letter stated “we pledge to oppose the ratification of this treaty, and we give notice that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold its object and purpose.” In 2013, Senators James Inhofe and Jerry Moran explained, “The treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. This poses a threat to the Second Amendment.”
• Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) signed NRA-backed permitless carry legislation into law. The new law extends permitless open carry to permitless concealed carry. Permits will continue to be issued in order for permittees to take advantage of the reciprocity agreements that Kansas has with other states when traveling.
• NRA beat back an Obama administration policy that would have essentially stopped American hunters and sport shooters from traveling internationally with their personal firearms and ammunition. Under the new Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-enforced policy, in order to take personal firearms and ammunition to another country on a temporary visit, the individual would have to register the firearm in the Automated Export System (AES), after completing a 30 question test with 34 pages of user instructions, and provide their transaction number to CBP. The AES further required all users to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS in order to access the system. According to the IRS, however, EINs are issued for business purposes, and applicants have to specify a business reason for obtaining one. This left American hunters and sport shooters with no recourse. Thanks to NRA’s efforts, CBP returned to their old system.
• Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder taking the Department of Veterans Affairs to task for overreaching policies that have resulted in the names of well over 100,000 veterans and dependents being placed in the FBI’s National Instance Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as prohibited from possessing firearms. Federal regulation allows the VA to determine whether its beneficiaries need a “fiduciary” to manage their benefits. Veterans who the agency determines need help administering their VA compensation are then labeled “mental defectives” and reported to NICS to be barred from firearm acquisition and possession, alongside the likes of felons, fugitives, and the dishonorably discharged.
• Hillary Clinton hired gun control advocate Scott Hogan to run her "grassroots" campaign in Minnesota. Hogan formerly served as the Minnesota Director and Campaign Manager for Everytown for Gun Safety.
• The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of ACLU v. Clapper. NRA had filed briefs in support of the plaintiffs, who challenged the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
• Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg developed a “news operation” to work alongside his Everytown for Gun Safety organization in furtherance of his megalomaniacal gun control agenda. To steer his propaganda outfit, Bloomberg hired former New Republic editor James Burnett, who departed the left-leaning magazine during its high-profile shake-up. The new propaganda arm is called, “the Trace.”
• The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order prohibiting enforcement of provisions of D.C. law that had effectively granted to the police chief the discretion to decide who may lawfully exercise the right to bear arms in public for self-defense.
• Citizens of the United Kingdom were informed by the Police National Legal Database that, “The only fully legal self defence product at the moment is a rape alarm.” Other means of defense, including dyes to assist police in identifying an attacker were rebuked. “Be aware that even a seemingly safe product, deliberately aimed and sprayed in someone's eyes, would become an offensive weapon because it would be used in a way that was intended to cause injury.”
• The Obama State Department issued a proposal to use International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to censor online speech related to firearms. The State Department claimed to be "clarifying" the rules concerning "technical data" posted online or otherwise "released" into the "public domain." Gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, and do-it-yourselfers wishing to post information on the internet without prior permission from the government could have faced up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
• Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R. 2710, the “Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act of 2015.” This bill would remove the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE)’s authority to interpret or reinterpret the “sporting purposes” clauses in federal law. A recent reinterpretation of the clause was used in a February attempt to ban M855 green-tip ammunition and set a framework for further bans.
•The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court heard Peruta v. San Diego County in an "en banc" selection with 11 of the circuit's judges. Previously, a three-judge held that the San Diego County Sheriff's policy of refusing to issue licenses to carry firearms in public unless an applicant could demonstrate a special need – the so-called "good cause" requirement – was a violation of the Second Amendment.
• The Washington Post awarded “Four Pinocchios” to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) for repeating a claim originated by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety group, that there has been an average of one school shooting per week since the December 2012 crime at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
• The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported that the number of firearm-acquisition background checks in June was the highest for that month on record.
• Former CNN Headline News anchor Lynne Russell and husband Chuck de Caro, exercised their right to armed self-defense to stop a gun-wielding robber who forced his way into their Albuquerque, N.M. motel room.
• Representative James Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced H.R. 3051 to repeal a critical safety valve in federal law that allows for a firearm transfer to proceed three business days after a NICS check is initiated, provided “the system has not notified the [FFL] that the receipt of a firearm by [the buyer or transferee] would [violate federal law.]” The provision ensures that Americans’ rights to acquire firearms are not arbitrarily denied because of bureaucratic delays, inefficiencies, or mistakes in identity.
• Following the murder of four U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy sailor by a terrorist in Chattanooga, presidential candidates called for a change in federal law to allow stateside military personnel to carry firearms for protection. The candidates included former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R), businessman Donald Trump, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (R), and former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). In addition, the governors of Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas directed the adjutants general of their National Guards to authorize Guardsmen to be armed in their states.
• U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit again upheld Florida’s Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act. The law was passed in 2014, after an escalating series of events in which patients were harassed or denied access to services because they refused to be interrogated by their doctors about their ownership of firearms.
• U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced S. 2002 to counter Obama’s plan to forward information on all individuals receiving Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits through a representative payee to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Under the Obama plan, those with information forwarded would be considered “prohibited persons” under federal firearms law. This was estimated to impact over 4 million Americans.
• Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, responded to a letter from Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Rep. Johnson had cautioned in his letter that using the assignment of representative payees as a basis for reporting SSA beneficiaries to NICS “would be a dangerous overreach.” Colvin’s carefully worded response was that “SSA has not provided any names of beneficiaries to the NICS and is not considering sending names based solely on the beneficiaries having representative payees.” Colvin concluded that SSA would not “refer all SSA beneficiaries with representative payees to the NICS,” leaving ample room for concern.
• A “study” by David Swedler, trained at the (gun control crusader Michael) Bloomberg School of Public Health, and co-authored by longtime anti-gun researcher David Hemenway, of the Harvard School of Public Health, used rigged methodology to conclude that law enforcement officers are more likely to be murdered in states that have higher levels of gun ownership. In what may be the understatement of the century, Swedler and Hemenway concede that it’s “possible” that law enforcement officers are more likely to be murdered than other Americans because they have “more frequent encounters with motivated violent offenders.”
• Walmart said that it will no longer sell AR-15s and other “semi-automatic weapons,” and from now on, will sell only the kinds of firearms used “by hunters and people who shoot sporting clays and things like that.” The Associated Press reported that Walmart claimed its decision wasn’t political, but was rather because sales of the rifle have declined.
• Authorities with the Clark County, Nevada Department of Family Services stripped Kristi and Rod Beber of custody of three children under their care and their foster license after an incident where it became known to the government that Rod Beber is a gun owner.
• Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced what he called the “Responsible Transfer of Firearms Act.” Under Sen. Kaine’s bill, a person would be held strictly liable for transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, unless he or she could somehow demonstrate having “taken reasonable steps to determine that the recipient [was] not legally barred from possessing firearms or ammunition ….” Just what those steps are, however, is not specified in the bill. Thus, a person would be risking a federal felony with every firearm transfer, unless he or she adhered to an unwritten code of conduct that could shift with every circumstance.
• The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling in the NRA-supported case of Heller v. District of Columbia (Heller III), bringing further relief to the beleaguered law-abiding gun owners of the nation’s capital. The court determined that several of the challenged registration requirements violated the Second Amendment and were unenforceable.
• Gallup reported that the share of Americans saying that the federal government poses “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” has risen from 30 percent in 2003 to 49 percent today. Twenty percentage points in just over a decade is a major shift.
• The District Attorney’s Office in Nassau County, New York, prohibited its prosecutors from possessing handguns, even in their homes. Days after the story broke, the policy was rescinded. The office concluded, “Upon review, the public safety interests served by the policy can be substantially effectuated though a less-restrictive means that does not preclude ADAs from owning handguns, but strictly prohibits work-related possession and use.”
• President Obama invoked Australia and Great Britain – what he called “countries like ours” – as gun control models for the U.S. They “have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” the president lectured. They prove “there are ways to prevent it.”
• Hillary Clinton announced that, “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment,” referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Then, days later, she echoed President Obama’s references to Australian and British style gun control. “The Australian example,” she said, “that was a buyback program.” She went on to explain that the Australian government “offered a good price” for “buying hundreds of thousands of guns, and then they basically clamped down going forward … .” They were thus able, she explained, “to curtail the supply” of guns and “to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.” Here in America, she went on, “I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level if that could be arranged.”
• Results of a Gallup poll showed that 58 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of NRA. In a piece accompanying the results, Gallup noted that the recent data show “the highest recording of ‘very favorable’ opinions (26%) since Gallup began asking this question in 1989.” Broken down further, 56 percent of self-described political “moderates” had a favorable opinion of NRA. Among the non-gun owners polled, more held a favorable view of NRA than an unfavorable view.
• In an address to Annual Conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, President Obama made the false assertion that “[I]t is easier for a lot of young people in this city and in some of your communities to buy a gun than buy a book. It is easier in some communities to find a gun than it is to find some fresh vegetables at a supermarket. That’s just a fact.” He also insulted the officers by saying that before he “had a motorcade,” he had gotten tickets he didn’t deserve.
• Hillary Clinton’s handlers attempted to walk back her remarks in support of Australia’s gun “buyback” program. “Of course” she wasn’t advocating for Australia-style gun confiscation, a senior aide insisted, even though Clinton’s remarks had come in response to a question about the feasibility of that program in America. Spelling out her new solution, she said, “We need to close the loopholes and support universal background checks.” She continues, “How many people have to die before we actually act, before we come together as a nation?” What these proposals have to do with Australia is anyone’s guess, but we’re sure the doctors of spin could explain it to us.
• Atlanta police violate Georgia law by warehousing 10,000 confiscated firearms that they are mandated to dispose of those firearms through public auctions. NRA supported Georgia S.B. 350 in 2012 for the simple reason that it treated firearms like any other lawful consumer product that comes into the custody of state officials. Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner reasoned that they are not “defying” the legislature but are merely “in a holding pattern.”
• Anti-Gun politicians and the media assailed NRA by claiming that “terrorists,” or at least “terror suspects,” who are on the terrorist watch list are legally able to purchase firearms in the U.S. Many of these same papers have reported on this list as being inaccurate, over-inclusive, and dismissive of civil rights.
• In Virginia’s hotly contested races, voters sent a loud and clear message that their gun rights are not for sale. Despite the attacks from Governor Terry McAuliffe and over three million dollars spent by New York City billionaire Michael Bloomberg and out of state gun control groups, 92 percent of NRA-endorsed candidates won their elections and protected a pro-gun majority in the Virginia Senate.
• A dramatic showdown over Second Amendment rights took place in the U.S. Senate as it took up H.R. 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act”. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered an amendment that would have given the U.S. Attorney General what amounted to a discretionary veto on gun sales to anyone “appropriately suspected” of having some connection to “terrorism.” Feinstein’s Amendment failed by a vote of 45-54. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also dredged up his ill-fated ban on private firearm transfers between friends and many family members, which was defeated by a vote of 47-50 – receiving seven votes less than it received two years ago.
• A Rasmussen poll asked individuals, “[t]he NRA supports gun policies that make all Americans safer. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement?” 61 percent of respondents stated that they agreed with the statement, with over a third of all respondents answering that they strongly agreed.