No doubt 2016 was a very successful year for NRA and our members in the fight to protect our Second Amendment rights, culminating in a historic political victory in November! In the most important election cycle in generations, NRA members and supporters proved once again to be the most potent political force in America, electing a pro-gun president and maintaining pro-gun majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.
Here is a summary of the top stories brought to you in 2016 via the NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert. As we move into 2017, we must continue to ensure we're prepared to meet the great opportunities and challenges before us. We will continue to provide you with information in future Alerts to ensure you have the information necessary to protect and advance your rights.
- President Obama issued a 15-page brochure or “guidance” on firearm sales. Even though the President could not unilaterally expand the requirement to obtain a federal firearm license, he tried to instill fear in gun owners and have them believe that private firearm transfers were illegal.
- Anti-gunners endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Clinton received endorsements from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
- The FBI stopped processing NICS denial appeals. In what was dubbed a “makeshift reorganization” in a January 20 USA Today article, employees tasked with reviewing NICS appeals had been “temporarily” reassigned to assist with the considerable increase in background checks.
- Bloomberg considered a run for President. CBS New York reported, “They say Bloomberg would strongly consider running if the general election looked like it would be a contest between Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.”
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. Scalia was a stalwart defender of the U.S. Constitution and author of the critically important majority opinion in the District of Columbia v. Heller case.
- The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court required “strict scrutiny” for the “Maryland Firearm Safety Act of 2013” (FSA). This increased the odds that the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the issue of semi-auto and magazine bans and determine a rule applicable to the entire country.
- Jesse Hughes, front man for the Eagles of Death Metal, the band targeted in the Paris terror attack, stressed the importance of armed self-defense. In an interview, Hughes said, “Did your French gun control stop a single [expletive] person from dying at the Bataclan? And if anyone can answer yes, I'd like to hear it, because I don't think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I've ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms.”
- Corrections officer Raymond Hughes was hit by a drunk driver while traveling in New Jersey with a firearm and a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit. He faced 3 ½ to 10 years in jail on a felony charge for possessing a firearm. The drunk driver was only charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor.
- Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was abandoning a potential run for the White House in 2016. One national poll found that out of 4,000 registered voters, almost half (43 percent) either didn’t recognize Bloomberg’s name or had no opinion about him.
- A case involving the scope of firearm prohibitions prompted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to break his more than decade-long silent streak on the bench. Thomas asked Assistant U.S. Solicitor General Ilana Eisenstein to identify another “constitutional right that can be suspended based upon a misdemeanor violation of a state law.”
- NRA announced its strong opposition to President Barrack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court.
- The European Parliament took initial steps on EU gun control measures. Among the most burdensome provisions was a change that would place popular semi-automatic firearms into the same category as automatic firearms, thus barring civilian use.
- Hillary Clinton promised to attack gun owners on her “very first day in office.” In a town hall meeting, she stated, “I really support everything President Obama said he would do through regulation on guns but we're going to start the very first day and tackle the gun lobby to try to reduce the outrageous number of people who are dying from gun violence in our country.”
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) released a draft of a proposed rule that would strip many recipients of their Second Amendment Rights. The proposal focused on five factors to determine if certain SSA recipients receiving Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have been “adjudicated as a mental defective” and were therefore federally prohibited from possessing or receiving firearms.
- Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands struck down the last handgun ban in the United States in the case of Radich v. Guerrero. Judge Manglona’s opinion held that the Islands’ bans on handgun possession, possession of any firearms for self-defense purposes, importation of handguns, and firearm possession by resident aliens violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
- NRA-PVF endorsed Donald J. Trump for President. In a statement, Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, said, “If Hillary Clinton gets the opportunity to replace Antonin Scalia with an anti-gun Supreme Court justice, we will lose the individual right to keep a gun in the home for self-defense. Mrs. Clinton has said that the Supreme Court got it wrong on the Second Amendment. So the choice for gun owners in this election is clear. And that choice is Donald Trump.”
- Analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine published in BMJ concludes that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. (behind only heart disease and cancer), accounting for more than 250,000 fatalities a year. This is almost 10 times the number of annual deaths attributable to firearms, including the some 20,000 that occur by suicide.
- Donald Trump exceeded the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States on the first ballot at the party’s convention.
- Hawaii began considering a bill to use the FBI’s Rapback database as a firearm registry. Under the bill, all registered gun owners and anyone entering the state temporarily with a firearm would have their names entered into the database, where it would remain indefinitely. Rapback provides the police with updates any time new information about an individual is entered into the system.
- A New York Magazine writer overhears Hillary Clinton calling the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, “a terrible decision.”
- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review lower court decisions upholding sweeping bans on popular semiautomatic firearms enacted in Connecticut and New York in the wake of the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit effectively blocked a lower court order that briefly made D.C. a shall-issue jurisdiction for concealed carry licenses.
- A full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit used perverse “reasoning” to effectively deny millions of Californians their constitutional right to bear firearms in public for self-defense. The ruling came in the long-running case of Peruta v. San Diego, which challenged California’s discretionary issuance of concealed carry permits; the only option Californians have to legally exercise this right.
- In a historic moment, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox addressed the Republican National Convention about the grave threat to the Second Amendment posed by a Hillary Clinton presidency. The next day, Clinton’s attack dogs were out in force, desperately trying to discredit the case Mr. Cox methodically built against her.
- Massachusetts attorney General Maura Healey unilaterally banned thousands of previously legal guns. She alleged that the ban’s definition of “copy” or “duplicate” “assault weapons” had been misinterpreted for the last 18 years and she was simply the first law enforcement official to discover this incorrect interpretation.
- Hillary Clinton and establishment Democrats embraced gun control at the Philadelphia convention. In her speech, Clinton insisted, “I'm not here to take away your guns. I just don't want you to be shot by someone who shouldn't have a gun in the first place.” Again and again, the convention’s organizers made sure the issue of “gun violence” was front and center.
- As members of his party were gathering in Philadelphia, the Obama Administration once again released a sweeping gun control measure by executive fiat. This was done through the U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). DDTC began labeling commercial gunsmiths as “manufacturers” for performing relatively simple work such as threading a barrel or fabricating a small custom part for an older firearm. Under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), “manufacturers” are required to register with DDTC at significant expense or risk onerous criminal penalties.
- The California Rifle & Pistol Association and several individuals, with the support of the National Rifle Association, filed a lawsuit in federal court to vindicate the Second Amendment right of Californians to carry a firearm in public for self-defense. Flanagan v. Harris would broaden the scope of an earlier lawsuit by challenging California’s open carry laws, in addition to state and local restrictions that deny concealed carry licenses to law-abiding citizens.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane resigned after a jury found her guilty of perjury, criminal conspiracy, and several other criminal charges relating to the abuse of her position. Gun owners took particular interest in this conviction, as during her tenure as AG, Kane repeatedly demonstrated a marked hostility to the rights of Pennsylvanians, evidently while displaying a personal disregard for the laws she was tasked to uphold.
- Amid social and economic strife that threatened to topple the regime of Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan government employed a favorite tactic of tyrants the world over, further gun control. Reuters reported that Venezuela Interior Minister Nestor Reverol ramped up efforts to disarm the populace through a program of confiscation and gun turn-ins.
- In the summer, ATF had released an Explosives Industry Newsletter that changed the agency’s treatment of nitrocellulose, which had the potential to seriously disrupt ammunition supply in the United States. By September, they issued an addendum announcing that it “will conduct further industry outreach concerning wetted Nitrocellulose. In the interim, previously authorized industry practices concerning wetted Nitrocellulose will not be affected.”
- Hillary Clinton labeled millions of Americans who supported Donald Trump as “Deplorable” and “Irredeemable.” She stated, “…you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” because of what she described as their “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” views. “Now,” she continued, “some of those folks – they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”
- New York City billionaire Michael Bloomberg donated a cool $300 million for the School of Public Health that bears his name at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Demonstrating the ex-mayor’s typical hubris, “the Bloomberg American Health Initiative” seeks to increase life expectancy of people in the U.S. by tackling issues from a “public health” perspective, which includes pursuing restrictive gun control.
- Democratic VP Candidate Tim Kaine on gun control: “I can't think of an issue I'd rather be aligned with than this” Among his many anti-gun efforts, as Mayor of Richmond, Kaine once used more than $6,000 in public funds to charter eight buses to support the “Million” Mom March in Washington, D.C.
- A report in the Wall Street Journal claimed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents used local police officers in Southern California to drive around the parking lot of a large gun show to “collect all of the cars’ information.”
- According to an article in USA today, Obama had shifted his prisoner release strategy to free more serious and violent offenders. “Before last month, 13% of inmates receiving clemency had used a firearm in the offense,” the article states. “For those granted presidential mercy last month, it was 22%.”
- A judge issued a ruling in the case, Soto v. Bushmaster, which held that Bushmaster was entitled to immunity from the suit. In the ruling, Judge Bellis stated, “Congress, through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act … has broadly prohibited lawsuits ‘against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms … for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful use of firearm products … by others when the produced functioned as designed and intended.’”
- Leaked emails of Clinton campaign staffers published by WikiLeaks show that the candidate planned to bypass Congress to enact gun control by executive order. In one such email, press secretary Brian Fallon said that Clinton would support, “universal background checks of course, but also closing the gun show loophole by executive order and imposing manufacturer liability.”
- November 8 was a historic night for gun rights supporters. In the most important election cycle in generations, NRA members and supporters proved once again to be the most potent political force in America, electing a pro-gun president and maintaining pro-gun majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. When faced with the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, a U.S. Senate led by Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and a U.S. Supreme Court that would threaten the recognition of the individual right to keep and bear arms, NRA members delivered a resounding rejection of the anti-gun agenda. Vital to this victory was the work of NRA’s dedicated grassroots network. Our hundreds of Election Volunteer Coordinators, and 23 Campaign Field Representatives worked with thousands of volunteers on the ground on voter outreach efforts, knocking 170,000 targeted doors and making 1.5 million targeted phone calls. In addition to our supporters on the ground, NRA spent more than $20 million on television ads in support of Donald Trump’s bid for the White House and to oppose Hillary Clinton, and millions more on ensuring a pro-gun congress. Further, NRA targeted voters with 38,000,000 mailings and 15,000,000 pre-recorded phone calls. The result of NRA’s efforts was indisputable. On election night, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd commented on just how important NRA’s efforts were to Trump’s win during NBC’s election coverage. Todd noted, “Trump got a big assist here… Donald Trump didn’t get a lot of help from major Republican institutions, but he did from the NRA and they came through big. This is a big night for the NRA.”
- NRA congratulated President-Elect Donald Trump on his victory. NRA-ILA executive director Chris Cox issued a statement that said, in part, “Despite the unprecedented efforts by New York City billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the gun control lobby, the Second Amendment prevailed. In the face of threats against their constitutional freedoms, NRA members and Second Amendment supporters rallied to elect a pro-gun president. Trump’s victory repudiates the assertion by gun control advocates that the political calculus regarding the Second Amendment has changed.”
- In one of its final acts on firearms, the Obama Administration’s ATF announced that its proposed changes to the Form 4473 would go into effect on January 16, 2017, just four days before the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump.
- Guinness refused to validate NRA’s 1,000 Man Shoot world record. The reason for Guinness’ refusal was not clear, as a search of the organization’s records database shows that they recognize a host of firearms-related records.
- The FBI processed 185,713 NICS transactions on Black Friday 2016. This surpassed the prior one day record set on Black Friday 2015 by several hundred checks and the third busiest day for NICS by over eight thousand checks.
- Some of the nation’s largest law firms are forming a coalition with gun control advocates to provide tens of millions of dollars of free legal services to battle the Second Amendment. The firms are a Who’s Who of the corporate legal world: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Covington & Burling; Arnold & Porter; O’Melveny & Myers; Dentons; Munger, Tolles & Olson; Hogan Lovells. What is less known is whether their high-paying clients are aware their legal fees are subsidizing attacks against the gun rights of law-abiding Americans.
- The anti-gun movie, Miss Sloane, tanked completely at the box office, making one industry list of the worst openings of the past 35 years for a movie with a national release.Miss Sloane featured Jessica Chastain as a Washington lobbyist who takes on “the establishment” to push for passage of gun control in the U.S. Congress.
- On President Obama’s way out the door, his Social Security Administration finalized a rule, which by the White House’s own estimate will ban 75,000 law-abiding SSI and disability insurance beneficiaries a year from possessing firearms by characterizing them as “mental defectives.”