Gun Stories of the Week: Activist to Test New Open Carry Law on St. Louis Public Transit

**TOP STORY
GSS disputes Gallup, says less than one-third U.S. households own guns **

A General Social Survey analysis released March 2 shows that in 2014, less than 32 percent of American households owned firearms, once again fixing the percentage of gun-owning households about 10 percent below figures compiled by a recent Gallup Poll.

According to the GSS, whose surveys are widely used in social science research, the number of American households owning guns remained at 40-year lows: 22 percentage points lower than the high of 54 percent recorded in 1977.

GSS's claim that only 32 percent of American households own firearms is dramatically lower than an October 2014 Gallop Poll that fixed the number at 42 percent, down from a high of 51 percent in 1993.

The same pattern occurred in 2012 when the GSS claimed that gun ownership in the U.S. had declined from 49 percent of households owning a gun in 1973 to 34 percent in 2012. A Gallup Poll issued less than two months earlier pegged that figure at 43 percent.

Regardless of the disparities, both polls confirm a downward trend in gun ownership among individuals, something gun control advocates try to manipulate. They say, among other things, that the U.S. firearm industry is booming, boosting production by 31 percent between 2011 and 2012, yet, they say, there are fewer gun owners.

Therefore, gun control lobbyists say, this means this new weapons are being purchased by people who, in their opinion, already own "too many" firearms. If gun sales are up and household-level ownership rates are down, that's the only real logical conclusion, writes Christopher Ingraham in a March 5 washingtonpost.com blog.

In a January 2014 column in The Daily Caller, NRA News Commenter Billy Johnson said there is "a much deeper problem" with the argument that how many people exercise a right justifies diluting the entire Constitution.

"We are essentially being asked to agree to limitations on our constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights because less than 35 percent of Americans choose to exercise that right. What? When did we set usage requirements on our rights?" Johnson writes. "I don’t think we should ever link debates about the Second Amendment to stats about gun ownership. The Constitution protects the choice of citizens to arm themselves; it does not mandate it."

That message seems to be understood by the American public; even those who choose not to own firearms. According to a December 2014 Pew Research Center poll, for the first time in two decades, there is more support among Americans for gun rights than gun control.

"So far, gun rights advocates haven't been able to capitalize on this sentiment to broaden the base of gun ownership," Ingraham writes. "But they have been able to convince their supporters to keep buying more firearms.

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STATE ROUNDUP
Bloomberg group challenges West Virginia open carry bill

A West Virginia bill, which would repeal licensing requirements in order to carry concealed weapons, passed the Senate on a 32-2 vote on Feb. 27, and currently is in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting introduction.

Committee Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, said on March 5 that he has not determined when the bill will be on the committee’s agenda, but noted the committee is planning to meet over the weekend. “We’re going to look at it very carefully,” he said.

Shott's comments followed publication of an alleged survey by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's antigun front group, Everytown for Gun Safety, that claimed 71 percent of 500 people queried by phone oppose the proposal to repeal current state law that requires registration, background checks, and completion of a gun safety course to obtain a concealed weapon permit, including, Everytown claims, 64 percent of gun owners.

Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, lead sponsor of SB347, said on March 5 he had not seen the survey, and couldn’t comment on it. Asked if the results seemed plausible, Sypolt told the Associated Press, “I have no idea. ... I have no way of gauging the accuracy of that.”

According to Everytown, the poll found that 83 percent of those polled say they favor the current concealed carry permit requirements, including 81 percent who identified themselves as gun owners. Also, Everytown said, the survey found that 14 percent of likely voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who voted to repeal permit requirements for concealed carry, while 50 percent said that would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.

The survey of 500 residents who identified themselves as likely voters was jointly conducted by Momentum Analysis and Chesapeake Beach Consulting from March 2-4.

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OPEN CARRY GOES MASS TRANSIT
Activist to test new Missouri law on St. Louis buses, trains

Second Amendment activist Jeffry Smith, who led an "Open Carry/Firearms Educational Walk" in downtown St. Louis in October, tells the Daily Riverfront Times that he plans to do so again on the city's buses and trains once the weather warms.

Smith told the Daily RFT on March 6 that he's planning to test just how far Missouri's Amendment 5 goes in erasing local laws banning open carrying firearms—including carrying weapons onto St. Louis' MetroLink trains and buses.

Approved by 60 percent of Missouri voters in August 2014, Amendment 5 swept away local ordinances prohibiting open carry and enshrined the right to bear arms with a virtually impenetrable legal shield.

"The ongoing prohibition on carrying guns on buses and trains disenfranchises a significant part of the population," Smith said, noting that legal gun owners can carry weapons in their cars without any special permit, but "when you get on a bus or train, the law disarms you."

Smith told the Daily RFT that he's waiting for warmer weather before he sets a date for the "test." He's planning on going solo, but would welcome other like-minded gun owners for the ride.

Smith will be risking arrest and, potentially, a felony charge by bringing a gun on a St. Louis bus or MetroLink train. If so, he says, he'll cite Amendment 5's provision that obligates Missouri to defend the "inalienable" right to bear arms within its borders. The resulting court battle, he believes, could go a long way in clearing up conflicts between state and local firearms statutes.

Smith, a firearms instructor from Ohio, led an "Open Carry/Firearms Educational Walk" on Oct. 25 in downtown St. Louis, leading about 50 armed "strollers" on a "friendly" jaunt through Citygarden and the Gateway Arch.

READ THIS BOOK
Attorney's book cites emotion as biggest threat to Second Amendment

The biggest threat to the Second Amendment—in fact, to the Constitution and American democracy—is an emotional constituency that is easily manipulated by ideologues unwilling to compromise.

Firearms attorney Lenden Eakin cites this danger among others in his recently published book, 'Showdown: The Looming Crisis over Gun Control.' Eakin, a Class 3 firearms dealer from Roanoke, Va., writes that two trends that, if they continue, will change a fundamental element of American freedom.

Eakin notes "the power of the sword" has steadily shifted from "the People" to the government, a trend that has accelerated in the last 40 years as "gun control" has combined with the decline of militia to move power away from citizens, fostering a passive concession of rights.

He writes that emotions preclude compromise -- emotions stoked by ideologues on all sides of the spectrum. "There is conflict among Americans over" gun rights, Eakins said during a recent interview on the Sean Hannity radio show. "Many people will fight you before they give up their firearms and others want all civilians disarmed. It's a polarizing debate."

Gun rights advocates become emotional, Eakins writes, because they see a subtle "progressive" erosion of individual rights being incorporated under the banner of "common sense" gun control measures. It is frustrating to gun owners that fellow citizens, long lulled into conceding individual rights to expanding government scrutiny, don't see the dangers in what jus happening right before their eyes.

When Second Amendment advocates resist what appear to be relatively minor restrictions and regulations, gun control zealots gain traction with an uninformed constituency by claiming gun owners are unreasonable and the Second Amendment untenable.

"There is so much emotion involved," Eakins said.

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