Gun News of the Week: Firearm Owner Groups See a Rise in Membership

While gun control groups are citing swelling numbers and amplified efficacy, gun owners are gathering to defend rights

TOP STORY

Trump Watches the Show

President Donald Trump has been praised by both gun-control and gun-rights advocates and criticized by all for a continuing confluence of mixed signals, and conflicting statements.

This distresses Congress, which is counting on Trump to take a leading role in either pushing for gun-control or in upholding gun rights. In short, Congress needs Trump to make a definitive stand because representatives and senators need political cover for the upcoming mid-term elections.

Trump has endorsed expanded background checks and appears to have lent his support to a high-capacity semi-automatic ban — aka, the politically contrived term, “assault weapons.”

Trump also said he has no problem with confiscating weapons through expanded “red flag” laws, saying, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

And then he hasn’t.

What does he want? What will he say? Does he have a plan? What will he do?

Depends who you ask, but longtime gun control proponents — who are, at least, those not deceitful in openly advocating for they want — think that Trump may flip-flop their way once he tires of the “who knows?” game.

“I think he knows that the mood of the country has shifted, such that he and his party are going to pay a huge price in the polls in 2018 and 2020 if they don’t start supporting things like universal background checks,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“He can set his legacy: President Trump coming forth to something like this and putting his support behind will give Republicans enough cover to support this,” said Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Manchin co-authored with Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., a 2013 bill to require universal background checks that failed to pass the Senate in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

“If President Trump would have been president in 2013, that bill would have passed,” Manchin said.

But for now, Trump has a front row seat to a Congressional high-wire act and will enjoy the show.

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Gun Owner Groups See a Rise in Membership

With professional advocates co-opting the #NeverAgain student safe schools movement, the rallies, demonstrations, and walkouts are attracting virtually all media attention and, you bet, gun control groups are capitalizing.

In the glare of sustained, high-profile activism, Everytown for Gun Safety — among billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun prohibition front groups — claims more than 125,000 volunteers have joined it since the shooting, and that it has received more than $1.5 million in unsolicited donations.

Considering Bloomberg, through his groups, already outspends any other single entity in candidate campaign donations, any emergence of actual grassroots donations, which the NRA is totally funded through, would be like gravy on his well-greased wallet.

While gun control groups are loudly proclaiming their swelling numbers and amplified efficacy, gun owners are quietly gathering resources and circling the wagons to defend their rights.

This is not surprising. In the weeks after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, more than 100,000 new members joined the NRA.

NRA Board of Directors member Charles Cotton predicts the contrived vilification of the association in the wake of Parkland could backfire by tripling NRA membership to 15 million in the coming year.

“The NRA better be 15 million strong soon, or this is only going to get worse,” Cotton wrote on a message board, TexasCHLforum.com.

“Bloomberg and Hollywood are pouring money into this effort and the media is helping to the fullest extent,” he wrote. “We’ve never had this level of opposition before, not ever. If you really want to make a difference, then start recruiting NRA members every single day.”

According to Alana Abrasion of Time Magazine, gun rights organizations and shooting associations in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia all report increasing memberships. Among them:

  • Georgia Gun Owners, with 13,000 members, has added 1,000 members since the Parkland shooting.

  • The National Association for Gun Rights, which claims more than 4.5 million "members and supporters" on its website, estimates its online membership applications have increased by 30 percent in the tree weeks after the shooting.

  • The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which has a membership of almost 29,000, said it typically gets 15-20 applications a week, but received almost 200 in the week after Parkland.

  • Gun Owners of America, which claims 1.5 million members, received "hundreds" of new members in the wake of the shooting.

  • The Nevada Firearms Coalition estimates membership renewals and requests have increased by 20 percent since Parkland. It did not see this circle-the-wagons reaction after October's Las Vegas mass shooting.

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STATE ROUNDUP

Kasich’s Ohio ‘Common Sense’ Proposals A National ‘Common Sense’ Trial Balloon

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed a package of "common sense" gun control measures forwarded to him from a bipartisan gun policy task force he commissioned to study a legislative response to the Valentine’s Day Parkland school shooting.

Some proposals Kasich has endorsed and sent to Ohio lawmakers to deliberate on address systemic problems others, according to Jessie Balmert and Chrissie Thompson of The Cincinnati Enquirer, “would offer little practical change to life in Ohio for gun owners.”

"It's the art of the possible, not the impossible," Kasich told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

It is unclear what Ohio's GOP-controlled Legislature will do with Kasich’s proposals.

The Republican Ohio Governor and 2016 Presidential candidate appears to be a champion of “common sense” often these days. Some speculators surmise Kasich is positioning himself as a potential “common sense” primary alternative to Trump in 2020.

But that’s a long time from now. For now, call these proposals Kasich’s “common sense” trial balloons:

  • Background checks: Clerks of court must upload at least weekly the names of people barred from owning guns because of a history of violent crime, drug use or mental illness.

  • 'Red flag' laws: Ohio should have a law that allows police to take a person's weapons if a court decides he or she poses a threat.

  • Armor-piercing ammunition: Some of these types of bullets are illegal federally and would also be by Ohio law.

  • 'Straw man' purchases: If you buy a gun for someone who is barred from owning one, match the federal penalty of 10 years rather than the maximum penalty under Ohio law of 18 months in prison.

  • Domestic violence: A person convicted of domestic violence or subject to a protection order should automatically lose the right to buy or own a gun. This would mirror federal law.

  • Bump stocks: Ohio law would codify federal regulations that will ban the device like once they are enacted.

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IN THE COURTS

Legal Strategy: Sue & Starve Age-Discriminating Retailers

Legal gun owners denied their right to purchase a firearm because of age discrimination are being encouraged to join the swelling avalanche of lawsuits being lodged against retailers that some say could force courts to reaffirm the Constitution.

All other gun owners are being rallied to weaponize their wallets. Gun-rights groups, such as the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), are calling on gun owners to use tier considerable financial clout to punish Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Kroger and other retailers that have imposed an age requirement in the wake of the Valentine’s Day Parkland shooting.

“Part of what we want to tell Dick’s Sporting Goods is ‘good riddance,’” Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, told David Sherfinski of The Washington Times. “They might as well fold their entire hunting and firearms sales down, as they’re going to sink like a rock.”

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