VGOF

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lazy Journalism on Gun Sales

You've probably seen the articles over the past week, most along the lines of this Bloomberg News article about how the sale of so-called "assault rifles" have plummeted.
Plummeting sales of assault-style weapons, also known as modern sporting rifles or “black rifles,” has led to an oversupply of unsold guns and is hitting the bottom lines of the big arms producers. Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC) shares yesterday fell the most in more than two years after the Springfield, Massachusetts-based gunmaker slashed its full-year sales and profit forecasts.
The tone of the report is that because of the lower sales, those manufactures who are publicly traded on the stock market saw their share prices lowered.  The problem is the media (and Wall Street for that matter) want to compare sales to the way-out-of-the-norm year of 2013. Sales numbers last year were driven in large part by Obama's gun control push.  What people in the industry do is look at trends.  NSSF looked at the last five years of sales without 2013 included, and found that 2014 sales are still higher than 2012, 2011, and 2010:
From January through July 2014, NSSF-adjusted NICS figures total 6.95 million background checks against 6.85 million for 2012 and 5.64 million in 2011. In 2013, the seven-month figure was 8.81 million and the annual total was a record 14.8 million. Multiple factors account for last year’s sales surge, including a fear of additional firearms-ownership restrictions, which came to pass in states such as New York, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as increasing interest in owning firearms by women and former servicemen and women.
Tom Gresham mentioned the Bloomberg article on his Sunday radio program and called it just plain lazy journalism.  He's right.  It would not have taken much for the Bloomberg reporter to do what The Huffington Post did for their article and contact NSSF.  You don't get the message that there are more gun owners and sales are still higher than previous years until the last line of the Bloomberg article.  By then, the "gloom and doom" meme had be put in place.

A Lot of Shooting In 2014 Campaign Ads

NPR's All Things Considered had this story yesterday afternoon talking about how 2014 candidates have picked up on what Joe Manchin did when he first ran for the U.S. Senate - use a firearm to make his campaign point:
Each year trends emerge. This year, lots of spots are hitting the air featuring candidates with firearms shooting at things: TVs, drones, thick copies of the Affordable Care Act.
NPR shared several spots, most from Republicans, but there was one Washington State Democrat ad included:
Not just any candidate can do this however.  Travis Ridout, a Washington State University political science professor told NPR:
Manchin was well-known and the imagery reinforced who he was. But it's not so simple for political newcomers to use the sound and symbolism of firearms to take a shot and get noticed.
I wonder if that Washington Democrat's GOP opponent has asked what he thinks of Intitiatve 594?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arizona Range Tragedy Prompts Look at State Laws on Minors and Long Guns

Sebastian found this piece on the Washington Post Wonkblog yesterday that looks at state laws related to minor possession of rifles and shotguns.  The Wonkblog post was prompted by the tragic shooting of a range instructor in Arizona on Monday when a 9 year-old was not able to control an Uzi that the instructor was showing her how to shoot. 
In the wake of the accidental death of a gun instructor in Arizona, many are likely asking how a 9-year old was allowed to hold and fire an automatic weapon. But gun laws in the United States — specifically those concerning minimum legal age requirements for gun possession — are actually still surprisingly lax.
As the article points out, there are federal laws for minimum age purchasing of firearms.  But, as Sebastian's title of his post points out, The Horror!  Parents can buy firearms and give them to their children:
But a child's parent could. "If dad wants to give his son a rifle or a shotgun on his 13th or 14th birthday, he's pretty much free to do that in most states," Webster said.
And we can't have that! Although accidental deaths related to firearms are at all time lows, the gun ban proponents have trotted out a new response - questioning the number as being something that is under reported:
But it’s important to note that these numbers could be too low. A recent study found that federal reports of accidental child gun deaths are significantly underreported. There’s good reason to assume that accidental gun deaths and injuries are underreported for all ages. "You are potentially looking at accidental shootings that are twice current estimates," said Sam Bieler, an Urban Institute researcher who studies gun violence.

The nannyists will continue to use tragedies like the one on Monday to take away the ability of parents to decide what is best for their children when it comes to firearms but the fact is, millions of young people of varied ages use firearms safely for competition and hunting.  And, as Adam Winkler, a law professor at the UCLA who is not usually consider a proponent of gun rights told the Wall Street Journal: 
"There's nothing wrong with having children at gun ranges," he continued. "Shootings at gun ranges are freak accidents. They don't happen very often. Usually there's no place where shooters are more supervised than on a gun range."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NRA and Moms

Fastcompany.com has this article about NRA's marketing and suggests they are targeting moms as a response to the supposed success of Moms Demand Action:
The National Rifle Association doesn't make its demographic makeup public, although you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't concede it is overwhelmingly white, conservative, and male. (Gun ownership data published by Pew Research seems to support this.) But lately, it seems like the NRA's leadership is especially interested in courting a new and very vocal demographic with considerable household influence: moms.
I don't know that NRA is specifically targeting moms, but with female gun ownership at all time highs, it only makes sense that the NRA would reach out to women.

That same article included a graphic from Dave Kopel's new piece in America's First Freedom about Shannon Watts, the head of Moms Demand Action. Apparently, Fastcompany.com didn't like that Kopel exposed the facts about Shannon Watts' background because they referred to the article as a "hit piece."  Apparently, Shannon Watts isn't very happy with how the NRA depicted her in that graphic either.

It's probably no accident that this attention to NRA's marketing comes on the heels of NRA unveiling a new membership campaign which features a number of women, one of which is below.

DC Asks Federal Judge to Reinstate Carry Ban

The Washington Post reports that attorneys for the District of Columbia formally asked U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin on Monday to reconsider his July opinion striking down the city’s ban on carrying handguns in public.
In a 21-page legal filing, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan and aides said that Scullin relied on opinions of “questionable logical and legal foundations” by a minority of courts, and said that no controlling court has found that the right to carry firearms outside the home is at the core of the Second Amendment.
DC officials still have not decided whether they are going to appeal the judge's decision or enact laws to comply with the ruling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meet the Real Michael Bloomberg

The Washington Post Politics Blog reports that the NRA has launched a new ad campaign targeting Michael Bloomberg.  The first ad takes derogatory comments Bloomberg made about one of the largest counties in Colorado to show the elitist attitude the former mayor has about areas outside of New York City.
Also part of the campaign is a new web site - MeetBloomberg.com.

The Post notes that USA Today was the first to report the campaign.  From USA Today:
"Michael Bloomberg has declared war on the NRA and our 5 million members," Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in an e-mail. "We will not sit back and let him use his billions of dollars to impose his radical anti-freedom agenda on the American people."
The NRA plans to spend $500,000 on the first round of ads which will run in several states including Colorado.

Pro-Gun Chafin Wins Puckett Seat to Keep State Senate in GOP Hands

Delegate Ben Chafin (R-Russell County), won a special election Tuesday for former state Sen. Phillip Puckett’s (D-Russell County) Southwest Virginia seat, which means Republicans will maintain control of the State Senate and keep a pro-gun majority in place.  The GOP briefly lost control after the 2013 elections when Democrat Lt. Governor Ralph Northam took over for outgoing Republican Bill Bolling and a Democrat was elected to replace Northam.  While the Senate organization put into place in 2011 was to remain in effect until after the 2015 election, Democrats immediately used their new found power in a 20-20 chamber to change that and took control of the committees in the middle of the 2014 session, souring relations in the chamber.

In a surprise mover earlier this summer, Senator Puckett resigned, throwing control back to the GOP.  A special election was called to fill the seat and Chafin came up the winner.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

News21's"Investigative" Series on Gun Rights vs. Gun Control

An outfit called News21 has an "investigative" news series called Gun Wars: The Struggle Over Rights and Regulation in America.  The pieces were posted on the organization's web site over the weekend and are running on news web sites like NBCNews, Philly.com, and USA Today among other partners.  The project bills itself as "an investigative-reporting project involving top college students across the country" funded by Carnegie-Knight and is based at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The articles explore a number of topics like what they call "a resurgence of the gun control movement," as well as articles on background checks and the mentally ill, "Stand Your Ground" laws, the increase in female gun owners, and others. 

I've found some things that don't appear to be completely accurate.  For instance, in the article on the pro-rights and anti-rights organizations, they seem to confuse total NRA income (membership dues which cover the operation of the organization including programs) with the political income for purposes of the chart on the web page.  The reason that the NRA has a budget of $256 million (their number) is because the NRA has 5 million members.  That money goes to running the various programs and the overhead of the organization.  That's not the political side of the house.  So, to compare the $16 million they say is raised by the gun ban lobby with the NRA member dues is comparing apples to oranges.

Another thing I don't think is completely accurate is in the article on armed teachers.  In that article the author states:
In 28 states, adults who legally own guns will be allowed to carry them in public schools this fall, from kindergarten classrooms to high school hallways. Seven of those states specifically cite teachers and other school staff as being allowed to carry guns in their schools.

A News21 examination of open-records laws in those states found that teachers or staff who choose to carry a firearm into their classrooms are not required to tell principals, other teachers or parents. Only five of those states have completely open access to concealed-carry permit information through public records requests. Some state's laws seal off those records, and others are silent on the issue.

In states where it is legal, parents may have no idea their child's teacher carries a gun into the classroom every day.
I could be wrong but I believe they are confusing the statutes that don't allow public access to a state's list of concealed carry permit holders with requirements related to schools allowing teachers to carry on school property.

Look for a whole list of articles by the group to continue appearing on news web sites.

Six Flags Eats Crow

Last week, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey expelled retired Marine Mario Alejandro for wearing a T-shirt he received as a Father's Day gift.  The shirt was purchased from a nonprofit organization that supports Marines.  A security guard told him the shirt, which included the phrase "Keep calm and return fire," along with stars and strips outline of am M-16 was offensive and he had to change it or cover it if he wanted to go into the park.  He received an apology yesterday.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Virginia Firearm Sales Level Off to Pre-2013 Levels But Still on Pace to Be Second Best Year in History

The Richmond Times Dispatch has this story today that notes 2014 firearm sales are running approximately 23% lower than the same period in 2013:
Gun transactions have fallen every month from Jan. 1 through the end of July compared with the same period in 2013. Cumulatively, the numbers dropped from 286,480 transactions for January through July last year to 219,491 for this year. 
Firearm sales at 45 gun shows across Virginia also declined during the first seven months of 2014, from 24,870 transactions in 2013 to 20,492 this year, a drop of 21 percent. Gun show transactions represented 9.3 percent of the state’s total transactions through federally licensed firearms dealers.
Last year's sales were driven by the direct assault on our rights by Obama.  But, while sales are down a little less 25% from last year, they are still higher than 2012 and 2014 is on pace to still be the second best year for firearm sales on record:
“While firearm transactions seem to be declining, it’s important to recognize that 2014 is still on pace to be the second-highest year for firearm transactions in Virginia, outpacing 2012 by nearly 5 percent,” said Thomas R. Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs who specializes in criminology theory and has an interest in gun-related issues.

The number of firearm transactions through the first seven months of 2012 totaled 209,591, compared with this year’s 219,491.
Baker also rather than looking at this year's numbers compared to last year, we should look at the general pattern of firearm purchase over the last several years:
The percentage increase in Virginia gun transactions has grown steadily — in some cases dramatically — every year since Obama has been in office except for 2010, records show. The annual number grew 7.2 percent in 2009, dipped to 3.7 percent in 2010, and then climbed in the double digits over the next three years — 16 percent in 2011, 35 percent in 2012 and 11 percent last year.
It was to be expected that sales would not continue at the pace they set last year.  But it is also clear from the above numbers that firearms sales, at lease in Virginia, are still increasing at a healthy pace, and that's good news for Virginia's firearm retailers.

Friday, August 15, 2014

VSSA Life Member Steve Halbrook on CSPAN Sunday

Second Amendment Scholar and VSSA Life Member Steve Halbrook will be on C-SPAN2's BookTV Sunday, August 17th at 5:00 pm ET (2:00 pm PT).  The program is a broadcast of a recent Independent Policy Forum with Halbrook, author of, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and "Enemies of the State."  Halbrook is also Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.