This week, we broke news of the CDC’s decision to delete a reference to how often guns are used in self-defense after a private pressure campaign from gun-control advocates. Emails released by the agency showed the extent of the months-long lobbying campaign, the involvement of the White House, and the explicitly-political motivations behind the change.
The story has been covered across the media spectrum since we first published it. And now we’re seeing reactions rolling in. Top Republicans expressed their outrage about the situation as they stand poised to retake the oversight role for the agency in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, scholars who study defensive gun use decried the apparent politicization of the agency on display during the event.
We also saw a pair of significant federal court rulings. Both went against gun-rights plaintiffs. In Rhode Island, a judge declined to block the state’s ammo magazine confiscation law from going into effect. In New York, a Second Circuit panel stayed another lower court ruling against the state’s gun-carry restrictions, which will allow them to go back into effect.
Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman also examined an embarrassing episode for California Attorney Rob Bonta (D.), who backed out of defending one of the state’s newest gun laws.
Plus, GOA’s Sam Paredes joins the podcast to talk about how his group blocked Oregon’s new gun restrictions.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult.
The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered. The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range.
“[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees, wrote to CDC officials after their meeting. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value – even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.”
Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), argued Kleck’s estimate has been damaging to the political prospects of passing new gun restrictions and should be eliminated from the CDC’s website.
“And while that very small study by Gary Kleck has been debunked repeatedly by everyone from all sides of this issue [even Kleck] it still remains canon by gun rights folks and their supporting politicians and is used as a blunt instrument against gun safety regulations every time there is a state or federal level hearing,” he wrote in the same email. “Put simply, in the time that study has been published as ‘a CDC Study’ gun violence prevention policy has ground to a halt, in no small part because of the misinformation that small study provided.”
Despite initially standing behind the description in the defensive gun use section of its “fast facts” website on gun violence, the CDC backtracked after a previously-undisclosed virtual meeting with the advocates on September 15th, 2021.
Defensive Gun Use Scholars Decry CDC Politicization [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski
Several scholars who study the use of guns for self-defense voiced concern about the CDC’s recent decision to remove information about how common they are after being pressured by gun-control advocates.
The researchers criticized the agency’s decision to remove a reference to the range of defensive gun use (DGU) estimates after the advocates complained the higher end of the scale made passing gun control more difficult. The advocates’ critiques centered on surveys conducted by retired Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, which found upwards of 2.5 million defensive uses per year in the 1990s. The CDC agreed to remove the reference to the estimates and a link to further research after a private meeting with just the gun-control advocates–something Kleck said was unbecoming of a scientific agency.
“If they were being honest and they really want it to come to the fairest, wisest decision, they would have reached out to me instead of simply asking gun-control advocates and scholars with a very pro-control bias what they think,” he told The Reload. “They clearly had no interest in getting to the facts.”
Top Republican lawmakers attacked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for scrubbing defensive gun use estimates from its website following a report from The Reload detailing gun-control advocates’ role in the decision.
House GOP Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, the number three ranking Republican for the soon-to-be House majority, accused the CDC of “acting as an arm of the Democratic Party” by agreeing to delete data from its website after private pressure from advocates. She decried the role of the White House in connecting the advocates with top agency officials.
“In pursuit of their unconstitutional anti-gun agenda, the Biden Administration is hiding the facts of how law-abiding citizens use their Constitutionally-protected 2nd Amendment rights to keep our families and communities safe,” she said. “The CDC is acting as an arm of the Democratic Party, further politicizing the facts, and shamefully lying to the American people to advance their Far Left agenda.”
Banning and confiscating commonly-owned ammunition magazines does not run afoul of the Second Amendment.
At least according to U.S. District Judge John McConnell’s reading of the amendment.
On Wednesday, McConnell denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against Rhode Island’s recently passed law banning the sale and possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds. He said that so-called Large-Capacity Magazines (LCMs) did not count as “arms” protected by the U.S. Constitution.
“The plaintiffs have failed in their burden to demonstrate that LCMs are ‘Arms’ within the meaning of the Second Amendment’s text,” Judge McConnell, an Obama appointee, wrote in his order. “Moreover, even were they ‘arms,’ the plaintiffs have failed to prove that LCMs are weapons relating to self-defense. There is no Second Amendment violation from the LCM Ban because of those two shortfalls of persuasion.”
Appeals Court Stays Another Ruling Against New York Gun-Carry Law
By Stephen Gutowski
New York will once more be able to enforce another section of its sweeping gun-carry restriction bill.
A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay against a district court’s decision blocking a ban on carrying a gun on private property that’s open to the public without express permission. The Monday ruling put a hold on the lower court’s injunction as the appeals court waits to hear the case. It is the third stay issued by the panel as lower court judges pick apart New York’s law, passed in response to the Supreme Court striking down the state’s previous strict gun-carry law.
The stay will allow New York to enforce the first-of-its-kind private property provision and arrest anyone who violates it until the appeals court issues its own ruling. Thanks to the intervention of the Second Circuit in two other cases, the same is true for a wide range of other restrictions–from bans on carrying in church or on the subway to a requirement applicants for permits prove they are of “good moral character” by turning over their social media activity to police. The stays represent a reprieve for New York officials and a setback for the gun-rights groups challenging the law.
Podcast: GOA’s Sam Paredes on Blocking Oregon’s New Gun-Control Law
By Stephen Gutowski
Oregon’s gun-control ballot initiative has put it at the center of the fight over guns in America. As the political battle ended with victory for Measure 114 and the deadline to implement a non-existent permit-to-purchase system closed in, a new front opened in the courts.
Sam Paredes, a Gun Owners of America (GOA) board member and treasurer of the Gun Owners Foundation, was on the frontline of that legal battle. While multiple federal suits were unable to secure a Temporary Restraining Order against the law, GOA was able to convince a state judge the measure violated the Oregon Constitution’s protections for the right to keep and bear arms. That decision has held thus far, despite an attempt by the state to get the Oregon Supreme Court to throw it out.
Paredes joined the show this week to talk about where things stand now, and what’s coming down the line.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss the surprising shift in the U.S. Senate’s balance of power this week.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the show is also available on our YouTube channel. Reload Members get access on Sunday, and the show goes public on Monday.
The problem with using legislation to fight the culture war is that you might tie yourself in knots trying to own the other side.
On Thursday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D.) filed a supplemental brief in a lawsuit challenging the state’s fee-shifting provision for gun litigation. The purpose of the brief? To announce that he could no longer defend the law’s legality in good faith and that he was withdrawing from the case.
“At this time, the Attorney General is not in a position to defend the merits of a provision indistinguishable in relevant part from a provision that he has opined is unconstitutional,” the brief reads.
Before the passage of California’s copycat bill, Bonta had signed on to an amicus brief in the lawsuit challenging Texas’s bounty-style abortion ban, and he made public statements that referred to the law as “blatantly unconstitutional” for its attempt to evade federal judicial review. Now, tasked with defending the legal merits of a nearly identical gun law, the cognitive dissonance required proved too much.
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.