This week was filled with gun news. And, that’s not even counting the Rittenhouse trial where we’re still waiting for the jury to return a verdict.
Dick Heller has forced another change in D.C.’s gun laws. Polling has turned further against gun-control measures and the Democrats who support them. More NRA internal documents have been leaked online, and the group’s contract with a fundraiser has come under new scrutiny.
Beto is back too. He’s running for governor of Texas and remains committed to confiscating AR-15s and AK-47s.
On the other hand, Pennsylvania Republicans passed permitless gun carry through the legislature. And, a gun-rights group forced Philadelphia to start issuing gun-carry permits in the time required by state law.
Plus, I interviewed a retired Green Beret on his new quest to train gun carriers on emergency medical techniques. Often it feels like we’re missing half the equation when we strap a gun to our hip and go out in the world. Check out why Kenny Robertson of Wex Training Group thinks everyone should learn how to apply a tourniquet or pack a wound on this week’s podcast.
Oh, and check out the “ghost gun” from Sears I bought recently. It’s probably not what you’d expect.
Heller Beats Back Another D.C. Gun Ban
By Jake Fogleman
After passing one of the most expansive “ghost gun” prohibitions in the country, D.C. is pulling back in the face of a legal challenge from Dick Heller.
The council voted to amend the city’s current law by a vote of 12-1 on Tuesday, on the recommendation of D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D.). The changes provide an avenue for lawful gun owners to make their own firearms and allow polymer-framed guns to remain legal. The action satisfies most of the demands in the suit Heller, whose 2008 suit against D.C.’s total handgun ban resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling, filed against the city.
Heller said he was pleased with the city changing course. He said “mankind has always needed and had weapons,” and D.C. can not “mandate one’s weapon must come from a big factory.” He argued the city’s attempt to ban homemade guns is a violation of the Second Amendment.
“The Heller no. 4 case was filed because municipalities continue to whimsically, yet creatively, create Road Blocks to our Constitutional Rights to be armed,” Heller told The Reload in a statement.
The changes made by the city are a significant departure from the bill’s initial language.
Russian Hackers Release More NRA Financial Data, Staff Personal Information
By Stephen Gutowski
Russian ransomware hackers have released what they allege are hundreds more sensitive NRA documents.
Internal financial reports and the personal information of NRA staff were among the documents posted on Wednesday. The release is the fourth batch of records published in an apparent attempt to extort the NRA into paying a ransom. The personal information of dozens of current and former staff, including bank account and social security numbers, was exposed in the latest release.
Those affected by the leaks include top leadership and low-level seasonal employees. The documents appear to cover many of the staff the NRA has hired or rehired over the past year. That’s all in addition to the personal information of dozens of staffers, which was released by the hackers earlier this month.
The Reload spoke with several of those whose personal information was released in the hack. They all confirmed the authenticity of their exposed data and said they had not been made aware of it being leaked by the NRA.
Poll: Support For Stricter Gun Control Craters
By Stephen Gutowksi
Americans are increasingly opposed to tightening the country’s gun laws.
That’s according to the latest from Gallup, which found 52 percent of adults support the idea. While still a majority, that represents a drop of 15 points from 2018. It is also the lowest level of support for stricter gun laws since 2014.
“Gallup has been tracking the public’s views on this measure since 1990, when the nation’s crime rate was high and a record 78% of Americans supported stricter laws for gun sales,” the pollster said in a statement. “Since then, calls for tougher gun control have generally spiked in the wake of prominent mass shootings and faded as the memory of each receded.”
Over the past week, we have seen new data that validates a continued theme: Americans are turning against gun control.
The latest Gallup polling shows support for stricter gun control at a seven-year low, fueled largely by a 15-point cratering among Independents. Plus, a recent Morning Consult poll shows registered voters trust Republicans over Democrats on the issue of gun policy by seven points. Furthermore, Republicans’ advantage on gun policy increased to ten points when just suburban voters were polled.
Public opinion on gun control is historically volatile. Americans’ support for stricter gun laws has typically risen after high-profile mass shootings and fallen during periods without such events. But, a few recent major events have actually caused Americans to sour on the prospect of new gun control.
One obvious factor is simply the fact that record numbers of Americans have become gun owners in the last two years. We know from polling data that gun owners are far less likely than non-gun owners to favor gun control, and that likely explains why a significant drop in support for gun control has coincided with record numbers of first-time gun buying.
However, an underappreciated element is not just the fact there are new gun owners but that millions of them were forced to experience gun laws in practice for the first time. It’s a distinction with an important difference.
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Poll: Voters Trust Republicans Over Democrats on Guns
By Jake Fogleman
Republicans currently hold sway with Americans on gun policy.
That’s according to the latest Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday. Among all registered voters surveyed, Republicans in Congress enjoyed a seven-point lead over Democrats in Congress on gun policy. Among strictly suburban voters surveyed, the lead increased to ten points.
The results indicate an electorate that is continuing to view gun control less favorably. A rightward shift in attitude toward gun policy among voters, particularly those in the suburbs, could prove to be decisive in key swing districts in next year’s midterm elections. It may also at least partially explain the big Republican performance in this month’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey.
Your NRA Dues May Not Be Going to the NRA
By Tim Mak
Wayne’s inability to constrain his own impulses extended to his management style. He was grossly outmaneuvered by the vendors that the National Rifle Association paid. One of the prime examples of this is InfoCision, the company the NRA uses for telemarketing and handling incoming calls from its members. InfoCision is headed by the Taylor family, which between 1996 and 2010 contributed more than $330,000 to various Republican causes, then suddenly stopped doing so. The telemarketing company is heavily reliant on the NRA for its business: over the past few years, the gun rights group has made up more of InfoCision’s nonprofit business than all its other clients combined.
InfoCision has a sweetheart deal, according to public filings and required financial disclosures. Its extraordinary contract with the NRA includes a provision: if InfoCision acquires a new member or reactivates a lapsed donor for the gun rights group, it gets to keep 100 percent of the over-the-phone credit card payments ostensibly made to the NRA. The company gets paid twice: first, to fundraise; and second, with a cut of the amount fundraised. The result of the contract is that InfoCision is paid significantly more than it actually brings in.
From 2008 to 2018, InfoCision raised $113.5 million for the NRA. Of that, it kept a cut of $64.3 million, or 56.6 percent— sort of like a commission. On top of that, the NRA paid InfoCision a whopping $210 million over that same time period for its services. The bottom line is that the NRA paid over $200 million so that it could raise less than $50 million.
Podcast: Meet the Former Green Beret Training Civilians in Emergency Medicine
By Stephen Gutowski
Kenny Robertson of Wex Training Group joins me this week to talk about a new emergency medical training program aimed at concealed carriers.
Robertson spent 22 years in the Army Green Berets as part of the 5th Special Forces Group. He served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syrian, and Lebanon as a medic. After that, he spent years training others to do the same thing as director of the Tactical Casualty Combat Care and Prolonged Field Care programs at the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center in Fort Bragg, NC.
Now, he’s teamed up with Brandon Wexler and Charrie Derosa of Wex Gunworks in Delray Beach, Florida to bring that same level of training to the civilian world. The high-profile gun shop, which has been featured everywhere from NBC News to The Washington Post to The Washington Free Beacon, hopes to bring that same caliber of training to those who carry guns.
Robertson was nice enough to give me a demo of the class recently. I was lucky enough to go through a Stop the Bleed course when I trained with FASTER Colorado a few years ago. The principles in the Wex class are much the same, but the experience is elevated.
For one, it’s much more visceral. More realistic. Ultimately, more impactful.
Lots of training courses have training tourniquets and CPR dummies. Wex takes that to the next level by adding detailed training dummies, including ones that actually bleed.
It’s far more memorable to try and apply a tourniquet high and tight when blood is literally spurting out onto your hands. When the skin feels natural and the flesh compresses like the real thing, it hits differently in your mind. The added feedback of actually witnessing the bleeding stop instead of just imagining it is game-changing.
On top of that, Robertson’s real-life stories of how he has applied these techniques to save lives in the field make it all that much more memorable.
It’s the kind of training I’m convinced people who concealed carry should invest in. After all, we spend thousands to carry a gun in the unlikely case we’ll be in a deadly force incident. Well, if you’re preparing for what might happen in a shootout, you should probably prepare for what you’ll do if you or somebody else actually gets shot.
All the same principles apply here. You can’t count on a medic getting to you before you bleed out. So, you better learn to help yourself.
Besides, you’re more likely to run into some sort of medical emergency in your daily life than you are to run into a deadly force attack. Better to be prepared than sorry.
You can listen to the whole show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.
You can also watch the video podcast on our YouTube channel.
Beto O’Rourke Announces Run for Texas Governor on AR-15 Confiscation Platform
By Stephen Gutowski
Beto is back and, hell yes, he still wants to take your AR-15s.
O’Rourke announced on Monday he plans to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas. He said he plans to challenge Republican incumbent Greg Abbott on several issues, including gun policy. He stood by his previous promise to confiscate “assault weapons.”
“I think most Texans can agree — maybe all Texans can agree — that we should not see our friends, our family members, our neighbors, shot up with weapons that were originally designed for use on a battlefield,” O’Rourke told The Texas Tribune.
The announcement gives Texas Democrats a high-profile gubernatorial candidate with a national brand. However, it also gives them one with a lot of baggage from two highly-publicized losing campaigns. The positions, especially on gun control, he took to shake up those campaigns as they faltered may hinder his new campaign.
Pennsylvania Legislature Passes Permitless Gun-Carry
By Jake Fogleman
A bill that would allow all Pennsylvania adults who can legally own guns to carry them without a permit is now heading to the Governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 565 was passed in the Pennsylvania House Tuesday night by a vote of 107-92 after several hours of emotional debate. In addition to removing the state’s permit requirement for concealed carry, the bill would also allow for legal gun owners to carry openly in the city of Philadelphia.
“Firearms ownership is a Constitutional right that should not be subject to infringement or questioning, as is provided for in the constitutions of both the United States and Pennsylvania, as well as Commonwealth statute,” State Senator Cris Dush (R.), the primary sponsor of the bill, said in a press release.
The bill would make Pennsylvania the 22nd state to allow permitless carry for its residents. It would represent continued momentum for gun-rights advocates who have successfully instituted the policy in five other states this year alone.
Philadelphia Forced to Speed Up Gun-Carry Permit Issuing
By Jake Fogleman
For the second time since the pandemic began, the city of Philadelphia has course-corrected after being sued by gun-rights activists.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) announced on Tuesday it would drop its lawsuit against Philadelphia after the city confirmed to a Pennsylvania court it is issuing Licenses to Carry Firearms (LTCF) within the 45-day window required by state law. GOA filed the suit after the city repeatedly failed to meet the deadline over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Philadelphia is now issuing LTCF permits faster than at any point in history,” Val Finnell, GOA’s Pennsylvania director, said in a press release. “They seem to have finally realized that GOA is not going to tolerate them thumbing their nose at the law and will sue them again and again if necessary until they do their jobs.”
Philadelphia’s shift in its permitting practice is just the latest victory for gun-rights activists in lawsuits over gun permits against cities across the country. It also marks the third time that Philadelphia specifically has been sued for creating delays to its carry permit process in recent months.
With the Supreme Court approaching a decision in a case against restrictive “may issue” gun-carry permit laws, the legality of other atypical permitting schemes may soon be called into question.
Purchasing permits, for example, require an individual to obtain a license from their local or state government before they are legally allowed to buy a gun. Nine states, many of the same ones with restrictive gun-carry laws, currently have such laws for some or all types of firearms.
One of those states, Illinois, requires its citizens to obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card to legally purchase and maintain possession of a firearm or ammunition in the state. Earlier this year, an Illinois circuit court judge made headlines when he ruled the FOID requirement unconstitutional.
“A citizen in the State of Illinois is not born with a Second Amendment right,” Judge T. Scott Webb said. “Nor does that right insure when a citizen turns 18 or 21 years of age. It is a façade. They only gain that right if they pay a $10 fee, complete the proper application, and submit a photograph. If the right to bear arms and self-defense are truly core rights, there should be no burden on the citizenry to enjoy those rights.”
I Bought a ‘Ghost Gun’ From Sears [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski
I’m not much of a gun collector, but sometimes the unique history of a firearm intrigues me enough to make me pull the trigger on a purchase.
The Sears Model 66 I saw at my local gun shop today fits that bill. It’s not every day you see a gun rollmark that bears the name of a department store. Well, not anymore at least.
It’s also not every day that you see a mass-produced gun with no serial number. Well, not anymore at least.
That makes this a mail-order “ghost gun.” One that was mass-produced by the country’s biggest retailer and shipped to doorsteps across the country.
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Stephen Gutowski, founder of The Reload, appeared on Stu Does America Monday to talk about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
He said the case against Rittenhouse was always going to be challenging to prove because of the available video evidence. He pointed to a point in the trial that many media outlets focused on and said it merely reaffirmed what was already on video.
“It’s been likely since the beginning, given the video evidence that we’ve all seen, that he was going to have a very strong self-defense case,” Gutowski said. “You’ve seen a lot of developments in the trial so far. And I think one of the biggest ones was just one of the people who was shot admitting that he pointed a gun at Rittenhouse before he was shot which again is just something that we already knew from what was on video.”
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.