Bitter Rules!

We’re sitting in our room in Pittsburgh watching the local news on KDKA CBS Channel 2 and we hear that “gun rights activists” are upset with a “Pittsburgh institution” just before the NRA Annual Meeting. Of course, we have to listen to this story!

The story is about Primanti Brothers and the picture of the cook wearing a MAIG T-shirt. They interview a higher level manager with the company who says they welcome anyone. He goes on to say that he thinks the cook was “just trying to be friendly” by wearing the MAIG shirt.

They then feature a photo of the Snow Flakes in Hell website. They then intone that the NRA and the website wouldn’t “answer questions” and referred them to the blog.

If anyone thinks that gun bloggers don’t have an impact is wrong. Whether it is Primanti Brothers or Project Gunwalker, gun bloggers brought attention to things that needed that attention. As usual, the media is late to the party.

If you want to hear what Bitter and Sebastian have to say, go here and here. It will make more sense than anything a local TV reporter puts out.

Test Post – From Pittsburgh

I’m giving BlogPost for the iPhone a try. I hope to use it to post pictures, etc. from the NRA Annual Meeting.

We’ve arrived in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, we missed all the severe weather – so far.

Did see on the Weather Channel that they had some tornadoes in the Knoxville area. I hope the bloggers from that area such as SayUncle and Insty are OK.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Road Trip!

We’re leaving for Pittsburgh in the next hour or so.

If there is anything special that you’d like me to cover from the NRA Annual Meeting and its “acres of death”, just send me an email or post it in the comments. I’ll try to get something up about it.

So what better way to get started on a road trip than the ultimate road trip song.

Meet Both Top Shot Winners In Pittsburgh

Iain Harrison of Crimson Trace just sent out this release this evening.

Crimson Trace announced today that the winners of both Season One and Two of the History Channel’s hit shooting show, Top Shot, will be appearing in their booth at the NRA Meetings in Pittsburgh, PA, on Saturday April 30th. The celebrities will be on hand to sign autographs and give away merchandise to promote the new Crimson Trace Lightguard™ weapon mounted light between 10:30 – 11:15 and again from 1:30 to 2:15.

Show visitors are invited to stop by the Crimson Trace booth to meet both winners – Iain Harrison from Season One – and (TBD) from Season Two – shoot the breeze and get a little inside information on the competition.

The final episode for Top Shot: Reloaded (Season Two) will air on Tuesday, April 26th at 10/9c on the History Channel.

UPDATE: And the winner of Top Shot: Reloaded is Chris Reed of Franklin, TN.

ATF In Arizona Gets Visitors

Actually, I’m not sure I’d call them visitors and I definitely know that they aren’t that welcome – at least by ATF. The “they” are House and Senate investigators who have converged on Arizona in the course of their investigation into Operation Fast and Furious (aka Project Gunwalker).

Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News reports that:

CBS News has learned that House and Senate investigators have descended upon Arizona for their probe into the so-called “Gunwalker” scandal. They’re gathering interviews from witnesses, including ATF insiders and area gun shop owners. Sources tell CBS News the congressional investigators are frustrated by what they view as across-the-board stonewalling by government agencies which have refused to provide information in the investigation. Government officials have said they won’t provide information while their own investigations are ongoing.

“They’re investigating themselves,” says one source on Capitol Hill, “and then claiming the open investigations preclude them from giving Congress information it needs for independent oversight. It’s highly improper.”

Attkisson’s report also identifies the Assistant U.S. Attorney who advised Operation Fast and Furious as AUSA Emory Hurley. Mr. Hurley’s boss U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke was the long-time chief of staff for Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. As a reminder, one should not forget that Napolitano was the Governor of Arizona until she assumed the DHS post in 2009.

In a related development, Attkisson reports that George Gillett continues to spill the beans to Sen. Charles Grassley’s staff. As I emphasized earlier in the month, this is the equivalent of a Nixon White House insider giving the goods to Sen. Sam Ervin’s Watergate investigation.

Other Gun Rights Measures Gaining Traction In Congress

Much attention has been placed on HR 822 – National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act – and rightfully so. It now has 171 co-sponsors and, hopefully, will have more after Congress gets back from its district “work” break. Besides this bill, there are a number of other gun rights measures starting to gain traction in Congress if measured by the number of co-sponsors.

HR 58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which was introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) now has 93 co-sponsors including a number of Blue Dog Democrats. Under current law, you are allowed to purchase a long gun at a gun shop outside the state of your residence if it is allowed by your state of residence and the state in which the transaction takes place. HR 58 would change this to include pistols and revolvers. Moreover, it would more broadly define state of residence for those in the military.

The next bill that is starting to pick up steam is Rep. Denny Rehrberg’s Veterans’ Heritage Firearms Act of 2011 (HR 420). This bill would create a 90-day amnesty period for veterans or their families to register firearms subject to the National Firearms Act. The firearm must have been acquired outside of the United States while serving in the Armed Services and must have been acquired prior to October 31, 1968. The bill also would allow the firearm to be forfeited to the U.S. and then transferred to a museum. It forbids the destructions of any firearm forfeited to the U.S. HR 420 now has bi-partisan support from 103 co-sponsors. One side effect of this bill is that it could start the process to re-open the NFA Registry that was closed due to the Hughes Amendment in 1986. If it is opened for vet bring-backs, why not re-open for new weapons?

Also dealing with collectible firearms is HR 615, Collectible Firearms Protection Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). While written broadly to include other firearms, it is aimed at allowing the repatriation of the M-1 Garands and M-1 Carbines that the South Korean government is seeking to sell U.S. importers. This bill now has 71 co-sponsors.

A bill to do away with gun control in the District of Columbia, HR 645, has 99 co-sponsors. This bill was sponsored by Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross and is supported by a broad coalition of Democrats and Republicans. The bill would remove the DC District Council’s authority to restrict firearms, repeal the ban on semi-auto firearms, repeal the registration requirements, authorize ammunition sales, and repeal the ban on the sales of handgun ammunition.

The final bill that seems to be gaining some traction is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Reform Act of 2011. Introduced as HR 1093 in the House and S 835 in the Senate, this bill is a repeat of a similar bill introduced in the 111th Congress. The bill is a comprehensive approach to reforming the way that ATF deals with licensed firearms dealers among other things. It institutes a graduated system of penalties for minor record-keeping errors doing away with the all or nothing current approach. Moreover, it forbids the Attorney General from using the number of warnings issued or fines levied by an ATF agent as the basis for a bonus or promotion. This bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and it has 82 co-sponsors. In the Senate, the bill was introduced just a couple of weeks ago by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). Significantly, the first co-sponsor in the Senate is Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee which will be where hearings are held on this bill.

It is still relatively early in the 112th Congress but a number of pro-gun rights bills have gained traction. The difficulty will be in seeing that they get the hearings they need and then the support in both the House and Senate.

NSSF On Traditional Ammunition

The National Shooting Sports Foundation took exception to the comments of a Minnesota DNR employee’s attack on traditional ammunition. By traditional, I mean ammo that contains lead. Here is their response.

Earlier this month at a Minnesota Association of Conservation Professionals event, a Minnesota DNR employee, Molly Tranel, used dubious science and questionable statistics to attack the use of traditional ammunition (ammunition containing lead-core components) by sportsmen and shooters.

In her presentation, Ms. Tranel implied that the use of traditional ammunition poses a danger to (1) wildlife, in particular raptors such as bald eagles, that may feed on entrails of unrecovered game left in the field and (2) that there is a human health risk from consuming game harvested using traditional ammunition. Perhaps most troubling is the depths to which agenda-driven researchers will stoop. In one slide an experiment where researchers “force-fed” lead pellets to doves is discussed. And hunters are the bad guys?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, opposes efforts to ban or restrict the use of traditional ammunition unless there is sound science conclusively establishing an adverse impact on a wildlife population, the environment or on the human health of those consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition.

In recent years traditional ammunition has come under increased attack from anti-hunting groups. As such, when misinformation related to traditional ammunition surfaces, NSSF believes it must set the record straight. Let’s do that now:

With very limited exceptions, such as waterfowl and possibly the California condor, where, in the latter case the evidence of a causal connection to spent ammunition fragments is far from conclusive, there is simply no sound scientific evidence that the use by hunters of traditional ammunition is causing harm to wildlife populations. In the case of raptors, there is a total lack of any scientific evidence of a population impact. In fact, just the opposite is true. Hunters have long used traditional ammunition, yet raptor populations have significantly increased all across North America — a trend that shows no sign of letting up. If the use of traditional ammunition was the threat to raptor populations some make it out to be, these populations would not be soaring as they are.

Furthermore, it is the excise tax dollars (11 percent) manufacturers pay on the sale of ammunition – the very ammunition some choose to demonize – that is the primary source of wildlife conservation funding in the United States and the financial backbone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The bald eagle’s recovery, a truly great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition. Not surprisingly, recent statistics from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service show that from 1981 to 2006 the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in the United States increased 724 percent.

Needlessly restricting or banning traditional ammunition absent sound science will hurt wildlife conservation efforts – efforts such as those that aided recovery of the Bald Eagle – because fewer hunters will take to the field, thereby undercutting financial wildlife management resources. Alternatives to traditional ammunition are not economical. The higher costs associated with this ammunition will price many everyday consumers out of the market. This is evidenced by the low 1 percent market share of metallic nontraditional ammunition –neither its higher cost, performance or benefits are justified.

Also necessary to clarify is the notion that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition poses a human health risk. This unjustified fear stems from a politically-motivated dermatologist in North Dakota who, in 2008, claimed to have collected from food pantries packages of venison that contained fragments from lead bullets. Many people became concerned and some officials overreacted to the allegations made by the dermatologist, who sits on the board of the Peregrine Fund, that consuming game posed a human health risk.

The state of North Dakota failed to conduct its own study. Instead, it merely accepted the lead-contaminated samples hand-picked by the dermatologist and submitted those samples to a lab in Iowa for testing. Based on those test results, North Dakota health officials ordered state food pantries to destroy all donated venison and to stop accepting further donations. The Iowa lab official in charge of the testing, Rick Kelly, was highly critical of North Dakota, “I think North Dakota is drawing the wrong conclusions. We did what they asked, but they did not take an arbitrary sample.” And the least fortunate among us were deprived of a high-protein, low-fat, organic food source.

To put this issue in perspective, consider this statement from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), a state agency that has tested the blood lead level of Iowa residents for over 15 years: “IDPH maintains that if lead in venison were a serious health risk, it would likely have surfaced within extensive blood lead testing since 1992 with 500,000 youth under 6 and 25,000 adults having been screened.” Iowa has never had a case of a hunter having elevated lead levels caused by consuming harvested game.

A study from 2008 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on blood lead levels of North Dakota hunters confirmed that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition does not pose a human health risk. Calls to ban or restrict the product by groups opposed to traditional ammunition, like the Peregrine Fund, and anti-hunting groups, like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), are scientifically unfounded and nothing more than a scare tactic to advance their agenda. In looking more closely at the CDC study results, perhaps most telling is the fact that the average lead level of the hunters tested was lower than that of the average American. In other words, if you were to randomly pick someone on the street, chances are they would have a higher blood lead level than the hunters in this study. Studies regarding the use of lead in other applications have no application when considering the use and utility of lead in ammunition for hunting, on shooting ranges or for self-defense.

The science of wildlife biology and conservation is based on managing populations of species, not on preventing harm to individual members of a species. Absent sound scientific evidence demonstrating a wildlife population or human health impact arising from the use of traditional ammunition, there is no justification for banning its use.