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(CNN)Confederate flags are off the shelves at Walmart. But still up for grabs: guns.

Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, was the first to announce plans this week to remove Confederate flag products from its stores after Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina church. The company was hailed by many for quickly responding to the uproar over the flag. But it has since come under pressure to also stop selling guns in response to the nation's latest mass shooting.

"I would hope that stores like Walmart would recognize the danger of having these guns displayed right next to an aisle away from microwave popcorn and and Xbox games," said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who has pressed for gun control since 20 children were shot and killed at a school in his state in 2012. "I'm not terribly confident that a 21-year-old Walmart clerk is going to sell guns responsibly or be able to give customers the kind of advice they need on how to responsibly use that gun."

The debate over the Confederate flag has also raised broader questions about where the line should be drawn for retailers that sell other questionable or offensive products.

READ: Why business fought the Confederate flag

While Amazon and eBay and many other smaller retailers also joined Walmart in ending sales of the Confederate flag, accessories featuring the swastika, posters of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara and books denying the Holocaust are still readily available online. Critics have since called for such items to be taken down, as well.

But when it comes to guns, don't expect Walmart to stop selling firearms anytime soon.

An integral part of the company

CEO Douglas McMillon said this week that the sporting goods department is an integral part of the company. As a part of Walmart's goal of selling firearms primarily for the purposes of hunting and sports, it does not sell handguns, a policy dating back to 1993; nor does it sell high-capacity magazines. And customers can only purchase firearms in-store, not through

READ: Walmart, Amazon, Sears, eBay to stop selling Confederate flag

Guns for sale at a Wal-Mart, July 19, 2000.

Walmart stores carrying guns strictly adhere to firearms sales rules that govern each state, a spokesman said. The company also takes numerous additional safety measures such as videotaping all guns sales transactions and requiring store associates to complete a certification program before they are allowed to handle firearms.

"Our focus as it relates to firearms should be hunters and people who shoot sporting clays and things like that," McMillon said in an interview with CNNMoney's Cristina Alesci. "We believe in serving those customers, we have for a long time, and we believe we should continue to."

And there's one major factor that makes the sale of the Confederate flag and the sale of guns two starkly different considerations Walmart and other companies: public opinion.

By the time retailers began announcing that they would stop selling flag merchandise this week, it was already clear that the the public was overwhelmingly on their side.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was widely praised Monday when she called on the flag to be removed from her state's Capitol grounds, in an announcement that brought together colleagues from both sides of the political aisle. Other public officials quickly followed suit in Mississippi, Alabama and Kentucky, declaring that it was time to remove images of the rebel flag.

Guns are a more complicated issue

Public opinion on guns is far less straight-forward, with Americans closely divided on the importance of protecting the rights of gun owners versus controlling gun ownership.

READ: National Park Service asks gift shops to remove some Confederate flag items

Jason Maloni, a crisis communications expert at LEVICK, said the lack of consensus on gun control and the demand for firearms across the country gives little incentive for companies to stop selling them.

"Retailers pay very, very close attention to what consumers say and at the end of the day, they make an economic decision," Maloni said. "If the product is legal, if the product is desired by the community and the sales are strong, you can expect them to carry it."

Still, gun safety advocates say companies such as Walmart can be an important part of the national dialogue on the politically thorny issue.

Shannon Watts founded the gun reform advocacy group Moms Demand Action after the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. She said Walmart could be a powerful voice in the campaign to reduce gun violence, including by advocating for all gun buyers to be subject to background checks.

"There's absolutely a role in this country for American businesses and restaurants and retailers to play," Watts said.

Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords -- one of the victims of a 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people -- is a gun-owner. In fact, he remembers buying a shotgun at a Walmart in Texas many years ago after going through a background check.

Kelly, who has become a vocal public advocate responsible gun ownership since the Tucson shooting, said in an interview Wednesday that calling for Walmart to stop selling guns is not the answer. Instead, Kelly said, the public should pressure the retailer to become a leading voice on gun safety.

"It would be great to see a retailer like Walmart say hey, everybody should get a background check before buying a gun, just like they have to do here at Walmart," Kelly said. "It would be great to have Walmart on our side of the debate."

Law enforcement wants exemptions to a planned ordinance that would force law-abiding Los Angeles gun owners to secure their firearms when not in use or risk a fine and possible imprisonment.

The gun lock law was introduced introduced in November by Councilman Paul Krekorian. The council approved drafting the ordinance by an 11-0 vote just two weeks later.

While it already has exemptions built into it to allow active and reserve law enforcement officers living in the city to leave their guns unlocked, police unions are lobbying to extend the loophole to retired officers.

“Quick access to an officer’s firearm can be the difference between life or death for that officer, their family, or innocent civilians who may come into harm’s way,” Los Angeles Police Protective League Director Peter Repovich said in a June 23 letter to lawmakers. The organization estimates that some 400 retirees in the area would be forced to lock up their guns when not in use if the ordinance was adopted with its current language.

The proposed Los Angeles gun-locking scheme, which goes further than current state gun safety requirements, mandates that any handgun be stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock that has been approved by the California Department of Justice.

It was drawn up by City Attorney Mike Feuer, the inaugural co-chair of the new gun control group, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, and was based on a controversial ordinance in San Francisco that has been challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.

Exemptions are in place for guns carried on the body in the home, however, as noted by plaintiffs in the San Francisco case, a firearm generally cannot be considered carried on a person while they are asleep.

Violations of the ordinance would be considered a misdemeanor.

While the proposed exemption for retired officers was met with counter proposals to allow it for not only the former lawmen but also for those with a concealed carry permit, some council members saw any exemptions as dangerous.

“Isn’t that just the responsible thing to do, as opposed to having to go to another child’s funeral?” Councilwoman Nury Martinez asked, as reported by the LA Times. “Whether you are a retired police officer or an on-duty police officer, I just think it’s the responsible thing to do – to lock your firearm at home.”

The Public Safety Committee voted on Friday to continue working on the ordinance for another 30 days to allow the city attorney’s office to incorporate proposed changes into a new draft.

Meanwhile, attorneys from the National Rifle Association have promised to pursue litigation on behalf of members living in the city should the council adopt the ordinance.

Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of Missourians, who decisively passed the Right to Keep and Bear Arms constitutional amendment in August 2014. Constitutional Amendment 5, sponsored by state Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbus), now requires any law that attempts to restrict Missourian’s Second Amendment Rights to face a high legal hurdle called “Strict Scrutiny”, removes the constitutional ban of “wearing of concealed weapons”, and also allows for protections of ammunition and accessories. These critical provisions of Amendment 5 truly allow Missourians the right to own, carry, and use a firearm for personal enjoyment or self-defense without the fear of political overreach.

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Unhappy with the outcome in the August 2014 election, Michael Bloomberg funded a lawsuit brought by St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and Rebecca Morgan, a Mom’s Demand Action organizer. Their lawsuit challenged the actual ballot title by calling it “insufficient." During oral arguments in February of this year, Bloomberg’s attorneys attempted to persuade the court that voters were misled. Clearly that was not the case.

Now that the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Missouri gun owners, and against Bloomberg, they can look forward to enjoying their now solidified Constitutional Second Amendment rights.

Thank you to Amendment 5 sponsor, Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), and those who fought hard to defend gun owners in the Supreme Court arguments. Gun owners have a solid victory that will ensure Second Amendment Rights for generations to come.

The number of applications for gun carry permits in Washington, D.C., more than tripled in the aftermath of a federal court ruling declaring part of the city’s law unconstitutional.

Between January 1 and May 18, the city received 45 permit applications, according to Sean Conboy fo the Metropolitan Police Department. However, after Judge Frederick Scullin ruled that the “good reason” clause contained within the city’s carry law was unconstitutional on May 18, applications increased significantly.

Between May 18 and June 26, the city received 140 applications, according to Conboy.

Conboy said 27 applications had been approved between January 1st and May 18, whereas 11 applications had been approved since then.

Cathy Lanier, the chief of the MPD, argued at the time of the ruling that DC residents did not want to carry firearms because few people had applied for permits. “We haven’t had a huge number of applicants,” she told NewsTalk with Bruce Depuyt. “Our residents have been pretty clear this is not something that they wanted. A very small number of D.C. residents have applied for concealed carry.”

The Second Amendment Foundation, which helped bring the case against D.C.’s gun carry law, said that the increase was unsurprising and limited by the city’s actions. “We expected that increase with all the recent publicity about our suit,” said Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder. “That number should really increase after we win on the appeal that the city filed. People right now are not applying because they are chilled by the fact that the city is not complying with the court ruling,” he said.

Gottlieb also said that he was upset with the city’s apparent decrease in application approvals. “It looks like the D.C. Police Department has actually decreased the percentage of applications they are approving,” he said. “We are not happy with the numbers they released.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a temporary stay against Judge Scullin’s ruling on June 12 and is expected to rule on a long-term stay pending appeal in the coming weeks.

For the last 25 years, banning so-called “assault weapons” has been at the forefront of the anti-gun agenda. However, in recent days, an article from ProPublica and a “study” from The Center for American Progress indicated that the gun control establishment is shifting away from advocating for semi-auto bans and towards background checks/registration. The “coincidence” of these publications appearing days apart hints at what might be public relations scheming, rather than a genuine shift in viewpoint.

While this supposed de-emphasis on semi-auto bans should be met with skepticism by all gun rights supporters, the items discussing the reevaluation of priorities are instructive in that they illustrate the quarter-century-long campaign against semi-autos was unjustified from inception.

The ProPublica article cites several prominent gun control activists who are now downplaying the importance of semi-auto bans. Bloomberg mouthpiece Shannon Watts, who started Moms Demand Action specifically to target semi-autos, acknowledged to ProPublica that at some point she “realized that pushing for a ban isn’t the best way to prevent gun deaths.” Similarly, Bloomberg employee Erika Soto Lamb mused, in regards to semi-auto bans, “we feel like it’s a more productive use of our time, effort, money, voices, and votes [to focus] on policies that are going to save the most lives.” The Brady Campaign’s Dan Gross also noted a shift in focus, stating that semi-auto bans are not the “greatest opportunity” to “prevent gun violence.”

The ProPublica item goes on to cite the 2004 federally-funded University of Pennsylvania study that determined the federal semi-auto ban’s “impact on gun violence is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” NRA has been quoting this study’s findings for a decade.

For its part, the Center for American Progress’ “Assault Weapons Revisited” paper noted that there has been a shift in the gun control community towards supporting restrictions on “who” may own firearms rather than “which” types of firearms Americans can own. Nevertheless, the paper also advocates for an array of policy options for restricting semi-auto ownership, just short of a total ban (see related story).

These acknowledgements and purported changes in goals are a far cry from the hysterical rhetoric we heard when gun controllers were advocating for the federal semi-auto ban in the early nineties and for its renewal in 2004. In 1994, then President of Handgun Control Inc. (later renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) Richard Aborn, emoted, “The case to ban assault weapons is so overwhelming that it need not be discussed further.” In the statement, Aborn went on to insist, “While our children are crying out they are also watching… What message will we send them if the law refuses to respond to their cry for help by failing to remove weapons of war from their midst?” A 1990 Brady ad referred to popular semi-autos as “drug guns.”

In the in the mid-to-late 2000s, the Brady Campaign attempted to gin up support for renewing the federal ban by exploiting the public’s fear of terrorism. Prior to the ban’s sunset in 2004, Brady lamented, “we are on the brink of allowing a flood of that ‘mass-produced mayhem’ to be available to our terrorist enemies who seek the tools of violence.” Other Brady materials called the sunset, a “dire threat to public safety.”

Needless to say, similar rhetoric has accompanied more recent “assault weapon” ban campaigns, with President Obama himself asserting in 2012, “weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) even indicated earlier this year that opponents of his expanded “assaults weapons” ban are extremists who "have no place in the state of New York."

A murder rate that has continued to drop since 2004, multiple studies on the nonexistent effect of the 1994 ban, and now the gun control activist’s own acknowledgements, make clear that the campaign against semi-autos was never about evidence-based public policy. Instead, it was an attempt to use emotion to further a major front in the cultural war on gun owners: banning guns – any guns – by any means possible.

Even though the gun control community’s emphasis may have shifted to background checks and registration, their tactics are the same. Similar to the anti-semi-auto campaign, gun controllers continue to rely on wild rhetoric and misinformation. The most notable recent example is the continued misuse of the statistic purporting to show that 40 percent of firearms sales occur without a background check, to impress upon people just how supposedly vital background check/registration legislation is. Even though the statistic has been debunked by the Washington Post and the recent experience of Colorado, the website for Everytown for Gun Safety (among other gun control outlets) still promotes the fallacy.

NRA members understand the truth. The gun control movement wants to eliminate civilian firearm ownership. As the public would never support this, firearm prohibitionists need to take incremental steps towards their goal. Any incremental step towards their ultimate goal is a victory for them, no matter how illogical or unsupported by fact. When one of their proposals is soundly rejected, they simply shift to another one of their proposals, while temporarily shelving the other for a more opportune time.

Today the primary focus of the major gun control organizations is background check/registration legislation. However, these groups would gladly shift back to primarily advocating for gun bans if given an opportunity to advance such legislation. That is why, regardless of the gun control movement’s current pet cause, gun rights supporters must remain vigilant on all the various issues that affect our rights and the underlying tactics of emotional manipulation and disinformation our opposition uses to promote their agenda.

The year 2014 has gone from bad to worse for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. In February, he was involved in an ugly confrontation with his then-fiancée (and now wife) Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City hotel casino. A security camera captured the incident, which ended with Rice hauling the unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.

At first, handling of the event seemed to be favoring Rice. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, for its part, was willing to give Rice a break. In May, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain agreed to allow Rice to enter a pretrial intervention program for first offenders, even though Rice was indicted for felony aggravated assault. The program allows Rice not just the opportunity to avoid prison time but, upon successful completion of the program’s requirements, any conviction whatsoever.

Initially, and perhaps based in part on the leniency shown in the criminal case, the NFL was also notably forgiving. After meeting with Rice and his representatives in June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 24 handed Rice a two-game suspension for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.

As for Ms. Palmer herself, she was also willing to put the incident behind her. In March, she and Rice were married.

The picture changed radically for Rice this week, however, after additional video footage of the incident became public (readers should be cautioned of the graphic nature of the footage). In the video, the 27-year-old professional football player is seen knocking Palmer out with a brutal punch to her face. Faced with intense public outrage (during which even the President of the United States voiced his condemnation of domestic abusers), the Ravens released Rice, and the NFL reversed its earlier decision and suspended him from the league indefinitely.

You now have to look pretty hard to find anyone willing to defend Rice or suggest that leniency in his case is appropriate. At least one person, however, believed his prosecution was handled appropriately. That would be Atlantic City Prosecutor Jim McClain. Speaking to the media, McClain insisted that Rice would not have gone to prison even upon conviction. “Even if they disagree with why I did what I did, I just want people to know the decision was made after careful consideration of the law, careful consideration of the facts, hearing the voice of the victim and considering all the parameters," he said. With evident futility, McClain added, “I want people to have confidence in this agency, even if they don’t agree with everything we do.”

Based on a number of scathing editorials, Mr. McClain may find that wish unfulfilled. As we recently reported, McClain’s office took a very different posture in a case involving Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Philadelphia who was arrested last October after a traffic stop, allegedly for weaving within the lane of travel. By all accounts, the worst that could be said of Ms. Allen is that she failed to understand her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit was not recognized under New Jersey law, meaning that when she informed police of the handgun in her purse, they had all the evidence they needed for a felony arrest. Like Rice, Ms. Allen had no criminal history. Like Rice, she was gainfully employed. Like Rice, she was accepted into Atlantic County’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) by its director. Like Rice, Ms. Allen is finding her year getting far worse as it progresses.

Unlike Rice, however, the offense for which she was accused involved no violence, aggression, or harm to another person. Yet McClain’s office nevertheless refused to dispose of the case through PTI, leading the same judge who handled Rice’s case to rule that he would defer to the prosecutor’s discretion. According to the assistant prosecutor who appeared at the hearing, Allen’s prosecution could serve as a “deterrent,” and the alleged offense was “too serious to warrant divergence” into PTI. If convicted, Ms. Allen faces a mandatory minimum of three years in prison, with a possible sentence of up to 10 years.

Numerous commentators (including here, here, and here) have already mentioned the gross disparity in how the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey criminal “justice” system have treated the two cases. McClain’s office has refused to address the issue with the media, saying they won’t comment on a pending prosecution.

Ms. Allen’s fate is scheduled to be decided in October by a New Jersey jury. However, as this article is going to press, we can report that McClain’s office has requested her upcoming trial be delayed while he reviews the appropriate resolution of her case, and that a judge has granted McClain's request.

Whatever the outcome, Congress should act. If states like New Jersey refuse to recognize the Second Amendment, the federal government has a duty to ensure the rights of the American people by passing federal legislation like the pending Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013.

Rest assured, we'll keep readers apprised of any new developments.

The "Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013" (H.R. 2959)--introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah)--would allow any person who is not prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under federal law and who has a valid concealed firearm permit, to carry a concealed handgun in any state that issues its own residents permits to carry concealed firearms. Persons carrying a handgun in another state pursuant to H.R. 2959 would be subject to the laws of that state with respect to where concealed firearms may be carried. Similar legislation to H.R. 2959 passed the House in 2011 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 272-154.

H.R. 2959 would not create a federal licensing system, nor authorize the federal government to interfere with the powers of the states to set standards for the issuance of carry permits, nor establish federal standards for carry permits, nor override state laws that recognized the right to carry firearms without a permit. Rather, it would simply require the states to recognize each others' carry permits, much like drivers' licenses.

Currently, H.R. 2959 has 181 cosponsors. Please click here to see if your Representative has cosponsored H.R. 2959. If your Representative is a cosponsor, please thank him or her. If your Representative is not a current cosponsor of H.R. 2959, please encourage him or her to do so should you see him or her at a town hall meeting, in a local parade or around the district during this August work period.

Gun control advocate Niki Watson received an unwelcome surprise when she learned that firearms she collected at a gun turn-in in Augusta, Ga. would be resold to law-abiding gun owners. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Watson said that the plan to sell the guns is a “slap to the face” and that “My whole objective was to get them off the streets.”

Watson didn’t understand Georgia law. SB 350, signed into effect by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on May 3, 2012, mandates that law enforcement agencies sell seized or forfeited firearms to a dealer or, in the case of firearms reported as stolen, return the guns to their rightful owners. Because the guns are sold only to licensed dealers, purchasers are subject to a background check, of course.

The Chronicle notes that for two years, Watson handed over firearms collected at her turn-ins to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. However, when she learned that the Sheriff’s Office sells some of them to dealers, Watson made arrangements for her most recent haul to be destroyed.

Watson’s angst over the sale of the firearms following a background check reminds people that gun control supporters don’t simply want to prohibit the possession of firearms by criminals and other suspect classes of persons, they don’t want anyone to be able to buy a gun, period.

If helping her community is the goal, Watson shouldn’t be wasting her time with gun turn-ins. Even prominent gun control advocates say that the schemes serve no crime-fighting purpose. In a May 19, 2000, Washington Post article, ardent anti-gun researcher Garen Wintemute said, “The guns that are removed from the community (by turn-ins) do not resemble the guns used in crimes in that community. There has never been any effect on crime results seen.” Further, a July 1998 report from the Department of Justice’s National Institute for Justice, “Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising,” listed gun “buyback” programs in the “What Doesn’t Work” category.

Of course, those who pout about firearms being sold to people who pass background checks are unlikely to let decades of failure stand in the way of their misguided mission.

In July, NRA’s Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF) announced its 2014 Trigger the Vote voter registration campaign by unveiling its new website and premiering its first ad, “Father & Son.”

On Wednesday, Trigger the Vote released a new, exclusive video featuring the campaign’s Honorary Chairman, Chuck Norris. Please click here to watch the video now and see Chuck’s Top Ten Reasons to Register to Vote. Then, please share the video with your friends, family, and fellow gun owners and hunters.

Over the past year, the Second Amendment has been attacked by gun control advocates in an unprecedented manner, and voting is the only way we can protect our rights. Trigger The Vote is committed to educating gun owners and supporters about the importance of registering to vote.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation is honoring a Birmingham attorney and gun rights leader as its conservationist of the year. The organization recently presented the honor to James W. Porter II, who made news earlier this year when he became president of the National Rifle Association.

In recent weeks, Michael Bloomberg’s campaign against gun rights have continued without abatement, as the New York City billionaire aimed his checkbook at Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a strong supporter of the right of people to keep and bear arms for their defense. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bloomberg, through his political action committee, Independence USA, spent $150,000 on advertisements to unseat Sheriff Clarke in this week’s Democratic primary.

However, as many of you may already know, Bloomberg failed. Sheriff Clarke won on Tuesday by 52-48 percent and is expected to win re-election in November.

Sheriff Clarke incurred Bloomberg’s wrath by advising his constituents to consider arming themselves for self-defense. In a 2013 radio public service announcement, Clarke told Milwaukeeans, “With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now.”

Sheriff Clarke followed with another PSA, telling his constituents about Right-to-Carry legislation enacted by Wisconsin in 2011. Sheriff Clarke said, “Armed criminals are being put back on the street by a soft-on-crime court system even before the ink dries on police reports. Are you prepared to handle a life or death threat? Wisconsin’s Personal Protection Act now gives you the same advantage that I have. Now it’s the crook who has to wonder what you might do.”

Sheriff Clarke’s pro-defense ads garnered him national attention, as he thereafter appeared on Fox News and CNN, was profiled in NRA’s America’s First Freedom magazine, and spoke at this year’s NRA Annual Meeting.

However, his statements also drew the attention of Bloomberg and the Greater Wisconsin Committee, which spent $400,000 against Sheriff Clarke, some of which paid for ads attacking him for his stance on self-defense.

According to the Journal Sentinel, the Committee’s campaign against Sheriff Clarke is suspected to have been backed by wealthy Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a longtime adversary who describes himself as “pro-gun-control.” Also teaming up against Sheriff Clarke was Milwaukee’s anti-gun mayor, Tom Barrett, a member of Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. F-rated by the NRA, Barrett supported a ban on popular semi-automatic firearms and opposed Wisconsin’s Right-to-Carry legislation.

Sheriff Clarke’s opponents spent over a half million dollars toward his defeat, but NRA mobilized our grassroots network of supporters on Clarke’s behalf. Sheriff Clarke’s victory proves that millionaires and billionaires need to think twice before assuming their money can trump the will of the voters. Just prior to Election Day, Sheriff Clarke made the same point, saying, “I trust the voters. The voters can’t be bought.” That’s a lesson gun owners should be ready to teach again on Election Day in November.

Ladies, have you ever been advised to "just use a revolver" because you have trouble racking the slide on a semi-automatic handgun? Men, ever feel frustrated that you can't grip the slide as firmly as you once did? Ladies in particular have often been advised away from the semi-auto handgun because they have trouble gripping and racking the slide. But before you men snicker too much – I personally know some gentlemen that have lost hand strength in their golden years and have difficulty with semi-autos. Many men also lose grip strength due to illness or injury. I know young athletic men that have experienced an injury that temporarily leaves them unable to rack a semi-auto. Luckily for us all, there is a pretty slick little product available that addresses this problem for everyone – the Handi-Racker

There is no shortage of variations in the training methods and doctrines employed when it comes to the defensive handgun. Shooting schools are operated all across the country, police academies are in every state, and thousands military personnel are trained at various levels and locations. The only thing these different educational processes really have in common is that they place an emphasis on getting hits. Beyond that you will find differences, some subtle, some drastic. These differences apply to not just the doctrine that is taught but to the methods of instruction. The point of this article is not to offer one method or doctrine as the best, but to make you think about a few things that many defensive handgun instructional programs do the same. It seems to me that these programs make some mistakes. Here are some of what I consider the most common and egregious errors

I first heard about the Kimber Solo from the new gun reports coming out of the 2011 SHOT show. At the time it was big news and I was really intrigued to hear that a major manufacturer, which I only knew from its reputation in building high grade .22 rifles in the 1990's and high end 1911-pattern pistols, was jumping into the increasingly crowded pocket pistol market. I was even more interested when I learned more about the Solo and discovered it was a single action striker-fired pistol with a good set of sights, ambidextrous manual safety and magazine release. As a fan of all pocket 9mm pistols, I made a mental note to watch my local shops and check one out as quickly as possible.Eventually, one of the largest Kimber dealers in our area received a Solo demonstration pistol. I had a chance to handle the pistol and really liked the way it felt in my hand. Constructed from stainless steel and aluminum, the all metal pistol had a good weight and balance even with an empty magazine. The build quality looked outstanding. What really sold me on the pistol was its size. As far as pocket 9mm pistols go, only a select few can ride comfortably in my front pocket for all day carry. Visually the Solo appeared to be just a shade smaller than my old-style bullnose Kahr PM9, and the weight felt about the same. For me, it would definitely work as a pocket pistol

Sturm Ruger & Co. knew back in 2009 that they needed to be in the semi-auto rifle market with more than just the Mini-14. They wanted an AR-15-type rifle, but soon discovered that the"Mil-Spec" AR-15 left a lot to be desired. A standard AR sends its hot gases back to the bolt, pushing on the bolt carrier and opening it for the next shot. This makes for a very hot and very dirty bolt group after only a few rounds, and this can and does hurt both short and long term reliability. So while most of the market was busy copying the standard AR-15 design with their own branded product, Ruger decided to take the less beaten path, and create their own design. That design was the SR-556, in 5.56 NATO, or .223 Remington. Instead of just gas, the 556 employed a rod to move the bolt, this rod rode above the barrel, and was controlled by an adjustable gas block. The design is very similar to the rifle that used to be called "the right arm of the free world," the FN-FAL. This new Ruger rifle contained the gas/rod system of the FAL, yet had the weight advantage and ergonomics of the AR-15. Out of the gate the SR-556 was a hit for Ruger, and several variations of the SR556 are still extremely popular today.The only thing is, the FAL is a 7.62×51 (.308 Winchester), not a 5.56. So since the introduction of the SR-556 the market has been screaming for a SR-762. About two weeks ago Ruger finally introduced one into the market, based on the exact design of the SR-556. The MSRP of the SR-762 is a hefty $2195, but as an "all you'll ever need" rifle, we found it to be just that, and worthy of a lifetime purchase decision.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden says if Congress won't act on gun control, he'll fight for a new Congress.

Biden is unveiling two new steps President Barack Obama is taking on gun violence. The executive actions don't require approval from Congress, where gun legislation collapsed earlier this year.

One new step will curb the import of military surplus weapons. The Obama administration is also proposing to close a loophole that lets certain weapons be registered to corporations without background checks.

Biden says the steps are straightforward, simple and common-sense. He says Obama will act on his own where he can, but will also keep pushing for broader gun control legislation.

Biden spoke at the ceremonial swearing-in for Todd Jones, the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

SACRAMENTO -- With summer recess behind them and the legislative session's five-week homestretch ahead, state lawmakers face a fusillade of gun-control bills that could move California far beyond what any other state has enacted -- including proposals to ban a wide range of semi-automatic rifles and impose strict new regulations on ammunition.

And what happens in Sacramento might not stay in Sacramento. With their agenda stalled in Congress, gun-control advocates hope California can break the inertia and reignite the national debate that erupted after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December.

"When we see movement on the California bills and the sort of tenacity that you had post-Newtown, it makes it really hard for the gun lobby to say the momentum has gone away. And it's certainly something Congress pays attention to," said Kristin Rand, legislative director at the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. "You can't underestimate how important it is for Congress to see movement in the states, especially big states like California."

Nonsense, gun-rights supporters say.

"While they may try to reignite their lost momentum, I don't think anything California does is going to affect what Washington does," said Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade group coincidentally based in Newtown. "We constantly see a barrage of anti-gun, anti-industry legislation being introduced in California, far more than in any other state."

The state Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday will hear bills already passed by the Assembly that would create a state database of all ammunition purchases, make it a crime to have a gun that's not locked up when not being carried, and extend the time for which someone is banned from owning firearms after making a violent threat.

The next day, the Assembly Public Safety Committee will hear bills already passed by the state Senate that would ban all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, make it a crime to leave a gun unlocked when you're out of the house and require those who own high-capacity magazines to get rid of them.

And while a few bills -- such as a 10 percent tax on ammunition and a ban on using lead ammunition for hunting -- now seem less likely to advance, many others are waiting to be heard in coming weeks, as well. So gun control will be at the fore even as lawmakers grapple with about 1,000 bills on such subjects as health care reform, fracking and environmental regulations.

"We're going to be open to amendments and suggestions from the administration and the Assembly, but we think we've hit the sweet spot in a lot of these areas," state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told this newspaper.

"I don't have any illusion that whatever any state does, even California, will have an impact on the intransigence on Capitol Hill around some of these issues," but that's no reason to stand down, he said. "We ought to do everything we can to protect the people of our state from some of these horrible things that have happened."

Assembly Speaker John Perez said last week he was struck by gun advocates' recent claims that a huge increase in gun ownership over recent decades -- and not California's increasingly strict gun laws -- contributed to a decrease in gun crimes.

"That means California can continue to have very strict gun-control laws and not infringe on people's individual rights to purchase guns," said Perez, D-Los Angeles. "I'm also a gun owner, and so I'm always very thoughtful about how you balance safety concerns and the law-enforcement concerns of gun control with the individual rights of gun owners."

The gun issue has been put on the back burner in Congress since April, when the Senate rejected a bipartisan plan to require background checks for firearms sold at gun shows and online. But a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said it's "almost certain" Congress will take up background checks again in 2014.

"States aren't waiting for Congress to act, however," said Juliet Leftwich, legal director at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "They're standing up to the gun lobby, and they're responding to the public's call for common-sense gun laws."

Her San Francisco-based group has answered lawmakers' and activists' requests for aid in 25 states this year, she said. And in the absence of uniform national laws "it's really important that states step up and do what they can," she added. "Hopefully action at the state level will help create momentum for meaningful federal action."

Even by the standards of California -- which for decades had the nation's strictest gun laws, until New York leapfrogged ahead after the Newtown massacre -- the sheer number of pending gun bills is staggering, Leftwich said.

Chuck Michel, an attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Association, said he isn't surprised. California lawmakers, he said, have pursued "civilian disarmament" for years, and "this year's extremist legislative package proves that the threat of the slippery slope is all too real."

"None of the proposed bills will truly reduce the misuse of firearms by violent criminals or the mentally ill," Michel said. "Although politicians coached by the gun-ban lobby have practiced the emotionally appealing anti-gun sound bite, sound social policy is not effectuated by knee-jerk emotional reactions like these."

However hot the Legislature's debate, which bills become law ultimately depends on Gov. Jerry Brown, who won't comment on bills before they reach his desk and has been an enigma on gun control.

He already has signed one of state Senate Democrats' top firearm priorities this year: a law diverting surplus money from background-check fees to beef up the Armed Prohibited Persons System that's used to find and seize guns from felons and the mentally ill. He also signed into law a 2011 bill extending the state's registration requirements for handguns and assault weapons to all long guns starting in 2014. And he signed a 2011 ban on the "open carry" of unloaded handguns, as well as a 2012 bill extending that ban to long guns.

But Brown, himself a gun owner, delighted the gun lobby by vetoing a 2012 bill that would have made it a crime to fail to report a firearm's theft or loss to police within 48 hours. He wasn't convinced it would help catch gun traffickers or disarm criminals.

As attorney general, Brown in 2009 even filed a brief siding with the National Rifle Association in a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging Chicago's handgun ban, expressing concern that "California citizens could be deprived of the constitutional right to possess handguns in their homes."

That's cause for hope, Keane said.

"The governor in the past has demonstrated independence,'' he said. "He is not reflexively anti-gun and will listen to sound policy arguments."

Josh Richman covers politics. Contact him at 510-208-6428. Follow him at Read the Political Blotter at

Where gun bills stand

Senate Bill 374 by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, bans all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and retroactively requires ownership records for all guns. It passed the state Senate 23-15 on May 29 and will be heard Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
Senate Bill 53 by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, requires a background check for all ammunition purchases and licenses for all sellers. It passed the state Senate 23-15 on May 29 and is now pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Senate Bill 47 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, prohibits so-called bullet buttons and other devices used to circumvent the state’s assault-weapons ban and allow fast reloading. It passed the state Senate 23-15 on May 29 and is to be heard Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety.
Senate Bill 396 by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, outlaws magazines holding more than 10 rounds, even those that were grandfathered in under the state’s assault-weapons law. It passed the state Senate 25-14 on May 29 and is to be heard Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety.
Assembly Bill 48 by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, creates a state database to track all ammo purchases and makes it illegal to build your own high-capacity magazines. It passed the Assembly 46-26 on May 29 and is to be heard Monday by Senate Appropriations.
Assembly Bill 187 by Assemblymen Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, levies 10 percent tax on all ammo to benefit crime-prevention and mental-health services for children. It is languishing in Assembly Appropriations’ suspense file.
Assembly Bill 711 by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, would ban use of lead ammunition by California hunters. It passed the Assembly 44-21 on May 16 and is now languishing in state Senate Appropriations’ suspense file.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport security officers have found 16 guns at checkpoints so far in 2013, already passing the number of guns seized in each of the past two years.

Most of the time, the guns are given up without a problem. While the traveler faces a fine of up to $7,500 from the Transportation Security Administration, criminal charges usually aren't filed or are dropped, according to court records reviewed by The News & Observer of Raleigh.

The increase in gun seizures are part of a nationwide trend. In the first six months of 2013, the TSA has found 894 guns at airports, most of them loaded. It is a 30% increase over the first six months of 2012. Security at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport confiscated 11 guns in both 2011 and 2012, compared to the 16 guns seized in the first seven months of this year.

In North Carolina, violators can be charged with illegally carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days of community service. But Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said he has no problem with dropping charges if the gun was brought into the airport inadvertently.

What worries him more is how careless people have gotten with their guns.

"We've become such an armed society that people actually aren't thinking about the fact that they're carrying weapons with them," Willoughby said. "That's a little bit sobering, to think that we are so accustomed to carrying a firearm with us that we often don't think about it or realize that we have it."

Ed Nicely of Whispering Pines said he felt terrible when he went to the airport with a .22 caliber over-and-under derringer in his carry-on bag. The 55-year-old gun dealer said he got the weapon at a Charlotte gun show and put it in the bag, then forgot all about it until two months later when he packed that bag in the dark for a gun show in Las Vegas in January. The TSA screener found the gun at the airport.

"Me being a gun dealer, I know the laws," Nicely said. "I just didn't see it in my bag. I was so amazed it was there. It was a total accident. It was stupid, yes."

The misdemeanor charge against Nicely was dropped. He was fined by the TSA, but didn't want to say how much. A judge decides if the guns are returned, and in Nicely's case, he didn't get the weapon back.

"Everybody should know not to go on a plane with a gun," said Steele Myers, interim police chief at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. "Some people are forgetful, or they're thinking that a concealed handgun permit gives them authority to do things they can't."

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