Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Walmart Stops Selling AR-15s Claiming Lack Of “Customer Demand”

Walmart, the biggest seller of guns and ammunition in the United States, announced last week it will stop selling “semi-automatic weapons” like the AR-15 and instead will focus on “firearms more associated with hunters and sportsmen.”

The company said the decision was based solely on declining sales, not political pressure. Yet many find this explanation more than a little suspicious.

Although gun sales have indeed slowed down recently, there are signs they may be picking back up. Gun sales spiked 11% in June alone, making it the busiest June ever, according to CNN.

The AR-15 remains one of the most popular guns in the United States, with an estimated four million currently in circulation. AR-15 sales accounted for “roughly a billion dollars of the $4 billion U.S. gun industry” in 2013, CNBC reported.

And there is at least one explanation for Wal-Mart’s decision that has nothing to do with gun sales. The company recently faced a lawsuit to force shareholders to vote on whether the store should carry products that “endanger public safety and well being.”

Walmart’s explanation simply doesn’t add up. Yet the company insisted that market forces were the sole reason for its decision.

"It’s based on what customers are looking for and what they were buying when they come into Walmart," company spokesman Kory Lundberg told USA Today. "It’s very similar to what we do with other products. If there’s not customer demand there, we’ll phase it out."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Conflicts Between Conservationists And Gun Owners Threaten Gun Rights On Public Land

Recreational gun owners have been shooting in national forests for years, but the practice is under threat due to increasing conflicts between gun owners and conservationists.

Officials in several states have launched efforts to restrict shooting on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management enacted a two-year ban on target shooting in the Lake Mountains of Utah. A national forest in North Carolina banned target shooting until November.

Conservationists claim shooting on public land causes environmental destruction and unsafe conditions. According to the New York Times, hikers have been “pinned down” by gunfire and heard bullets whizzing overhead. Others described landscapes blighted by “trigger trash” -- bullet-riddled targets, shell casings and other gun-related debris.

Although it is unlikely the federal government would unilaterally ban guns on public land, restrictions could spread from park to park and state to state. In addition to North Carolina and Utah, restrictions have already been proposed in parts of New Mexico and Colorado.

That’s why it is more important than ever to behave responsibly when shooting on public land. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave behind trash and used targets. The small minority of gun owners who do those things are just giving people an excuse to take away access for others.

Shooters have the same right to use public land as any other American. As long as we clean up after ourselves and observe proper safety precautions – and officials don’t overreact to a few isolated incidents – there is no reason we can’t coexist peacefully with hikers and everyone else.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Guns & Ammo: Kentucky Fifth Best State For Gun Owners

Guns & Ammo released its annual ranking of the best states for gun owners last month, awarding the top spot to Arizona and the bottom spot (51st) to Washington, DC. Kentucky finished in fifth place.

The states were scored in a number of different categories including right to carry laws, regulations for semi-automatic rifles, and self-defense laws. Non-legal factors such as shooting range availability and the popularity of shooting sports were also incorporated into the rankings.

The rankings illustrate the dramatic variations in gun laws from state to state. While some states grant residents almost unlimited freedom to exercise their gun rights, others make it nearly impossible to own a gun at all.

Arizona took the top spot due to “strong laws [combined with] an unmatched shooting culture and strong industry presence,” followed by Vermont (2nd), Alaska (3rd) and Utah (4th).  Kentucky rounded out the top five with a strong performance across all of the judging categories, earning full points for its Castle Doctrine law and for its unrestrictive approach to tactical firearms.

Not surprisingly, the worst performing states included gun control strongholds like New York (50th), New Jersey (49th) and Massachusetts (48th). Each of those states lost points thanks to restrictive licensing schemes, magazine capacity limits and local bans on NFA items.

You can read the rest of the rankings here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul Only Republican To Mention Guns In First GOP Debate

The Republican presidential candidates generally avoided talk of guns and gun control during last week’s debate, the first of the 2016 election. The lone exception was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who told the audience: “I don’t want my marriage or my guns registered in Washington.”

Considering how much it has been in the news recently, the issue of gun control should have gotten more attention. Yet Walker, Bush, Trump and all of the other frontrunners – who have all bragged about their support for gun rights at one point or another – avoided the topic completely.

Even Sen. Ted Cruz stayed quiet, and he has gone out of the way to showcase his support gun rights whenever he can.

Too many Republicans pretend to be pro-gun when it suits their political needs, only to disappear when our rights are actually under threat. To them, gun rights are nothing more than just another talking point.

Sen. Paul’s campaign may be struggling, but at least he isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in – even when it’s not politically convenient.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

State Of New York Cracks Down On … Toy Guns

New York State issued more than $300,000 in fines against Walmart, Amazon and other retailers for selling children’s toy guns that bear too strong a resemblance to the real thing. The state requires all toy guns to be brightly colored.

“State law prohibits the sale of imitation guns in realistic colors such as black, blue, silver, or aluminum, unless it has a non-removable one-inch-wide orange stripe running down both sides of the barrel and the front end of the barrel,” the attorney general’s office said.

This is not the first time the state has cracked down on toy guns. In 2003, then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued Walmart for violating the state’s toy gun laws, leading to a $200,00 fine. Retailers including Rite-Aid were forced to pay a total of $69,500 for “failure to comply fully with the state’s toy gun law” and other “toy gun law violations” in 2001 and 2002.

The latest fines are the result of an investigation that began in December, which reportedly uncovered a number of guns that “closely resemble dangerous weapons.”

“Some of the toy guns discovered during the investigation are advertised as ‘realistic looking’ and ‘full size,’” the office said in a statement. “Since they lack the orange striping down both sides of the barrel as required under state law, these imitation assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols closely resemble dangerous weapons, and could be easily mistaken for real weapons by law enforcement and civilians alike.”

The Attorney General’s office blamed toy guns for eight deaths and sixty -three shootings since 1994.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oregon Recalls Scrapped Following Lack Of Support From Republicans And NRA

Three out of four recall campaigns against Oregon legislators who helped pass universal background checks were scrapped earlier this month, having received zero support from mainstream Republicans and the NRA. A fourth recall is still in progress.

The recalls targeted four left-wing legislators who supported a bill requiring background checks on gun sales and private transfers between individuals. Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law on May 11.

Two of the recalls failed because they weren’t able to collect a sufficient number of signatures needed to generate a recall election. A third, against House Majority Leader Rep. Val Hoyle, was abandoned after Hoyle announced she would step down to explore a run for Secretary of State. A recall against Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chief sponsor of the background check bill, is still ongoing.

Organizers of the abandoned recalls blamed the failure on a lack of logistical and financial support from gun groups and Republicans. The state Republican Party reportedly told people not to help the recall efforts and may have deliberately tried to sabotage them. The NRA apparently offered to help but never delivered on the promise.

As one of the organizers told The Oregonian, “Everyone refused to work with us.”

It is unclear why Oregon Republicans were so unwilling to support efforts that would have given them a majority in the legislature. As for the NRA’s no show, one organizer blamed it on the organization’s complete inability to function on a state level. He wrote:

“The NRA response really felt like it was an organization that is just too big to function. I don’t think they have any sort of way to function on a state level. After repeated requests for help, money or even advice their response was purely stalling. Letting me know they would get back to me with help and then providing nothing. It was clear they were wasting our time. The very first conversation they should have said ‘No we are not going to help’ instead of wasting hours of my time.”

After facing little opposition in passing universal background checks in Washington State last year, the gun control lobby said it intends to push similar laws in a number of other states.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul To Push For Guns On Military Bases

Following the latest military shooting in Chattanooga last week, which took the lives of five servicemen, thirty-four members of the military have been shot and killed on US soil since President Obama took office in 2008. Last week’s attack was the fourth mass killing at a military facility in the past six years.

Yet soldiers are still prohibited from carrying guns on military bases, thanks to a twenty three year old policy put in place by President George H. W. Bush. The policy limits those who can carry at military facilities to law enforcement and security personnel.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced this week that he is working on a bill that would strike down this policy and finally allow soldiers to defend themselves at bases and recruiting centers.

Earlier this week, Paul said, “One of the weird things is that we have 15-20 states where you can open carry. So everybody can carry, except for the military? I think that’s crazy. The rules that apply to everybody should at least apply to the military.”

Paul also called guns a “great deterrent” and said he would like to make it easier to arm airline pilots as well.

Despite a strong track record of prioritizing gun issues, Paul has had a rocky relationship with the NRA, which left him off the list of speakers for its convention earlier this year.

Paul and his father have long been associated with non-NRA gun groups like National Association For Gun Rights and Gun Owners of America.