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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Billionaire Contributions To Gun Control Force Opponents To Admit, "We’re Going To Be Outspent.”

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Billionaire Contributions To Gun Control
Force Opponents To Admit,
"We’re Going To Be Outspent.”

‘Money Talks’

“Money talks in politics and, unfortunately, the wealthy political elite in Washington support gun control,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Protect Our Gun Rights coalition in Bellevue, the campaign for the gun-rights measure. “We’re going to be outspent. We recognize that.”

Fundraising for a gun-control campaign in Washington state is outpacing opponents by a ratio of 4-to-1, fueled by contributions from former Microsoft Corp. executives Bill GatesSteve Ballmer and Jon Shirley.

Ballmer Joins Billionaires Pushing Washington Gun Control

Gun Advocates Scramble To Defend Fatal Shooting of Gun Instructor By 9-Year-Old Girl

The death of a shooting instructor at an Arizona gun range when a 9-year-old girl lost control of a powerful automatic weapon has raised the issue of age limits at such operations.

The girl, on vacation with her parents at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Ariz., accidentally shot and killed the instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, while firing an Uzi submachine gun Monday, officials said. The Mohave County Sheriff's Office said the gun's recoil sent the weapon over the girl's head, its bullets striking Mr. Vacca, who stood next to her.

Mr. Vacca, who was shot in the head, was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he died from his injuries Monday evening, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Video of the incident released by the sheriff's office shows Mr. Vacca adjusting the girl's stance and then saying, "All right, now go ahead and give me one shot," apparently before the gun was set on fully automatic. With her back to the camera, the girl successfully fires a single round at a target.

"All right, full auto," Mr. Vacca then says before the girl releases a series of shots, apparently losing control of the gun before the video ends.

The shooting touched off a debate on social media among gun-control advocates, parents and gun-rights supporters, with many questioning why the girl's parents would let her fire such a powerful weapon.

E.J. Montini, a columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper, wrote: "Arizona law allows a minor to possess a weapon if accompanied by a parent, guardian or an instructor. But this type of weapon? It's time we asked ourselves: Why would a shooting range allow a kid to handle an automatic weapon? Why would a parent? And, most importantly, why would a state?"

Others expressed sympathy for the girl, but questioned why she was handling such a weapon.

Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of the book "Gunfight: The Right to Bear Arms in America," said shooting ranges can adopt their own policies on how old a person has to be to handle their weapons.

"Generally there are no age restrictions to use a shooting range. As long as the minor is supervised by an adult, there are no laws barring minors from shooting firearms," Mr. Winkler said.

"There's nothing wrong with having children at gun ranges," he continued. "Shootings at gun ranges are freak accidents. They don't happen very often. Usually there's no place where shooters are more supervised than on a gun range."

However, he added, that it is unusual for a 9-year-old to fire an Uzi, because they are sizable, and "young arms might not be well equipped to handle the power of the firearm."

Gun usage is a sensitive topic in Arizona, which has strong laws supporting gun rights and where it isn't unusual for families to shoot together at ranges.

The state has been embroiled in recent high-profile gun debates—especially after the wounding of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a 2011 mass-shooting in a Tucson strip mall that left the Arizona Democrat seriously injured, and six dead.

The Last Stop is a popular shooting range just south of the Nevada border near Las Vegas where patrons can fire a variety of weapons, some of which were used in movies such as "Jumanji" and "Rambo: First Blood Part II."

Sam Scarmardo, the gun range's operator, said his business abides by standards set by the National Association of Shooting Ranges, which suggest that no one under the age of 8 should enter a shooting range.

Mr. Scarmardo, who also owns Sam's Shooters Emporium in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., wasn't at the range when the accident occurred, but said Mr. Vacca had been working for him for a little more than a year. Mr. Vacca had served in the military and was still in the reserves, he said.

"Of course everyone is mourning," Mr. Scarmardo said. "Charlie is a brother."

Mr. Scarmardo said he and his staff will review their policies as federal officials investigate the incident. 

They and other supporters have given about $3.4 million to the effort to impose criminal background checks on those who buy firearms online or at gun shows. A competing gun-rights initiative has garnered about $1.1 million to require buyer background checks only when the seller is a firearms dealer, the current federal standard.

“Maybe technology-oriented people are a little more comfortable with being disruptive,” said Rich Barton, who founded travel website Expedia Inc. while working at Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and donated $42,500 to the gun-control measure. “We can’t get our legislatures to reflect the will of the people, and so if we need to take our case directly to the people via a ballot initiative, so be it.”


U.S. billionaires are increasingly using their wealth to champion causes at the polls. California hedge-fund founder Tom Steyer successfully backed a 2012 measure to close a corporate tax loophole, while Susan Buffett, daughter of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett, is supporting Chuck Hassebrook, a Democrat running for Nebraska governor.

In Washington state, they are taking on the National Rifle Association, the largest U.S. gun lobby, which has seen few defeats in its effort to beat back gun restrictions in legislatures and the courts.

Washington’s dueling initiatives represent the only electoral clash over gun purchases in November.

Gates and his wife Melinda donated $50,000, Ballmer and his wife Connie gave $580,000, and Shirley gave $50,000, according to state Public Disclosure Commission data. Gates and Ballmer also donated to a campaign in Washington state to fend off an attempt to repeal a same-sex marriage law in 2012.

A Gates family spokesman, John Pinette, declined to comment on the gun issue. Ballmer didn’t respond to an e-mail request for comment, while Shirley didn’t reply to a telephone call seeking comment.

Eighteen other donors who identified themselves as Microsoft employees gave a combined $6,510, according to the data. Christina Pearson, a company spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Other contributors to the gun-control measure include Nicolas Hanauer, co-founder of Second Avenue Partners, a Seattle-based venture capital firm, who gave $385,000; Brian McAndrews, CEO of Pandora Media Inc., the Oakland, California-based Internet radio service, $10,000; Hadi Partovi, a former Microsoft employee and CEO of Seattle-based Code.org, a nonprofit education group, $12,500; Lloyd Frink, co-founder of Zillow Inc., the Seattle-based real-estate website, $15,000; and Tom Alberg, co-founder of Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group LLC, a venture-capital firm, $5,000.

His proposal also would prevent the state from confiscating firearms without due process of law, which includes court orders and warrants.

“It’s blindingly obvious that everybody who buys a gun ought to get a background check,” said Barton, the Expedia founder who said he’s a gun owner. “This is a small step toward protecting ourselves as citizens against gun violence that is perpetrated by people with records or mental states that might get caught by a background check.”

In addition to technology executives, Jeffrey Brotman, chairman and co-founder of Costco Wholesale Corp. in Issaquah, Washington, gave $10,000 to the campaign. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, contributed $30,000 to the effort. Bloomberg is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The NRA so far has given $25,000 toward a campaign to defeat the gun-control measure. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam didn’t respond to an e-mail and telephone call seeking comment.


President Barack Obama in June said the failure to enact tougher gun-control laws was his greatest disappointment in more than five years as president. Congress should be ashamed for not standing up to the NRA’s political clout, he said after a shooting at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon.

Poll Results

The Washington gun-control initiative drew support from 70 percent of 506 state voters surveyed in a poll released July 15 by Seattle-based Elway Research Inc. The gun-rights measure garnered support from 46 percent, according to the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Wireless Camera Finder

Gun initiatives are rare, with only seven dealing primarily with guns out of the 2,432 state initiatives on ballots from 1904 to last year, John Matsusaka, executive director of the Initiative And Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Washington voters rejected a 1997 measure requiring trigger locks.


Your Second Amendment Rights Aren't Welcomed Here, Thank You!

Questions and Answers

Q: Hasn’t it been against the law to bring weapons into state offices?
A: Yes it has been. Section 571.030, RSMo made it a crime to carry a firearm or any other weapon into any building owned or occupied by any agency of state government.

Q: Why is carrying guns an issue now?
A: The General Assembly passed legislation (SS HS HCS HB 349, 120, 136, and 328) allowing concealed firearms. Under the new law that went into effect October 11, 2004, qualified individuals would be allowed to carry weapons.

Q: What is being done to keep state offices safe?
A: Amendments to the Office of Administration, Division of Facilities Management’s Code of State Regulations (1CSR 35-1.050, and 1CSR 35-2.030) prohibit concealed weapons in state owned and leased buildings.

Q: What will these new rules do? 
A: The emergency rules preserve the prohibition against carrying firearms or any other weapon into state facilities. Weapons are not allowed in state owned or leased facilities.

Q: Will these rules apply to all state buildings?
A: They will apply to all state owned buildings titled in the name of the Governor and all facilities leased through the Office of Administration for state agencies throughout the state. The Department of Conservation, and the Department of Transportation have been encouraged to consider similar prohibitions.

Q: Do these rules apply to everyone?
A: Exceptions are provided for law enforcement officers and other specific public officials acting in their official capacities, e.g., probation and parole officers, wardens and superintendents of prisons, members of the national guard, persons with judicial authority, members of the General Assembly, etc.

Q: If I work in a state owned or leased building and I have a concealed carry endorsement, can I carry a concealed weapon while on the job?
A: Unless you are a law enforcement officer or other specified public official acting in official capacity, you are prohibited from carrying a weapon into a state owned or leased building even if you have a concealed carry endorsement. Doing so would subject you to disciplinary action.

Q: The general public comes into a lot of state offices. How will they know about this rule that weapons are prohibited?
A: In addition to press announcements, signs saying that weapons are prohibited will be posted in state owned and leased facilities that have public access. The Division of Facilities Management is coordinating the signage.

Q: What will people who have a concealed carry endorsement under the new concealed carry law be able to do with their firearm when they come to state buildings?
A: They can keep it in a vehicle in the parking area of state owned or leased premises so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises.

Q: What do we do if we notice a person carrying a weapon in a place where it is prohibited?
A: If there is no immediate risk of harm or threat to safety, the person can be asked to leave the premises. If the person refuses to leave the premises or if there is immediate risk of harm or threat to safety, a peace officer should be summoned.

Soros Spends Nearly $7 Million to Push Gun Control

Liberal billionaire helps push campaign to rein in Second Amendment.

Five U.S. gun control groups have received almost $7 million combined from liberal billionaire George Soros, including the most prominent one, the Brady Campaign.

The Soros contributions to these five groups total an astounding $6,727,966 between 2000 and 2011.


The American Bar Association, a liberal group of lawyers, received $4,093,946 from Soros. According to their site, “the ABA believes that lawyers share a special responsibility to help create a just and secure society in which firearms are well-regulated.” President Laurel Bellows urged for more than just background checks back in January, including “full integration of state and local mental heal records into the National Instant Check System” and supported an assault weapons ban.

The most renowned gun control group, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the legal arm of the better know Brady Campaign, received $50,000 in Soros funding. The Brady Center helps those involved in legal matters through their separate 501c(3) organization, as opposed to The Brady Campaign that deals at the grassroots level.

The Children’s Defense Fund, whose mission is “to ensure every child a Health Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start,” received $550,000 from Soros. In their “Protect Children, Not Guns” campaign, CDF links back to gun control partners, including The Brady Campaign.”

The League of Women Voters received a staggering $2,028,020. LWV is not concerned solely with gun control. On their website, they also show to be against the XL Pipeline, Voter ID laws, and encourage their members to “tell your Senators to pass sensible gun laws.”

And finally, Physicians for Social Responsibility received $5,000 from Soros. PSR is the “medical and public health voice” against nuclear power and weapons and for supposed “safe” energy. They push for “the strongest possible legislative and regulatory approaches” in regards to firearms.

Since the Newtown massacre in Dec. 2012, there have been a few new gun control groups formed. Most notably, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords formed the new PAC Americans for Responsible Solutions. Another group, Moms Demand Action, was also formed for “gun sense” in America. It’s too soon to know whether these new groups are getting Soros funding, as well.

Soros has made his support of gun control clear. In “The Bubble of American Supremacy: The Costs of Bush’s War in Iraq,” Soros complained about the Bush presidency hindering gun control. “He has aggressively infringed the rights of states to legislate and enforce provisions on issues such as gun control and medical marijuana,” Soros wrote.

Soros's donations go to fund an extensive network of liberal media outlets, which have received more than $52 million. Those operations include a wide range of liberal news operations as well as the infrastructure of news - journalism schools, investigative journalism and even industry organizations. Since 2000, Soros has given away more than $550 million to liberal organizations in the United States through his Open Society Foundations.

Can Colt Firearms Survive?

I recently had occasion to read through the S.E.C. 10Q filing for the newly formed Colt Defense, which is a limited liability corporation comprised of New Colt Holding, Colt Manufacturing, Colt Defense Technical Services, Colt Canada, Colt Finance, And Colt International among others.

The merged company has brought the manufacture of Colt long guns and Colt hand guns together into a single enterprise, however the company reported a loss in the most recent quarter and the sale of long guns was reported down more than 50% from a year ago (~24million in Q1 2014 vs ~52million Q1 2013).

Some of this decline may be attributed to the wind down of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as greater competition for US military contracts.

Colt signed a 12 year lease deal with Osceola County Florida in 2011 for space which was intended to bring manufacturing jobs to central Florida. That property remains vacant and undeveloped and it is unclear whether the merged company plans to move there once the lease on its manufacturing plant in Connecticut is over in 2015.

Colt reported a net loss of $7.8 million, down from a profit of $5.1 million in the first three months of 2013 — prior to its July merger with handgun maker New Colt.

Net sales fell from $63.8 million to $50.1 million. Much of the decline came from the company's long-gun segment, which saw sales fall by more than 50 percent, to $24.7 million. Colt said international sales were down from the prior-year quarter, which included a large, non-recurring rifle sale. The company said the sporting rifle market was also soft during the quarter.

Colt Defense has become highly leveraged as a result of its acquisition of New Colt Holding and is given a negative CCC+ rating by Moodys. Its revenue is down significantly from the same period a year ago, and there are covenant restrictions on how much new spending it can do. They do have increased sales on back order ($222 million Q1 2014 vs. $207 million Q4 2013), but much of that is government orders for spares.

The question really is whether Colt Defense and its iconic American brand can survive in this economic environment, or will they get purchased by a competitor with deeper pockets, or be forced to file for bankruptcy?

Sales At Gun Maker Smith And Wesson Down

Smith And Wesson Holding Corp. reported lower sales for the most recent quarter, due to falling demand. The gun maker’s sales totaled $131.9 million, a decrease of $39.2 million from the same quarter last year. Long guns, including modern sporting rifles, drove 87 percent of the decline. Net income was $14.56 million, down nearly 45 percent from $26.47 million a year earlier. Gun sales rose in 2012 and early 2013 after high-profile shootings raised fears of tougher gun laws, which mostly never materialized.

The gun industry has experienced an intense run-up in demand over the last couple years, fueled by concerns of more rigorous gun restrictions in the wake of President Obama's reelection and a series of mass shootings including the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Gun enthusiasts stockpiled the military-style semiautomatic assault rifles, exhausting the supply and driving up the prices. But Obama failed to get a bill through Congress that would have placed restrictions on these guns, alleviating concerns that they would be hard to come by. As a result, rifle sales are suffering.

The problem was attributed to soft demand for "modern sporting rifles" -- industry parlance for semiautomatic rifles.

Monty Henry, Owner


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