After Virginia Beach,
gun groups fight back


After a veteran public employee in Virginia Beach decided to gun down a dozen of his fellow workers, anti-gun Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam was quick to capitalize on the tragedy to dust off his gun control wish list, none of which would have had the slightest hope of preventing the tragedy.

Northam called for a special legislative session during which he wanted legislation to ban so-called “assault weapons,” enact “universal background checks,” make it a crime for children to access firearms, and adopt “extreme risk protection orders.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, center, dusted off his old gun control agenda following the
shooting tragedy in Virginia Beach, even though none of his proposals would have
prevented the incident. (YouTube, Washington Post)

Jumping quickly into the fray, the National Rifle Association and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms publicly told Northam, “Uh, wait a minute!”

In a prepared, unattributed statement printed in its entirety by AmmoLand, the NRA declared, “Gov. Northam is following the gun control playbook by exploiting a tragedy to push his failed political agenda. The fact is none of the governor’s gun control proposals would have prevented the horrible tragedy at Virginia Beach.

“If Gov. Northam is genuinely interested in pursuing policies that will save lives,” the NRA continued, “he should focus on prosecuting violent criminals and fixing our broken mental health system, instead of blaming Virginia’s law-abiding gun owners for the actions of a deranged murderer.”

CCRKBA was a bit more combative, reminding the public, “The killer in Virginia Beach had already passed multiple background checks, including an enhanced check to legally purchase a suppressor. The incident didn’t involve a so-called ‘assault weapon,’ but two handguns. There was no indication that the gunman was an extreme risk to anybody, and this awful event didn’t involve a child gaining access to any firearm.

“So tell us, Ralph,” CCRKBA’s Alan Gottlieb challenged, “just what part of your extremist gun control wish list do you think would have prevented what happened in Virginia Beach?”

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox weighed in as well with a prepared statement in which he put Northam on notice that majority Republicans would offer their own proposals, which wouldn’t attempt to penalize honest gun owners for the acts of a lone killer.

While the Governor can call a special session, he cannot specify what the General Assembly chooses to consider or how we do our work,” Cox said.

“We believe addressing gun violence starts with holding criminals accountable for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Cox added.

Another annual Keith Memorial Shoot is history

This correspondent once again traveled to the farm country southwest from Spokane, Wash., for the annual invitational Elmer Keith Memorial long-range handgun shoot, which was won in a shoot-off by Emmett Knott of Newcastle, a community east of Seattle.

Well, Knott may have won with some good shooting using a .460 S&W—a caliber the late Keith never heard of—but it was yours truly who had the crowd energized with his dazzling display of duelist-level dexterity. The excitement can be seen in the face of match organizer Will DeRuyter:

As the day wore on, your intrepid scribe kept the crowd glued to their seats:

Well, okay, so maybe I really wasn’t all that entertaining. Big Deal! At least, “Hell, I was there!”

Once again, my shooting was done with a pretty much stock Model 57 S&W in .41 Magnum, a sixgun obtained from the John Jovino Company in New York City several decades ago. Jovino’s shop may be the oldest gun store in the United States, and it’s certainly the oldest in New York City.

This year found about 50 shooters plugging away at targets out to 200 yards, with some very steady gun hands sending lead downrange. The purpose of this effort is to raise funds for the NRA Foundation, and there is a named-fund in Keith’s memory that has somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 and growing.

Shooting is limited to iron sights. It takes patience, steady hands, reliable ammunition and no small amount of luck to hit some of the targets, which range down in size from a wolf silhouette to a 4-inch steel plate at 120 yards.

Keith is remembered as the father of long-range handgunning, and the stalwarts who participate in this bang-fest are a cordial bunch, willing to help fellow shooters. One guy even pulled a mainspring from one of his N-frame Smith & Wessons to install on another guy’s handgun. Don’t see that every day.

We’re pretty certain that Keith, who died in 1984, would be right at home with this crowd.

Now, there’s an interesting ‘oops’

After the tragedy in Virginia Beach, the New York Times reprinted a piece by Nicholas Kristof from 2017 headlined “How to Reduce Shootings.”

Buried in the text was what National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson said, “may very well be the dumbest paragraph ever written about gun control, a subject that has inspired many dumb paragraphs.”

Kristof wrote, “It is true that guns are occasionally used to stop violence. But contrary to what the National Rifle Association suggests, this is rare. One study by the Violence Policy Center found that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable homicides by a private citizen using a firearm.”

Williamson’s reaction was scathing: “Nobody but nobody is quite so dumb as to believe that all, most, or even very many uses of firearms to prevent acts of criminal violence result in justifiable homicides. Most of them do not result in anybody’s being shot, much less shot dead, because most of them do not involve discharging a firearm. As it turns out, pointing a gun at a would-be assailant is in many cases a very persuasive gesture.”

You don’t say!

Seattle gun tax revenue shrinks…again

This was as predictable as gray skies in November: For the third year in a row, revenue from a special “gun violence tax” that the City of Seattle adopted in the summer of 2015 has declined.

Initially, proponents of this tax on the sale of guns and ammunition predicted an annual take of between $300,000 and $500,000. The tax charges $25 for every gun sale and 5 cents for every round of centerfire ammunition sold within city limits.

This correspondent had to sue the city in my role as senior editor of The Gun, with support from the Second Amendment Foundation, to force them to disclose the revenue under a Public Records Act request.

In 2016, the city took in only $103,766.22, a far cry from the half-million originally envisioned. In 2017, the tax pulled in a more embarrassing $93,220.74, and last year, the figure was a dismal $77,518.

Passage of the tax forced one major gun dealer to relocate to another county. The other big dealer now refers all of his firearm buyers to his other location, also in a different county.

Many believe the intent of the tax all along was to push gun retailers out of the city, as though that would be a panacea to violent crime. But that didn’t happen, either. In 2016, there were 18 homicides reported in Seattle. The following year, that went up to 28. Last year the city logged 32 slayings.

How’s that Utopian thing working out for you, Seattle?