by Connie Stevens
On Dec. 2, 2013 a gun control forum was held at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. There were about 50 people in attendance and the forum was presented by eight panelists (including VA Lt. Gov.-Elect Northam who came later) from the ‘Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy’.
The Report and Who’s Behind It
A 46 page report, “Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy” was distributed to the attendees – and along with a PowerPoint presentation – formed the basis of the forum. The report was labeled as coming from ‘The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy’. There was no other authorship denoted on the hardcopy report, no organization website, and no physical mailing address. Nowhere on the report was there an indication where the online publication could be found. There were two printed instructions, “For more information please contact: email@example.com”, a Gmail account – anonymous, ubiquitous, easily obtained by anyone online. Not something a professional organization would likely adopt – unless they wanted to hide who they were. Now why would they want to do that?
Nowhere in the hardcopy report is there any information on who makes up the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. There are a couple vague statements – “The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy includes the nation’s leading researchers, practitioners, and advocates in gun violence prevention and mental health.” A Google Search online brings up NO information for ‘Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy’ as any kind of organization or entity. This begs the questions: Who are they? Where do they get their funding? However the Google Search does provide a link where to download the PDF report, and that link is: http://www.efsgv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/GPHMI-State.pdf .
If the Consortium of Risk-Based Firearm Policy does not identify itself further, luckily for curious people, other online sources do identify them. This article lets the cat out of the bag – http://www.healthcanal.com/public-health-safety/45540-johns-hopkins-faculty-contribute-to-new-report-%E2%80%9Cguns,-public-health-and-mental-illness-an-evidence-based-approach-for-state-policy%E2%80%9D.html. The Consortium is comprised of faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Michael Bloomberg hosted a big Gun Policy Summit there this past January http://www.jhsph.edu/events/gun-policy-summit/video-archive. That’s right – Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor and billionaire gun control proponent. The same Bloomberg who pushed the failed federal gun bills earlier this year. The same Bloomberg who poured millions into the Colorado recall elections in a failed attempt to protect the politicians facing the wrath of citizens unhappy with the recent gun controls enacted in that state.
The same Bloomberg who started and funded the discredited ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns’. The same mayor from NY State who conducted his illegal, out-of-state sting operations against gun dealers in Virginia. The same Bloomberg who Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told to stop his illegal activities in our state. The same Bloomberg who Virginia once before had to be told, “Butt out; leave Virginia alone!”
We Virginians got rid of Bloomberg and his gun control policies once before. We need to do so once again.
So what is Bloomberg’s gun control push trying to accomplish this time in Virginia? The forum proposes drastic, new, and far-reaching policies to revoke gun rights for large classes of Virginian citizens and on the flimsiest of excuses.
Highlights from the Report
Pg. 31 calls for universal background check on ALL private gun sales – even between family members.
Pg. 19 calls for individuals who have been convicted of a SINGLE violent MISDEMEANOR be prohibited from buying or owning guns for at least TEN YEARS.
Pg. 21 calls for individuals who have been convicted of two DUIs – or of two MISDEMEANOR crimes involving controlled substances – in a five-period year to lose their gun rights for AT LEAST FIVE YEARS.
Pg. 14 allows for a judge to balance an individual’s 2nd Amendment Rights against public safety. So even if the individual has met all the specified required criteria for restoration of his gun rights, a judge still has the option to arbitrarily void that Constitutional Right. And that is a big loss of liberty to all Virginians if a judge can invalidate Constitutional Rights.
The report extensively details how and under what criteria gun rights can be removed, but is vague and nebulous on how those rights can be restored. Once an individual’s rights have been removed on any pretence there is no certainty of getting them back.
Pg. 8 Perhaps the most chilling proposal is whereby a police officer solely on the basis of his own judgment can take away a person’s guns – without first obtaining a warrant or at least having first arrested the individual for even a misdemeanor crime!
Pg. 35 Seizure of guns may not just apply to individuals but also to other adults residing in the same house; they may have their guns seized and they themselves not be permitted to buy additional guns.
Pg. 35 ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws may need to be revoked because of their impact on the mentally ill. What the heck does that even mean?
The report describes all the mental health issues and reasons why individuals should lose their gun rights. One thing is for certain: This report is creating more reasons why someone would not want to seek medical help: if these policies were enacted they would now be all the more likely to lose their fundamental rights in the process.
And those are just a few of the recommendations for changes in Virginia state policy. Once again you can read the report for yourself here: http://www.efsgv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/GPHMI-State.pdf
Overall Tone of the Forum
The overall tone of forum – as well of the report – is one of repetitiveness and banality – and depicts guns in only a negative light. Yes, they are a part of our culture, but an evil part and one which should be minimized until they can be gotten rid of entirely.
Lt. Gov.-Elect Northam in particular of the panelists barely concealed his contempt of gun owners. After relating some anecdotes he intoned if these stories don’t touch your heart, he didn’t know what was wrong with you. (The strong implementation was if you weren’t for gun control you’re inhuman.) Another time during his presentation he used an example of some men who chastised him for wanting to take away people’s gun rights – as not having open minds. (Once again the implementation was gun rights supporters are closed minded.)
At no time during the forum – and nowhere in the report – are guns or gun ownership presented in a positive light. Hunting is presented in a very passing manner, and certainly in no way affirmative. There is no mention made of the many sporting purposes of firearms or of competitive shooting or of youth shooting programs. Even more strange, the defensive purposes of gun ownership are completely ignored especially in regard for women¸ for whom possession of a handgun is very useful for protection against bigger and stronger male assailants.
Absurdity of Forum’s Premise
‘Risk-Based Firearm Policy’ is the new code-speak for ‘gun control’. It’s a fancier name but still the same old odious endeavor. Consider the gun controller’s premise – that gun rights, alone of all the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, are somehow ‘bad’ and therefore it is incumbent on the government to repress and restrict these rights; willfully denying these rights were enacted to protect We The People against a tyrannical government in the first place!
Imagine if we had ‘Risk-Based Freedom of Speech Policy’? Or ‘Risk-Based Right of Assembly Policy’? Or what if we Americans had ‘Risk-Based Trial by Jury Policy’? You get the idea. They are ludicrous and make a mockery of the principles this country was founded on.
What Can We Do?
What can we Virginians do to stop this? First of all get mad: get good and angry that outsider Bloomberg is meddling in our state affairs once again. Get mad that these so-called experts are seeking to take away your fundamental liberties – one bit at a time. Get informed and get involved. Contact your elected officials and let them know exactly how you feel and remind them they work for you and you hold the power at the ballot box. Contribute to state and national gun rights organizations.
But most of all we need to band together to let Bloomberg and other gun grabbers know our inalienable rights are not for their taking.
We are Virginians and we cherish our liberty and freedom.