Robin Can’t Let it Rest

Dear Group,

Every law, ordinance, and initiative, no matter its good intent and overall societal benefit, exists without a detractor, someone who can tell a story of how this rule is hurtful and unfair to them—and ought, therefore, to be resisted and overturned.

In the last three decades or so the Republican/Libertarians many times have successfully applied this story-telling principle in their pursuit of political power. 

Many are the examples, but there are few better than those constructed around the Second Amendment. Before the dust from the election had a chance to settle, Robin Ball, former chairwoman of the Spokane County Republicans and owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop on Freya Avenue in Spokane, was primed and ready with a story and lawsuit challenging Initiative 1639, the Washington State initiative to the people putting in place a number of common sense gun regulations around background checks and age restrictions. I-1639 passed with 60% of the vote statewide and slightly more than 50% even in Spokane County.

The announcement of Robin’s lawsuit appeared in the Spokesman already last Friday, November 16th, entitled “Gun-rights supporters sue to block I-1639.” I’ve pasted it below:

Jim Camden, Nov. 16, 2018

A Spokane gun dealer and four Washington residents who soon will be too young to buy semi-automatic rifles are among those filing a federal challenge to the state’s recently passed gun control measure.

Robin Ball, owner of the Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop, is among those joining with the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation in a lawsuit that contends Initiative 1639 violates the U.S. Constitution and portions of federal law.

Although the results of the Nov. 6 election won’t be certified until Dec. 6, I-1639 is passing with nearly 60 percent of the vote. The initiative restricts the sale of semiautomatic rifles to Washington residents who are at least 21, pass an enhanced background check and meet other requirements for training.

In a news release announcing the suit, foundation founder Alan Gottlieb said plaintiffs were “disappointed that too many voters were fooled into supporting this 30-page gun control scheme. This measure will have a chilling effect on the exercise of the constitutional rights of honest citizens while having no impact on criminals and we will not let it go unchallenged.”

Ball and a Vancouver gun dealer contend the initiative violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution because it will no longer allow them sell those rifles to out-of-state residents.

Four Washington residents, dubbed “Young Adult Plaintiffs,” are challenging the provisions that will keep them from buying a semiautomatic rifle before they turn 21. They include Nathaniel Casey, described in the lawsuit as a 19-year-old Spokane resident who is a member of the Army Reserves where he’s been trained on fully automatic weapons. Casey owns a semi-automatic rifle and plans to purchase more.

The folks bringing legal action are some of the same local Republicans who quietly auctioned off an assault rifle at their Lincoln Day Dinner after announcing they would not. These Republicans, politically joined at the hip with the National Rifle Association, want to make sure this issue stays in the spotlight. After all, they’ve been riling their base for decades claiming the Democrats are coming for their guns.

Robin Ball owns a gun shop in Spokane, the major population center in the inland northwest by far. What percentage of her business of selling weaponry (this is not a store that caters mostly to hunters) comes from out of state? Not much, I’ll venture. North Idaho offers plenty assault weaponry. Robin Ball joined this lawsuit as a political operative. 

Nathaniel Casey, the aggrieved 19 year old, is already training with full automatic assault weaponry in the Army Reserves. I-1639 merely restricts him from directly purchasing the semi-automatic version of such weaponry for his personal use. I have no sympathy for Mr. Casey. By his involvement in the Army Reserves he already has access to training with weaponry for which there is no use in civilian life. If he wishes to engage in marksmanship competition outside the Army Reserves, let him so engage in the controlled setting of an established gun range as part of a group. That his supposed “right” to buy people-killing weaponry is slightly restricted by I-1639 is entirely appropriate in pursuit of the common good.

Mr. Gottlieb (of the Second Amendment Foundation, a 501(c)(3) based in Bellevue, WA) and Robin Ball of Sharp Shooting are Republican political operatives using the Second Amendment as a wedge issue in hope of benefit to the Party. Mr. Gottlieb’s worn argument that gun regulation like I-1639 will “have no impact on criminals” while infringing on the “rights” of honest citizens needs a better narrative lines than young Mr. Casey’s or Ms. Ball’s. I have no sympathy for either story.

It is time to consider the common good over the imagined rights of a few to buy and parade with people-killing weaponry. 

Robin won’t let it rest because she thinks it is a winning narrative…but the tide is turning…her stories no longer resonate like they may have once. Assault weaponry more readily brings to mind images of schoolchildren suffering and dying than it does of pioneers wielding flintlock rifles.

In this setting McMorris Rodgers wants to have her cake and eat it, too. She projects her smiling mom image to the general public while she votes consistently with NRA not just to “defend” the Second Amendment but to encourage the proliferation of assault weaponry and paraphernalia. (Read here and here.) It is a tricky image, an image that one day may trip her up.

Keep to the high ground,


CMR and “Hearing Protection”

Dear Group,

On May 29th at Green Bluff McMorris Rodgers assured us, “I’m definitely going to take a look again.” She also said, “…with everything going on I tend to think that this is…that now is not the right time.” She was answering a question about her co-sponsorship of H.R. 367, The Hearing Protection Act, a bill that should be named the “Gun Muffler and Silencer De-Regulation Act of 2017,” (if truth in advertising were required of legislation). H.R. 367’s sole purpose is to repeal the part of the National Firearms Act of 1934 that regulates gun silencers. I quoted the Green Bluff encounter and covered the background in CMR’s Devotion to NRA Messaging.

I marked my calendar. Six weeks have passed. McMorris Rodgers is still a co-sponsor. She signed on as a co-sponsor March 27, 2017. She must think the name of the bill gives her enough cover so folks will assume this is a medical issue, not a gun issue. Has she “looked,” as she promised? We cannot know. If she didn’t, then she simply blew us off. If she did look, she must have calculated her NRA base, people who know exactly what this bill does, is paying more attention than the rest of us will. She hides behind the benign, Orwellian bill name: The Hearing Protection Act.

She is happy to make weapons of war potentially more deadly by deregulating silencers at the same time she is offering “thoughts and prayers,” talking about making schools into armed camps, and suggesting students need to be more proactive in reporting odd behavior among fellow students.

This is the same woman who voted for the H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, another NRA darling bill, which would allow people from less regulated states (like Idaho) to carry a concealed weapon on the streets of Spokane. (See CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”)

She even uttered a few sentences about federally outlawing “bump stocks,” the assault rifle add-ons that increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon to nearly that of a machine gun. Has anything come of her comments? Not a thing. McMorris Rodgers and the NRA are persistent, they assume we’ve moved on, that we’ve forgotten.

McMorris Rodgers is the same woman whose Spokane County Republican Chairwoman, Stephanie Cate, promised the Spokesman the Republicans would not auction off an “AR-15” at their Lincoln Day fundraiser on June 2nd at which McMorris Rodgers spoke (along with Jason Chaffetz). Then they auction off an AR-15 knockoff assault rifle anyway. McMorris Rodgers didn’t blink…and the local media ignored it. (See CMR and the Clandestine Assault Rifle Auction)

Apparently, the status quo of assault weapon ownership and minimalist regulation in the United States isn’t enough for McMorris Rodgers. She is actively working to make firearms more prevalent, available, and less easy to detect in a crisis situation. 

Like me, Lisa Brown grew up in Mid-western gun culture. It is time to elect a Representative with an open mind, who understands guns are part of our culture, but also won’t lie to us with legislation like “The Hearing Protection Act.” Lisa Brown will offer common sense around this issue…and many other issues. Remember that as you mark your ballot for August 7 and November 6. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. McMorris Rodgers has often championed “States’ Rights.” Take not H.R. 367 is written to pre-empt all state regulation around silencers. I guess states rights must be limited when it comes to gun regulation…

CMR’s Devotion to NRA Messaging

Dear Group,

Let’s get one thing straight right at the get-go: Gun silencers really do not work like they do in the movies. They definitely do NOT reduce the sound of a gunshot to a barely detectable “Pfffft.” 

But they are called silencers for a reason: a silencer significantly reduces the sound made when a gun is fired. It is undeniable that a shooter using a weapon equipped with a silencer in a school or a movie theater or from high up in a hotel room will make less noise while killing people than a shooter with an un-silenced weapon. Similarly, it defies logic to suggest a silencer-equipped weapon will be as easy to detect and neutralize in a crisis situation as is an un-silenced, un-muffled weapon. 

In 1934, at the end of Prohibition and the gangster era, the U.S. Congress was composed of a sufficient number of reasonable people to understand these undeniable facts. In 1934 the National Firearms Act became law. It regulated silencers along with machine guns and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. 

Ask yourself, in this era of mass shootings do you suppose a bill named the Gun Muffler and Silencer De-regulation Act would sail through Congress? Hardly, but that would be truth in packaging, and truth and transparency is not the stock in trade of the Republican Party.

Enter the devotees of the National Rifle Association and the Congresspeople who depend on NRA fervor for their prospects for re-election. The Republican/Libertarian/NRA propaganda machine is expert at re-framing bills to obscure their real purpose.

So we have H.R. 367, The Hearing Protection Act, the simple purpose of which is to de-regulate gun mufflers and silencers, but which the Republicans and the NRA have framed as though it should be supported by everyone. Who, after all, is against “protecting hearing?” McMorris Rodgers is a co-sponsor.

At the Green Bluff town hall on Tuesday, May 29. I challenged McMorris Morris on her co-sponsorship of The Hearing Protection Act, presenting my credentials as a shooter who wears inexpensive and effective ear protection devices. I made the argument regarding mass shootings I just presented. I have a recording of the event. I have transcribed the resulting exchange (the bold is mine):

CMR:The legislation was brought forward by those that…by local law enforcement and by others…who…yes! [in response to challenge] and they say it’s a silencer but it doesn’t…

ME: (interrupting) I’ve shot with silencers. I know what they do. They diminish the sound.

CMR: OK, yes, they diminish the sound… Ah,…well, it was brought forward as the hearing protection amendment. Now…I hear what you’re saying and…with everything going on I tend to think that this is one…that now is not the right time.

ME: So you’re likely to withdraw your co-sponsorship?

CMR: Well, umm, I’m definitely going to take a look again.

“Now is not the right time.” Really? When is the right time for you to co-sponsor and vote for such a dishonestly named bill? Sure, if you want to put up a bill named the “Gun Muffler and Silencer Deregulation Act,” a name that might alert your constituents to discuss its contents on their actual merits, then fine. Do so. Argue for its passage in open forum. But don’t lie to us. Don’t feed us NRA talking points about silencers in movies when we bring up the bill’s actual purpose. 

It was only as I transcribed the recording that I realized she had betrayed her real feelings. “…not the right time.” In other words in her eyes my argument had no merit. When there is a lull in student deaths at school shootings, she will gladly push her support for this bill, such is her desire to dismantle all regulation around firearms, such is her devotion to the NRA, such is her dependence on NRA propaganda. 

I want a representative who doesn’t depend on deceiving her constituents to pass legislation. She and her Party have rotted from the inside. With Trump’s election the rot is appearing on the surface.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Note the NFA did not outlaw, but, instead, regulated.and taxed silencers, machine guns and other weapons. If you want to dive into the weedy details of definitions and court challenges I recommend the wikipedia article on the National Firearms Act. Some gun aficionados and devotees have been fighting over and picking at the NFA ever since it was enacted in 1934. The Hearing Protection Act is just the newest and most cleverly framed attack. 

CMR and the Clandestine Assault Rifle Auction

Meet the auction item: the M&P®15 SPORT™ II, suggested retail $739. It features semi-automatic fire of 5.56mm NATO/.223 cartridges (same as the AR-15) from a 30 round magazine. Laughably, its “Purpose: Home Protection, Hunting, Recreational Shooting.”  Check out the posts from May 24-31 on the Spokane GOP’s Facebook page. and auction items #150-158. I wonder why they didn’t post an image their assault rifle to go with its description at #150? Rather the word not get out?

Dear Group,

On Friday, June 1, the newest Staff Assistant, Collin Tracy, was assigned to meet with three high school students from University High and Central Valley High School at McMorris Rodgers’ Congressional office in downtown Spokane. It was the beginning of National Gun Violence Awareness Day: Wear Orange Weekend. The students, shaken by school shootings and animated by the students of Parkland Florida, presented a letter demanding a series of actions of their Representative to tighten restrictions on the purchase and ownership of weapons of war. Another twenty-five fellow students gathered on the sidewalk outside the Peyton Building.

According to notes by one of the students, Mr. Tracy told them,  “CMR is a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights” and “CMR wants a solution for people’s rights and safety without stomping on the other.” A joint focus on mental health was offered. None of the specific demands was addressed. Apparently, “support of 2nd Amendment rights” closes the door to any rational discussion of what those rights include…and don’t. Case closed. Door slammed shut.

The very next day McMorris Rodgers attended and spoke at the Spokane County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner & Fundraiser held at the Davenport Grand Hotel. An internet search sheds some light on why McMorris Rodgers’ mind is closed. There, amid the fevered commentary offered by two contributors to the Fox News bubble, the Spokane County GOP auctioned off a M&P®15 SPORT™ II along with “8hrs of training” provided by Inland Northwest Action Shooters. In March, in the wake of the Parkland school massacre, the Spokane GOP was “weighing” whether to go ahead with a planned raffle of an AR-15 at the Lincoln Day Dinner. Kip Hill quoted GOP Chairwoman Stephanie Cates as saying an AR-15 “definitely wouldn’t be among the items available at the annual fundraiser this year.”

So what did they do?

The website showing the auction items for the event strategically omits a photograph of Item #150, the M&P®15 SPORT™ II. Perhaps because it is an assault rifle, a military weapon, an AR-15 knockoff, everything an AR-15 is but by another name. It is the people-killer of choice used by many school shooters and the Las Vegas shooter, to devastating effect. The characterization of its “purpose” on the Smith and Wesson website as “Home Protection, Hunting, Recreational Shooting” is laughable. It might be essential for “home protection”…if your home were attacked by an army division. No respectable hunter I know would consider this a preferred hunting arm. “Recreational shooting?” Sure, it’s fun to shoot, and shooting competitively is a real skill.

It is also fun to blow things up with dynamite and it requires some real skill, care, and responsibility not to kill someone or oneself while handling dynamite. Note that the purchase, sale, and storage of dynamite is highly regulated. Since 1934 (National Firearms Act of 1934) the purchase, sale, and possession of full automatic firearms, silencers, and switchblades are also regulated. The regulations are appropriate and court-tested.

Now McMorris Rodgers, the Spokane County GOP, and the National Republican Party not only peddle assault weapons, the like of which are used to kill our children, but hand-in-hand with the NRA they are waging a campaign to dismantle what they can of existing gun regulations (H.R. 38, H.R. 367, see Apparently to them, any regulation at all is a “stomp” on the 2nd Amendment. 

I’ve been involved in shooting sports since I was twelve. I have a concealed carry permit. I own an assault rifle. I am not fearful for my 2nd Amendment rights but I also I see no need to expand them. Like all rights in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment right has limitations. It is time to vote out people like McMorris Rodgers whose minds are so closed they cannot even discuss what the limitations ought to be.

Keep to the high ground,


CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”

McMorris Rodgers tells Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” we must have “courageous conversations.” Watch the video at the House Republicans’ propaganda site here.

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers says, “We certainly need to be willing to have the courageous conversations.” She says the United States must come together as a society and examine what is causing the nation’s numerous school shootings. One might think that a “courageous conversation” around shootings in schools might include a discussion of the tools used in these shootings. Ah, well, no.

You see, she isn’t just “protecting Second Amendment rights.” She is actively promoting the agenda of the National Rifle Association to make guns even more a part of life in these United States. At the Ferris “School Safety Forum,” guns, especially assault weaponry, were the elephant in the room. McMorris Rodgers and Ozzie Knezovich wanted more than anything NOT to talk about guns. They wanted to talk about school security and students being nice to each other while reporting any odd behavior by their peers. They wanted to put the responsibility for school violence on the students themselves, their interactions with their fellow students, their supposed addiction to violent video games. 

At the same forum, McMorris Rodgers was steadfast that she would continue to accept contributions from the NRA because “the NRA protects your Second Amendment rights.” 

I am a gun owner. I have been involved in shooting sports and hunting since I was ten. I’m OK with my “Second Amendment Rights,” I do not believe anyone is about to take my guns away. I am NOT OK with reckless expansion of those rights to make our society even more dangerously armed. How can McMorris Rodgers gush about protecting children when she votes to put more people on the streets of Spokane with unregulated handguns and cosponsors a bill to de-regulate silencers? Yet that is preciously what she has done:

On December 6, 2017, McMorris Rodgers voted for H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. It passed on a mostly party line vote by the Republican House of Representatives. H.R. 38 would make it perfectly legal for a 21 year old Idahoan to stick a semi-automatic pistol in his waist band, pull his sweatshirt down over it, and wander the streets of Spokane. He could do so on a whim, with no prior experience handling such a weapon, no forethought, and no need to acquire a WA State Concealed Pistol License required of a WA State Resident. [Residents of eight other States besides Idaho require no vetting at all to carry a concealed pistol, thanks to the Republican/NRA sponsored legislation. (“Concealed Carry in the United States,”  

On March 27, 2017, McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored H.R. 367, the deceptively named “Hearing Protection Act. If H.R. 367 becomes law, it will remove all regulation of gun silencers under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Shooters would be free to own and use silencers to reduce the sound of any gun, including assault weapons and semi-automatic pistols of the type used at Freeman High School. A deranged shooter in a school using such a device on any weapon would be less noticed initially and harder to localize by police. More victims would die. 

Cathy, tell me how these two NRA darling bills you support will make students safer.

Tell me why you and your cronies call it the “Hearing Protection Act?” Do you not wish the average eastern Washington voter to know you want shooters to have unrestricted access to silencers?

Do you even understand the contents of these bills or have you signed on just because the NRA demands such loyalty in exchange for supportive propaganda?

Yes, Cathy, let’s have that “courageous conversation.” Have the courage to plainly discuss the gun legislation you support. 

Keep to the high ground,


Silencers and CMR

On March 27, 2017 McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored H.R. 367, the so-called “Hearing Protection Act.” Sounds benevolent, doesn’t it? Certainly that is what she and her 163 fellow co-sponsors, 160 Republicans and 3 lonely Democrats (two from Texas and one from Minnesota), would like us all to believe.

In the 1934, in response to the mayhem of the gangster era and the likes of Al Capone, Congress passed the National Firearms Act. Under that law, which stands up to judicial scrutiny to this day (at least as modified in 1968), fully automatic weapons, aka machine guns (hold down the trigger and bullet after bullet exits the barrel until the magazine runs out of cartridges), certain sawed-off rifles and shotguns, some other oddities…and silencers fell under complicated regulations and taxes but they were not banned or outlawed.

Silencers were defined as “any portable device designed to muffle or disguise the report of a portable firearm.” They are called silencers because they muffle the sound of gunshots. 

If you’re shooting and want to protect your ears, there are excellent noise-cancelling headphones you can wear that require no registration. To argue that we need to reverse an eighty-three year old law so you can muffle the sound of your gun to protect your ears is a bald-faced lie. That such muffling would have resulted in more time to locate the shooter and more deaths in several recent shootings is blatantly obvious, but if you look around on the web you will find folks making that absurd claim. 

Is there a great demand for repealing the restrictions on silencers from a broad cross-section of folks  involved in shooting sports? Will silencers sell like hotcakes if the regulations are repealed? Highly unlikely. Readily available silencers will make us less safe, not safer.

So why is Ms. McMorris Rodgers co-sponsoring this ridiculous and ill-timed bill, H.R. 367? Doesn’t she have better things to do?

She’s co-sponsoring H.R. 367 because this bill is a flag waving in the vanguard of National Rifle Association’s war on any and all regulation of guns. No doubt it pleases those few of the NRA’s membership (guessed to be only around 5 million.) so rabid as to feed on the NRA devotees like the Redoubters. Co-sponsorship of H.R. 367 proves fealty to the cause of “protecting the Second Amendment.” McMorris Rodgers co-sponsorship demonstrates she is either gullible or devious. Gullible if she signed on believing H.R. 367 is actually about “Hearing Protection.” Devious if understands H.R. 367 is a sop to the crazies, an inadvisable repeal of law that works, and further believes her constituents are not paying attention. 

I know many gun owners. I haven’t surveyed all of them, but so far I’ve only met one who would look me straight in the eye and argue for H.R. 367. If he had his way all gun regulation would be repealed and we would all be armed to the teeth. I reject that view of the future and I believe I am in a large majority of reasonable people, gun owners, sportsmen, gun fearers, parents, and students who reject that future, too.

Don’t let the Orwellian framing of this bill fool you. Co-sponsoring the repeal of important, long-standing gun legislation should be a disqualification for public office. To co-sponsor this repeal as we suffer mass shootings of children, students, concert goers, and, yes, policemen, is a stark demonstration of legislative malpractice and a dysfunctional moral compass.

Ask McMorris Rodgers what she was thinking.

Keep to the high ground,