SCOPE NY

Briefings

  • 05/08/2020 9:00 PM | Anonymous

    May 8, 2020, Bill Karr
    All of a sudden, it seems like guns aren’t quite so distasteful anymore, since now with uncertainty in the air due to the Covid virus, gun sales have rocketed, and a full 90 to 95 percent of all new gun sales for many gun shops are NEW gun buyers!

    It’s interesting how our rights under the Constitution fade in importance until they’re denied, or needed! Then all of a sudden, the non-believers become believers. Actually, a lot of these new gun owners are getting their backs up when they find that their very own legislation, pushed through in previous years, has come back to bite them in the way of waiting periods, background checks and delays.

    And what’s the most popular gun being purchased? The one generally most-despised by these newly converted anti-gun, gun buyers: Pistols! A full two thirds of the new gun buyers states that they are buying the gun for protection.

    Let me give you an idea of how many guns are being sold right now: 2.6 million guns were sold in March alone. Some gun shops have sold the same number of guns in one month as they usually sell in 2 or 3 years. Handgun sales increased 91.1% year over year, while long gun sales jumped 73.6%.

    In February, well before the corona virus was a household word, the FBI’s background check system had already reported 2.8 million inquiries from potential gun-buyers. That was up from 2 million during the same time last year, and the third-highest monthly total since the agency created the system in 1998. And since then, gun sales increased even more along with demand.

    These are all Americans who are purchasing a firearms as a way to protect themselves amid fears that the coronavirus situation could lead to a complete societal breakdown.

    According to the National Rifle Association: “Nothing is more important than protecting ourselves and our families -- especially during these times of uncertainty. Yet, some anti-gun lawmakers are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to deny you and your loved ones your fundamental right to self-defense and your Second Amendment rights.

    “These anti-gun and anti self defense extremists deem gun stores ‘non-essential,’ they shut down issuance of firearm permits, and, in some locations, they have created extreme delays for background checks required for firearm transfers. Some jurisdictions have even put added restrictions on firearm transfers, making it all but impossible for many law-abiding Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights. All of this is happening against a backdrop of reported prisoner furloughs and law enforcement only arresting for the most serious of crimes.”

    All of that is absolutely true, but fortunately, only three states have ordered gun dealers and stores to be closed: New York, Massachusettes and New York City. Oh yeh, I keep forgetting that Puerto Rico is a “state”...they also have ordered all guns stores closed. Five states are in the process of developing a response, and one of those is California, of course.

    So, there’s very, very few things positive about this entire virus pandemic, but there is one good thing that is without a doubt going to come out of it: New gunowners, and many, many more of them.

    And along with that has come a realization that nothing is forever, and that complacency in simply “assuming” that the freedoms, liberties, free commerce and unending supplies and food in the United States are forever would be a big mistake. They can be stifled. And the only thing that guarantees they will be there for us, along with our liberty, is the fact that we are an armed society. And will be, forever.

    So, why, all of a sudden are there no gun protestors in the street, and that in fact, many of them are now buying guns? Because their lives and well being are threatened, and they suddenly realize that you can’t fight thieves and armed thugs with a stick and a sign that proclaims you as an anti-gun person. It just won’t stop a bad guy!

    Welcome on board the train to liberty and understanding the Constitution.

    —Bill Karr

    Karr is Northern California editor for Western Outdoor News (www.wonews.com)

  • 05/08/2020 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: One of the reasons most of the western world embraced unprecedented mass quarantines this spring was due to the work of a single man: a British academic called Neil Ferguson. Ferguson is a professor at a college in London, but he’s also something of an international figure. He’s best known for his dire predictions about pandemics. Ferguson seemed especially panicked by the Wuhan Coronavirus. At one point, he suggested the coronavirus might be comparable to the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed up to 100 million people.

    On February 28, as the disease spread through Europe, Ferguson publicly endorsed the Chinese model of quarantine. Keep in mind that as Ferguson spoke these words, videos circulated on the internet showing police in Wuhan throwing screaming citizens in the back of panel trucks and driving them to some unspecified internment. Ferguson must have known the Chinese government’s response in Wuhan was extreme and utterly inhumane. He endorsed it anyway. That’s how serious Neil Ferguson was about the virus:

    NEIL FERGUSON:  One has to adopt community measures like the ones adopted in places in Wuhan in China. You try to reduce contact between people in the community so the sorts of measures which are important if you have anyone with respiratory disease or anything, stay at home until their symptoms are full resolved.

    Leaders around the world paid attention to this. They took Ferguson’s advice and locked down their entire populations. The British government asked Ferguson to help design its quarantines, as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. Ferguson was happy to help shut down the entire United Kingdom. He just wasn’t interested in participating in it personally.

    Today, the Daily Telegraph reported that Neil Ferguson ignored his own lockdowns. While the rest of the city stayed trapped indoors, Ferguson repeatedly invited his married mistress over to his apartment for sex. Perhaps most striking of all, he was infected with the Coronavirus at the time. Ferguson became sick and tested positive in mid-March. Not long after, he invited his mistress over. By doing this, he exposed her to a deadly virus. He also exposed her husband and children back home. When confronted today, Ferguson said this. Quote: “I acted in the belief that I was immune.” That was his explanation. The problem is, there’s no proof that’s true. Can someone who was sick a few weeks ago still transmit the coronavirus? We’re still not sure. For a famous scientist, Neil Ferguson is curiously ignorant of science. He’s also, obviously, an appalling hypocrite.

    And he’s not alone. So many of the people making our policies are this way. Almost compulsively, again and again, they do the very things they punish you for doing. When caught, they acknowledged no shame. They are entirely lacking in self-awareness. They have no idea how absurd they are. They discredit themselves without even realizing it.

  • 05/08/2020 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    BY DAN ZIMMERMAN |APR 08, 2020

    Lots of gun owners, gun rights supporters and gun rights organizations have taken note of Rep. Hank “Cappy” Johnson’s HR 5717. We wrote about that abomination which is chock full of wonderful surprises like national gun owner licensing, a ban on suppressors, federal red flag confiscations and more.

    MAC wrote about it on his Facebook page and asked his readers to call their representatives in Washington about the “assault weapons” ban bill. The alarm somehow got the attention of the ever-vigilant “fact checkers” at the McPaper, who actually looked into it.

    And here’s what they found . . .

    The ban has a few exceptions. Law-enforcement officers can possess these firearms as can those who are providing security at nuclear energy facilities. Firearms that are “manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action,” have “been rendered permanently inoperable” or are antique are exempt from the ban as well.

    The bill has not yet passed the Democrat-controlled House. In order to become law, the Republican-controlled Senate would have to pass it and the president would have to sign it.

    It has 18 co-sponsors, all Democrats, including Rep. Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland and Rep. Joseph Morelle of New York.

    The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020 is not the first of its kind. Congress enacted a 10-year assault weapon ban that was in effect from 1994-2004. Democrats also attempted to pass an assault weapons ban in 2013 following the Newtown shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Just as Johnson’s bill has not passed the House, Warren’s bill has not passed the Senate.

    Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., sponsored in February 2019 a semiautomatic assault weapon ban that the House didn’t pass.

    Our ruling: True

    The claim on the pro-gun Facebook page that an assault weapons ban bill was introduced in the House is TRUE. If passed, H.R. 5717 would ban semiautomatic assault weapons.

    – Molly Stellino in Fact check: Would a U.S. House bill ban assault weapons?

  • 05/07/2020 11:33 PM | Anonymous

    by Paul Sacca
    The U.S. Justice Department is dropping its criminal case against Michael Flynn, according to the Associated Press. This comes a week after the public release of documents that were unsealed in the case, which raised questions as to the motivation of the investigation into President Donald Trump's first national security adviser.

    The DOJ concluded that Flynn's interview by the FBI was "untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn" and that the interview on Jan. 24, 2017, was "conducted without any legitimate investigative basis."

    The 2017 interview days after Trump's inauguration led to Flynn pleading guilty of lying to the FBI about contact with the then-Russian ambassador before Trump took office. The retired Army lieutenant general pleaded guilty to one count of lying to federal agents in December 2017.

    In court documents filed Thursday, the Justice Department said it was dropping the case "after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information."

    "Through the course of my review of General Flynn's case, I concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case," U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, who was reviewing the Flynn case, said in a statement. "I briefed Attorney General [William] Barr on my findings, advised him on these conclusions, and he agreed."

    Flynn had been attempting to withdraw his guilty plea since January, arguing that he is a victim of misconduct by prosecutors.

    Unsealed documents showed that the FBI had closed its criminal counterintelligence investigation into Flynn, but top bureau official Peter Strzok ordered it to be reopened. The FBI was going to close the case against Flynn because there was an "absence of any derogatory information."

    The investigation into Flynn, codenamed "Crossfire Razor," was set to conclude Jan. 4, 2017, but Strzok had it reopened. 

    "Hey, if you haven't closed RAZOR, don't do so yet," Strzok wrote in a text message to the investigating agent on Jan. 4, 2017. "Pls keep it open for now."

  • 05/07/2020 10:25 PM | Anonymous

    May 6, 2020 by Karen Lugo
    Once freedoms were surrendered, [Chief Justice William] Rehnquist warned, they would be even easier to take away when a future crisis or greater good came calling.

    • The very orders that citizens across this land were protesting have been delivered wrapped in lack of transparency: forbidding only some assemblies; preferring big box stores; shutting down churches and gun stores but not liquor or cannabis stores; motor-boating prohibited but sailing is not; vacation rentals banned but not lodges; among many more disparities.

    • It is vital that "We the people" keep on overseeing this process to ensure that the attempted power grabs -- for instance by those who would use this crisis to "restructure things to fit our vision" -- continue to be judged as intolerable acts.

      Shutting down America has caused many to ask who suspended the Bill of Rights. The re-opening of this country would do well to include close attention to righting wrongs that may -- deliberately or inadvertently -- have been inflicted on the US Constitution.

    At the end of Chief Justice William Rehnquist's life, one of his great concerns was the government's use of crisis power at the expense of civil liberties, a concern he shared with law students during his last summer constitutional survey course in Cambridge, England.

    "The Chief'", as he was respectfully known, revealed how deeply troubled he was with historical episodes that justified denial of constitutional rights. He pressed the students -- some of them future judges, government attorneys, state attorneys general -- to suggest alternatives that might better preserve civil liberties. Once freedoms were surrendered, Rehnquist warned, they would be even easier to take away when a future crisis or greater good came calling.

    This spring, Americans have been enrolled in a "flatten the curve" regime, but when the government's justification for home confinement shifted to some vague prescription for safety, the constitutional supports for unreasonable confinement dissolved.

    The government's promise to "make us safe" started to take on god-like proportions, based merely on the circumstance that government has the power to enforce irrational edicts. Worse, within that promise, there was no recognition of the increasing collateral damage on the other side of the equation: businesses, families, fortunes, and the generally ill who still needed doctors. There is also the looming burden of debt to be shouldered by future generations.

    Now that America is pushing back on the coronavirus, there is healthy attention to the excess of some government orders. Complaints of constitutional violations cover almost the entire range of First to Fourteenth Amendment overreaches.

    It is the disregard for due process -- the essential insurance policy against constitutional breaches -- that should alarm Americans. Due process is an important shield against tyranny -- especially of the local kind.

    Due process is the general promise to citizens that government may not take life, liberty or property without proper notice and hearings. This protection implies, as courts have instructed, that laws are clear, that the hearing process is transparent, and that government is accountable.

    The very orders that citizens across this land were protesting have been delivered wrapped in lack of transparency: forbidding only some assemblies; preferring big box stores; shutting down churches and gun stores but not liquor or cannabis stores; motor-boating prohibited but sailing is not; vacation rentals banned but not lodges; among many more disparities.

    Stay-at-home orders and state quarantine blockades also were directed at wide swaths of territory and whole states rather than targeted "hot zone" areas.

    When edicts are written in a careless, overbroad, or vague fashion, local authorities may be given, or assume, too much power. Some places, such as Florida, had border checkpoint instructions that provided for a two-week quarantine for "any person who had spent time in an area of substantial community spread." Such an instruction does not inform law enforcement -- or returnees or travelers into Florida -- who may be deprived of liberty.

    Americans are right to protest when executive orders pick winners and losers while "not thinking of the Bill of Rights." Many of these orders make petty criminals of understandably confused violators.

    While we have all learned much about the expansive Tenth Amendment's state police powers to oversee health and safety matters during a crisis, there are still limits. Emergency orders must have a legitimate connection to a justifiable government goal, they must not be arbitrary, and must not target any group in discriminatory way.

    Courts are already affirming complaints of government overreach in cases that concerned the First Amendment's freedom of religion and assembly. The federal government and Texas Attorney General issued proclamations, amid a flurry of gun store restrictions, defending Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm.

    Business owners in Pennsylvania are already appealing to the U.S. Supreme about "arbitrary and capricious" definitions that categorize "life sustaining businesses", while excluding others.

    The lawyers at the American Freedom Law Center have filed a lawsuit against the governor of Michigan's irrational Executive Order 2020-42. Our "liberties are not conferred or granted by government to then be rescinded at the will and whims of government officials." Even more fundamental is that "These God-given liberties are possessed by the people, and they are guaranteed against government interference by the United States Constitution."

    It is vital that "We the people" keep on overseeing this process to ensure that the attempted power grabs -- for instance by those who would use this crisis to "restructure things to fit our vision" -- continue to be judged as intolerable acts.

    Karen Lugo, a constitutional law attorney, is a former member of the California Advisory Committee to U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

  • 05/07/2020 5:25 PM | Anonymous

    DECEMBER 12, 2019 by Don Smith, Wayne County SCOPE chapter chair
    Joe, I read your article on “red flag” laws in the D&C’s December 11 edition. May I share some thoughts with you on the subject?

    There’s a lot to dislike about red flag laws.

    Relatively few people may take issue with the idea of taking guns away temporarily from people who may be dangerous. The problem is that the bar for taking away someone’s guns–depriving them of personal property without due process–is so ridiculously low.

    John Lott wrote at the Washington Times about some of the problems with these laws:

    Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams in Colorado made news Monday over his willingness to go to jail over his refusal to enforce what will soon be the state’s new “Red Flag” law.

    Given the news media plays these laws, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, as being so sensible, Sheriff Reams looks like a kooky right-winger. After all, who could be against taking away guns from people who are a danger to themselves or others?

    But the laws are more complicated than usually discussed in the press. Depending upon the state, anyone from a family member, intimate partner, ex, house or apartment mates, or police can file a complaint. Under Colorado’s proposed law, anyone can make a phone call to the police. They don’t even have to be living in the state. There is no hearing. All the judge has before them is the statement of concern.

    As in the Tom Cruise movie, “Minority Report,” all you have to do is figure out who is going to commit the crime. At least the “PreCrime” division in the movie had the help of psychics.

    It has always been possible to take away someone’s guns, but all 50 states have required testimony by a mental health expert before a judge. Hearings could be conducted very quickly in urgent cases, But gun control advocates argue that it’s important to not even alert the person that his guns may be taken away. Hence, the 5 a.m. police raids. 

    When people really pose a clear danger to themselves or others, they should be confined to a mental health facility. Simply denying them the right to legally buy a gun isn’t a serious remedy. If you think that you are any more likely to stop criminals from getting guns than illegal drugs, good luck. The same drug dealers sell both and are a major source of guns. And there are other weapons such as cars. 

    I happen to agree with Lott. Recall the raid in Maryland ended badly for the occupant at about 5:15 a.m. He was killed by the policeGuns are not the only choiceof those determined to commit nefarious acts. Great Britain now finds knives have replaced guns as the tool of choice.

    If people are a threat, they’re a threat. Treat them accordingly. A process already exists to deal with them. While I have issues with some those laws and how they’re applied, they are already on the books. New layers of “feel good” laws will offer little in the way of combatting violence.

    Every section of the NY Mental Hygiene Law requires the presence of “imminent danger” prior to confiscation of someone’s firearms. I should say every section except Section 9.46 which was included in the so-called “SAFE” Act. It’s purpose, as with Red Flag laws, is to simplify confiscation by government agencies.

    The anti-gunners are desperately trying to get these bills passed in every state despite the low probability of their effectiveness. How long until people start using these explicitly to punish individuals?

    Well, there may already be cases of that.

    Lott writes:

    In the first nine months after Florida passed its Red Flag law last year, judges granted more than 1,000 confiscation orders. In the three months after Maryland’s law went into effect on Oct. 1, more than 300 people had their guns taken away. In one case in Anne Arundel County, a 61-year-old man died when the police stormed his home at 5 a.m. to take away his guns. Connecticut and Indiana have had these laws in effect for the longest time and have seen large increases in confiscation orders as time has gone by.

    The data from Suffolk County is suspect also. Why does it account for 50% of the 170 ERPOs reported by you? I would also question the Indiana and Connecticut results from the Indianapolis University study. The 34 year time frame does not coincide with the recent presence of Red Flag laws. 

    There are some unconfirmed reports that the man killed in Maryland was served with an extreme risk protective order because a family member disagreed with him politically. Those stories are unconfirmed in part because Maryland law essentially seals the records to protect the identity of those making the reports.

    These ill conceived laws make it possible to accuse someone on a mere ‘hunch’ and then have the law protect the accuser despite lack of evidence. The accuser has no skin in the game and nothing to lose. 

    More than a bit ridiculous, wouldn’t you agree?
    Don Smith, Chairman, SCOPE of Wayne County

  • 05/06/2020 10:03 AM | Anonymous

    James A. Gagliano | May 04, 2020 12:45 PM

    The time has come to cease affording the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team generous benefit of the doubt. A steady stream of unflattering revelations, beginning with a report by the Justice Department's inspector general into egregious FISA abuses last December, has relentlessly pounded the reputation of my former agency. Now, further irrefutable proof emerges that a small cabal of FBI headquarters decision-makers was hellbent on undoing a presidency.
    Horowitz: “We did not reach that conclusion.”
    Hawley: “Because I could have sworn — in fact, I know for a fact that I’ve heard that today from this committee. That’s not your conclusion?”
    Horowitz: “We have been very careful in the connection with the FISAs for the reasons you mentioned to not reach that conclusion in part, as we’ve talked about earlier, [because of] the alteration of the email, the text messages associated with the individual who did that, and our inability to explain or understand, to get good explanations so that we could understand why this all happened.”
    Strzok: “I called Bill and relayed what we discussed. He agrees.”

    I know it sounds strange to hear me make such an accusation. I’m the guy who long attempted to thread the needle, accounting for honest human frailties, trusting that mistakes should not always be chalked up to malice or sinister intent. Cautious skepticism was a default mindset that served me well across a quarter century as an FBI investigator. That condition failed me here because one thing is clear.

    Michael Flynn got railroaded.

    Careful examination of fresh facts related to Flynn pleading guilty to Title 18 U.S. Code § 1001 (essentially, lying to a federal agent) provides an eye-popping and clear-cut case of investigative inconsistencies and partisan political bias. At the request of defense attorney Sidney Powell, who is seeking to have the retired lieutenant general’s plea withdrawn, additional evidence related to the Flynn case has recently been released by the prosecution. According to Flynn’s defense team, some uncovered FBI notes illustrate a concerted effort by former FBI Director James Comey's team to set Flynn up.

    The notes in question are handwritten and appear to outline the Crossfire Hurricane team’s objectives for the planned interview with Flynn at the White House, just days after the inauguration of President Trump. They are clearly initialed by then-FBI Assistant Director for the Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap. I know Bill from our overlapping assignments in the FBI’s New York office. He is an experienced, honorable, and well-respected lawman.

    But one passage fairly leaped off the page at me:

    “What's our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it.”

    It almost appears as if Priestap is attempting to memorialize his own opposition to the Flynn ambush. As in, who would ever chronicle that type of stratagem knowing it might one day be considered Brady material or be subject to a Freedom of Information Act request? It defies credulity. But in Priestap’s defense, he was full-on sailing against the wind.

    Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe essentially called the shots in Crossfire Hurricane. The FBI is charged with enforcing federal law. Nowhere in our identified mission and priorities exists a goal to set a perjury trap or, absent evidence of a prosecutable crime, get someone fired. Why even consider this an objective?

    To borrow a line from comedian Jeff Foxworthy: If this doesn’t bother you, you might be a party-over-country partisan.

    Since the FBI was already in possession of the transcript of Flynn’s telephone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, what exactly was to be gained by the interview? Nothing except the potential to jam him up and get him removed as national security adviser. It was never going to charge him for violations of the Logan Act or the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Even Robert Mueller’s team could have done so. It passed. These laws are seldom, if ever, enforced. Just ask the lobbyists on K Street.

    Even Comey once believed Flynn not to have misrepresented facts to the FBI. The fired former director, who enjoys a cozy relationship with the Washington Post, was awarded “Two Pinocchios” by the paper’s fact-checker after a denial in an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, who asked him if he had ever “[told] lawmakers that FBI agents didn’t believe former national security adviser Michael Flynn was lying intentionally to investigators?”

    Which leads us back to the ubiquitous Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. After McCabe circumvented established channels, forgoing calls to DOJ or the newly emplaced White House counsel or chief of staff, Flynn became a ripe target. After assuring the new national security adviser that he didn’t need an attorney present, McCabe dispatched two agents to the White House.

    During a conversation with MSNBC's Nicole Wallace in 2019, Comey smugly recounted this episode of personally sending Strzok and an FBI supervisory special agent, Joe Pientka, to meet with Flynn. According to Comey, this tactic was “something ... I probably wouldn't have done or gotten away with in a more organized investigation — a more organized administration."

    So Strzok (famously fired for his partisan text exchanges with Page), along with the FBI official who overruled case personnel and ordered that the Flynn case remain open after recommendations that it be closed for lack of any evidence, had his opportunity.

    What happened next infuriates me.

    The Flynn FD-302 interview notes appear to have been manipulated by Strzok and Page. Pientka was apparently the note taker. Consistent with FBI protocols, Strzok, as a party to the interview, can certainly discuss recollections with Pientka prior to the final document being approved by both. But somehow, Page, the DOJ attorney who was not present at the interview and was not an FBI agent, was involved in the edits.

    Strzok advises Page, in a newly released batch of text exchanges between the two, that he was “trying to not completely rewrite” the FD-302, “so as to save [redacted] voice.” The redacted name is most likely Pientka. Strzok wants the document to appear to be voiced by the other agent. But only after he and Page can craft the words to make Flynn appear guilty of lying to the FBI.

    As retired FBI agent Thomas Baker points out in the Wall Street Journal:

    “Worse still, the FD-302 that was eventually provided to the court wasn’t that of the agents’ interview of Mr. Flynn. It was instead an FD-302 of an interview of Mr. Strzok, conducted months later, about his recollections of the original interview. Truly bizarre.”

    The uncomfortable truth is that the cases focusing on Trump (Crossfire Hurricane) and Hillary Clinton (Midyear Exam) were handled inconsistently. The Clinton investigation (which Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch famously suggested be referred to as a "matter," not an investigation) was not handled aggressively or in keeping with the standards of the apolitical ethos of the FBI.

    As former Rep. Trey Gowdy sarcastically described the stark differences between the hyperaggressive tactics employed against Flynn and the ludicrous preconditions that the FBI generously conceded to in order to interview Clinton in 2016:

    “She had a medium-sized law firm in the room with her. They gave the questions to her lawyer before they interviewed her, and they most assuredly told her there’s a consequence for lying. None of which they did for Michael Flynn.”

    So again, I ask: Why did the same crew of FBI investigators handle these two consequential investigations of political candidates in very different fashions if not for the rather obvious injection of political bias in decision-making?

    Many have batted down that suggestion, arguing that Michael Horowitz’s report cleared the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team of partisanship. That is patently false.

    Here’s Horowitz in exchange with Sen. Josh Hawley on Dec. 18, 2019:

    Hawley: “Was it your conclusion that political bias did not affect any part of the Page investigation, any part of Crossfire Hurricane?”

    Horowitz was referring to DOJ attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who materially altered an email to misrepresent information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. You will also recall the text message whereby he defiantly exhorted, “Viva la Resistance.” Not much political bias to speak of there, right?

    The final nail in the coffin of those who pretend political bias did not influence the FBI’s decisions in 2016 and 2017 is a text exchange between Strzok and Page on Feb. 25, 2016, discussing how to approach the Clinton interview:

    Page: “One more thing: She might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more DOJ than FBI?”

    Compare that to Priestap's quote: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or get him to lie, so we can get him fired?”

    The contrast is stunning. No plausible explanation exists here other than rank partisan, political bias.

    I’ll say it again: Michael Flynn got railroaded.

    James A. Gagliano (@JamesAGagliano) worked in the FBI for 25 years. He is a law enforcement analyst for CNN and an adjunct assistant professor in homeland security and criminal justice at St. John's University. Gagliano is a member of the board of directors of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

  • 05/05/2020 8:18 PM | Anonymous

    May 04, 2020, Pamela Helming

    New York State Senator Pam Helming today joined local leaders to call for the reopening of area sportsmen's clubs. Recently, Governor Cuomo authorized the reopening of marinas and golf courses. However, other recreational opportunities that can be done with social distancing, such as clubs that offer  target, skeet, trap and sporting clays shooting have not been reopened. Many of the opportunities these clubs provide can be done with even greater social distancing than golf or boating.

    “This is a common sense issue. Everyone, including our local sportsmen's clubs are putting public health first. Many of the activities these clubs offer, including target shooting and sporting clays courses allow for even greater social distancing than launching a boat from a marina or playing a round of golf. Area clubs are committed to protecting public health and allowing them to partially reopen would provide an important opportunity for parents and grandparents home with children to pass the traditions of the shooting sports and teach the next generation safe firearms handling practices. This is an important issue that our local elected officials are engaged with and I am proud to stand side by side with them in supporting our sportsmen and women,” said Senator Pam Helming. 

    “Reopening shooting sports clubs is another step in a return to safe, recreational activities.  As various facets of public life prepare to reopen, it is important to proceed in such a way that the public feels re-assured that the activities can be engaged in safely, responsibly and in adherence to recommendations and guidelines established by our Public Health Officials.  Engaging in Shooting Sports is an activity enjoyed by so many of our residents and is a great way to safely participate in outdoor activity, learn and perfect skills and enjoy some leisure time and fresh air while still abiding by social distancing mandates,” said Canandaigua Town Supervisor Cathy Menikotz. 

    “As concerned citizens of New York, we all look forward to being as fairly treated as equal to the golfer, boater/fishermen, and all outdoor enthusiasts and having the State of New York and the Governor thoughtfully restore our ability to participate in our chosen sports activities and practice our Constitutional rights.  As we open our outdoor shooting ranges and course facilities, we would assure those concerned that we would comply with all social distancing and hygiene requirements to help bring this state and national pandemic to its’ eventual conclusion,” said Daniel T. Pitler, President Canandaigua Sportsmen’s Club, Inc.

    “As is often the case, we find ourselves with more questions than answers dealing with our new reality as we cope with the world's current pandemic. The main question that we, as NYers have is "When can we get back to our normal lives?". Whatever that new normal may look like, there are bound to be some changes and we understand that. We as a sportsman's organization, like other businesses, cannot stay on "lockdown" for an indeterminate time. In an effort to move forward, we ask that our organizations be afforded the same opportunity as other recreational businesses have been given, to open our ranges back up to our membership and guests. In doing so, proper person to person distancing, as well as adherence to suggested health guidelines would be a priority, and very much attainable. I believe I speak for many men and women, including our high school team members, who safely engage in our sport year after year. The 2nd Amendment is held in high regard by many upstate NYers, and we eagerly look forward to using our facilities, as intended, in a safe and healthy manner,” said Rick Bills, Hol-Field Rod and Gun Club

    “On behalf of Ontario Rod and Gun Club Officers, Board of Directors, and our four hundred (400) members, we request to fully reopen our club to sport shooting, training classes and events. We will follow the guidelines and social distancing.as advised by health professionals,” said Steve Verdi, Chairman of the Board, Ontario Rod & Gun Club. 

    “The Shooting Sports are activities that are enjoyed by all types of people. Young and old, male and female, athletes and non athletes. Enjoying the outdoor shooting sports whether competing or just plinking is a very healthy way to escape the current stress and anxiety that the COVID pandemic is creating. Concentrating on the “bird” when breaking clays or zeroing in on the bullseye takes strict attention and concentration along with safe gun handling practices to truly be successful. These outdoor activities are one of the safer, if not the safest, social distancing sports out there. Let’s reopen these Sportsmen’s Clubs and get our children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles out of their homes in a safe environment enjoying the shooting sports once again,” said Jeff Gallahan, Manchester Town Supervisor. 

    “People are looking for safe recreational activities in this period of social distancing.  To allow golf courses and marinas to open with proper distancing, but not shooting clubs like the Canandaigua Sportsmen’s club is just ludicrous. This seems like a political decision, rather than a practical one and once again shows our governors disdain for the second amendment and proves he is out of touch with our part of NYS,” said Jared Simpson, Canandaigua Town Councilman.

  • 05/04/2020 8:19 PM | Anonymous

    10:30 am on May 4, 2020 by Cam Edwards
    After considering nearly a dozen different Second Amendment-related cases in conference on Friday, the Supreme Court released its list of orders from the conference this morning. The bad news is that the Court has not yet accepted any of the cases, but the good news is that they haven’t dismissed any of the cases either.  Instead, the Court has carried over all of the cases, which means they’ll once again be heard in conference on May 14th.

    There was a lot of speculation last week that the Court would quickly agree to hear at least one of the challenges, after justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh all stated that the Supreme Court needs to hear a Second Amendment case sooner rather than later to address lower courts’ misreading or unwillingness to abide by the Heller and McDonald decisions. The justices made their statements in opinions in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York City case, which the court declared moot after New York City changed the gun transportation law that was being challenged.

    While it’s disappointing that the Court didn’t take up a case immediately, it’s not exactly cause for alarm. There is likely a lot of discussion among the four justices that have expressed a desire to hear a Second Amendment-related case (or cases) about which of the cases are ripe for review.

    Here’s a quick look at each of the cases currently in conference. Note that more than half of the cases before the Court deal with onerous carry laws that prohibit the average citizen from exercising their right to bear arms.

    Mance v. Barr is a case challenging the ban on interstate sales of handguns.

    Pena v. Horan is a challenge to California’s microstamping law, which took effect in 2012 and has curtailed not only the availability of new models of handguns, but has caused existing models of handguns to be barred from being sold in the state.

    Rogers v. GrewalCheeseman v. Polillo, and  Ciolek v. New Jersey all deal with challenges to New Jersey’s carry laws and “justifiable need” requirement for a carry permit, while Malpasso v. Pallozzi takes on similar requirements in the state of Maryland.

    Culp v. Raoul challenges an Illinois law barring residents from 45 other states from applying for a non-resident concealed carry license, while Wilson v. Cook County takes on the Illinois county’s ban on modern sporting rifles.

    There are also two cases out of Massachusetts being considered by the Court; a challenge to Massachusetts’ carry laws called Gould v. Lipson Worman v. Healey and a challenge to the state’s ban on so-called assault weapons.

    Finally, there’s Beers v. Barr, a case dealing with the lifelong prohibition on firearms for those who’ve been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

    It’s not unusual for a case to be re-listed several times before being accepted by the Court. In fact, NYSPRA v. NYC was heard in conference three times before it was accepted. Which of these cases will ultimately be heard by SCOTUS is still unknown, but I’d say the odds are good that at least one of these cases will be accepted in the not-too-distant future.

  • 05/02/2020 9:59 PM | Anonymous

    By TREVOR BURRUS,  May 1, 2020 11:35 AM
    The Supreme Court should and will take a Second Amendment case very soon, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) won’t be happy. When Whitehouse basically threatened the Supreme Court over a recent Second Amendment case, perhaps he didn’t realize that he could get what he wanted and still lose the fight. This week, although the Court dismissed as moot the case that had Whitehouse in a tizzy, the Court is reviewing a slew of Second Amendment petitions that he’ll like even less.avel restrictions for permitted gun owners and the first Second Amendment case the Court had taken in a decade. After the justices agreed to hear the case, New York City and New York state, fearing a decision that would strengthen the Second Amendment, moved quickly to change the law to keep the Court from issuing a decision. This is a form of strategic mooting, because courts generally don’t hear controversies that are no longer “live” because there is no relief a court can give if the law has already been changed. And while strategic mooting is fairly common, it’s an unsavory form of gamesmanship with the Court’s docket.

    New York City asked that the case be removed from the docket, and Whitehouse, joined by four other senators, wrote an infamous amicus brief urging the Court to dismiss the case. Whitehouse didn’t just confine his arguments to the legal question of mootness. He came within a hair’s breadth of outright accusing the Court’s Republican-appointed justices as being shills for the NRA and the Federalist Society. His shocking brief closed with what many interpreted as a threat to restructure the Court if the justices didn’t go along with his request. “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’”

    On Monday, the justices, by a 6-3 vote, dismissed the case as moot. The same day, they added ten held-over Second Amendment petitions to the Court’s calendar. These are petitions that were being held pending the Court’s decision in the New York case. The justices will discuss these petitions Friday, with decisions likely to be released on Monday.

    Five of the petitions challenge various states’ “good reason” restrictions on the right to carry a weapon outside the home. Eight states issue carry permits provided that the applicant meets certain objective criteria (e.g. a criminal background check) as well as the vague subjective criterion that the applicant demonstrates a justified need to carry a firearm, often determined by a local sheriff. This has long been thought unconstitutional, and with good reason: No other constitutional right can be conditioned on the subjective determination of a local official. I wouldn’t want a Sheriff Sheldon Whitehouse determining whether I can carry a gun.

    Another petition challenges California’s microstamping requirement, which requires new pistols to stamp the casing with an identifiable mark for better tracking. Problem is, no gun manufacturer has figured out how to do this. It’s akin to a law saying people have a right to free speech only if they’ve turned lead into gold.

    There are also a couple of petitions challenging so-called “assault weapons” bans and high-capacity magazine restrictions, and a petition challenging the federal ban on interstate firearm sales, which for some reason irrationally applies to handguns but not rifles.

    The Court needs to take a Second Amendment case soon, whether it’s one of these cases or another. In the ten years since the Court took a Second Amendment case, the lower courts have floundered to figure out what the decisions in Heller and McDonald mean. The Ninth Circuit has made a habit out of rubber-stamping almost any restriction on firearms. For example, the court upheld California’s ten-day waiting period law as it applied to those who passed the background check in fewer than ten days and were already owners of a firearm or even had a concealed carry permit.

    The Seventh Circuit, on the other hand, struck down Chicago’s ban on shooting ranges in the city — correctly reasoning that if the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow guns for self-defense, then that entails the ability to practice with the gun. In response to the Seventh Circuit’s decision, the city created an elaborate set of regulations for shooting ranges that left only 2.2 percent of the city even theoretically available for shooting ranges. The Seventh Circuit struck those down too.

    There’s a wide variance between the circuits where seemingly any gun law is okay and those, like the Seventh, that take the Second Amendment seriously. One of the Court’s most important jobs is to rectify that variance. They’ll soon take a case to do that, and Senator Whitehouse will again be unhappy.

A 2nd Amendment Defense Organization, defending the rights of New York State gun owners to keep and bear arms!

PO Box 165
East Aurora, NY 14052

SCOPE is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

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