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Meet the NRA Board: Jim Gilmore

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters' mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

This morning, an excellent new website launched, providing fascinating information about the good folks making up the NRA board. One name jumped out at me -- former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore. The website, called "Who is on the NRA Board?", provides a great deal of helpful information, including highlights from Gilmore's illustrious career. That highlight reel includes, first and foremost, Gilmore's association with the "Free Congress Foundation," "a think tank that promotes the far-right's viewpoint in the 'Culture War.'"

According to this new website, which is sponsored by the  Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence:

Gilmore effectively succeeded FCF President & CEO Paul Weyrich in 2009.  On replacing Weyrich, Gilmore said, "Paul Weyrich blazed the trail for many conservative themes and I want to continue that leadership."
What is the "Free Congress Foundation," you ask, and what are the "themes" it promotes, and that Jim Gilmore said he "want[ed] to continue?" The "Who is on the NRA Board" website has the answer. Here are a few examples:

Mr. Cuccinelli’s Bully State

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

There are Republicans who genuinely believe in a weak government that steps aside to let other sectors of society take the lead.  But Ken Cuccinelli is not one of them.  His approach, demonstrated time and time again, is to use government as a weapon to harass and strip the rights of any people and institutions that do not share his point of view.   The net effect is to increase the power of himself and future government officials at the expense of most everyone else in the state. 

Whereas an attorney general would normally be expected to use his position to protect the citizens of his state from genuine threats to their rights and well being, I cannot think of a single occasion on which our attorney general has done so.  To the contrary, most of his acts involve attacking any institution that seeks to protect Virginia citizens in any way that does not conform with Cuccinelli's rigid (and at times delusional) right-wing ideology.  And in nearly every instance, he has done so on the thinnest of legal grounds, stretching any law he can find to justify his ideological assaults. 

While conservatives and libertarians like to talk about a "Nanny State", our Ayatollah General presents us with something much worse -- the Bully State: government not as protector, but as a threat to anyone who does not support his agenda. 

Omar Samaha Takes on Keith Fimian


Also, keep in mind the following (from the Connolly campaign):
Keith Fimian Says College Students Should "Pack Heat"

Fimian Opposes Closing Gun Show Loophole, Advocates Guns on Campus in Controversial Interview on VT Tragedy

FAIRFAX, VA - A major controversy has erupted in Virginia's 11th district as Congressional candidate Keith Fimian is caught on tape advocating guns on college campuses and declaring that college students should "pack heat" to prevent gun violence.  Fimian also stressed his opposition to closing the gun show loophole that makes it easier for criminals to obtain guns by avoiding background checks.

Speaking to reporter Mark Segraves on Channel 50's NewsPlus program, Fimian said, "I think at Virginia Tech, if one of those kids in one of those classrooms was packing heat, I think it would not have happened."  Segraves had asked Fimian about concerns that guns in schools could lead to worse problems.

New Study: Virginia One of Top Sources for Crime Guns

This morning's New York Times reports on a new study by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which concludes that states with the loosest gun laws - states like Virginia - "exported guns used in crimes at significantly higher rates than states with more stringent laws."
"What this does is help refute some of the statements that people make on the pro-gun side in saying that tougher gun laws are unconnected to reducing crime," he said.

"A state's gun laws are only as good as the weakest link in the national chain," Professor Fox said. "A state with weaker gun laws becomes a supplier for states with stronger laws."

Indeed, the authors of the mayors' study, which was prepared largely out of Mr. Bloomberg's office, said the findings suggested that gun traffickers had sought out states with less restrictive gun-purchase laws.

"What this really shows is that bad laws really do equal more gun trafficking," said John Feinblatt, Mr. Bloomberg's chief policy adviser, "and that gaps in the law really do make a difference."

Where does Virginia fit into all this? According to the study, Virginia is one of the top 10 states, on a per capita basis, in terms of gun export rates. These 10 states "also supply a greater proportion of guns that are likely to have been trafficked."  And, not surprisingly, "There is a strong association between a state's gun laws and that state's propensity to export crime guns."  Which is why it's not surprising that, in 2009, Virginia - with its relatively lax gun laws - ranked third in the nation in top interstate crime gun supplier states, behind only Georgia and Florida.  It's also why laws like "one gun a month" and closing the "gunshow loophole" are so important, if we could ever get them passed in Virginia.

Philip Van Cleave compares Cooch to Sarah Brady and Bill Clinton

You've just got to laugh at this one.
To compare arch-conservative Ken Cuccinelli to Sarah Brady, who is virtually seen as the mother of the modern gun-control movement -- now those are practically fighting words among gun owners.

But that's exactly one of the shots Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, leveled at Attorney General Cuccinelli on Wednesday for the AG's defense of George Mason University's on-campus gun ban.

Van Cleave's email blast was entitled: "Et tu, Cuccinelli?"

Van Cleave goes on to excoriate Cooch for "fear mongering" and - worst of all - being "'Clintonesque' for making a 'for the children' emotional argument."  

Great stuff, grab some popcorn!

Video From “Open Carry”/Anti-Government Protest at Fort Hunt


Thanks to Cliff Schecter and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence for this video from the "open carry"/anti-government event at Fort Hunt earlier today. Note the interview at the end where "featured speaker" Mike "Break their windows" Vanderboegh says there could be "more Ruby Ridges" and "more Wacos."  What I really want to know is, in what conceivable way have people like Mr. Vanderboegh been "pushed farther back" by the government? Was it the increased gun rights or the lower taxes that were the final straw for these guys? Hmmmm.

UPDATE: Also, check this ad, an "open letter to Senators Webb & Warner from families of Virginia Tech victims & survivors."

UPDATE #2: The Washington Post reports, Mark Warner is "noncommittal" on closing the "gun show loophole," while Jim Webb "came out firmly behind requiring background checks of all purchases at gun shows" (according to Lori Haas, whose daughter was wounded in the Virginia Tech shootings).

Scott Surovell: “The Gun Movement Comes to Fort Hunt”

Over at his blog, The Dixie Pig, Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) shares his thoughts on the "open carry", "Restore the Constitution" rally scheduled for today at Fort Hunt Park in his district. According to Surovell, his constituents are reacting with "concern, fear, and outright anger with some." The bottom line, from Surovell's perspective, is that "writing a letter to the editor, starting a blog, or running a TV ad are much more effective methods of communication than staging a rally with a loaded and/or unloaded weapons in what is really a suburban neighborhood park just because you can do it."

For all of Del. Surovell's thoughts on today's anti-government, "open carry" rally in Fort Hunt Park, click here. What do you think?

P.S. As the Washington Post story points out, "Those coming to the "Restore the Constitution" rally give Obama no quarter for signing the law that permits them to bring their guns to Fort Hunt, run by the National Park Service, and to Gravelly Point on the banks of the Potomac River. Nor are they comforted by a broad expansion of gun rights in several states since his election." That's right, Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress have expanded gun rights since they took office in January 2009. Why don't they get any "credit" for this from pro-gun folks?

UPDATE: Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th, VA) weighs in.

The free association and gathering of individuals is a constitutionally protected right that all Americans should support, regardless of whether one agrees with the substance of the protest. Holding an armed rally at a public park however, raises major public safety concerns.

These anti-government demonstrations are fueled by the belief that our constitutional rights under the Second Amendment are somehow under attack and urgent action is needed. While this may be a powerful rallying point for special interest groups, the claim could not be further from the truth. In fact, much to my dismay, virtually every action the federal government has taken in the past decade has weakened commonsense gun laws already on the books.

I understand that the Park Service is well aware of the situation and is working to ensure the public's safety is protected. I urge anyone attending the event to protest in a peaceful manner, respectful of the park and its visitors. I maintain my belief that firearms do not belong in national parks but unfortunately, that's now the law of the land.