As you can see in this video, Josh Horwitz and Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence attempted yesterday to enter 31st State Senate District Republican candidate Caren Merrick's office building in McLean (1313 Dolley Madison, Suite 302) to collect her NRA questionnaire, which Merrick has promised multiple times to provide (although it should be noted that Merrick keeps moving the goalposts, first just saying she'd release it, then saying she'd ONLY release it if Barbara Favola released her AFL-CIO survey, which Favola did; then STILL not releasing the completed survey!). As you can see, Horwitz and Haas were not allowed in to the locked building, and Merrick staffers, who had been on the way out of the building, hightailed it back towards the elevator when they spotted Horwitz and Haas, who they're apparently terrified of at this point.
More background: Horwitz (Executive Director of CSGV) and Haas (mother of a Virginia Tech shooting survivor and Virginia coordinator for CSGV) have been attempting to get a copy of Merrick's NRA questionnaire for days now (again, as Merrick herself has promised multiple times to do!). Yesterday, they first stopped by Merrick's office -- which Merrick shares with Republican Delegate Barbara Comstock, another right wingnut - at 3 pm. At that time, Horwitz and Haas were told that there were no professional staff there, just volunteers (also note: Horwitz had called and asked when a good time to come pick up the survey, but nobody called him back). However, according to Horwitz, there clearly were professional staff there, possibly including a woman named Christina (claims to be a "volunteer" - who knows?) who you can see in the above video scurrying back to the elevator when she sees Horwitz and Haas. Also, Horwitz called at 4:30 pm, but Merrick staffers didn't answer the phone.
Now, on the "flip," find out what happens when Horwitz and Haas return at 6:30 pm last night to try once again to pick up Merrick's NRA questionnaire.
To understand what these letter grades mean, and why they're the exact opposite of how you normall think of grading, check out the NRA candidate questionnaire which has items on it like: repealing Virginia's one-handgun-per-month law; allowing unfettered "sale, purchase, possession and transfer of semi-automatic firearms;" preventing doctors from "questioning patients about firearm ownership;" opposing "legislation requiring locking devices (safes, trigger locks, cable locks...) or other locking procedures for firearms stored in the home;" etc. That's some extreme stuff right there, and that's how you rack up an "A" rating with the NRA, by answering those questions "correctly." A few interesting races where the NRA rating should make a big difference in how you choose to vote?
*Senate District 1: John Miller (D rating) vs. Mickey Chohany (A rating). Vote Miller!
*Senate District 13: Shawn Mitchell (D rating) vs. Dick Black (A rating). Vote Mitchell!
*Senate District 22: Bert Dodson (C rating) vs. Thomas Garrett (A rating). Vote Dodson!
*Senate District 31: Barbara Favola (F rating) vs. Caren Merrick (A- rating). Do NOT vote Merrick!
*Senate District 32: Janet Howell (F rating) vs. Patrick Forrest (A rating). Vote Howell!
*Senate District 33: Mark Herring (D rating) vs. Patricia Phillips (A rating). Vote Herring!
*Senate District 34: Chap Petersen (C+ rating) vs. Gerarda Culipher (A- rating). Vote Chap! (although Chap's rating is too high for my liking, he's still better on this issue, and on every other issue, than Culipher)
*Senate District 36: Toddy Puller (F rating) vs. Jeff Frederick (A rating). Vote Toddy!
*Senate District 37: Dave Marsden (F rating) vs. Jason Flanary (A rating). Do NOT vote for Flanary!
*Senate District 39: George Barker (F rating) vs. Miller Baker (A rating). Vote George Barker!
Also, check out the House ratings and do NOT vote for Mark Dudenhefer (A rating), Bob Marshall (A rating), Ronald Villaneuva (A rating), Scott Lingamfelter (A+ rating), Barbara Comstock (A rating), Brian Schoeneman (A rating), Matthew Fariss (A rating), David Ramadan (A rating), Michael Watson (A rating), etc.
Remember, an "A" from the NRA rating means the person supports the wildly-out-of-the-mainstream items I've listed above. A "D" or "F" rating from the NRA is truly a badge of honor, as it means the candidate opposes the NRA's extreme agenda, in spite of that organization's huge amount of money and organized supporters. Despite that fact, of course, the NRA and what it stands for remains in the small minority of Americans, the vast majority of whom support reasonable gun safety measures. Hopefully, that quiet majority will show up on November 8 and express their preferences accordingly.
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:
It certainly was no surprise to me that Sen Jim Webb released a statement yesterday praising the Supreme Court decision in the Chicago gun ban case, McDonald v Chicago. The 5-4 decision declared Chicago's ban on handgun ownership in the city unconstitutional.
"I support today's decision of the Supreme Court in the case of McDonald v. Chicago. With this decision, the Court has ruled that wholesale, sweeping bans and restrictions on firearm ownership cannot be enacted by state and local governments...I joined a number of my colleagues in filing an amicus brief in this case, in support of a gun owner seeking to overturn Chicago's handgun ban," Webb said.
The ruling doesn't immediately end the handgun ban in Chicago. It simply sends the case back to a lower court for a new ruling. It will be up to that U.S. District Court to re-hear the case and issue directives on exactly what the city can regulate about handgun ownership. The handgun ban was passed in Chicago in 1982, following the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
Of course, Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association and a guy who started his political ventures as a legislative aide for the late Democratic Del. Vic Thomas of Vinton, wasn't satisfied because city and state officials retain, according to Justice Samuel Alito, the right to place "reasonable restrictions" on gun ownership.
I personally don't think LaPierre would be satisfied even if he somehow could turn the United States into an armed camp, a place where every citizen could get whatever firepower was available, regardless of the right of the rest of us not to be bullied by armed intimidation. (The NRA even opposes any ban on so-called "cop-killer" ammunition or on any restriction on civilians owning military automatic weapons.)
In Virginia, the Governor can propose amendments to legislation as part of his vetoing or approving a bill and returning it to the veto session of the General Assembly. Gov. McDonnell has proposed requiring that the gun safety instruction in the elementary schools be required to use the curriculum of the National Rifle Association.
In Washington, Republican Senators have introduced legislation to block the White House from requiring federal agencies to consider climate change data in environmental impact statements.
I will provide more information below the fold.