The FBI conducted more gun-related background checks this January than in any other January since the system was created.
With 2,545,802 checks processed through the National Instant Background Check System, January 2016 beat the previous record, set in January 2013, by 50,326 checks. Though January’s number represents a drop from the all-time single month record set in December 2015, it is also marks the ninth month in a row that has set a record. It is also the third month in a row with more than two million background checks.
The number of background checks conducted by the FBI is widely considered the most reliable estimate for gun sales in the country since all sales conducted through federally licensed gun dealers and some sales conducted by private parties are required by law to obtain a check.
However, the number is not a one-to-one representation of gun sales. Many private sales are not included in the system. Also, in some cases a single background check can apply to the sale of multiple guns. Some states use background checks for their gun carry permitting process, which does not involve the sale of a gun.
The new record comes in the wake of President Obama’s executive action targeting gun sales. The White House had signaled that those selling even one firearm in their lifetime could be subject to federal licensing requirements, though it was later revealed that the written guidance issued by the ATF was at odds with the administration’s public comments.
A steady stream of comments supportive of gun control by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may also have contributed to record sales.
A move by Virginia Democrats to unilaterally eliminate gun carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states also received national attention in January. The policy was instituted by the state’s attorney general after the party failed to recapture the state Senate despite millions from gun control advocates. The backlash to the plan was strong enough that the state’s Democratic governor reversed it in a deal with Republicans.
The Second Amendment Foundation said the continued spike in gun sales was in line with other indicators from around the country.
“The Boston Globe reported last week that tens of thousands of new gun licenses were issued in Massachusetts last year,” Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder, said in a statement. “In New Jersey, with tough gun laws, applications for gun purchases last year nearly tripled over what they were in 2005. One Missouri county reported a three-month back-up in processing permit applications. A county sheriff in North Carolina is so overwhelmed, he’s asking that citizens make appointments.”
“Add to this the fact that scores of sheriffs and police chiefs have encouraged citizens to arm themselves. Suddenly, gun ownership sounds like a very good idea to people concerned about personal safety,” Gottlieb said.
Rand Paul, the libertarian-minded freshman senator who was once viewed as a formidable presidential contender, is suspending his White House bid.
Paul discussed the matter with staff Wednesday morning and sent out a statement confirming the decision to drop out of the Republican presidential primary.
“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House,” Paul said in the statement. “Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.”
Paul, a Kentucky Republican, is expected to instead place his focus squarely on his Senate reelection bid, where he faces a wealthy Democrat, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who has the money to partially finance his campaign.
Paul finished a disappointing fifth place in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, registering just 4.5% of the vote despite placing a heavy emphasis on the state’s college towns to bring out younger voters inspired by his libertarian-minded message. He promised that night to continue his campaign.
Paul will not make an endorsement in the GOP presidential race before next week’s New Hampshire primary, his spokesman Sergio Gor told CNN.
But sources close to Paul said a morning-after review made clear to Paul that there was not a viable path to winning the Republican nomination and that fund-raising was becoming extremely difficult.
Indeed, as the New Hampshire primary approaches, where his father Ron Paul won 23% of the vote in 2012, polls have found the younger Paul struggling to gain traction.
Paul’s calls for a less aggressive foreign policy, which his critics have dubbed as “isolationist,” failed to connect with GOP voters at a time of growing national security fears. Moreover, Paul had a hard time reestablishing his father’s libertarian coalition because he had sought to broaden his appeal to more establishment-minded Republicans, hurting his credibility with some in his core base of supporters.
Dropping out this early is a disappointment for Paul. He had engineered a major change in Kentucky’s primary system to allow him to run for two offices at the same time, a move aimed at circumventing a prohibition in state law prohibiting candidates from doing so. The state party agreed to change its traditional paper ballot primary to a caucus system in early March, in order to let him avoid the restriction that he couldn’t appear on the ballot twice.
Still, as he now focuses on his Senate race, he remains the heavy favorite in a state that has grown increasingly red.
“The Democrat Party in Kentucky has been very wounded by President Obama,” Paul told CNN Sunday when asked if he were concerned about Gray’s candidacy.
Paul’s campaign account tweeted a reminiscent video Wednesday morning, thanking his supporters and featuring highlights from the senator’s presidential bid.
Following Ted Cruz ‘s Monday victory in Iowa, Ben Carson’s campaign claimed the Texas senator leaked information that the former neurosurgeon was suspending his campaign just before the votes were cast.
According to Time, several members of Carson’s staff have brought forward evidence “alleging misconduct by the Cruz campaign.”
Carson’s Iowa director Ryan Rhodes reportedly received text messages from Mike Huckabee supporters claiming “the Cruz speakers at our caucus announced Carson was suspending his campaign for a while after caucus. They did this before the vote. Same thing happened at another caucus. Sounds like slimy Cruzing to me.”
Additionally, a precinct chair in Muscatine sent Carson’s team an email claiming that a Cruz supporter told the precinct “Ben Carson was taking a break after Iowa, and then stated, ‘so you might want to rethink wasting your vote on him.’”
“That is really quite a dirty trick,” Carson told reporters late Monday night. “That’s the very kind of thing that irritated me enough to get into this quagmire.”
Furthermore, campaign manager Ed Brookover called Cruz’s alleged actions “the lowest of low in American politics,” while Carson’s Iowa co-chair state representative Rob Taylor noted that, “this is horseshit.”
The Cruz campaign has denied any wrongdoing.
Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is rejecting Ben Carson’s assertion that it torpedoed his chances in Iowa’s Republican caucuses Monday night.
“On the Ben Carson allegation, it’s just false,” said Rick Tyler, the Cruz campaign’s communications director, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We simply as a campaign repeated what Ben Carson had said in his own words,” he continued. “That’s not a dirty trick.”
“He said after Iowa he was going to go back to Florida for a couple of days and then he was going to go to D.C. for the prayer breakfast,” Tyler added. “And what that told us was he was not going to New Hampshire.
“That was really surprising by a campaign who was once leading in Iowa saying he’s not going to come to New Hampshire. That’s a news item.”
Carson criticized his Republican presidential rivals, without naming names, for “dirty tricks” in Iowa.
The retired neurosurgeon lashed out following tweets from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who also serves as co-chairman of Cruz’s national campaign. King said departing Iowa is “the equivalent” of suspending an Oval Office bid after Carson returned home to Florida that evening.
Tyler also argued that GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump made several decisions that blunted his own Iowa momentum.
“It hurt him,” he said of Trump’s decision to skip the last Republican presidential debate before the Iowa contest. “I don’t think it hurt him badly, but it definitely hurt him.”
Tyler then charged that Sarah Palin’s endorsement of the outspoken billionaire last month did not boost his standing with voters.
“[It gave him] no real bump,” he said of the backing from the former Republican vice presidential nominee.
Cruz celebrated his win in Iowa as a “victory for the grass roots” late Monday after conquering the first-in-the-nation caucuses there.
It has now been confirmed – The photograph of Ted Cruz campaign shaming letters is legit (see below). The letters are officially from the Ted Cruz campaign.
Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler confirmed to IJ Review that the mailer was theirs in a phone call Friday evening, saying that the targeting had been “very narrow, but the caucuses are important and we want people who haven’t voted before to vote.” (link)
The personalized letters target individual Iowa voters and identifies them as having failed to vote in prior elections. They are admonished and then encouraged to vote this year. In addition the letters identify the neighbors of the voter, and provides their voting history.
The text reads:
“You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses”.
In an effort to shame the recipient, the notice also informs the targeted voter their neighbors have also been notified of the recipients poor voting record.
How the Cruz Team would think a public shaming campaign is a good idea is just staggeringly unbelievable.
The campaign scheme was exposed via Twitter where “Tom Hinkeldy, a resident of Alta, Iowa, tweeted a photo (which was later deleted because it included his personal address) on Friday evening of a mailer Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign sent addressed to his wife, Steffany” – link –
Word spread rapidly.
10:30 PM – 29 Jan 2016
The first name on the mailer list matches the name on the envelope at the top of the page. The envelope also has a returned address as “Paid for by Cruz for President”, the official campaign name of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign (not a super-pac):
Another Iowan, Braddock Massey, tweeted a photo of the mailer he received:
This has the very real potential to be a massive fail and seriously backfire against the Ted Cruz campaign. He might have just given Marco Rubio a considerable gift with the Iowa election only two days away.
From the candidate who prefers to keep his own records, well,… sealed.
UPDATE 5:00am: It looks like Howie might have found the trail, via a professor in Northern Iowa named Christopher Larimer. Describing a previous stunt like this in Alaska. As outlined in a 2014 PBS article:
[…] “Why would they think that shaming would make people comply?”
Because, well, it does. That’s according to Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa. And he’s done the research to prove it.
“We found that when you make people aware of the norm of voting and that somebody else is going to observe whether or not you vote, people are more likely then to vote,” he said.
The letter from the so-called Alaska State Voter Project is nearly identical, word for word, to one that Larimer and other researchers tested in Michigan, right down to the typography and punctuation. In that 2006 research, Larimer and colleagues sent voters one of four different letters.
The softest message just urged people to do their civic duty and vote. The most aggressive letter matched the Alaska mailer. It included the addressee’s voting history as well as those of their neighbors, and contained something of a threat by promising a follow-up letter to show the results of the upcoming election.
Larimer says they got complaints, but the technique worked quite well. (read more)
That emboldened segment describes the current Cruz Campaign mailer 100%. Also, Chris Larimer is noted in this recent Texas Tribune article about the controversial debate:
[…] For Cruz, the No. 2 candidate in many polls, Trump’s snub could make him the center of action at the Iowa Events Center, a role that comes with both risks and rewards.
“If Trump’s not there, it affects the strategy other candidates take toward Cruz,” said Christopher Larimer, a political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa. “Do they treat Cruz like the frontrunner, or do they talk about Trump?”
At the same time, Larimer added, the debate could be a “lost opportunity” for Cruz to challenge Trump on his conservative credentials in what’s likely their last meeting before the caucuses. (read more)
Looks like another one of those ever brilliant political consultant types sold the Cruz campaign on a version of their already extensive “psychographic analytics“. Wouldn’t be surprised if billionaire Phd Robert Mercer, via Cambridge Analytica targeting – isn’t involved in the engineering of this too.
UPDATE: Chris Larimer distances himself from this fiasco via the Washington Post:
The blogosphere rumor is completely false. I do NOT work for the Cruz (or any) campaign and have absolutely nothing to do with mailings.
2:13 PM – 30 Jan 2016
[…] “As a researcher who has done randomized field experiments with get out the vote mailings,” Larimer wrote in an email, “what I can say is that mailings that call attention to an individual’s vote history as well as that of their neighbors’ have been shown to be effective in terms of significantly increasing voter turnout. We draw on norm compliance theory which suggests that publicizing behavior regarding a social norm increases the likelihood of norm compliance.”
That was if the ad was crafted in a smart way. “The Cruz mailing is more negative than anything we have done and has the potential to elicit a negative response or what psychologists call ‘reactance’ or ‘boomerang effect,’” warned Larimer. “The mailing also states that a ‘follow up notice’ will be sent following the caucuses on Monday. This is not possible as caucus turnout is private and maintained by the parties.” (link)
Sarah Palin – Former Alaska Governor/Former Republican Party Vice Presidential Nominee
Ted Nugent – Rock Star/Television Star/2nd Amendment Activist
Willie Robertson – Christian Minister/Businessman/Television Star
Ann Coulter – Book Author/Columnist/Television-Radio Commentator
Joe Arpaio – Former DEA Special Agent/Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff
Mike Ditka – Former NFL Player/Former Coach/Hall Of Fame Inductee
Geert Wilders – Founder And Leader Of Dutch Party For Freedom/Anti-Islam Activist
Carl Icahn – Business Magnate/Philanthropist
Jeffrey Lord – Former Reagan Administration Political Director/Strategist
Virgil Goode – Former U.S. Representative From Virginia/Former Constitution Party Presidential Nominee
Louie Gohmert – U.S. Representative From Texas
Brent Bozell – Founder And President Of The Media Research Center/Columnist
Glenn Beck – Former Television Host/Talk Radio Host/Book Author
Phil Robertson – Businessman/Television Star
Andrew C. McCarthy – Former Assistant U.S. Attorney From New York/Book Author/Columnist
Adam Carolla – Former Television Host/Talk Radio Host
R. Lee Ermey – Former U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant/Movie Star/Television Host
Tom Tancredo – Former U.S. Representative From Colorado
Steve King – U.S. Representative From Iowa
C.L. Bryant – Christian Minister/Talk Radio Host
By the way, these are the sort of folks who endorse Democrat candidates for President:
From the UK Guardian:
Donald Trump has been roundly denounced by MPs from all parties in a debate in the British parliament. But most of those MPs who spoke were critical of the call in a petition signed by 575,000 people for Trump to be banned from the UK because of his proposal for Muslims to be prevented from entering the US and the debate, which took place in an annex outside the main Commons chamber, ended without a vote. One of the functions of a parliament is to allow a nation to let off steam and effectively that is what happened this afternoon.
And with that little snippet, please allow me – an American – to spout off to this miserable pack of limey ASSHOLES for a moment.
Look here, it’s one thing for a U.S. citizen to criticize, mock and even damn one of his own, but when a bunch of pasty-faced, neo-socialist politicians from another country decide to spend the afternoon repeatedly labeling the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination every variety of bigot known to humanity, that’s where I draw the line!
To put it in terms that everyone on both sides of the pond can understand, FUCK YOU!
In the first place, The Donald ISN’T a bigot. He may be a loud, obnoxious prick at times, but he’s always been an equal opportunity prick in my estimation, so every time somebody in the Jurassic media accuses him of trashing women or Hispanic illegals, understand that they are intentionally leaving out the fact that he has trashed far more men and Caucasian citizens over the years.
As for his position on banning Muslim migrants from our shores, keep in mind that he is only talking about what he intends to do in the short-term, and his main concern is with people who hail from a country in the Middle East that is currently embroiled in a civil war and whose various factions are ALL hostile to the west. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have even brought up the subject if our lunatic president hadn’t promised to force thousands of these unvettable people upon our society despite opposition from the vast majority of Americans.
Sure, Trump says dopey, unrealistic shit every once in a while. So what? The smoothest politicians say dopey, unrealistic shit too, only they’re more practiced at sounding reasonable when they do it, and in the final analysis, they’ve generally been far less successful at getting things done over the years than The Donald has.
But whatever your opinion on the matter, that’s an argument for we, the people of the United States of America to have, isn’t it? What it definitely is NOT is a subject for the men and women of Parliament to discuss in their capacity as representatives of the BRITISH people!
In case you self-loathing, dhimmi bastards hadn’t noticed, Donald Trump isn’t a citizen of your rapidly declining nation. He’s a citizen of OUR rapidly declining nation, so mind your own business, you incessant whiners, and try expending your energies on saving YOUR country from the growing threat of Islam instead of pissing on everyone in the world who happens to recognize just how completely buggered your leftist opinions are!
By the way, I’m an American of both Irish and English lineage, but today I consider myself completely Irish. I, hereby, disassociate myself from my English heritage, because if England is a country where its leaders don’t have the balls to stand up for the fundamental right of all people to speak their minds plainly and openly without fear of reprisal, then England is a fascist, pussy nation.
In fact, I ban MYSELF from Great Britain!
Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz should be disqualified from the race because he isn’t a “natural-born citizen,” a fellow Texan claims in a “birther” challenge filed against the senator in a U.S. court.
The suit seeks a court definition of the term to clarify whether Cruz – who was born in Canada to an American mother – can or can’t serve if elected.
“This 229-year question has never been pled, presented to or finally decided by or resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Houston attorney Newton B. Schwartz Sr. said in his 28-page complaint. “Only the U.S. Supreme Court can finally decide, determine judicially and settle this issue now.”
Claiming that “time is of the essence” because of the rapidly approaching Iowa caucuses and March 1 Super Tuesday primaries, Schwartz asked that the case be expedited for resolution by the nation’s highest court as soon as possible.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump pressed the issue during a televised candidate debate Thursday evening in South Carolina, saying he’s bringing up Cruz’s Canadian birthplace “because now he’s doing a little bit better” in the polls. Trump insisted that Cruz receive a judgment from the courts because it would be bad for Republicans to have the issue hanging over their presidential or vice-presidential nominee.
“There is a big overhang. A big question mark on your head,” Trump told Cruz. “You can’t do that to the party.”
Cruz chuckled when asked to respond to Trump’s taunts and swatted them away deftly. Trump, on the other end of the exchange, faced many boos from the crowd.
“There’s nothing to this birther issue,” Cruz said during the debate, noting that Trump said last fall that he was a natural-born citizen. “Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have. I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law are really clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen abroad is a natural born citizen.”
Schwartz, 85, said in a phone interview he isn’t connected to any particular campaign, though he personally “probably” supports Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator seeking the Democratic nomination.
“Honestly, I was watching C-SPAN one night when Donald Trump was talking about it and I couldn’t believe no one had thought to just file something with the court,” said Schwartz, a practicing trial attorney and self-described news junkie.
“It’s such a simple procedure – I’m amazed no one did it,” Schwartz said. “Senator Cruz should have filed it himself to avoid the question.”
Asked about the lawsuit, Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the Cruz campaign, said: “I’d refer you to the debate exchange on the issue.”
Schwartz said he filed the paperwork himself with no one else advising him and he said he does not have an opinion for which way the court should rule.
“The country will be in chaos if he’s elected president or vice president and this goes to trial then,” Schwartz said. “I can see both sides of this argument.”
The attorney added that he’s got “nothing against” Cruz.
“If he gets cleared, he gets cleared,” Schwartz said. “Let’s just get this thing settled before the primaries and the convention and the election.”
The case is Schwartz v. Cruz, 4:16-cv-00106, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).