Ben Marquis


Though the severity of the restrictions differs depending upon locality, countless jurisdictions within the United States have trampled all over the civil liberties of American citizens during the response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

One of the most egregious examples is the handful of jurisdictions that have deemed gun stores and manufacturers to be “nonessential” and thus ordered to close as part of broader “stay-at-home” orders intended to reduce the spread of the viral contagion.

The state of California is one such place where gun stores and firearms manufacturers, at least initially, were deemed nonessential. Thankfully, swift public backlash has compelled some officials to back off and allow the gun stores to remain open.

Amid the backlash, a coalition of concerned Second Amendment activists filed a lawsuit seeking to ensure that California (and Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles in particular) would be unable to order gun shops and manufacturers closed a second time.

A federal judge, however, ruled against those plaintiffs on Monday and denied a request for a temporary restraining order against the city and state, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

District Judge André Birotte Jr., appointed by then-President Barack Obama in 2014, rejected most of the arguments put forward by the coalition of gun rights advocates, which included the Firearms Policy Coalition, the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation.

Birotte noted in his ruling that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in declaring a state of emergency and then issuing an executive order for most businesses to close and people to remain home, had declined to address the question of gun stores and manufacturers and instead left that up to local sheriffs to decide.

Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles had issued similar orders, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva decreed that gun stores needed to be closed. Eventually, however, the sheriff reversed course and allowed the stores to reopen.

Birotte ruled that the plaintiffs had no grounds for a suit against the governor, though he did acknowledge that a case could be made against the county.

He also ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success for their claim that the orders violated the Second Amendment, as well as their claim that due process rights had been violated, and ruled in favor of the defendants.

“The City’s and County’s stated objective — reducing the spread of COVID-19, a highly dangerous and infectious disease — undoubtedly constitutes an important government objective,” the judge wrote. “Moreover … the closure of non-essential businesses, including firearms and ammunition retailers, reasonably fits the City’s and County’s stated objectives of reducing the spread of this disease.”

In a statement provided to the Free Beacon following the ruling, the coalition of Second Amendment advocates said, “[t]he Court’s awful ruling in this matter is far from the end of this lawsuit.”

“We will continue to seek a preliminary injunction in this matter and are prepared to seek relief from the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court should doing so be necessary to end these unconstitutional bans, defend liberty, and fight for the rights of our members and the public.”

How this case fares on appeal remains to be seen, but there is reason for hope for gun rights activists.

Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security recently published a memorandum designating gun stores and firearms manufacturers as businesses “essential” to maintaining “critical infrastructure” around the country.

While that designation isn’t binding — even though most states voluntarily adhere to the federal guidelines in that regard — it is worth noting that Newsom’s executive order, per the judge’s ruling, had exempted “critical infrastructure sectors” from the ordered closures.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out in the appeals process. Meanwhile, despite the judge’s ruling, it is also unclear if gun stores in Los Angeles County, or anywhere else in the state, will be forcibly closed now.

As noted, Villanueva had already backed off his effort to shut down gun shops and announced on March 31 that gun stores would be allowed to remain open. Public pressure campaigns by gun rights supporters have seemingly been successful.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only legal battle over gun rights in the midst of the pandemic, as there are lawsuits pending in other states and jurisdictions that will eventually be ruled on, and those fights will undoubtedly be appealed to the higher courts.

Author: Ben Marquis

Source: Western Journal: Obama-Appointed Judge Throws Out 2A, Allows Los Angeles To Forcibly Shut Down Gun Stores

Since the beginning of the public health crisis surrounding the spread of the new coronavirus, President Donald Trump’s response to the global pandemic has been ruthlessly criticized and mocked by Democrats and the establishment media.

The president has been accused of initially downplaying the threat posed by the virus, of supposedly calling it a “hoax,” of being “racist” for pointing out the Chinese origin of the virus, of placing Americans in danger with lies and misinformation and, most recently, of seeking to secretly enrich himself and his friends with taxpayer funds via a supposed “slush fund” within the Senate’s economic stimulus package.

In the view of many of Trump’s supporters, the constant media attacks and overt politicization of the coronavirus crisis is merely the latest extension of failed efforts to “get Trump” — attempts such as “Russian collusion,” the Mueller investigation, the Ukraine scandal and impeachment.

It appears that the attempt to “get Trump” on his administration’s coronavirus response has been another failed effort as well, at least according to the latest poll from Gallup, which shows that Trump’s overall approval rating has increased in recent weeks, in large part due to how he has handled the public health crisis.

According to the poll, which was conducted between March 13-22 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points, the president’s job approval rating had increased to 49 percent, up five points from earlier in the month.

That 49 percent approval tied his highest point in the Gallup poll, which he reached around the same time that he was acquitted in the Senate of the impeachment articles filed against him.

The increase in Trump’s approval rating didn’t even come from his Republican supporters, either, as that demographic gained only one point, increasing from 91 to 92 percent.

Instead, it appears that Trump’s increased approval came via independents and Democrats, with support among independents increasing by eight points, 35 percent to 43 percent, and by six points among Democrats, 7 percent to 13 percent.

Gallup suggested the surge in the president’s overall approval rating may be attributable to the administration’s coronavirus response efforts, which 60 percent of respondents approved of and only 38 percent disapproved of.

That 22-point spread is landslide territory for his approval, politically speaking.

Trump’s coronavirus response was approved of by 94 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and even 27 percent of Democrats.

Gallup further suggested that the increase in Trump’s approval seemed to coincide with the president’s mid-March address to the nation about the coronavirus pandemic, in which it was indisputable that he was taking the matter seriously, and was further bolstered by the daily briefings he’s held at the White House with his task force of experts.

To be sure, this news will undoubtedly baffle Trump-hating leftists who live in sequestered bubbles on social media and have bought all of the narratives put forward by the anti-Trump media, as evidenced by many of the outraged comments on a tweet about the poll results from a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Unfortunately for those who are incapable of accepting the results of the Gallup poll, it isn’t really an outlier at all but is instead in line with other polls conducted over the same time frame.

According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls on coronavirus approval, Trump’s rating stands at 49 percent, with positive approval ratings from pollsters like ABC News/Ipsos, Emerson and Axios-Harris.

The media has gone all-in with its incessant attacks on Trump over the coronavirus, accusing him of the worst things, encouraging fear and panic among the American people and even fueling and perpetuating a massive sell-off on the stock market with dire predictions of mass deaths and infections and economic devastation.

Yet they have failed to even put a dent in the president’s approval.

Through it all, Trump has stood strong and done his job, taking decisive action when necessary, cutting regulations and red tape where possible, marshaling the power of capitalism and the private sector to fill in the gaps left by the federal government and encouraging the American people to bring out the best in themselves and others as we all weather this terrible infectious storm together — but separate — in our own homes.

Author: Ben Marquis

Source: Western Journal: Trump Dominates Polling: Gets Landslide Approval on COVID, Overall Approval Ties All-Time High

Sen. Bernie Sanders has undeniably been surging of late in the Democratic presidential primary process. He has also sparked concerns among the Democratic establishment that his openly socialist message (which likely wouldn’t fare well against President Donald Trump’s staunchly capitalistic message) will win over the increasingly progressive left-wing base of voters and win the party’s nomination.

Indeed, the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Sanders trailing frontrunner establishment candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden by less than four points. That’s a substantial improvement over the 10-point lead Biden held in early January and the roughly 15-point difference between the two in early December.

Concurrent with Sanders’ rise in the polls over the past few weeks is an increase in attacks launched against him by his Democratic opponents via liberal media outlets.

The latest such assault on his character and reputation is a rehash of questionable comparisons to slavery and apartheid that Sanders made on numerous occasions in the 1970s and ’80s.

Unearthed interviews with local newspapers in Vermont in those days revealed that Sanders had a habit of comparing poor whites in the state to black South Africans living under apartheid, while also routinely comparing working-class white laborers to black slaves in pre-Civil War America.

The Daily Beast was the first to report in late January on the decades-old comments from Sanders, which came while he was a leading figure in a small political party known as the Liberty Union Party, a “radical” offshoot of the openly socialist People’s Party in Vermont.

One example cited was a 1976 interview in which Sanders had compared the sale of a Vermont mining company to a foreign company as being similar to “the days of slavery, when black people were sold to different owners without their consent.”

Another example was his criticism of the growing service economy in Vermont in 1977, which he also compared to slavery, and said, “Basically, today, Vermont workers remain slaves in many, many ways,” and added for emphasis, “The problem comes when we end up with an entire state of people trained to wait on other people.”

Politico has now joined in on the effort to fully reveal the extent of Sanders’ questionable commentary more than 40 years ago. That will almost certainly will hurt him with black Democratic voters, a demographic the elderly socialist senator has long struggled to gain sufficient traction with — though he is admittedly doing better with black voters this go-round as compared to his 2016 campaign.

That outlet noted that in a speech Sanders delivered in a 1986 public forum, he stated that poor white people from Vermont “are the equivalent of blacks in South Africa. They don’t vote, they aren’t involved, they don’t care about the issues.”

When Sanders was reportedly confronted by a fellow member of the forum over his “pretty fiery oratory,” the then-candidate for governor seemingly doubled down and actually insinuated that poor white Vermonters were worse off and more oppressed overall, as he said, “Obviously the analogy is not true … because in South Africa the blacks are not invisible — they are beginning to stand up.”

Politico also shared Sanders’ remarks about slavery in comparison to capitalism from a 1978 interview, in which he said, “I believe that the vast majority of the people of the world and of this country are living in a slave-like condition not terribly different from what existed in this country before the Civil War.”

The Sanders campaign has fired back against the reports documenting his old comments. The campaign’s national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray said in a statement, “We expect to see these desperate last-minute attacks continue as long as this movement thrives, but Americans trust Bernie Sanders, and they can identify a cynical, politically motivated ploy when they see one.”

Gray added that Sanders had been experiencing a rise in support from black voters, had a diverse array of supporters and surrogates, outlined policies aimed at helping minorities, and had a “long record of commitment to racial equality.”

How these decades-old statements about slavery play with black voters in the current era remains to be seen — obvious “cynical, politically motivated ploy” as it may be — but a pollster for former President Barack Obama, Cornell Belcher, who has remained neutral in the primary thus far, suggested the comments nevertheless “raise legitimate questions about how he approaches race,” according to Politico.

“A lot of minorities and sensible voters are going to look at these statements and say it’s incredibly insensitive and nonsensical to compare black South Africans in this way to workers in Vermont,” Belcher said. “It’s just an insensitivity about him on racial issues that are problematic. To compare slavery to workers not having a say in a company that pays them in Vermont is enormously insensitive.”

One overarching potential problem highlighted by those that Politico spoke with was Sanders’ tendency to co-mingle the issues of class and race, a “false equivalency” that some view as an effort to minimize the horrors of slavery while playing up the class-warfare angle.

As noted, Sanders has already struggled with attracting and keeping minority voters, and these outrageous comments will not help matters in that regard at all.

That said, whether the remarks make a substantial splash or are largely dismissed as unfortunate comments from a distant and different era is a question for Democratic voters to resolve.

It must be pointed out, though, that had President Donald Trump similarly compared poor West Virginian coal miners to slaves or historically oppressed peoples, the response from the media and the left would be several orders of magnitude greater than what Sanders is currently facing.

Author: Ben Marquis

Source: Western Journal: Sanders’ Past Comments on Slavery Could Lead to Trouble with Black Voters

Democrats in Virginia won control of the state Assembly and Senate in the 2019 elections and, in conjunction with the Democrats who control the state’s executive offices, immediately made it abundantly clear that they intended to legislatively impose an assortment of strict gun control measures upon lawful gun-owners in the state.

It didn’t take long before those Virginia Democrats began to make good on their vows to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Virginians.

On Monday, tens of thousands of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters converged on the capital of Richmond to register their staunch opposition to the gun-control proposals.

President Donald Trump spoke briefly about the attempted gun-grab during a wide-ranging interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo while in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, and he made it clear that he was standing alongside gun owners in support of the Second Amendment.

Trump’s remarks about Virginia came after a question about efforts by Democrats in New York to release a substantial number of convicted criminals from prison in addition to a controversial bail reform measure. Trump simply dismissed what the New York Democrats were doing as “crazy” before shifting his focus to Virginia.

“I think it’s crazy, and I think Virginia is crazy,” the president said. “They want to take away the guns in Virginia. You have a governor that’s — I just can’t believe it — but Virginia’s very much in play. I think we’re going to win the state of Virginia.”

“They want to take everyone’s gun away in Virginia. You can’t do it. You can’t do it,” he said. “People need that for safety. They need it for hunting and other — but many people need it for safety. They need it for security.”

“They’re playing with our Second Amendment,” Trump continued. “Frankly, they’d get rid of it. I watched [Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam] on an interview. He would get rid of the Second Amendment if it was up to him, and you have many Democrats saying the same thing.”

“They’re saying it quietly, but if they win these elections, they’re going to try and get rid of the Second Amendment. It will never happen as long as I’m here,” he added.

This actually wasn’t the first time that Trump had addressed the situation in Virginia and the growing threat posed by anti-gun Democrats to the sacred constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in the state.

On Monday, tens of thousands of gun owners rallied peacefully in Richmond in spite of overblown fear-mongering from the media about the potential for violent conflict.

Northam had enacted a ban on firearms on the Capitol Square in the days leading up to the rally.

As the rally was taking place, Trump criticized Virginia Democrats on Twitter.

“The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!” he tweeted.

A few hours later, following the conclusion of the rally (which featured no violence of any kind), the president also tweeted, “I will NEVER allow our great Second Amendment to go unprotected, not even a little bit!”

Trump understands that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. He has made it crystal clear yet again that he won’t stand idly by while a fundamental right of the people is trampled on and infringed by authoritarian tyrants in the Democratic Party.

Author: Ben Marquis

Source: Western Journal: Trump on Virginia Gun Grab: ‘It Will Never Happen as Long as I’m Here’

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