Saturday, March 17, 2007

Follow the money--a look at the Gun Guys' sugar daddies

From Armed and Safe: Thanks for letting me use it! -Yuri

"Anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly has probably noticed that I really enjoy picking on the Gun Guys website. There's just something about the hysterical dissemination of outright lies (such as "where there is a firearm, there will be firearms violence."--the kind of thing they say all the time, and about as honest as saying "where there are children and parents, there will be child abuse.") that bothers me. Today, though, instead of making fun of the Gun Guys directly (which was kind of fun for awhile, but way too easy), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at their funding. Comments from 1957 Human provided much of the inspiration for this little project--thanks '57.

The Gun Guys are part of the cynically named "Freedom States Alliance" (that name might be the biggest lie of all), which also boasts such paragons of internet wisdom as 50 Caliber Terror--about the "horrific threat" of .50 caliber rifles (tell me, guys, have you uncovered a single case of someone in the U.S. being killed with one of those yet--get back to me when you do), License to Murder--which is their catchy name (they do like lurid sensationalism, don't they?) for laws that explicitly state that the burden of proof that a self-defense shooting was not self-defense lies with the prosecution (apparently, the whole concept of the presumption of innocence pending proof of guilt offends them), and (I'm not kidding here) Newspaper Loophole (apparently, the mythical "gunshow loophole" isn't quite silly enough for these geniuses, so now they're trying to make it impossible for people to place classified ads to sell their used guns).

Of all the Freedom States Alliance websites, the Gun Guys would seem to be the flagship--at least it gets updated regularly--the rest seem to be pretty static. The Freedom States Alliance, in turn, is apparently part of, or managed by Mark Karlin and Associates, a Chicago based public relations firm. The funding, or at least a vast chunk of it, comes from the Joyce Foundation. According to this, in 2006, the Joyce Foundation gave $650,000 to the Mark Karlin group, for the Freedom States Alliance (they also gave $185,000 to the same PR firm in 2003, "to help raise the media presence and capacity of Midwest gun violence prevention groups," although this may have been before the Freedom States Alliance was formed). Actually, a look on the Joyce Foundation's list of grants for public policy dealing with "gun violence" is something of a who's who of anti-gun groups--and the money involved is huge: $500,000 to the Violence Policy Center, a staggering $1,795,000, since July, 2004, to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (here, here, here, and here)--and that's just a sampling--in all, there's over six and a quarter million dollars devoted just to pushing more restrictive gun laws (according to this)--and that doesn't count all the money for firearms "research."

Something I found interesting is that over half a million dollars (here and here) of that money has gone to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, just in the last year. That certainly sounds impressive, (or would--if one believes that an international group should have a say in U.S. public policy). The Gun Guys, by the way, quote the IACP all the time--apparently, half a million dollars in one year buys quite a lot of support for one's position to strip Americans of their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

In fairness, attacking the Second Amendment isn't the Joyce Foundation's only passion--they also seem to have it in for the First Amendment, as seen here by their monetary support for the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002

Joyce helped fund several of the groups that provided critical research and advocacy on behalf of state and federal campaign finance reforms. After Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) in 2002, Joyce provided funding to the Brennan Center at New York University, Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center, and the Public Citizen Litigation Group to help defend the act against lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. The Supreme Court upheld BCRA in 2003.
Does anyone besides me find it ironic that they would use money to support legislation ostensibly aimed at "keeping money out of politics"?

So it seems that the Gun Guys and their pals are well funded. You'd think with all that money, they could afford a word processing program with a spell check feature, or am I just not clever enough to have encountered the word, "renowed" before? Update: I guess they dropped in, learned of their spelling problem, and fixed it--hey Gun Guys, how about sending some of that Joyce Foundation money this way, if you're going to use my proofreading service?

EDITED TO ADD: Living as I do (unfortunately) in the self-defense denied state of Illinois, I kind of left out the Joyce Foundation's contributions to self-defense suppression in other states--to give an idea, since 2003, they've given $1,270,000 to WAVE Educational Fund, $112,000 to Citizens for a Safer Minnesota Education Fund , $350,000 to Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and $250,000 to Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence. Basically, if you're a gun rights deprivation advocacy group in the Midwest, the Joyce Foundation has a big stack of blank checks for you."