New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- There are so-called “gun control” organizations that we, as gun owners, have to deal with on a constant basis.
Sure, the narrative has changed over the years, with many of the Astroturf groups referring to themselves as “gun safety” groups, but nonetheless, the spirit of “Handgun Control Inc” (aka Brady United) lives on in all of them. What is perhaps more surprising to me is learning about a group that apparently has no issues mincing words and refers to themselves as a “gun control organization.”
One such group was corresponding with Governor Phil Murphy’s Director of Communications, Mahen Gunaratina. Looking through documents obtained through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA W170483) I glimpsed at an email thread involving Igor Volsky, the Executive Director of Guns Down America, and Governor Phil Murphy’s office. In the email dated March 15, 2019, Volsky does not hold any punches. In fact, what he had to say I’m going to include in full here for your immediate review:
Daniella — thanks so much for the connect, I’m moving you to BCC!
Mahen, we may have met when I interviewed the Governor as part of our ThinkingCAP podcast at CAP in 2018! I’ve since moved to running a gun control organization called Guns Down America and we’ve been absolutely loving what you guys are doing on the issue, particularly the decision to include the number of crime guns recovered by each manufacturer!!
I’m connecting with you because later this month we’re launching a campaign pushing the largest banks to stop doing business with the gun industry until that industry can be fundamentally reformed. Since TD Bank is headquartered in New Jersey, I’d love to hop on the phone and tell you more about that effort and ways the Governor can create some amazing change in the corporate responsibility/gun space.
I’m attaching a brief overview of our strategic thinking and would love to connect. Would you have some time next week?
Well, isn’t that a cute missive to digest? “I’m moving you to BCC!”, convenient. As noted earlier, this is a “gun control” group, self-proclaimed. If I had to take a guess, I’d say this goes directly against what the playbook from a group such as Moms Demand Action would say. My assumption, if I had the chance to read such a document, is it would say something very similar to exactly this:
DO talk about “preventing gun violence.” DON’T talk about “gun control.”
I suppose when the microphones aren’t hot, these groups have no issue admitting to exactly what they are. On one hand, I do find it rather refreshing to know that Igor, the head of a “gun control” group, is not trying to change his spots. Kudos! for honesty, at least with Governor Murphy’s office.
The first rule of gun control is never talk about gun control!
Something of a coincidence maybe, I will note that I did try to check out the podcast episode that Volsky mentioned in his email. Interestingly enough, the content of the interview is no longer available. What did Governor Murphy talk about? What is the content that no longer can be accessed? The title of the show is “New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy on Resisting Trump” and you can read the show notes HERE:
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) joins Michele and Igor to discuss the progress his state has made—including passing equal pay and paid sick leave, pushing back against the GOP tax bill, and his decision to create a Cabinet as diverse as New Jersey—despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to dismantle progressive agendas. Also, Ben Olinsky, senior vice president of Policy and Strategy at CAP, joins to outline the Center’s big ideas for states, including overtime, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and “clean slate” legislation to automatically seal nonviolent criminal records.
This is the type of stuff we, as gun owners, need to be aware of. This is the type of stuff the general public needs to learn about. Volsky fed us the information through this email he probably never thought would see the light of day. His group was advocating for an “operation chokepoint” type of tactics to be employed in New Jersey. This anti-civil rights enthusiast was clearly trying to conspire with government officials in the state of New Jersey to engage in discriminatory practices.
Volsky applauds “…the decision to include the number of crime guns recovered by each manufacturer!!” The program seems to have begun in January 2018. I vaguely remember the murmurs of this initiative via executive order starting, and most people were dismissive of it being more Astroturf “we’re doing something” measures. In light of litigation against one such tracked manufacturer, we can see there may have been some method to their madness. As reported:
State data show that more than 80% of the guns used in crimes in New Jersey came from outside of the state, with Smith & Wesson firearms among the heaviest-trafficked firearms into the state. According to the latest report, 48 Smith & Wesson-brand firearms were used in crimes in the state, the leader among all gun manufacturers.
The litigation is in the form of New Jersey suing Smith & Wesson over their advertising methods. From another report on the suit specifically:
“New Jersey is asking a judge to force Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. to hand over internal documents, the latest twist in an ongoing legal fight over how the gun manufacturer advertises to residents.
The subpoena came after Grewal’s office asked outside lawyers to help investigate how gun companies promote their products.
Smith & Wesson said in its lawsuit that this all amounted to an “unconstitutional fishing expedition” designed to weaken the Second Amendment.
Grewal’s office pushed back, saying last week that state law allowed them to dig into anyone advertising within New Jersey.
The review was not about “the product Smith & Wesson sells, but the representations and omissions in its marketing and advertising,” state officials argued in court documents, and the investigation has shown that some ads “may misrepresent the impact owning a firearm has on personal safety.”
Some Smith & Wesson ads also promoted carrying concealed firearms without mentioning that New Jerseyans needed a permit to conceal carry, state officials wrote.
Grewal’s office asked that Smith & Wesson be held in contempt of court for ignoring the subpoena.”
It’s eye-opening to see how all the pieces come together. New Jersey officials are using taxpayer dollars to sue a perfectly legitimate business. Looking at Guns Down America and what they stand for sheds more light on perhaps what else we could be up against in the Garden State:
Guns Down America has led large coalitions to execute successful campaigns that have forced FedEx to stop providing discounts to NRA members, drove two large insurers (Chubb and Lockton Affinity) to break their business relationship with the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance and helped push the NRA toward bankruptcy, pushed the nation’s largest banks to publicly back away from doing business with the gun industry, and convinced Walmart to significantly reduce their gun sales and begin actively lobbying for gun reform.
You, the gun advocate can connect the rest of the dots. Taking a 30,000-foot view, we are better able to see how these groups and methods all come together. Guns Down America has a line of communications with Governor Phil Murphy’s office. People like Volsky have his ear. AmmoLand News is going to continue to monitor and look into any potential wrongdoing by the Murphy administration. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us, and we are dealing with groups conspiring with the government against the people to usurp their rights.
About John Petrolino
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .