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The Gun Controlling Governor Who’s Never Shot One

As people (mostly gun rights advocates) line up to testify on gun control legislation as if they’re low-income people caught up in the UHIP debacle or Providence drivers nabbed by speed cameras, I thought I’d highlight this interesting detail from Ted Nesi’s latest weekend roundup column (emphasis added):

Governor Raimondo, meanwhile, has been devoting a lot of her public appearances to promoting gun control. In an interview with Kim Kalunian on Thursday, she said she supports her daughter’s plans to join an upcoming school walkout – and has never shot a gun herself.

We would err if we cultivated the standard that only people who know about a thing can ever comment on its use, but the fact that the governor has never, ever shot a gun seems unusually relevant in this case.

After all, she’s pushing legislation to forbid people from buying particular guns and accessories and to expand the ability of government to take guns away even though she has no personal experience with how they might handle differently.  She has no basis to say, “You don’t need that gun instead of this gun,” because she doesn’t know what practical difference there might be.

Moreover, she’ll probably never have to consider firing guns for anything other than sport, because she’s followed around by people with taxpayer-funded guns, and she’s wealthy enough to afford various forms of security even after she leaves public office.

So, the fact that the governor of Rhode Island has never pulled a gun’s trigger doesn’t remove her right to opine on gun ownership.  However, it should encourage some humility in somebody seeking to limit access to a constitutionally protected tool when she hasn’t ever used the tool herself and can expect always to be able to rely on hired help to use it when she needs it.

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The Governor’s Priorities on Gun Control

The video following the text on this WPRI story features me arguing that the governor’s executive order making gun confiscation a higher priority for law enforcement doesn’t adequately respect the rights of the gun owner.  One can tell that it was written entirely by gun-control advocates.  The person under investigation, while law enforcement must “follow up” with him or her at least once, has no advocate in the process.  Moreover, the Working Group for Gun Safety has no requirement that any members be supporters of gun rights or even private-sector gun experts.  “Gun violence prevention advocates” and “affected families and youth” get a nod, though.

As a distinct matter separate from the wisdom of the “red flag” policy that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo promoted, however, the process and presentation raise important questions about the governor’s priorities.

First is the fact that the public was told on Friday that the governor would sign some broadly defined “red flag” legislation on Monday, which she did at a staged media event in Warwick.  Then, we all waited around to discover what, specifically, she had done after she had already done it.  No public input; Raimondo formulates a policy behind closed doors and assumes it is perfect.

That was followed by, second, the fact that the language of the executive order was not available anywhere, as far as I could tell, including on the governor’s executive order page, which at the time hadn’t been updated since 2015, and on the page for the related press release.  The executive order page was updated before the close of business, yesterday, after I’d complained about the omission on social media, but as of this writing (the following morning), the tab at the top of the list still says “2015.”

In other words, with all the public relations personnel that Governor Raimondo is infamous for having hired, nobody bothered to make this executive order available upon release — let alone beforehand, available for public comment.  That suggests that the important thing, to the governor, isn’t the policy, but the PR, and that isn’t how law ought to be formulated, especially when restricting Constitutional rights.

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Setting Up Political Operatives

I’ve expressed skepticism that the state Ethics Commission will see a violation in Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s hiring of a member of the Providence Democratic City Committee and subsequent campaign agreement with that council.  In general, the commission has held the view that corruption only exists in the private sector.  Maybe a political committee will count as a private sector organization under its taxonomy, but I doubt it.

Abstruse government rules aside, the agreement, which Raimondo released on the Sunday of a three-day weekend, looks really bad, mostly because of this part:

No later than January 31, 2018, the Committee will authorize Patrick Ward (“Ward”) to open the following three accounts (collectively, the “Accounts”)…

The Committee agrees that Ward shall have exclusive and plenary authority to spend, transfer, and otherwise disburse funds from the Accounts for any lawful purpose… and shall be the only signatory on the Accounts…, except that Ward may designate any other persons of his choosing to also exercise these powers.  No other person’s approval will be required to authorize the spending, transfer, or disbursement of funds from the Accounts.

So, the agreement doesn’t leave the money in the control of the “committee president,” or any other such language that would give the committee as a whole ultimate control.  It gives control to somebody to whom the governor recently gave a $71,608, in company with his wife’s job in the administration.

The governor insists that the agreement doesn’t establish any “master and servant” relationship, but it gives the committee as a body no control outside of one of the governor’s employees.  Let’s just say that doesn’t look very good or ethical.

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Don’t Forget the Real Scheme Regarding Smiley

Yesterday’s Providence Journal “Political Scene” reminded readers about the windfall that Brown University recently paid for a house owned by Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s chief of staff, Brett Smiley:

In July 2017, the university purchased a two-and-a-half story, federal-style Colonial house at 37 George St. — assessed by the city at $843,600 — from Gov. Gina Raimondo’s chief-of-staff Brett Smiley and his husband, James DeRentis.

The university paid them $1.1 million, according to city records.

As I detailed in July, the price that Brown paid for the house may not be the scandal (although it’s conspicuous that Brown has plenty of reasons to want to be on the good side of Raimondo’s upper echelon).  The property assessment is the oddity.  Smiley’s assessment, made while he worked in the administration of Democrat Mayor Jorge Elorza, was actually 6% below what he’d paid two years earlier, even though his neighborhood generally increased in value by 20% during that period, saving him something like $4,400 per year.

Don’t forget that Smiley ran for mayor as a progressive, which is very telling of progressive thinking.  They create a big-government funnel of money and power and then position themselves right at the tip.

This is just how it’s going to work until Rhode Islanders stop falling for the rhetoric and insist that government go back to working for us, not connected insiders who like to talk about supporting the oppressed.

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