Category Archives: The Knox Update

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Practical Steps Toward Improving the NRA

(February 5, 2019) Over the years, I have often been pretty critical of the NRA and its leadership team. Even though I try to make a point of expressing my support for the organization and its mission, there are always some who see my criticism as an attack, and an attempt to tear down the organization. In this column, rather than simply pointing at the flaws and failures of the association, I want to address some practical and reasonable solutions and expectations.

It is unreasonable and unrealistic to think that a 147-year old, $300 million plus, per year organization, with an elected board of 76 deeply entrenched directors, would or could suddenly shift course and completely revamp the way they do business. Even the famous Cincinnati Revolt in 1977, which was a ground-shaking event, only resulted in only minor changes in the long-term operations of the organization – and years of wrangling for power and control. Another result of the Cincinnati Revolt, was the inevitable restructuring of the rules to make sure that nothing like it could ever happen again. That started with the revolutionaries, putting up defenses against a counter-revolution, and then was continued by the “Old Guard” as they slowly regained power. Today, virtually all of the reforms of Cincinnati have been reversed or modified beyond recognition.

So, with all of the problems that the NRA is currently facing: A $30 million deficit, declining revenue and membership numbers, legal assaults and much frustration over their Carry Guard insurance and training program, accusations of illegal campaign spending, and suggestions of improper dealings with Russian agents, and a large segment of the membership upset over what they see as capitulation on core issues… What would be realistic expectations for reforms at NRA?

To begin with, the Board of Directors needs to establish very clear guidance to the Executive Vice President and staff to ensure that every communication, every policy, every strategy, and anything else that comes out of the organization is consistent with the core values and principles of the association and the Second Amendment. This should be backed up by an oversight subcommittee of the Board, composed of Second Amendment purists who will always place principles over politics. Too often, it seems that the political operatives are driving the boat, leaving principles behind in the name of pragmatism. Closer oversight from some purists on the Board would go a long way toward solving this problem.

Next, the Board must review the audit processes that should be in place to ensure full compliance with all state and federal fundraising and political spending laws and regulations. Everyone at NRA should be very aware that everything they do will be scrutinized by regulators, reporters, and political operatives looking for any irregularity or impropriety. With that awareness, it is totally inexcusable that there should be even the slightest hint or appearance of the organization straying from the straight and narrow. We know that accusations will always be thrown at us, so we must be sure that we are absolutely scrupulous and beyond reproach in all of our dealings.

Stories that the NRA accepted large donations from Russian citizens, and then used that money to support a presidential candidate, should be easy to refute. Accusations that the NRA used the same political advertising agencies as candidates they supported – suggesting that they were coordinating independent expenditures with those campaigns – should never even come up, and if they did, NRA should be able to very quickly disprove such accusations, but so far, they have refused to even answer any questions about the matter.

The roll-out of a major new program like NRA Carry Guard should be preceded by thorough examination of the insurance and solicitation laws of every state, to ensure that there would be no conflicts or compliance issues, but that apparently didn’t happen with Carry Guard. There should also have been in-depth discussion with the Training Division and the Board committee that oversees training, along with key training counselors around the country, before such a major training initiative was introduced, but again, that apparently didn’t happen. This has resulted in fines and lawsuits from Insurance Commissioners in several states, and confusion and anger among NRA Instructors. Where was the due diligence that would have avoided these problems? The Board must institute policies and procedures to make sure such mistakes and “bad optics” don’t recur, and those responsible for the blunders must be held accountable.

Next, the Board needs to review all vendor agreements, eliminate any unnecessary programs, and begin transitioning as much as possible back in-house. Currently, the NRA pays over $40 million a year to one PR and Advertising company. They also pay a telemarketing firm something in the neighborhood of $30 million a year, and they list four separate companies just to “advise” them on fundraising, at a total of over $3 million per year – just for advice!

Then there is the issue of executive compensation. While it is not unusual for executives in some major non-profit corporations – such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts or the Guggenheim Museum – to receive compensation in excess of $1 million dollars per year, these are typically professional executives who could earn such compensation at any number of similar organizations, and are funded by wealthy patrons and huge endowments. Such is not the case with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox. They rose to their current positions via internal political maneuvering and being in the right place at the right time. Both would be hard-pressed to find employment in the $200 to $300k range as senior lobbyists in a DC firm, and wouldn’t even be considered for any sort of senior management positions.

The Board should review all executive compensation packages and bring them down to more reasonable levels. NRA executives should not be expected to work for free, but it is simply not right to be paying LaPierre almost a million and a half dollars per year while begging hard-working NRA members for $20 contributions.

The steps suggested here are not dramatic. They would not jeopardize the stability of the organization or damage its political clout in any way, nor would they be costly or difficult. On the contrary, these steps would stabilize the NRA, refocus it on its core missions, establish proper and long-lacking Board oversight of operations, save money, reduce costly mistakes, and restore the faith of members and former members in the NRA’s mission and leadership. These are all things that the NRA Board should have been doing all along, and needs to do now.

But instead of taking these reasonable, rational steps to improve and strengthen the NRA, scuttlebutt inside the organization suggests that the leadership is going to try to “solve” the problems by creating a for-profit entity, out from under the NRA non-profit umbrella and less accessible to the prying eyes of government regulators, nosy reporters, and “disgruntled members” like me. In other words, rather than fixing the problems, they are going to try and hide them from view.

Let’s hope the rumors aren’t true, and that the NRA Board of Directors has the will and integrity to do what needs to be done.

2019 Voting for NRA Directors

It’s that time of year again. Time to vote for NRA Directors, and once again, Adam Kraut is receiving my endorsement. This year, I am also endorsing Anthony Colandro, and offering a hat tip to three of the other candidates.

If you are a Voting Member, you should have received your NRA Ballot in your magazine this week. Only NRA members who have been members for at least 5 consecutive years – with no lapses – or are Life Members, are eligible to vote in NRA elections. If you believe you are a qualified Voting Member, but didn’t receive a ballot in your February edition of your NRA magazine, you should contact the Secretary’s office at NRA HQ.

As usual, the majority of the candidates on the ballot are incumbents running for reelection. There are 27 seats to fill, representing 1/3 of the total Board plus two seats that were vacated, and there are 27 or 28 incumbents running. The disparity is due to some incumbents who were elected or appointed to fill the unexpired terms of directors who resigned or passed away last year, and the 76th Director, who is elected to a 1-year term during the Annual Meeting of Members each year. The bylaws require that the Nominating Committee include at least a few additional candidates, and there are usually a couple of candidates who were nominated only by petition of the members. This year, there are a total of 35 candidates on the ballot, to fill those 27 seats. The 27 candidates who receive the most votes, get the seats, so voting for fewer than 27 gives more weight to your ballot. Folks like Ollie North and Ted Nugent don’t need your vote. They are guaranteed to be among the top vote-getters without your help.

Only about 7% of NRA members who are eligible to vote, actually cast a ballot in any given year. There are over 2 million Voting Members, but only about 150,000 actually vote. That’s pretty sad for the leading rights organization in the world. When I’ve spoken with members who are eligible, but don’t vote, the most common explanation I hear is that they don’t feel they have enough information to be comfortable with voting. Simple answer: Only vote for the few candidates you do know something about, or trust the recommendations of people you respect.

The vast majority of those who do vote, appear to just go along with the Nominating Committee recommendations that are published in the ballot package and repeated in the full-page ad that routinely appears next to the ballot package. The ad usually just lists the Nominating Committee recommendations, but if the current leadership is feeling particularly threatened, they will sometimes pair that list down to only the number of candidates as there are seats to fill, and when they were really worried, they also published a list of candidates who they urged members not to vote for. Those ads used to be paid for by getting all of the Nominating Committee candidates to kick in a couple of hundred bucks, but in recent years, it has been unclear who is actually paying for those ads.

There are normally several thousand ballots ruled to be invalid. The most common reason is over-voting. This is generally due to a member simply going down the Nominating Committee list and voting for everyone on that list. That doesn’t work because the Nominating Committee is required to nominate more candidates than there are seats to fill, and any ballot with more votes than seats, is automatically thrown out. Other reasons for ballots being ruled invalid include failing to mark any candidates, and failing to sign the envelope.

I recommend “Bullet Voting” for just one or two candidates. You can find a fairly thorough explanation of why this gives your vote more weight, in the column linked here. To get the most bang for your vote, I would encourage you to vote for only one candidate, but if you want to vote for more, I’ll offer some suggestions.

So here are my picks for this year:

      1. Adam Kraut. I’ve endorsed Adam for the past several years, and he’s come close each year, but not quite made it. Adam is an attorney based in Pennsylvania, and is one of the lawyers working on a challenge to the BATFE’s bump-stock ban. If you really want to send a message and make an impact, then vote for only Adam Kraut.
      2. Anthony Colandro. Anthony is a firearms trainer and gun shop and range owner deep behind enemy lines in New Jersey. He’s a classic “Jersey Boy,” with the no-nonsense attitude and blunt demeanor you’d expect. There has been an attempt to undermine his candidacy with some quotes from an interview several years ago. The quotes used in the article were taken out of context though and are very misleading. In the interview, Colandro was discussing efforts to liberalize the virtually impossible concealed carry laws in New Jersey, and discussed some of the concessions NJ gun owners were willing to make to get discreet carry more available in the state, including background checks and mandatory training, but the reporter used those quotes in an article about National Reciprocity, leaving the impression that Colandro supported expanding federal background check requirements and mandatory training for all gun owners. Anthony has since made it clear that he unequivocally opposes the expansion of background checks to include private transfers, and rejects any sort of training requirement for a national reciprocity bill.
        Kraut and Colandro are my top two picks, and every additional vote hurts their chances of winning, but here are a few others that I think are worth considering. Please note that I have known Kraut and Colandro for several years, but do not personally know any of the following candidates. Coincidentally, they all happen to be named Mark.
      3. Mark Vaughan. Vaughan became famous in the rights community when he stepped up to be the good guy with a gun who stopped a workplace jihadi. Vaughan was running his family’s distribution business when a former employee came in and began attacking people. A shooter and firearms enthusiast, as well as a reserve police officer, Vaughan quickly retrieved a firearm and ended the attack. Would he be an independent voice on the Board? I can’t say, but he certainly embodies the sort of chutzpah needed for the job.
      4. Mark Geist. Geist was one of the brave contract security personnel who tried to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and then defended the U.S. Compound in Benghazi. He was the coauthor of the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi which was turned into a movie with a similar title. Geist was an early supporter of Donald Trump, but I don’t know much else about his political views or involvement in Second Amendment issues. He’s clearly extraordinarily brave and competent, but I have some reservations about his knack for self-promotion, and possible links with the NRA’s PR company, Ackerman McQueen. I would expect such an outstanding individual to be able to put aside such considerations when accepting the responsibility of representing NRA members on the Board of Directors though, so I think he is worth your consideration.
      5. Mark Robinson. Robinson rose to prominence when he made a brief statement in defense of the Second Amendment during a local city council meeting. His passion and clear oratory struck a nerve in the rights community, and the video of his statements went viral. As old sailors say, I like the cut of his jib, but I know little else about the man. Part of his famous speech indicates an imperfect knowledge of firearms and Second Amendment history, but those minor deficiencies can be readily remedied and are far outweighed by his passion and communication skills. He would be a powerful spokesman for the cause, especially in minority communities, as Mr. Robinson is African American.

I think all of these guys would probably be good additions to the Board, but it is very unlikely that all 5 can win seats, and every vote for one of them, reduces the likelihood of the others winning. It’s something of a conundrum, and there’s no simple solution.

Personally, I am going to cast a bullet ballot with only Adam Kraut’s name marked.

I urge you to take some time, thoroughly read all of the bios, do internet searches on the candidates you find interesting, visit their websites, ask them questions, and vote for the ones you believe will do the best job. But whatever you do, please don’t just do nothing. Mark your ballot, sign it, and mail it in. You are the NRA. Do your part.

Criticizing NRA Executives is NOT “Attacking the NRA”

Bless her heart, Marion Hammer just can’t help herself. She just had to take a shot at me for exposing some of the financial corruption and poor decisions in the NRA, and take some jabs at my dead father in the process. Don McDougal also wants to incorrectly frame my criticism of NRA executives as “hating on the organization.”

Let’s get one thing straight. I couldn’t agree more with the title of Mrs. Hammer’s column. NRA absolutely needs strong, proven leadership, now more than ever. Where we differ is that Marion thinks that Wayne LaPierre represents that “proven leadership,” and I think he’s at the core of the problem.

Of course, when the facts aren’t on your side, go for personal attacks.

It doesn’t matter whether my father had ambitions to take over the NRA or not. I happen to know that he didn’t, but that’s irrelevant, just as it’s irrelevant whether I’m motivated by a 20-some-year old grudge, or whether Marion or Wayne, or others at NRA have accomplished some things to be proud of. What matters is relevant facts. Facts that I laid out pretty clearly, and which Mrs. Hammer and Mr. McDougal didn’t bother to address.

I agree with Marion and Don that the NRA has done a lot of very good work over the years, and I’m proud to say that my father and many close friends played major roles in much of that good work. I’ve never said that the NRA hasn’t done good, and have argued consistently that it is critical that we have a strong and effective NRA with as many members as we can get. Unlike Marion and Don though, I am willing to recognize when NRA leaders make missteps and mistakes, and when those failures demonstrate an ongoing pattern, they need to be addressed. I’m also not willing to turn a blind eye to blatant corruption and self-serving.

Let’s go over some of the pertinent facts again:

According to NRA’s tax filings, Wayne LaPierre is receiving annual compensation in excess of $1.4 million per year, and in 2015 received over $5 million dollars from NRA.

The same filings report that Chris Cox received over $1.2 million in compensation in 2017, and at least 9 other NRA executives received compensation that was between $450,000 and $800,000 that year.

Josh Powell, Wayne’s Chief of Staff and for a time, acting ED of General Operations, received almost $800,000, including over $100,000 in “taxable expense reimbursement.”

And even though the IRS form 990 reports payments to the advertising and PR firm Ackerman McQueen in excess of $20 million as I reported, later in that same filing document, it states that Ack-Mac actually received more than twice that much – over $40 million!

I will accept a correction from Mrs Hammer on one point: I incorrectly reported that some NRA staff had been laid off, when in fact they were not NRA staffers, but rather Ack-Mac staffers working for NRA TV. Which raises another issue. Did you know that NRA TV is operated by Ack-Mac, as is the NRA magazine America’s First Freedom? Editor Mark Chestnut and familiar NRA TV personalities like Cam Edwards, Ginny Simone, Dana Loesch, etc., are Ack-Mac employees, not NRA employees. Long-time NRA Board member Robert K. Brown bragged in his last reelection bio that he had saved the association something like a half-million dollars. The bulk of that savings came from his insistence that NRA quit paying Ack-Mac over $400,000 a year for production of the online version of America’s First Freedom. As a magazine publisher himself, Brown knew NRA was paying way too much.

Marion also reiterated that Wayne and Chris had called for bump-stocks to be “regulated,” not banned. That’s true, and it was a huge mistake that led directly to the ban. I predicted this result when I called them out for that very stupid statement at the time, and called for the Board to repudiate the statement – but Marion jumped to their defense. As I pointed out then, if Wayne and Chris had said that the NRA was open to revisiting the regulations regarding bump-stocks, that might have been excusable as a political maneuver to help dodge negative action in Congress – though you have to wonder why congressional action was such a concern, when our Republican “friends” held majorities in both houses and the White House. Instead, Wayne and Chris said that the “NRA believes” that bump-stocks should be more tightly regulated, and President Trump quickly agreed and gave the order to BATFE.

Wayne and Chris have taken a similarly destructive and unprincipled position on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, merely insisting that some semblance of due process be included in the laws in order to get approval from NRA. This has given a green light to Trump and numerous Republican governors to pursue ERPO legislation to deprive gun owners of their arms based on someone’s concern that they might be dangerous, while leaving these potentially dangerous people free to roam the streets with ready access to knives, gasoline, poisons, planes, automobiles, and all manner of other dangerous and potentially deadly tools. Not only does this result in Republican “friends” doing stupid things that push GunVoters away from them, at least one person flagged by one of these ERPO’s has been killed by police trying to confiscate his guns. Have any lives been saved?

It is also a fact that NRA was over $30 million in the red in 2017, and had an almost $50 million deficit in its pension fund. These deficits aren’t due to lack of revenue, but rather irresponsible spending.

In short, Marion Hammer and Don McDougal are saying that since NRA has accomplished some good things during Wayne LaPierre’s 30 years at the helm, the members and the Board of Directors should be unconcerned about a $30 million deficit, profligate spending, cronyism, and obscene salaries. Nor should they be concerned about failure of NRA leadership to adhere to the core principles of the Second Amendment, or to ensure that all operations are above reproach and squeaky clean. And we shouldn’t be at all worried about an outside vendor owning and controlling major segments of NRA operations, and making tens of millions of dollars in profit from our association.

I respectfully disagree. I believe that principles matter, even when they are politically challenging. That giving our enemies ammunition by being careless about our business is inexcusable. And that the NRA should be controlled by a board of directors elected by the membership in fair and open elections, without interference from outside vendors or others with a financial stake in our leadership. I also believe that those who work for the NRA, especially in the higher echelons, should be motivated first by their dedication to the Second Amendment and the safe enjoyment of the shooting sports, not by monetary factors. That’s why I believe that Wayne LaPierre, with his waffling, wheedle words, outrageous salary, and cozy relationship to Ackerman McQueen, needs to go, and that the NRA needs a strong, committed, Second Amendment purist with a solid corporate management background, to lead the organization going forward.

This isn’t personal, and it’s not politics. It’s not about “tearing down” the NRA or building up any other organization. This is about principles, right and wrong, and what’s best for the NRA, gun owners, and America.

New Leadership for NRA

Time for Changes at NRA

By Jeff Knox

Bloomberg’s propaganda mill The Trace, and Mother Jones magazine, have been working together to investigate NRA’s activities, digging up as much dirt as they can find, and doing their best to keep the media rumor mill abuzz with negative NRA news. Obviously both of these “news” outlets are extremely anti-rights and anti-NRA, and they are painting everything they can find in the worst possible light, but unfortunately this is not “fake news.” The smoke our enemies have been pointing at is coming from real fires within the organization, and it’s getting worse.

The financial woes have prompted an austerity campaign on Waples Mill Road, laying off a number of employees, cutting back programs, and even doing away with coffee service for the staff. Meanwhile the guy wielding the hatchet, and the rest of the NRA executive staff, are taking home exorbitant paychecks of a half-million to almost a million-and-a-half dollars a year, and crony parasites are sucking out tens of millions more, while the organization is operating millions of dollars in the red.

[Update 01/11/19: It turns out that the employees that have been laid off are not actual NRA employees, but rather Ack-Mac employees for NRA TV.  Apparently NRA TV doesn’t actually belong to NRA, and its employees, including Cam Edwards, and Dana Loesch, are employed by Ack-Mac.  The layoffs were among lower-level production staff.  — JAK]

The basic financial problems will probably be rectified in the short-term by the insatiable avarice of the new Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Now that Nancy Pelosi and her anti-rights zealots have actively begun pushing new gun control legislation, Bob and Sally Gunowner will again be digging into their pockets to send in another twenty bucks to the NRA, and the organization’s finances will soon appear to be back on reasonably solid ground. But the core problems won’t go away so easily.

An organization that depends on $20 contributions from hard-working members, should be extremely scrupulous about how they raise and spend those dollars, but the leadership of NRA has demonstrated a serious lack of concern about such things, paying executives exorbitant salaries, and signing blank checks to outside vendors. At the same time, leadership has made serious blunders in a variety of directions, from the heavy-handed roll-out of their CCW training/insurance program – NRA Carry Guard – to seriously questionable practices in the areas of fundraising and political contributions, and downright foolish and unprincipled positions taken on bump-stocks, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and other critical, core mission matters. They’ve even managed to alienate the competitive shooters who have been a mainstay of the organization since it was founded in 1871.

The NRA Board of Directors came within just a few votes of the 2/3 majority needed to fire Wayne Lapierre back in 1996 when similar financial and philosophical problems boiled over. The problems then were serious, but didn’t hold a candle to the problems we’re seeing today. At that time, one of the major bones of contention was the undue influence of the NRA’s outside PR company, Ackerman McQueen. Directors were upset about the fundraising tactics Ack-Mac was employing, and the base fees of over a quarter-million dollars a year being paid out to them with no accountability.

With Ack-Mac’s help, LaPierre survived that challenge, and thrived. They helped him push Neal Knox and the other Directors who had pushed for accountability, off the Board. From there, payments to Ack-Mac skyrocketed, and LaPierre’s personal compensation doubled, then doubled again, going from $250,000 per year to almost $1.5 million. Ack-Mac was listed on NRA’s most recent IRS filing as receiving over $20 million that year in direct compensation.

The current Board of Directors has allowed this situation to get where it is today. They’ve failed in their fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the members’ resources, and to keep the association focused on their core missions. While there are many good people on the Board, they have demonstrated a serious lack of gumption and integrity. That’s why we have consistently worked to bring new blood into the group, and why we are again endorsing Adam Kraut for election to the Board. We’re also endorsing Anthony Colandro from New Jersey this year, and might find one or two others we’ll ask you to vote for as we learn more about the candidates.

We are well past the point where the current leadership can be expected to correct the situation from within. Wayne LaPierre has got to go, along with the entirety of the executive staff, and all support contracts need to be reevaluated and either dropped or seriously renegotiated.

This leaves the question, if not Wayne, then who? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that question. The NRA needs a new CEO who is 100% dedicated to the principles of the Second Amendment, and who has the management skills to completely revamp the organization from top to bottom. That’s a tall order, especially when you enter in the political complications of trying to bring in someone like a former governor or others with close government and/or party ties. Perhaps the best option would be an interim candidate, someone like a retired CEO or former General like James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who would serve for a year or two, wield the bloody hatchet, then step down to turn the reins over to a more permanent executive to take the revamped and streamlined organization forward.

This is a discussion that we need to have, and when I say “we,” I mean you too. Do you know, or know of someone who fits the bill? Please leave a comment, and let’s get this discussion going. The Democrats in Congress will probably help the NRA to recover from their immediate financial woes by triggering a boost in donations, but more money isn’t going to solve the real problems, only a major overhaul will accomplish that – if it can be done at all.

Meanwhile, we at The Firearms Coalition will continue fighting the good fight and keeping you posted on what’s going on at Waples Mill Road and in Washington DC, so please consider supporting our efforts by subscribing to our newsletter, sending contributions, and sharing these articles on social media.

The BIG Problem with the Bump-Stock Ban

Losing Bump-Stocks

By Jeff Knox

The Second Amendment means what it says, and laws restricting access to, or possession of firearms, ammunition, firearms accessories, knives, swords, nunchaku, billy clubs, black-jacks, or other implements of war or personal defense, violate the fundamental right to arms and the Second Amendment. Any gun is every gun, and any law restricting anything that can be characterized as a personal arm is an assault on all types of arms.

That’s the philosophy. Now let’s talk about existing law and bump-stocks.

Under the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act, machine guns are tightly regulated, and no new machine guns can be added to the existing pool of legally transferable machine guns. The BATFE has promulgated – at the president’s instructions, and with the agreement of the NRA – new regulations “clarifying” the terms “single function of the trigger” and “automatic” as they relate to the definition of “machine gun” under these laws. The effect of these “clarifications” is to support their declaration that “bump-stock-type devices” convert semi-automatic firearms into full-automatic firearms, thus making the devices themselves “machine guns” and subject to the restrictions set forth in the NFA and GCA.

The new determination also opens up a new avenue of attack on all semi-automatic firearms, as they all now meet the definition of a weapon that “can be readily restored to shoot” more than one shot with a single function of the trigger. That is a very big problem.

This new ruling is almost certainly going to survive the legal challenges being brought against it, and I see it as highly improbable that those challenges will be successful at doing anything more than possibly delaying the enforcement of the new restrictions for a short time, and just maybe getting some compensation for owners who are forced to surrender or destroy the devices (though I think that is very unlikely).

Unfortunately, we the people have allowed the federal government to restrict certain classes of firearms for over 80 years, and in that time, substantial case law and precedent supporting those restrictions, has been built up. The core issue of the constitutionality of these restrictions has never had a serious day in court, and this reinterpretation of the regulations is not going to provide that constitutionality hearing. If it did, we would almost certainly lose. Not because we’re wrong and the restrictions on machine guns are right, but because there is not enough jurisprudence and scholarly opinion in place to effectively support our arguments, and most judges and politicians are terrified at the idea of machine guns being legal. They will bend over backwards to make sure that doesn’t happen. Even the late Justice Antonin Scalia made it a point to exclude machine guns from the Heller decision, on the basis of an “in common use” test. He applied a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance to argue that machine guns are not commonly owned in the U.S., while ignoring the fact that the only reason they are not more common is that they have been heavily restricted for over 80 years, and virtually banned since 1986.

Regardless of the devious and circuitous ways we got to where we are today, the fact is, the cards are heavily stacked against machine guns, and there is little that can be done against the phalanx of laws, regulations, and judicial prejudice lined up against them.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t try. I strongly support efforts to challenge this new BATFE regulation. The first challenge case was filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition, and is being handled by attorneys Josh Prince and my good friend Adam Kraut (who I am again endorsing in his run for a seat on the NRA Board of Directors). Erich Pratt at Gun Owners of America has also announced plans to file a suit against this BATFE reversal, and I applaud both efforts. I just don’t think it’s likely that either will be successful, because I believe BATFE’s arguments for their decision will be very convincing to any judge who hears them.

The argument boils down to whether a firearm employing a bump-stock is “automatically” cycling the action and firing more than one shot with “a single function of the trigger.” Our side says no, because each shot requires some manual action on the part of the shooter to actuate the next shot. The counter argument from the new BATFE Firearms Technical Branch analysis contends that the act of maintaining steady forward pressure with the support hand – which is a critical requirement of all bump-fire-type devices, and is included in all of their operator instructions – constitutes a “single function.” The shooter’s steady forward pressure on the fore-end replaces the trigger finger as the actuator of the firing cycle, and that steady forward pressure can readily be characterized as a “single function.” The shooter is not releasing and reapplying pressure as they would firing in normal semi-auto mode, but rather maintaining steady pressure, which is momentarily overcome by each recoil pulse. The gun automatically repeats the firing cycle as long as the forward pressure is maintained, and there are only a handful of judges in the country who would not agree with that explanation and conclude that the described process meets the statutory and regulatory definitions of a machine gun.

We can argue among ourselves about these technical distinctions, but until everything goes to hell in a hand-basket, a group of judges reading current laws, regulations, and judicial precedents will be the ones making the final decision, and I see virtually no chance of them agreeing with our side.

While I’m not happy about how this has all gone down, and where it has ended up, I’m much more concerned about the broader implications of this new regulation going forward.

For decades, rights advocates have argued that conversion of a semi-automatic into a full-automatic, is a complicated and difficult process requiring specialized skills and equipment. Though there have been various work-around techniques demonstrated, such as the infamous, full-auto shoestring, and the time-honored, file-down-the-disconnector trick, there has never been an easy way to truly convert a semi-automatic into a machine gun. This new regulation changes that.

Whether you agree with the BATFE’s new definitions or not, once this goes into effect, under the law, it will be a very easy thing to technically “convert” any semi-auto into a “machine gun.” And that creates some very serious issues, because the law also defines “machine gun” to include “any weapon” that can be “readily restored to shoot” more than one shot with a single function of the trigger.

It is also long-established law, that “readily restored” actually means “easily converted” to fire full-auto, such as the KG-9 pistol, which was classified as a machine gun because it fired from an open bolt, and could be relatively easily converted to full-auto by filing off the secondary sear.

By legally defining “bump-stock-type devices” as “machine guns” that can convert semi-automatic guns into “machine guns,” then by these same definitions, any semi-automatic rifle becomes a “machine gun” because they can all be “readily restored” to be “machine guns.”

We’re not likely to see an attack from this direction while Donald Trump is in the White House, but he won’t be there forever, and once he’s gone, and the next Obama/Clinton/Sanders, etc. holds the reins of the executive branch, there will be no legal barrier to the Attorney General “recognizing” the “danger” of all those “machine guns” in public hands, and criminalizing them with a scratch of a pen.

The Supreme Court has already allowed a lower court to get away with distorting Justice Scalia’s dicta in the Heller case to mean that AR15s are not covered by the Second Amendment because they are “like M-16s,” and Scalia himself, made it clear in his dicta that he didn’t want to include machine guns in the protections of the Second Amendment, so we can’t expect much support from that quarter.

The bump-stock issue has been mishandled from the beginning, and now it has turned into a matter that can do little more than raise some money for a few groups and reduce unemployment for lawyers, while blowing a gaping hole in our future defense of the Second Amendment.

Shooting the Good Guys

Good Guys Down

By Jeff Knox

November saw two highly publicized tragedies where police officers responding to the scenes of shootings, shot and killed the wrong man. In both cases, the victims were legally armed. In both cases, the victims were black, as were the perpetrators of the original shootings. Of course, the media has chosen to focus primarily on the race issue, reinforcing the idea that blacks are disproportionately victims in wrongful police shootings, and stoking the flames of outrage within the black community.

Not only does the focus on race, drive a wedge between blacks and whites, and between police and the community, it also diverts attention from the real reasons for these types of tragedies, and potential solutions.

Those of us who choose to be armed, must have a solid grasp on the real-world risks and consequences of wielding deadly force. While a gun can save lives, carrying and using one always comes with complications. Our society specifically tasks police with use of force to stop criminal violence and restrain law-breakers, and even though their authority is derived directly from “we the people,” our social structure has largely ceded the individual authority of the people, into the hands of the police, reserving only a very narrow slice for individual citizens. That authority has not always been ceded evenly, either. There are gaps and overlaps leading to conflicts between a citizen’s right to bear arms and act on his own behalf, and the duties and limits of police authority. Police also enjoy certain immunities and protections – both legally, and as a matter of generally accepted terms within our social contract.

Since it is the job of police to go into harm’s way, deal with bad guys, and use force up to and including deadly force, in the execution of their job, society generally gives them the benefit of the doubt when things get sketchy.

Armed citizens don’t get those benefits and presumptions, regardless of our level of training or experience. We also don’t usually have the benefit of a uniform or badge to readily identify us as the good guy during a hectic event. Our first challenge is surviving the initial threat, but then we have to be sure to survive the arrival of those coming to save us from the threat. Afterwards we run through the legal gauntlet of criminal and civil actions trying to blame us for defending ourselves – not to mention the emotional trauma that comes from the whole mess – without the benefit of a police union representative and “paid administrative leave.”

In both of the recent instances, the legal gun owners were put in difficult situations that made it virtually impossible for them to do much of anything differently. In the first tragedy, the good guy was working security at a bar when a group of men who had been kicked out earlier returned. One of them opened fire on patrons in the bar. The security worker tackled the gunman (or one of his accomplices) and had his gun in his hand when the police rushed in. Officers apparently thought the security guy was the assailant, about to execute a patron on the floor, and they fired, killing the good guy.

I put little credence in the claims of some of the patrons that they yelled at police that the man was bar security. As the situation was described by those same patrons, there didn’t seem to be time for them to recognize the danger to the security guard from the police before the shots were fired. Whether the security guard had time to safely holster before police arrived – or shouldn’t have drawn the gun at all – is unknown. Police seemed to have arrived very quickly, and in this case, as with the next story, that rapid response did not work to the benefit of the armed citizen.

In the second incident, a young man was at a local shopping mall with a friend on Thanksgiving evening. The friend got into a physical altercation with another man in the mall, and that man pulled a gun and started shooting. The good guy drew his sidearm, but apparently didn’t fire. Police patrolling the mall arrived at that moment, and saw a man with a gun in his hand and another man bleeding on the ground. They fired, and the innocent gun owner was killed.

So far, police have withheld release of any body-cam or security camera footage from either of these shootings, and descriptions of events from witnesses are sketchy at best, so it’s difficult to determine with any confidence exactly what happened or what could have been done differently – by the armed civilians or by the police. It is sad and frustrating that tragedies like this happen, and even sadder that people will exploit them for political purposes – some claiming that police are too anxious to open fire on black men, and others claiming that these cases prove that armed citizens just complicate already bad situations.

In truth, white people are wrongfully killed by police too, as in Colorado when a homeowner was shot after killing a home invader who was attacking his grandson. In these particular circumstances, it’s unlikely that skin color played any role at all. While tragic mistakes happen, they are rare, and armed citizens successfully use firearms to defend themselves or others, every day in this country, without being shot by police.

If the officers involved in these deaths were overly aggressive or “trigger-happy,” they should be punished, but based solely on initial reports, it appears that in these cases, the only blame lies with the original perpetrators who started the shooting, and they should be charged with felony murder for the loss of these innocent lives.

These Ducks are Lame

Lame Ducks: WWDD – What Would Democrats Do?

By Jeff Knox

(November 15, 2018) As the dust settles and final tallies trickle in – and recounts begin – we now know the general makeup of the 116th Congress. The election results were disappointing for GunVoters, but they weren’t the disaster that many predicted, and that was certainly a possibility.

At this point it looks like Democrats will hold a significant majority in the House, while Republicans will maintain their slim majority in the Senate. That means that we will see gridlock on the legislative front from Congress, so unless Republicans act aggressively right now, during the lame duck session pending the congressional rollover in January, the scant hope of passing national recognition of legal discreet carry, deregulation of silencers, and passage of the Lawful Purposes Act, all go out the window, dying with the close of the 115th Congress.

House Democrats have already begun making promises to push for votes on gun control measures in the new congress, with Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the presumptive incoming Speaker of the House, saying that she will call for a vote on another Manchin-Toomey type bill criminalizing private firearm transfers. A Representative from New Jersey has also just introduced a new bill to outlaw 3D printed firearms, “undetectable” firearms, 80% receivers, and various parts kits. This proposal mirrors a bill that was introduced in the New Jersey Legislature, as that state tries to surpass California as the nation’s leading state for gun control. The federal bill isn’t going anywhere, but it does show where Democrats would like to go, and the folks in New Jersey, with their new Democrat governor, are going to have a serious fight on their hands.

We’re all in favor of Pelosi pushing for votes on gun control. As we’ve often said, guns win, and we like having record votes. There is some valid concern that this president has demonstrated a willingness to “work with” the Democrats on a variety of issues, and his commitment to the Second Amendment has wobbled upon occasion. There are also a number of Republicans in both the House and Senate, who have proven to be unreliable on rights issues, and who are likely to break ranks with their party, providing cover for Democrats from conservative states who want to avoid going on record with an anti-rights vote. That kind of chicanery hurts the Republican brand, and makes it harder to determine which politicians truly support the right to arms, and which are merely serving as political weather vanes. Still, we strongly support the idea of record votes on rights issues whenever we can get them.

Right now though, while Republicans still control both the House and Senate, as well as the White House they could at least try to push the pro-rights agenda forward before the Democrats take over the House in January.

At the top of the GunVoter wishlist is the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R.38, which was passed by the House a year ago and has been sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee ever since. The Firearms Coalition urged Senate Republicans to pass this bill out of the Judiciary Committee and bring it to a vote on the Senate floor prior to the November election, but our pleas fell on deaf ears, and no effort was made to bring the bill to a vote. The votes were there in the Judiciary Committee, as long as retiring Arizona Senator Jeff Flake didn’t flake out, but getting the votes to overcome a Democrat filibuster was doubtful. That wasn’t the point though. The idea was to force the hands of supposedly pro-rights senators like Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Tester (D-MT), both of whom managed to win reelection. A vote on national concealed carry would have put a number of Democrats in a tough spot, and could have provided the ammunition needed to build a more solid, true pro-rights majority in the Senate.

That bill is still sitting in the Judiciary Committee, and could still be used to force Democrats’ hands during the lame duck session. The SHARE Act, which includes both the Hearing Protection Act, and the Lawful Purpose Act, was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee over a year ago, but has also been sitting dormant ever since. House leadership has thus far refused to bring the bill to a floor vote, resulting in more excuses for GunVoters to walk away, voting with upraised middle fingers rather than actively working to hold a pro-rights majority in the House.

In the past, we have seen Democrats aggressively press their agenda during lame duck sessions after losing their majority, but for some inexplicable reason, Republicans never seem inclined to exploit the opportunity.

We do expect to see Senate Republicans actively working to confirm judges during their remaining month and a half, which is generally a good thing, though their majority in the next Congress will allow those efforts to continue with little delay next year. The same can’t be said for pending pro-rights legislation. When this Congress adjourns, those bills expire, and they won’t be back again for at least two more years.

Talking a good pro-Second Amendment game while actually doing little to excite and engage GunVoters is a traditional Republican approach, but has never been a winning strategy. Calls and letters to House and Senate leadership, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee, might help to wake them up to the need to take some action on these bills.

It’s always good to know where our politicians really stand, and the only way to find that out is by getting them on the record with votes. You can reach members of Congress and their leadership by calling the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Kavanaugh and the Election

Will Kavanaugh Be Enough?

By Jeff Knox

The drawn out and contentious confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh didn’t work out quite the way the Democrats had planned. The 11th hour accusation of sexual assault during high school was intended to derail the nomination in hopes that a new, Democrat majority in the Senate might be able to block all Trump judge and justice appointments for the rest of his term. They also hoped to reinvigorate their base in advance of the November elections, to help secure that Democrat majority, putting Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in control of the House and Senate. But the invigoration of the Democrat base was barely noticeable compared to the outrage the confirmation circus generated among Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats toward the Democratic senate leadership and the party.

The “Blue Wave” of opposition to President Trump looked unstoppable late last year, and was expected to sweep Republicans out of power in Congress in November. But the wave hit a reef in December, in the form of the President’s tax bill. The Democrat advantage tumbled from double-digits, and has floundered ever since, swelling at times on the basis of some thoughtless tweet or comment from Trump, but receding again with each strong economic report or successful international negotiation, and never recapturing the broad support enjoyed before the tax bill. Even with the good economic news and the successes in foreign policy, by September, the “Blue Wave” was regaining strength, and President Trump’s appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was helping it grow.

Had Democrats stuck to conventional post-Bork tactics of trying to make the nominee look bad by asking him pointed questions they knew he wouldn’t answer, and expressing deep concerns about how such an “extremist” might rule on the bench, all the while maintaining the appearance of decency and decorum, they might have actually defeated the nomination. Even if they hadn’t, they would have almost certainly come out of the process with an energized base and a claim to the moral high ground.

Instead, Democrats went with nasty, smarmy, and whiny in the committee hearing, and then doubled-down with a low blow and faux outrage and indignation. The process was so ugly and so clearly a sham, that all but their most ardent supporters were appalled. So not only did they lose a critical seat on the Supreme Court, they woke up a whole bunch of Americans who hadn’t really been paying much attention. Polling during and after the Kavanaugh inquisition tracked the Democrat lead in House races as it toppled from 14 points to 7 points to a negative 1, putting the expected Democrat takeover of the House into question. On the Senate side, capturing a majority was never a likely option, but there was a real possibility, and had Republicans rammed through Kavanaugh’s confirmation – as many hoped they would do – Democrats might have successfully played that into a broader base and a better chance to hold and capture seats. Instead, the Republicans remained civil, considerate, and showed a commitment to fair-play, while the Democrats went full-crazy with torches and pitchforks. Now their chances of gaining seats is almost nil, and they will probably lose a few.

But will the Kavanaugh debacle be enough?

Many Americans got fired up about the way Democrats abused the process and personally attacked Brett Kavanaugh with nasty, unsubstantiated, and uncorroborated accusations, but the fact that Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed might take some of the wind out of those sails. The attention span of the average American voter seems to be pretty short, and many of them might see Kavanaugh’s confirmation as the conclusion of the matter, rather than carrying it with them into the voting booth. The core Democrat base is still fired up, still stinging with the loss on Kavanaugh, so they are still a formidable force. There are two big questions: First, will the more traditional Democrats, those who don’t support “democratic socialism” and “intersectionality,” choose to send a message to their party that the crazy has gone too far? Second, will traditional Republican “values-voters,” who never liked Donald Trump and cringe at the thought of supporting him in any way, decide that it’s time to get back into the game and put down the radicals’ power-grab.

For GunVoters, everything could be on the line over the next few elections. The current Democrat leadership has committed to anti-rights extremists and bet heavily on infringing on the right to keep and bear arms as a campaign point. That commitment has been repaid with tens of millions of dollars from self-righteous billionaires and their anti-rights foundations. Mike Bloomberg recently made a $20 million dollar donation to the Democrats’ Senate PAC, and has pledged to spend $80 million this year alone to elect anti-rights, Democrat politicians at all levels of government. This “investment” is augmented by California billionaire Tom Steyer, various George Soros front groups, and Gabby Giffords’ money machine.

Campaigning has become more negative and divisive than ever before, and that kind of money can buy a whole lot of negative campaign ads. Meanwhile, the NRA got over-extended in the 2016 election and has yet to fully recover, plus they are facing increased scrutiny over some of their fundraising and spending programs. Even so, as we’ve always said, the real power in the gun lobby doesn’t come from money, it comes from our people. GunVoters could make a significant impact in the coming election – if they’ll get off the couch and go to work for candidates. Republicans could help a lot by following through on their promises and bringing bills like the SHARE Act, National Concealed Carry, and the Hearing Protection Act to the floors of Congress for record votes.

Republican politicians need to hear from their pro-rights constituents. GunVoters need to get involved in campaigns and the candidates need to know who helped them. A couple of hours of volunteer work planting signs or sorting mailers not only helps keep an anti-rights candidate out of office, it will put some starch in the shorts of what might otherwise be a soft or marginally pro-rights candidate. Don’t look for the perfect candidate. They are scarce. Politics is about working with what you have. Make sure you get out to vote, and take someone with you. I’ll see you at the polls.

NRA Petitions

Act Fast to Have Choices

By Jeff Knox

(September 28, 2018) I screwed up, but immediate action on your part could rectify my error. My screw-up was failing to write this article two months ago – or at least two weeks ago – so now we’re almost out of time to make sure that Adam Kraut and Anthony Colandro are on the ballot for the NRA Board of Directors.

You probably know that I have endorsed Adam Kraut for the NRA Board for the past two years, and some might remember that I endorsed Anthony in an unsuccessful bid a few years ago. Both are outstanding guys who really could make a favorable impact on the NRA Board of Directors.

Adam Kraut is an attorney, working primarily in the area of firearm law, and hosts The Legal Brief, an online video series that’s part of The Gun Collective a firearms-oriented media outlet with programs on YouTube and elsewhere. Adam has come within just a few votes of winning a seat on the Board in both of the past two elections, and this year, I’m hoping to see him make the cut. If you download his petition, you’ll notice that my name is featured as his official sponsor this year. That might cost him a few votes, and will definitely earn him even more animosity from some of the Old Guard on the Board. Last year, long-time Board member and Past-President Marion Hammer sent out a nasty and misleading letter distorting my father’s legacy at NRA, and suggesting that Adam and I represent “the enemy within,” trying to somehow harm the NRA. I think she was just angry because Adam had called her out for failing to attend a single Board meeting in at least 3 years.

I’ve known Anthony Colandro for many years. He is the epitome of a brusk, straight-talking New Jersey native, and he’s been a staunch defender of the right to keep and bear arms for decades. He pulls no punches and calls things as he sees them. He owns a gun range and training company deep inside enemy territory, where he’s an NRA certified Master Training Counselor, radio host, and Executive Vice President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.

The NRA is the single most important organization in the gun rights war, and every gun owner and lover of liberty should be a member. My regular readers know that I often object to some of the things that come out of the NRA headquarters, just as my father was often critical of the organization, while always fighting to correct its course, not sink the ship. I have continued that legacy strongly supporting the NRA, while diligently working to make it better.

Too many gun owners refuse to join the NRA because they either think the NRA is either too radical, or not radical enough. The fact is that the NRA can only be what the members demand it to be. If you’re not a member, then you have no voice in the organization. If you are a member, you have an obligation to participate and make your voice heard. Electing strong, fearless defenders of liberty to the NRA Board of Directors is the most effective tool the members have to steer the organization.

Only Life Members and Annual Members who have been members for at least 5 consecutive years, are eligible to vote in the regular Board of Directors elections, and only those Voting Members are eligible to sign candidate petitions to get good candidates’ names on the ballot. Two years ago the Board pushed through a series of changes to the bylaws, which make it much more difficult to qualify a candidate for the ballot. Each petition candidate must acquire over 650 valid signatures of Voting Members in order to get on the ballot, and that’s not an easy task.

That’s why I’m asking readers who are Voting Members of NRA to take immediate action to ensure that Adam Kraut and Anthony Colandro’s names appear on your 2019 ballot. The deadline for getting petitions turned in is fast approaching. Adam and Anthony need your petitions mailed to them this week to have any hope of having them count, so don’t delay. Download their petitions from the links here, or from their respective websites: http://www.adamkraut.com and https://gunforhire.com/colandro-for-nra, sign them following the instructions included with Adam’s petition, and mail them to them as quickly as you can – even if yours is the only signature on the petition.

Don’t delay. There are only a few days left to get signatures turned in, and it’s better to have your lone signature before the deadline, than to have yours and a dozen more after the deadline.

NRA members deserve a better, stronger, more principled NRA, but they’ll only get it if they are willing to work for it. If you’re a Voting Member of NRA, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to download both petitions, sign them and include your Membership Number, and mail them to Adam and Anthony right away.

Stay tuned for a full rundown of all of the candidates that will be on your ballot and my thoughts on them as soon as that information becomes available.

Together we can make the NRA the organization that it has the potential to be.

Silicon Valley Censorship

New Tube?

By Jeff Knox

(September 7, 2018) Anyone who watches videos on YouTube is well aware that the video hosting service, owned by Google, has been slowly choking off channels and content providers who don’t comport with the Google leadership’s leftist worldview. It started a few years ago when “traditional media” – particularly newspapers – began going after some of YouTube’s biggest stars by publicizing their incomes, and highlighting examples of them presenting off-color and potentially racist content, with major advertisers like Coca-Cola appearing as the content’s sponsor.

What this actually boiled down to was “traditional media” trying to recapture some of those advertising dollars by scaring the advertisers away from the new frontier of unregulated content.

It worked, to a degree. Major sponsors, who were actually sponsoring the platform, not specific content, backed away, costing Google hundreds of millions of dollars, just as the platform was moving into a position of profitability. Instead of standing by their policy of offering an open hosting service with few restrictions on content, and offering their advertisers ways to more selectively tailor their ad placement, Google blocked and “demonetized” wide swaths of channels that they deemed “inappropriate” for commercial sponsorship – including most channels with any sort of firearm-related content.

After months of wrangling and policy shifts, the YouTube universe began to settle in and normalize somewhat. Many channels that had been riding on the ragged edge of YouTube’s loose guidelines, like channels offering “health videos” of young women demonstrating yoga “au natural” and those presenting overtly racist content like neo-nazi channels, were either barred altogether, or were placed under tight restrictions that made them difficult to find or view, and kept them far away from any advertisers’ dollars or commercials. But other channels with content that most people would consider non-controversial, were also “demonetized,” moved out of the main viewing areas, and left with far fewer viewers and far fewer advertiser dollars, if any. These included gun channels, along with all sorts of channels that present “conservative” views.

Even channels that are funded by direct sponsorship have been hurt due to shifts in the way YouTube presents options to viewers. Originally, the platform would track a viewer’s channel preferences and at the end of each video, the system would offer up a dozen other videos that matched that viewer’s apparent interests. If you watched a lot of shooting or hunting videos, the system would suggest more shooting and hunting videos for you to look at, along with a few “trending” videos that the system determined were popular with other people with similar viewing preferences. If you watched conservative news channels like Bill Whittle and Ben Shapiro, the system would suggest other conservative news videos that might interest you, and if you subscribed to particular channels, those channels’ new offerings would always be at the top of your menu list. But as YouTube shifted their suggestion system, gun channels and conservative news channels became less and less likely to show up in a viewer’s suggestion list, resulting in fewer and fewer new viewers. And of course, fewer views means less money from advertisers, even if they are direct sponsors.

In recent months the restrictions and limitations have been escalating again. New restrictions on types of firearm-related content allowed on the platform have been implemented, barring any links to firearm or ammunition sales, forbidding any demonstrations of firearm manufacture, assembly, or modification, and labeling most firearm-related content as inappropriate for viewers under 18 years of age. They are also “cracking down” on “hate speech,” which can include anything from racist rants and Holocaust denial to scientific discussion of sex and gender, or Biblical discussion of homosexuality as a sin. Some, such as videos from PragerU.com, have been restricted on what appears to be purely political grounds. There also appears to be a new shift in the way the system makes viewing suggestions, feeding “conservative” viewers more “conservative” content, but only after they have demonstrated a strong leaning in that direction. This feeds an echo-chamber effect, providing “conservatives” with only “conservative” content, and presumably providing “liberals” with only “liberal” content, while continuing to suppress “conservative” content from the masses.

Various efforts have been put forward to provide a platform for “conservative” and firearm-related content, but most of these efforts are misguided, because they are designed to only reach audiences that specifically seek out that type of content. The magic and power of YouTube was that one interest could lead a person into new areas that they had never considered before. Watching a video on blacksmithing could trigger a suggestion of a video on engraving, which could lead to viewing a video on classic firearms, leading to a video of Jerry Miculek firing 12 shots from a 6-shot revolver in under 3 seconds (reload included), which might lead to a series of videos on IDPA and USPSA competition and a new firearm enthusiast is born. Those viewers might never bother to seek out a shooting channel, but when the shooting video is presented next to some other interest, they have the opportunity to explore that new idea. That’s why the rapid deterioration of YouTube is such a problem, and why single-focus alternatives are not a solution.

Instead of various marginalized groups trying to create narrowly focused platforms for their content, these groups should be teaming with other liberty-minded groups and individuals to create a truly open, lightly regulated, free speech platform where content creators can be judged by the public, not by the political whims of a few San Francisco billionaires.

Firearms groups and creators, conservative and libertarian groups and creators, gamers, wrench-benders, homesteaders, fabricators, free speech advocates, religious advocates, and others concerned with liberty, need to join together to build an open-source, video hosting platform that’s dedicated to freedom of speech. It would be a massive undertaking, but something needs to break the grip of Google and YouTube.