All posts by Jeff Knox

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.

The Stupider They Get…

“Above the Law” Goes Beyond Stupid

By Jeff Knox

I just read one of the most idiotic rants I think I’ve ever encountered. It was written by a fellow named Elie Mystal, whose arrogance is only exceeded by his ignorance, at least where the constitution and gun laws are concerned.

The article was titled “The Rare Gun Regulation I Think Was Actually Stupid.”

Let’s begin by clarifying that he’s not lamenting a stupid regulation against rare guns, but rather declaring that, while he rarely comes across a gun regulation that he disagrees with, he recently happened upon one that he thought was actually stupid.

To make his point, after that brilliant headline, Mr. Mystal opens up with a broadside of stupid to set the tone for the piece.

I support the government’s right to regulate firearms, since that right is enshrined in the Constitution, but this regulation failed to appreciate human weakness.”

Excuse me? The government’s right to regulate firearms is enshrined in the Constitution? Is that what they’re teaching at Harvard these days, that the Constitution enshrines the rights of the government?

I ask about Harvard because Mr. Mystal received both a degree in Government, and a Juris Doctorate from that prestigious institution. I’m sure Alan Dershowitz must be thrilled to have this guy representing his school. Perhaps he was out sick the day they went over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, or maybe the rest of us are just confused, and the reality is that when the Constitution says “the people,” that really means the government.

Stunningly, the article actually goes downhill from there. Who would have imagined that there was room to go down from such a low starting point? But Mr. Mystal managed to do it.

The ordinance he’s referencing in the title and opening paragraph was one issued by a town in North Carolina in advance of Hurricane Florence, which forbid the sale, purchase, or carry of a firearm during their declared state of emergency. While that is indeed a stupid regulation – and an illegal one at that – Mr. Mystal’s rationale for calling it stupid isn’t based on rational arguments such as the threats posed by looters and thugs during times of crisis, when there are no police to come to one’s aid. Nor was he concerned about the problem of leaving guns unattended in homes that were likely to be targets for those same looters and thugs. No, the reason Mr. Mystal thinks the ordinance is stupid, is that it was silly of the City Council to think that ignorant, knuckle-dragging gun owners, who can’t be convinced to divest themselves of their dangerous weapons during good times, are certainly not going to give them up during a crisis, when they are feeling threatened and vulnerable, so it was stupid of the Council to try.

Part of that rationale is very true; it is foolish to think that people who regularly go armed would forego doing so during a crisis, but his characterization of gun owners was pretty insulting, especially when wrapped in the incredible ignorance he displayed about guns and gun owners throughout the article. The whole piece can be summed up as follows:

Mystal knows nothing about guns, and probably doesn’t know anyone who even owns guns. He takes as gospel, everything ever put out by the Brady Bunch, Bloomberg, or any of the various “researchers” on their payrolls, which claim that guns do only harm, put their owners and their families at greater risk, and serve no useful or positive purpose in civilian hands. And he dismisses out of hand any research or opinion which differs from his own. According to Mr. Mystal, anyone who chooses to own – much less carry – a firearm is stupid. People who oppose gun laws are stupid and/or evil, and politicians who pass gun laws like the town in North Carolina are stupid for not recognizing how stupid gun owners really are and not understanding that passing such laws is futile in the face of such stupidity.

This Harvard-educated, New York City former attorney turned self-proclaimed “online provocateur,” thinks the Constitution protects the rights of the government, and “the people” are too stupid to make decisions for themselves. He celebrates his ignorance with a level of arrogance and self-importance that’s simply stunning, even for a Harvard-educated, New York City dweller.

But even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then, and this pompous ass offered up this one:

We shouldn’t make laws and interpret the Constitution based on the unrealized fears of the dumbest and most resistant to facts among us.”

But of course, he is unable to see that he’s talking about himself with that statement. His hollow insults about the lowly, gun-loving trailer-trash of the hinterlands provides a strong argument against leaving such important matters in the hands of coastal elites like Mystal.

Republicans Just Don’t Get It

The Self-Defeating Republican Strategy

By Jeff Knox

(September 7, 2018) As we pass out of Primary Season here in Arizona, and enter General Election Season nationwide, I’m struck by the lack of any sort of cohesive election strategy on the part of the GOP. While Senate Republicans are focused on confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the House Republicans are milling about doing little beyond throwing rocks at each other and the President over accusations of misconduct on the part of a couple of their members, and a pair of unsourced, but sensational portraits of chaos in the West Wing.

Republicans keep following a non-strategy of just reacting to the latest media attacks, and their strategists appear to be as disdainful of their own base as the Democrat elites are. They show no signs of having a plan for winning in November, so here’s a suggestion for them. For years I have encouraged state grassroots groups to adopt a double-pronged legislative agenda. The first prong is their Action Agenda – the legislation they really want to get passed – while the second prong is their Political Agenda – legislation that might not be passable, but which will force legislators to take a stand prior to reelection season.

Congress should be taking a similar approach. The confirmation of Kavanaugh is pretty good election season fodder for Republicans, but it is also firing-up the Democrat base. Rather than dragging it out as they are doing now, the Republican leadership should dispense with the kabuki theater of drawn-out hearings, and simply move forward with a confirmation vote. No new information about Judge Kavanaugh or his positions will be revealed in these hearings, and the hearings are not going to change any minds or votes. The only purpose the hearings serve is a forum for showboating on both sides, and an opportunity for a lot of whining and outrageous accusations flowing from the left and their media allies. Senator Grassly should abbreviate the committee hearings, going through the proforma motions as quickly as possible and moving straight to a vote of the Judiciary Committee. Then Mitch McConnell should act similarly, moving the confirmation debate quickly and getting straight to a vote. We all know that this will be a straight party-line vote, and that it is not Democrats who will decide whether Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, but Republicans, specifically Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

The slim, one-seat majority Republicans hold in the Senate was, until last Monday, in reality a 49-49 split, since John McCain was still holding a seat, even though he hadn’t been present for a vote in months. That meant that one Republican defector would have been able to sink the Kavanaugh nomination. Collins and Murkowski want to keep their seats for a few more terms, and being the Republican who kept the Supreme Court in play for more anti-rights leftist abuse, would be a hard label to live down. Flake on the other hand is retiring from the Senate, and he’s demonstrated a nasty vindictive streak where President Trump is concerned, so there was some real worry that he might take his war with the president to a new low by voting against Kavanaugh, or simply not show up for the vote. Thankfully that shouldn’t matter now that Jon Kyl has been appointed to fill McCain’s seat. While Kyl falls far short of being a reliable conservative, he has been shepherding Kavanaugh around to Senate offices and is unlikely to undermine his own work.

So why are Republicans drawing out the confirmation process? The Democrats wrote the new rules, and Republicans should play be those rules. Drawing the process out does nothing to help Republican prospects in the midterms, but it is serving as a rallying point to activate the Democrat base. Instead Republicans should get the confirmation process done, and move on to an issue where there is strong bi-partisan support – among voters – and serious vulnerability among Democrat incumbents: Guns.

A dozen Senate Democrats are vulnerable in the coming midterms. At least 10 of those would be significantly damaged by a record vote against a popular gun bill. Voting for a gun bill would do no harm to the electoral prospects of any Republican senators, and would help most.

In the House, Republican prospects are not looking great. Many Republicans announced their retirements last year in anticipation of a wave of Democrats in response to the election of President Trump. That wave was growing to a tsunami late last year, but quickly lost momentum with passage of the president’s tax bill in December, and has been rising and falling like a weak tide ever since, mainly dictated by the president’s Twitter activity. Most Americans seem pleased with the direction Congress has taken over the past two years, and the condition of the country. Republicans should be in great shape, but President Trump seems determined to keep feeding fuel to the Democrat base.

Like the Senate, Republicans in the House would significantly benefit from public debate and action on firearm-related legislation. GunVoters have been seriously frustrated by Republicans’ failure to follow through on promises to pass pro-rights legislation. The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed out of the House last December, but has been stalled in the Senate ever since. That bill is ripe for action in the Senate as soon as Justice Kavanaugh is confirmed. The other key bill that GunVoters have been waiting for action on in the House is the Hearing Protection Act. We thought we were going to see action on that last year, but it was successfully shot down by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter who decided to take target practice at a Republican baseball practice.

Republicans in the House should immediately start pushing through the SHARE Act, which is an omnibus hunting, fishing, and land access bill that includes the Hearing Protection Act, along with several other much-needed firearm law reforms. The SHARE Act enjoys some bi-partisan support, and is an excellent vehicle for Republicans to regain support of GunVoters. Bringing the SHARE Act back into the spotlight would give House Republicans something positive to talk about, and passing the bill out of the House would give Senate Republicans some leverage for offering Democrats a no-win choice of voting on either the National Carry bill or the SHARE Act, forcing them to either allow one of the bills to go to a vote, or take a hard stand to block them from the floor. Either choice hurts them.

As I have said repeatedly in these pages, Guns Win, and it’s high time that Republican “leadership” figured that out.

Nazi Gun Control

Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance
by Stephen Halbrook

Book Review
By Chris Knox

No discussion of gun control goes for very long before someone mentions Nazis. Yet surprisingly little historical research has delved into what the Nazis actually did, both in prewar Germany, and in the countries that fell before the invading Nazi armies. With his recently-released Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France and its 2014 predecessor, Gun Control in the Third Reich. Dr. Stephen Halbrook has started mining a long-ignored vein in the history of World War II.

That historians have so carefully avoided the topic for so long is remarkable in itself. Dr. Halbrook avoids accusations, but he succeeds in gently raising the question of why the topic has been ignored. It just might be that academic backers of “commonsense” restrictions on guns find it uncomfortable to see policies they favor being modeled by the archetype of totalitarian government. Whatever the reason, the topic has gone virtually unstudied for the past seven decades. Halbrook’s work is a good start on remedying that lack of scholarship.

Working from a trove of historical source documents in French and German, and from questionnaires he sent to veterans of the French Resistance, Dr. Halbrook has produced a detailed and meticulously researched picture of how the invading Nazis viewed arms in the hands of ordinary Frenchmen, and the steps they undertook to eradicate what they considered a menace to the success of their occupation.

Despite academia choosing to avoid the topic, the Nazi policies made an impression on WWII GIs and on the folks back home. The idea of “gun control” was foreign to most American ground-pounders, but they saw and heard of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against ordinary people for the crime of keeping a gun handy – proving to those unsophisticated “grunts” just how badly those guns were needed. As the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled across the low countries into France, they followed the same procedure in each town they entered. Upon subduing a town, soldiers immediately put up posters in the local language ordering that all guns be turned in, usually including threats of execution. Where registration records were available, the Nazis referred to the records and paid visits to the addresses they found there.

It was these oft-repeated, but rarely verified stories that made an impression on the American GIs, and that led to gun registration being political poison through the postwar years. One such story, this one set not in France, but in Belgium, was related by a refugee-turned-soldier, to my late father, Neal Knox. For years Dad told the story of The Belgian Corporal, usually after dinner with friends when someone asked him how he got into the fight for the Second Amendment. Dad committed the story to print only once or twice, partly because he could not substantiate the tale, and because he did not want the story to become trite.

What is undeniable is the impact that the story had on Dad and on our family. What is now also undeniable is the outline of that story, where a registered gun that could not be found led to an entire family being machine-gunned in the town square, was repeated not only in Belgium, but in France, the Netherlands, and without any doubt, in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and elsewhere.

The French gun registration law was moved into place with the best of intentions, as all such laws are. A global depression was in full swing in 1935, and crime was high – a handy excuse for disarming the populace. The real reason however, was that revolution was in the air, and fights between armed extremists were all too common. The French government saw it prudent to register the guns in order to confiscate them if need be. The politician who pushed the French registration law was none other than Pierre Laval, who would later lead the Vichy puppet regime, and would eventually be shot as a collaborator. The German Wehrmacht would find those registration records quite handy as they moved in to administer their new puppet state.

Halbrook’s book details the almost comical swings between orders to turn in guns or be shot followed by amnesties to turn in guns with no questions, followed again by death threats against those who failed to report those who had guns, followed by more amnesties. I say “almost comical” because the matter was serious business. Thousands lost their lives. Trees that served as stakes where condemned gun owners were tied up and shot fell over, cut down by the daily barrages of the firing squads. Yet the French people, especially those in rural areas, defied the orders hiding their own guns or passing them on to the Resistance.

The Nazis lack of success in making France a “gun-free zone” might provide a lesson for current politicians. A good portion of Frenchmen did not give up their guns in the face of firing squads. The low rates of compliance with registration laws in California, New York, and Connecticut really should not be all that surprising.

Stephen Halbrook has again written an important book, one that deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who holds the Second Amendment dear. The history of the Nazis and their gun control should not be buried in obscure footnotes. It should be readily available and studied for the important lessons that can be learned and applied today. Halbrook’s books are a great start.

Media Feeding the Demons

Murder Made Me Famous”
Media feeding the demons.

By Jeff Knox

Sitting in a fast food joint at DFW Airport, eating a breakfast bowl, while waiting for my ride, I happened to glance up at the TV. Of course it was playing CNN, and I noticed a series of almost iconic photographs flashing across the screen. Not only did I recognize most of them, I could name them, and describe their crimes. They were all famous murderers, and what I was watching was a promo for a cable series called “Murder Made Me Famous.

Here’s the description of the series from the channel’s website:

Murder Made Me Famous is a fact-based crime documentary series that examines killers who gained public notoriety when their crimes generated intense media coverage and made the killers household names. The unnerving psychology behind murder has long been source material for television, books and movies but why do certain killers capture the attention of millions?”

If it bleeds it leads, says the old saw about news coverage, and unfortunately, bloody massacres don’t only lead in newspapers and on TV, they also lead in ratings. People are sucked into the horror and it becomes a symbiotic feeding cycle. The attention given to murderous degenerates is so pervasive that it’s virtually impossible to get away from it. Saturation coverage, with its speculation and salacious details being rehashed every 15 minutes for weeks after an event, then regularly dredged back up for another “in-depth” look every few years for decades, makes the murderers some of the most recognizable and wellknown people in the world. And that fame and notoriety is known to be a major motivating factor, and inspiration to others to seek similar fame by committing heinous crimes of their own.

Polls say that fame and celebrity have replaced wealth, power, athletic achievement, even happiness, as the most desired life-goal of the post-Baby Boom generations. Simply “being famous” is now considered a great achievement, even if the fame is based on some negative, embarrassing, or criminal event.

Media movers and shakers know all of this. They know that there is a direct correlation between the amount of coverage they give to a murderer, and the likelihood of copycats. When they were presented with a similar correlation several years ago, regarding suicides, media leaders came together and developed reporting guidelines designed to minimize the occurrence of “contagious suicide.” But the temptation – of money, ratings, and political gain – is too great, and few reporters or outlets have done anything to even attempt to address the issue of “Rampage Killer Contagion.”

All of the major news outlets are guilty of exploiting murder for ratings. They cross well beyond careless and callous, and demonstrate almost a gleeful indifference to the role they play in promoting these heinous acts, even as they point accusing fingers at innocent gun owners, gun makers, and the NRA.

Changing the way the majority of media report on suicides, has resulted in less “suicide contagion,” saving countless lives and untold tears. Their refusal to even seriously discuss adoption of similar rules for their reporting on mass murder events, is dispicable.

At its core, a mass shooting is almost always an elaborate suicide. Few perpetrators have any exit plan other than a hail of bullets. Evidence shows that some killers are literally attempting to run up a gruesome “score” to increase their notoriety by exceeding the carnage – and news coverage – of some previous murderer. This has prompted an array of psychologists, psychiatrists, social scientists, and, to their credit, a few members of the media, to call on the Society of Professional Journalists, and all media to adopt something like the suicide reporting guidelines when reporting on mass-murderers. So far these calls have fallen on deaf ears, and every time there is a mass-killing that receives heavy press coverage, we know that there will be copycats striking within days or weeks.

It is past time for mass media to stop exploiting murder for ratings. It is time for them to stop repeatedly naming suspected murderers and showing their photos – over and over and over again. Stop speculating on motives, assigning rankings, comparing one atrocity to another, and publishing lunatic manifestos. It’s time for them to adopt guidelines such as those repeatedly submitted to the Society of Professional Journalists in a petition called the “Don’t Inspire Evil” initiative, or the several other, heavily researched, scientifically backed proposals that have been put forward in recent years.

Adopting a few reasonable, sensible, voluntary changes in the way the media reports on murders would unquestionably save lives without interfering with anyone’s rights. But the media and politicians would rather blame gun owners, and demand we surrender our rights to schemes that have never worked, and have historically failed to protect anyone. That’s hypocritical and immoral.

Unfortunately, change is unlikely so long as the media can use sensational coverage to get eyeballs for their advertisers. Perhaps it is the advertisers that need to be persuaded.

NRA’s Interesting Election

By Jeff Knox

(May 4, 2018) The results of the NRA’s most recent Board of Directors election are interesting from top to bottom.

The bad news for most of our readers is that unfortunately Adam Kraut didn’t win a seat. There is still a chance he could win the 76th Director seat, which will be voted on at the Annual Meeting in Dallas though, so if you are planning to attend the Annual Meeting and Exhibits, be sure to find the voting booth and cast your ballot for Adam.

At the top of the ticket was Ronnie Barrett garnering the most votes, which is no surprise at all. Barrett is a rock star in the gun world thanks to his .50 BMG rifles and other innovations. What was a surprise was newcomer Carrie Lightfoot coming in second, beating out long-serving director Wayne Anthony Ross who landed the third place position. Ross has been on the NRA Board since 1980, with only a year or two off in the early ’90s. Fourth place went to another industry rock star, Duane Liptak, Executive Vice President of Magpul Industries. And world champion action shooter Julie Golob rounded out the top five.

NRA voters historically have an affinity for movie stars, politicians, industry executives, incumbents, and minorities – particularly women. They also seem to give added weight to candidates from Alaska over other states, so Barrett, Liptak, and Ross all fit expectations, and while it’s no surprise that Lightfoot and Golob won seats, it is a surprise that they finished in the top five, especially the second-place finish for Lightfoot. It is very unusual for any newcomer to NRA elections to place so high in the voting unless they are a pretty well-known celebrity of some sort. While Carrie is something of a celebrity within her own circles, having founded The Well Armed Woman, with 363 chapters in 49 states, and some 10,500 individual members, a majority of those members probably aren’t voting members of the NRA, so her high finish is a bit of a shocker. Then again, having 10,00 women rooting for you, even if they can’t vote, has to help. Julie’s top-five finish is also not especially surprising. She’s pretty well known, and is a frequent contributor, guest, or subject in various firearms media. Her status as an Army veteran doesn’t hurt either.

I was very tempted to endorse both Lightfoot and Golob, but felt they had a good chance of winning seats on their own, and wanted to focus my energy on getting Adam Kraut elected.

Historically women have tended to do well in NRA elections, beginning with prominent competitive shooter Alice Bull, who served on the Board from 1949 to 1988, and continuing with a number of female directors over the years, including two female Presidents, and a current female Second Vice President. The predominately male membership of the NRA tends to lend a bit of extra support to female Board candidates, as long as they have the experience to support their ambition.

Last year a bona fide female shooting celebrity, six-time Olympic Medalist Kim Rhode, barely made the cut, being elected to a 1-year term that opened up due to the death of a sitting director. That was initially pretty surprising, but closer analysis showed that Kim’s resume’ was a little thin on the activism and education side. This year, with a year of NRA Board participation and promotion to bolster her bio, Kim came in a comfortable, and respectable 11th place, just behind Bob Nosler of Nosler Bullets fame, and a couple of positions ahead of long-time director and competitive shooter Edie Fleeman.

In all, 8 women were elected or reelected to the Board this year, which is pretty “progressive” for a stodgy, good ol’ boys club. And while that 30% representation for women is worth talking about, the real news in this election came at the bottom of the ticket where we find two past presidents barely making the cut, with two other long-time directors just ahead of them, and four other long-time incumbents losing their seats.

It’s not unusual to see an incumbent or two bumped off the board by newcomers, but to have four incumbents fail to make the cut, and two past presidents finish 25th and 26th in a race for 26 seats. That’s a quiet earthquake that probably has the establishment bosses looking over their shoulders.

Past President Ron Schmeitz actually failed to make the cut, but with the passing of R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey in April, a two-year seat came open. Former President David Keene beat out Schmeitz for the 25th seat, and Schmeitz will finish the two remaining years of Ermey’s term. While Schmeitz has had a pretty low profile at NRA over the years, Keene has been a very visible political player, both in and out of the NRA. Before moving up in the chairs at NRA, Keene was the Chairman of the American Conservative Union, host of the annual CPAC conference in Washington, and later was the Opinion Editor of the Washington Times. For him to trail in and barely win a seat is pretty embarrassing.

In positions 23 and 24 were incumbents David Coy and Joel Friedman, and down in the also-rans were incumbents John Cushman – who failed to make the cut last year, but then beat Adam Kraut by 60-some votes at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta to win a 1-year seat – Grover Norquist – who survived a recall effort a couple of years ago – Robert Wos, and Herb Lanford.

Some on and off the Board are placing the blame for the shake-up on NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. These insiders, who spoke on background, say that he has been loading “loyalists” onto the Board so he can be sure he can pick his successor. My sources say that Wayne has insisted that the Nominating Committee include extra nominees to make it harder on the incumbents.

The problem with this theory is that the Board has long been loaded with “loyalists” who simply let Wayne have his way. Even though the Board is supposed to set policy and lay down guidance for Wayne and the other (ridiculously well-paid) staff, the fact is that decisions at NRA come down from the executive offices to the Board, and the Board rubber-stamps whatever they are told to. Wayne knows that his job is secure, but the members of the Board have no such security. They come up for reelection every three years, and they know that all it takes is a word from Wayne, and they won’t be invited back.

It really is irritating to see a Board of Directors with such stellar credentials and experience being herded and manipulated the way this board is, and failing to serve the members who elected them. From last year’s bylaw amendments, which the Board unanimously approved, to the election of Carolyn Meadows, who few Directors believe should be in line for the Presidency, this Board fails to do their job

LaPierre has made some serious missteps of late, on top of many other fumbles over the years, but no one on the Board is willing to challenge him or even criticize him in an open session. That’s a serious problem. Maybe one of the new Board members will finally raise their voices and declare that the emperor has no clothes, and some of the rest of the Board will wake from their stupor and recognize that as the truth. Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.

Media Feeds the Demons

“Murder Made Me Famous”

By Jeff Knox

(May 3, 2018) Sitting in a fast food joint at DFW Airport, eating a breakfast bowl, waiting for my ride, and thinking about the NRA Annual Meeting I just flew in to attend, I happened to glance up at the TV.  Of course it was playing CNN – they pay to be on every TV in every airport in the country – and I noticed a series of almost iconic photographs flashing across the screen. As each picture briefly appeared, I realized that I was treating it like a quiz, trying to name each person pictured, and I was getting most of them, no problem – and that’s a problem.  The faces flashing across the screen were all murderers, and I not only recognized almost all of them, I could name them, and describe their crimes.

The photos were being shown as a promo for a series that plays on a cable channel called REELZ.  The name of the series is Murder Made Me Famous, and it serves as proof positive that the media is thoroughly corrupt, callous, and driven by ratings above all else.

Here’s the description of the series from the REELZ website:

Murder Made Me Famous is a fact-based crime documentary series that examines killers who gained public notoriety when their crimes generated intense media coverage and made the killers household names. The unnerving psychology behind murder has long been source material for television, books and movies but why do certain killers capture the attention of millions?

Each one-hour episode presents dramatic recreations of the crimes using archival material and insightful commentary from those connected to the case to help unravel the twisted personalities that were thrust into the spotlight.

I was able to name so many of those murderers because I, like just about every other American, have been bombarded with their images and stories for most of my life.  The attention given to these degenerates is so pervasive that it’s virtually impossible to get away from it. The saturation coverage, with its speculation and salacious details being rehashed every 15 minutes for weeks after an event, then regularly dredged back up for another look every few years for decades, makes these murderers some of the most recognizable and well-known people in the world.  And that fame and notoriety is known to inspire others to seek similar fame by committing heinous crimes of their own.

The dominant media’s wall-to-wall coverage of mass murder events goes directly counter to guidelines published by research organizations including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and American Association of Suicidology.  For at least two decades my father, my brother, and I have maintained a policy of avoiding mentioning the names of murderers in our writings, and we’ve called on other media to do the same. Ben Shapiro has now declared a similar policy for himself, and his The Daily Wire news outlet.  We adopted our policy because the evidence of fame motivating deviants is very clear and well-established, and we don’t want to be part of the problem.  If a murderer is killing people as a way of becoming famous, we don’t want to give him what he’s seeking. More importantly, we don’t want to provide any inspiration for the next loser to who wants to become a household name by shooting, bombing, burning, or crashing his way into the headlines and CNN’s perpetual repetition that they call “news.”

Polls say that fame and celebrity have replaced wealth, power, athletic achievement, even happiness, as the most desired life-goal of the post-Baby Boom generations.  Simply “being famous” is now considered a great achievement, even if the fame is based on some negative, embarrassing, or criminal event. From sports fans acting the fool to get their picture on the jumbotron during a big game, to tourists waving through the windows of the NBC during the Today Show broadcasts, it seems that a large slice of today’s culture are willing to do almost anything to see their picture on TV or in a viral video.  While the desire for fame is not a new phenomenon, it has never been as pervasive at it is today. That means the media’s obligation to be sensitive and responsible in their coverage of mass murder events has never been so great.  It is a responsibility that they ignore.

All of the major news outlets are guilty of exploiting murder for ratings.  This new show advertising on CNN, with its outrageous title, goes way beyond careless and callous, and demonstrates just how indifferent the talking head ‘journalists” and their programmers really are.  Unfortunately the American public will lap it up, and clips and copies will be floating on YouTube for decades to come, inspiring God only knows what kinds of evil and destruction. But while media like CNN will gleefully continue to blame gun owners and the NRA for the actions of deranged degenerates, they refuse to take the simplest steps to mitigate their own culpability in these atrocities.

When suicide researchers saw a link between heavy media coverage of suicides, and a phenomenon they dubbed Suicide Contagion, where one suicide triggered a series of others, the Society of Professional Journalists, newspapers, TV networks, and other media developed and adopted a set of guidelines for reporting on suicides.  Under these guidelines, focus was taken off of the suicide itself, and placed more on the people left behind, and the positive things in the person’s life. The result has been a marked decrease in the frequency and severity of Suicide Contagion.

At its core, a mass shooting event is almost always an elaborate suicide-by-cop.  Few perpetrators have any exit plan other than a hail of bullets. It seems reasonable to apply the same rules to mass killings, especially given the evidence that some killers are doing their best to run up a gruesome “score.”  Psychologists and psychiatrists, social scientists, and, to their credit, a few members of the media, have called on the Society of Professional Journalists, and all media to adopt the suicide guidelines in hopes of reducing the frequency and severity of mass murder copycat events.  So far these calls have fallen on deaf ears, and every time there is a mass-killing that receives heavy press coverage, we know that there will be copycats striking within days or weeks.

It is past time for mass media to stop exploiting murder for ratings.  It is time for them to stop naming suspected murderers and showing their photos – over and over and over again.  Stop speculating on motives, assigning rankings, and comparing one atrocity to another. And time for them to adopt guidelines such as those petitioned to the Society of Professional Journalists in a petition called the “Don’t Inspire Evil” initiative.

Adopting a few reasonable, sensible changes in the way the media reports on murders would unquestionably save lives without interfering with anyone’s rights.  But the media and politicians would rather blame gun owners, and demand we surrender our rights to schemes that have historically failed to protect anyone. That’s hypocritical and immoral.

Unfortunately, change is unlikely so long as the media can use sensational coverage to get eyeballs for their advertising.

Another Court Says AR-15s Aren’t Covered by the Second Amendment

Judge Nominations Matter

By Jeff Knox

(April 9, 2018) An egregious ruling out of a Federal Court in Massachusetts, is just the latest example of why judicial appointments are so critically important.  The fact that the ruling comes at a moment when anti-rights Democrats in the U.S. Senate are praising a Donald Trump nominee to the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, while Republican defenders of the Bill of Rights are criticizing Trump’s nominee over First and Second Amendment concerns.

The Massachusetts ruling came in a case filed by local rights advocates and the Gun Owners Action League, against the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.  GOAL sued Healey after she arbitrarily redefined the state’s “assault weapons” ban by including all guns with actions or internal parts that are interchangeable or similar to those of specifically banned firearms.  The Massachusetts ban, which was originally a mirror of the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, had been in place for almost 20 years when Healey decided to change the rules and retroactively add thousands of heretofore legal rifles to the banned list, making criminals of thousands of law-abiding gun owners.

The Massachusetts Legislature enacted the state law in 1998, using the same definitions and terminology used in the federal ban, including the “grandfather clause, which exempted guns owned prior to the September, 1994 from the restrictions.  By expanding the definition in 2016 to include firearms that are mechanically similar to those that were banned, Healey retroactively criminalized sale, purchase, and possession of all of the thousands of rifles and magazines that meet the new definitions, but had been legally acquired since the 1994 ban.  Those rifles and magazines are now contraband, and the individuals who possess them are felons – if this legal interpretation is allowed to stand.

GOAL and fellow plaintiffs sued to overturn the original law, and particularly block the implementation of the new definitions.  They contended that the original ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment because it bans an entire class of firearms which are commonly owned and used for lawful purposes.  They further contended that the new, expanded definitions were unconstitutional because the terminology used is unconstitutionally vague and confusing, and violates constitutional protections against ex post facto laws.

In the Federal District Court for the State of Massachusetts, Judge William Young, a Reagan appointee, declared that “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to bear arms.

To support that outrageous claim, Judge Young invoked the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, and the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, claiming that in Heller, Scalia specifically stated that the weapons most useful to service in a militia were not protected by the Second Amendment.

This is taken from a bit of dicta included in the Heller opinion, in which Justice Scalia was attempting to head-off future arguments based on the Court’s 1939 Miller decision.  In that decision the Court concluded that they could not say that a sawed-off shotgun was protected by the Second Amendment, because they had no knowledge of such a weapon being useful in militia service.  Scalia offered a hypothetical argument saying; “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause.”  He’s suggesting that someone could use Miller to argue that restrictions on full-auto weapons are unconstitutional because those are the weapons “that are most useful in military service.”  He then goes on to answer that hypothetical challenge by arguing that the Miller decision hinged not on whether the weapon was militarily useful, but rather whether it was something that was commonly possessed for lawful purposes by members of the public.  He concluded that since full-auto’s are not very common in civilian hands, restrictions on them could probably be upheld as constitutional.

That’s a pretty thin argument, since those very restrictions are the only reason full-auto weapons like the M16 are not much more commonly owned, but to take that weak argument from Justice Scalia, and willfully distort it to claim that he was saying that guns that look like M16s aren’t protected by the Second Amendment, specifically because they are most useful in military service, is beyond outrageous, it’s downright treasonous.

This outrageous distortion didn’t originate with Judge Young however.  It was originally put forward last year by a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Kolbe v. Hogan, which challenged Maryland’s draconian ban on guns that look military.  That decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, and the cowardly justices refused to grant it a hearing, allowing the egregious ruling to stand.

Sam Adams would be calling for all of these judges to be defrocked and ridden out of town on a rail.  This is not a minor quibble over a legal technicality, but rather an intentional distortion to effect a desired outcome.  No honest reading of Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller could arrive at the conclusions that these judges reached, and it is even more shameful that the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States have foregone their sworn duty, and allowed such conclusions to stand.

These are the sorts of abuses of power that lead insurrection and rebellion, and they must not be tolerated.

 

We Agree With Former Justice Stevens

Gun Control Advocates Should Call for Repeal of the Second Amendment.

By Jeff Knox

(March 27, 2018) You’ve probably heard about former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ recent editorial in the New York Times.  In it, he lauded the “civic engagement” of the “school children and their supporters” demanding additional gun control laws in marches around the country to “minimize the risk of mass killings.”  He also called on them to expand their demands and not just settle for minor tweaks in existing law, but rather to make their goal the full repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

We at The Firearms Coalition wholeheartedly agree with him.  We would love to see gun control advocates actually demanding out loud and in so many words what they really want, rather than pretending that they would be satisfied with just a few minor restrictions or some “commonsense reforms.”  It would be refreshing to have them openly admit to their ultimate objectives, without pretending to support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

From top to bottom, anti-rights groups are a sham.  Even their names are lies, as are their publicly stated goals.  Their names use terms like “for gun safety,” “against gun violence,” and “violence policy,” but they have nothing to do with gun safety or violence prevention.  Their single objective is, and always has been, demonization and criminalization of guns and gun owners.

Years ago, when most of these groups were founded, they were much more open about their intentions.  The National Coalition to Ban Handguns, and Handgun Control, Inc. were pretty clear about what they wanted – a total ban on civilian-owned handguns, with exceptions only for police and specially licensed security guards while on-duty.  Other civilians who wished to own a handgun would be limited to only certain styles, and even those, only in controlled range environments where they would have to store them securely, and never take them off the premises.

But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the leaders of these groups began to realize that their agendas were not popular with most Americans.  Not only were they stymied in their legislative efforts, being forced to take less than they wanted, but they found that they were unable to garner many members or financial supporters either.  They found themselves relying on funding from wealthy foundations, Hollywood celebrities, and New York and Silicon Valley billionaires. While past leaders had openly described a process of enacting stricter and stricter laws until their goal of a gun-free society was achieved, the new leaders adopted a whole new vocabulary of “gun safety,” “gun-violence prevention,” and “reasonable, commonsense measures to keep our children safe.”

The new approach to gun control, or “gun safety” in the new parlance, included vehement denials that they wanted to ban guns or take guns away from people, while calling for the banning of certain guns, and campaigns to make more and more people “Prohibited Persons” who can’t legally purchase or possess firearms.  In private, every now and then, one of them will quietly admit that total prohibition is still their ultimate objective.

We aren’t surprised that Justice Stevens would support repealing the Second Amendment, but we’re amazed at his candor, and welcome the opportunity to have an open and honest debate about the right to arms.

While many Americans will say that they feel there is a need for some sort of gun control, that support wanes as they learn more about specific proposals.  “Expanded background checks,” meaning a prohibition on private transfers, is a good example. Polls consistently report that over 80% of Americans support the idea, but when these proposals have actually been put to the voters, the results have been much less impressive.  In Washington State, proponents of the measure spent some $14 million dollars pushing their plan, while opponents spent barely $1 million. But even with the lopsided spending on emotional and misleading ads, voters approved the measure by an unimpressive 60%. When a similar initiative was brought to Nevada, the bill passed by less than ½ of 1%, losing in every county except one.  When the initiative was brought to voters in Maine it was rejected. Plans to introduce the initiative in Arizona were shelved as the supporters realized that a win there was very unlikely.

Support for gun control wanes as people know and understand about gun control proposals, the less they support them.  So yes, please gun control advocates, do take Justice Stevens’ advice and drop the pretense.

Declare your real objectives, and focus your attention on repealing the Second Amendment.  Stop avoiding the phrase “gun control” and hiding behind fake terms like “gun safety,” and let’s have an honest, open debate on the real issues.

We think Justice Stevens is among the worst judges to ever wear the robes, but on this particular question, we fully agree with him: It’s time to stop obfuscating and go for the real prize.

So come on Bloomberg, Schumer, Feinstein, and Soros:  Come and take it.  We dare you.