Category Archives: The Knox Update

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The Enemy Within — Marion Hammer’s Revised NRA History.

By Jeff Knox

(January 17, 2018) On January 15, Marion Hammer, NRA past president and a current member of both the Board of Directors and Executive Council, published an outrageous editorial on Ammoland Shooting Sports News warning of current and past threats to the NRA, and listing a slate of candidates she supports for the upcoming NRA Board of Directors election.

Marion is free to endorse any Board candidate she likes. But in her endorsement she can’t rewrite history to suit herself, nor can she expect to cast aspersions on the motives of good people without challenge

In her screed, Ms. Hammer carefully avoids naming names, but anyone who has been paying any attention at all to NRA politics – past and present – knows exactly whom she is referring to.

She begins with muddy praise for the stalwart NRA members who staged a revolt at the NRA Members’ Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977. It was the night when the members wrested control of the NRA from a hidebound and self-perpetuating management and put the Association on the road to being the premier defender of the human right to armed self defense. Then she jumps forward to 1997 to talk about an attempted coup by a group of “dissident malcontents,” but fails to mention that both actions were staged by many of the same people, and for many of the same reasons.

I put “coup” in quotes in the second instance because the group that she claims was staging the “coup” was actually the duly elected Officers and Directors attempting, unsuccessfully, to exercise their fiduciary responsibility against actions by paid staff and key contractors with multimillion-dollar contracts.

The 1997 fight was not a coup; it was a mutiny.

In contrast to Cincinnati, the prize in 1977 was not the heart, soul, and destiny of the NRA, but control of the organization’s checkbook and prudent management of its resources. The goal in both instances was to give the members control over their NRA. The 1997 action included First Vice President Neal Knox, Second Vice President Albert Ross, and a majority of the NRA Board of Directors.

But, history is written by the victors, so the attempts of the Board of Directors to demand fiscal accountability from their hired staff was later reported as a “coup.”

The core issue was how the NRA’s PR company, Ackerman McQueen, was drawing millions of dollars a month from the organization and improperly controlling NRA staff. The Board directed Wayne to sever ties with Ack-Mac, and Wayne promised to do so, then claimed to have done so, by bringing in a new PR company called Mercury Group. The “new” PR company turned out to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ack-Mac, with all of the same players in all of the same positions, still bleeding the association of the same millions of dollars.

The Finance Committee responded to the charade by calling an emergency meeting to demand accountability, demand dismissal of Ack-Mac, and require the treasurer to pull NRA’s meager remaining funds out of risky investments.

Marion Hammer, as President of the Board, used her power to push that meeting into executive session in order to quash the reports from the meeting, then at the subsequent Board meeting, used her power to quash debate, spread disinformation, and bully members to her position.

Read her editorial. She brags about her use of heavy-handed tactics.

Many on the Board wanted to fire Wayne for his duplicity. Neal Knox was not among those. He simply wanted Wayne to obey the instructions of the Board, but he was willing to use the threat of firing Wayne as a lever to force him to comply, and he was willing to follow through on the threat if Wayne balked. But Wayne, backed by Ack-Mac, other vendors, and allies on the Board, many of whom had business dealings with vendors, had sown enough confusion to keep the Board from forcing him out. The bylaws required a 2/3 majority vote to fire the EVP, and while a strong majority was in favor of firing him, they couldn’t muster the 2/3rds needed to actually do it.

Rather than taking my word for what actually happened in, and leading up to that meeting, you can get the story from one of Wayne and Marion’s staunchest allies in that fight, writer/director, and NRA Board member John Milius, who was interviewed by a reporter for the Washington Post in 2000, and provided a stunningly frank description of the machinations he and others engaged in.

He also described the situation as a coup attempt, then said;

So we used our best techniques: lying, cheating and disinformation. I didn’t tell the truth for weeks.”

The story goes on to describe how Milius and Ack-Mac manager Tony Makris invited a “Knox loyalist” out to dinner in LA, and convinced him that Wayne would be willing to go quietly if he were provided with a large enough severance package.

As anticipated, the “Knox loyalist” spread the word that he had brokered a deal that would save face for everyone, and began lobbying for Wayne’s severance. But when the meeting commenced, Wayne rose publicly to declare himself shocked! that the Knox faction would stoop so low as to try and bribe him.

Milius reported that LaPierre gamed the moment perfectly, and, with Marion’s help, was able to cling to his position as they headed into the Annual Meeting of Members in Seattle.

At that meeting, two unprecedented events took place: First, a person who received write-in votes in the Board of Directors election was deemed to be qualified to run for the 76th Director seat that is elected at the Annual Meeting. The bylaws said that only people who were candidates in the election were eligible, and that had always been interpreted to mean people who had been nominated by the Nominating Committee or by petition of the members, but this year it suddenly included anyone who had received any write-in votes. And by an amazing coincidence, one of Tony Makris’ PR clients happened to get some write-in votes. That client was Charlton Heston.

The second unprecedented event at that meeting was the election of a brand new Board member to the leadership. In a surprise move – which in retrospect should have been no surprise at all – Mr. Heston was nominated for the office of First Vice President, to run head-to-head against Neal Knox.

Heston won that election by 4 votes, and immediately left the meeting to jet back to LA and appear on a radio talk show, during which he repeatedly stated that it was inappropriate or civilians to own AK47 type rifles. He eventually learned his script better, and the following year stepped up to become President of the NRA.

In her rewrite of history, Marion is correct that the fight was primarily about money, and that one side was trying to personally profit off of the NRA. I believe that’s true, and here’s the record on that.

As a result of the “Knox faction” raising a stink about the NRA’s finances, the treasurer moved funds out of those risky investments right before the markets crashed. Over the next several years, NRA engaged in a barrage of cheesy sweepstakes, fire-sales on memberships, and heavy-handed direct-mail fundraising to rebuild their depleted coffers, eventually returning to solvency – and making Ack-Mac a huge pile of money in the process.

Marion Hammer, who has been paid by NRA to run the Unified Sportsmen of Florida since Neal Knox recruited her for the job back in 1979, saw her paycheck go up from $30k a year to $120k a year after she sided with Harlon Carter against Neal Knox in 1983, and it has been reported that it is now between $250k and $300k per year. So far as I am aware, she is the only director of a state organization to ever receive direct or indirect payment from the NRA.

In 1997 Wayne LaPierre was being paid about $250k per year, up from the $186k that had been paid to his predecessor a dozen years prior.

After Neal Knox and his allies had been purged from the Board (with “Don’t Vote For” lists published in full-page ads in NRA magazines – paid for by whom?), Wayne’s compensation jumped to $400k, then a couple of year later to $800k, leveled at around $900k for several years, and is now reported to be approximately $1.4 million, though a couple of years ago, due to some sort of retirement pay-out, he received a cool $4 million dollars.

Salaries of other top NRA officials have kept pace with Wayne’s.

As First Vice President of NRA, Neal Knox never received a salary. He had a small travel and expense account, and at one point he and Marion joined forces to ask the Board to approve a small stipend for them and other officers who dedicated a significant amount of time and talent working for NRA, but that modest request was turned down by their fellow Board members.

During the five years Charlton Heston served as President, he traveled exclusively by private jet and limousine. NRA paid for that, along with Presidential Suite accommodations, and private security.

There are definitely people with ulterior motives involved in NRA. Some accuse me of profiting because my organization, The Firearms Coalition, gets a slight bump in donations when I publish articles critical of NRA. That’s probably true, but my annual salary from The Firearms Coalition is less than what Wayne LaPierre is paid every month, so it’s a bit of a different ball park.

Marion offered her list of candidates she encourages you to vote for, so here is my list:

      1. Adam Kraut.

That’s it. While there are several other people, both incumbents and new candidates, whom I like and would be comfortable endorsing, this year I’m bullet-voting for Adam, and I encourage you to do the same. If there are others whom you know personally and appreciate, throw them a vote, but remember that if they are likely to be toward the bottom of the pile, a vote for them could bump Adam out of the running. There are even people on Marion’s list that I like and have endorsed in the past, but it’s probably a pretty safe bet to avoid voting for any long-term incumbent on Marion’s list. That’s probably the best way to push out the “enemy within.”

Another good idea is to ask every candidate to comment on Marion’s editorial. Simple question: Do they agree with Marion’s version of history, and do they think that people who are critical of the NRA leadership are trying to destroy the organization?

Go to AdamKraut.com. Read his bylaw proposals. Take action.

It’s your NRA. VOTE!

Is “Murder Inequality” really a thing?

And if it is, is it your fault?

By Jeff Knox

(January 5, 2018) In their endless effort to demonize guns and gun owners, Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun propaganda outlet The Trace has finally hit on a trace of truth with an article from regular contributor Daniel Kay Hertz, but he still managed to dodge important points and spin the story to place blame on gun owners.

The key point of the story is that violent crime has been falling dramatically in the United States since the mid 1990s – everywhere except in certain inner-city neighborhoods. The title of the article is The Debate Over Crime Rates is Ignoring the Metric That Matters Most: ‘Murder Inequality’”

Murder inequality.. What an interesting turn of a phrase. Use of the word “inequality” is usually reserved for matters in which some group is not getting their “fair share” of some good thing, but in this case the author is using it to highlight certain groups getting too much of a bad thing. Actually, he’s saying that the inequity lies in certain groups not getting their fair share of reductions in crime rates. Still it resonates with an implication that the “inequality” is due to some oppressor group causing the disparity, and that it is up to the oppressors to redress the imbalance. And since it’s on The Trace, the culprits must be you and me — lawful gun owners.

The article is actually an interesting and informative read, if you can get past the random jabs at guns, gun owners, and President Trump. Hertz points out that crime data comparing city to city is of very little practical use because there are safer places and less-safe places in every city. A city’s statistics can be dramatically thrown off by a few small areas with exceedingly high crime rates, or by large areas with very low crime rates.

We’ve been raising that point for years. And it’s not just true of cities, it is true of countries as well. As has often been pointed out in these columns, the violent crime rates in the U.S. are comparable to crime rates in other developed nations – if you deduct the violence of a few neighborhoods in a few of our larger cities. Crime is not a national problem, nor is it a city problem. Crime is a neighborhood problem.

Hertz points out that there are areas of New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., and other large cities, where the annual murder rate is less than 1 per 100,000 residents. There are also areas of those cities where the rate is as high as 50, 70, or even 90 per 100,000. And these are fairly large areas such as police precincts or City Council Districts, which can be further reduced to battle zones of just a few city blocks in which murder rates reach truly staggering levels.

On his personal blog, Hertz, who is a Senior Policy Analyst for a Chicago-based think-tank focused on taxes and budgets, displays maps comparing murder rates in Chicago between the peak crime years of the early ’90s and the lower crime period of 2008 – 2011. What the maps show is that in Chicago, safer neighborhoods grew, while dangerous neighborhoods were concentrated and got worse. Overall, Chicago, like the U.S. as a whole, experienced a decline in murder of about 50% over 2 decades, but the neighborhoods that got left behind have not shared in that decline, with some seeing higher murder rates now than then, and the rates are climbing.

Hertz points to several studies and supporting articles that keep circling back to the inequity in the racial make-up of murder victims, but dancing around the obvious fact that the murderers also lack racial diversity. Terms like “black-on-black crime” have not only fallen out of favor, they have been labeled as racist, as has any frank discussion of the fact that violent crime in America is dramatically inequitable with regards to the race and ethnicity of its perpetrators. Researchers and analysts talk about factors like poverty, unemployment, hopelessness, and the breakdown of the family. They compare crime to a communicable disease, with discussions of transmission vectors, vulnerable networks, and paths of infection, but in their determination to avoid inadvertently tripping over an explosive “race-card,” they assiduously avoid talking about the critical factor culture plays in crime: culture.

It is not that “black culture,” or “Hispanic culture” is inherently violent or prone to crime. It’s that a criminal culture has been allowed to grow and fester in inner-city communities and has become particularly prevalent and destructive within black and Hispanic sectors of those communities.

The culture of crime and violence generates a self-perpetuating cycle that consumes those trapped in its vortex. A dispute leads to a fight which leads to a murder which leads to retaliation which results in a feud and long-term grudges. The cycle of violence drives out the good people, attracts the bad people, destroys businesses, schools, and infrastructure, and corrupts everything it touches. It results in less education, fewer opportunities, more poverty and hopelessness, and more crime and violence.

Unfortunately that criminal culture has been glamorized and popularized by Hollywood, the music industry, and professional athletes. Government and charities can throw money and effort at the problems, but nothing will change until the culture changes, and the culture won’t change until people admit that it’s the problem.

Fixing NRA

By Jeff Knox

(December 25, 2017) With the recent House passage of the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, and the attachment of the “Fix NICS” bill, we are again hearing accusations of betrayal and false-dealing from the NRA.  And as those of us who are Life Members, or have been members of the organization for at least 5 consecutive years, are receiving our ballots for the election of NRA directors, now is a good time to address those accusations and talk constructively about ways to “fix” the NRA.

This year, I’m bullet voting for Adam Kraut.

While there are several other new candidates and incumbents who I really like on the ballot this year, including a couple that I consider friends, I will be marking my ballot with a single vote for Adam, and I encourage you to do the same.  If the others run again, I will consider giving them a vote, but this year, I am putting everything behind Adam because I believe his agenda is right for the NRA.

Last year Adam was a petition candidate, and he barely missed the cut, then lost the 76th Director position to 20-year incumbent John Cushman by about 60 votes at the convention in Atlanta.

This year, Adam is one of only two candidates to be nominated exclusively by petition of members, after the bylaws were changed to make the petition process much more difficult.

I endorsed Kraut last year after a long correspondence, then finally met him for the first time at the convention.  He’s an attorney, but don’t hold that against him, he’s also manager of a gun shop in Pennsylvania, as well as a co-host on the popular YouTube channel, “The Gun Collective” where he regularly boils down complex aspects of gun laws and legislation in a regular segment known as “The Legal Brief.”

Not only does Adam want to represent you on the NRA board, he wants to make the whole board more accessible and responsive to NRA members.  He has created a portal on the Gun Collective website that allows members to send correspondence to NRA directors – something I have been calling on the NRA to provide for well over a decade.  He has also offered a set of simple bylaw changes to make the board more accountable to the membership.

Here are Adam Kraut’s bylaw proposals to help Fix NRA:

      1. Term Limits (of sorts): Limit nomination by the Nominating Committee to no more than two consecutive terms.  An incumbent director could run for a third and successive terms, but only by gathering enough voting member signatures to qualify for the ballot.  A former director could be renominated by the Nominating Committee after a hiatus of three years off the board.
      2. Mandatory Meeting Attendance: Directors would be limited in the number of meetings they could miss.  Too many absences would result in them being forced to resign from the Board of Directors. Reasonable provisions are included for medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other matters beyond a person’s control, but directors are elected to do a job, and much of that job involves attendance and participation at board of directors meetings.  There are currently several directors who have not attended a board meeting in years.
      3. Creation of an Honorary Board: Often celebrities, politicians, competitors, and business executives have inflexible schedules that do not permit committing to regular attendance at board meetings, but they still have a lot to offer to the NRA.  An Honorary Board provides a way for these people to contribute to the organization without demanding that they commit to the level of participation required of directors. The Honorary Board would have no policy-making authority, but would create a “bully pulpit” for high-profile members to support the NRA.

These changes won’t Fix NRA, but they will have a positive impact and help bring back some accountability that has gradually slipped away over the years since the Cincinnati Reforms of 1977 .  Your help is needed to get these bylaw proposals to the next step in the process. Go to www.AdamKraut.com and click on the menu option for NRA Bylaw Amendments, then download and print a petition.  Fill it out, sign it, and ask your NRA friends to sign it, then mail it back to Adam. Please do this right now, and don’t forget to send it back.  If you’re like me, and you tend to set these things aside with the intention of collecting some signatures and sending them in later – then losing them, misplacing them, or just forgetting about them – print multiple copies, and send in the ones with your information and signature now, then work to get other signatures on the others when you can.

I’m impressed with Adam, and impressed with these simple steps toward improving the NRA.  As I mentioned, there are a number of people on the ballot this year that I really like, and would normally vote for, but bullet voting gives your vote more power, and we really need Adam Kraut on the board, so I’m encouraging you to mark your ballot for Adam only, and send it in.  You can vote for up to 25 candidates, but you don’t have to mark that many. Marking more than 25 will invalidate your ballot, but marking fewer than 25 is perfectly acceptable.

We’re not going to Fix NRA in one fell swoop, but we’ll never get it done if we don’t start getting some fearless advocates like Adam onto the board.  He’s crossed the first hurdle by collecting enough signatures to get his name on the ballot. Now it’s up to you.

Keep an eye on your NRA magazines.  Your next issue should have your ballot in it.  Mark it for Adam Kraut, and mail it in, then talk to your friends and encourage them to also vote for Adam.

It’s your NRA.  Start taking it back.

 

The Fix is Out

Attaching “Fix NICS” to Carry bill kills both.

By Jeff Knox

(December 6, 2017) A bill called “Fix NICS,” which is supposed to improve reporting of disqualifying information from the states and federal agencies to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, was on greased rails in Washington D.C., headed for certain passage in both the House and Senate. That bill now appears dead, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see it die.

The reason Fix NICS is dead, is that some Republican lawmakers decided that if they were going to go along with adding resources and mandates to a multi-billion dollar system dedicated to investigating Americans wishing to exercise an enumerated constitutional right, those Americans should get something out of the deal too. So they combined the Fix NICS bill with a bill that would force states to recognize the carry rights of people who visit them from other states, the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

This whole thing has caused a rift within the gun world. Many rights advocates are suspicious of any bill that is supported by Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. They also don’t like the idea of giving more money and power to a system that already spends exorbitant amounts of money, with very little to show for it, and there are details within the bill which are really problematic. Particularly troubling is the mandate that federal agencies involved in mental health report information to NICS. This blew up into a major battle last year when the Social Security Administration tried to implement a policy that would declared a Prohibited Person anyone who had turned management of their day-to-day finances to family or a fiduciary. ,Now many of the same groups that railed about the SSA’s plan, are endorsing a bill that would penalize the agency for failing to implement such a plan.

It’s not that the Fix NICS bill is itself a bad bill, so much as it is a bill that throws money and leverage behind existing laws that are deeply flawed. Fix NICS designates over three quarters of a billion dollars toward polishing a very large, smelly piece of poo.

We had this same debate a decade ago in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. In that case the murderer probably should have been reported to NICS due to court-ordered, outpatient psychiatric treatment, but those records had never been transmitted to NICS. At that time Congress took up a bill called the NICS Improvement Act. Purist groups like Gun Owners of America fiercely opposed the bill, calling it back door attempt at gun control, while the NRA and some other gun groups endorsed it. In the end, GOA’s push-back did some real good, as some of the worst flaws in the bill were corrected before it was finally passed, and some actual improvements to NICS and the underlying law were achieved. The NICS Improvement Act was focused on forcing states to do a better job of reporting people to NICS if they met the criteria of a “prohibited person” – felons, fugitives, perpetrators of domestic violence, and “mental defectives.” It also mandated federal agencies report “prohibited person” information to NICS.

On the other side of the ledger, the final version of the bill included a process by which persons who had lost their firearm rights due to mental issues, could regain their rights. Before the NICS Improvement Act, the loss of rights for mental health reasons was permanent, with no way for a person to regain rights, even if their problems had only lasted a short time, and been resolved decades prior.

Like its predecessor, the 2017 Fix NICS bill was triggered by a failure of NICS to stop a homicidal maniac from acquiring guns through legal channels and using them to commit a brutal atrocity. In this case, the murderer who killed 26 congregants at a Baptist church in Texas, had been convicted in a court-martial for domestic violence, but the Air Force had failed to report the case to NICS. Investigations subsequently revealed that the failure to report disqualifying information to NICS is fairly common among all of the armed services. But why does that require new federal legislation? The armed forces are federal agencies, and they are mandated by law to report these cases to NICS. Does Congress really need to throw another $800 million at NICS to get reliable criminal records from the Army, Navy, and Air Force?

But here we are. Gun owners have been clamoring for Congress to pass a national carry bill for years, and we finally have pro-rights majorities in both the House and Senate, and a pro-rights president in the White House, so what’s the problem?

The problem is the Senate, where Republicans hold a razor-thin majority, Democrat leaders are determined to block any pro-rights legislation, and Republican leaders are afraid of their own shadows.

Upon learning that the Fix NICS bill was going to be attached to the National Carry bill in the House, Senate Republican Whip, and sponsor of the Senate versions of both bills, John Cornyn (R-TX), lamented that combining the two bills would make passing Fix NICS very difficult. He didn’t seem at all interested in how the move might affect the concealed carry bill.

We at The Firearms Coalition are mostly ambivalent about the Fix NICS bill. We don’t support the polishing of poo, but we can tolerate the smell if we can get a decent carry bill passed. Our concern now is just how much combining the bills – and the battling hype between gun activists – will distract from the actions – or inaction – of the Senate. As we’ve been repeating for years, we need record floor votes on clean gun bills so we can hold senators accountable. We don’t expect either bill to make it out of the Senate now, unless someone makes a really bad deal on the Fix NICS bill, and in the unlikely event that we actually do get some sort of a vote related to national carry, the Shinola spattered about is almost certainly going to make it less useful come election time.

SCOTUS Punts Again!

By Jeff Knox

(November 28, 2017) Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States once again refused to stand up to protect the Second Amendment, by turning down two cases challenging infringing state gun laws, both of which had been decided wrongly in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.  One was a Florida case, where the state courts have, on the one hand, declared that there is a constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense outside the home, but on the other hand has declared that carrying concealed is a privilege, not a right.  That means that the right may only be exercised if you have been granted the privilege of doing so by the state… So Floridians have a right to carry firearms for personal defense, they just can’t exercise that right unless they jump through hoops, pay a fee, and are granted the privilege to carry concealed by the state.

The specific case, Norman v. Florida, is particularly troubling because Mr. Norman jumped through the hoops, paid the fee, and was granted the privilege to exercise his right.  Unfortunately the first time he exercised that privilege, he failed to conceal the firearm to the satisfaction of local police, who swarmed him and put him face-down on the sidewalk in handcuffs.  He was subsequently found guilty of openly carrying a firearm, and fined $300 plus court costs.

It’s difficult to avoid speculation that, had Mr. Norman been white and wearing a suit, the stop and the results might have been significantly different than they were.  A polite conversation with a stern warning about not allowing the gun to be easily observed would likely have been as far as things would have gone. But Mr. Norman is not a white man, and he wasn’t dressed nicely that day.  He is a black man, and was peacefully going about his business in a tank top and cargo shorts.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-qKeJ6jd2Ak

By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court allows the decision of the Circuit court of Appeals to stand.  Leaving the right to carry in Florida subject to gaining the privilege to do so from the state, and requiring that the exercise of that right be in accordance with the terms of the privilege.

As troubling as that case is, the other case turned away by SCOTUS is even more troubling.  The case of Kolbe v. Hogan was a challenge to Maryland’s draconian ban on so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines.  In this case, while the 4th Circuit deciding that the ban is not unconstitutional is a serious concern, the Circuit Court’s rationale for that decision is an even bigger problem.

I wrote about this case earlier this year, and was convinced that SCOTUS would have no choice but to address the Circuit’s decision, because it took the SCOTUS decision in Heller, and stood it on its head.

The guns of the 4th Circuit actually claimed that the Supreme Court ruled in Heller that guns like the AR15 are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are of a type that would be particularly useful in a military application.

To reach this conclusion, the 4th Circuit judges took a minor comment from Justice Scalia’s decision in Heller, and completely changed the very obvious meaning and intent of the comment and the Heller decision itself.

In reaching the Heller decision, it is clear that there were some on the court who were worried that the decision would open up the possibility of challenges to the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment which banned the sale of full-auto firearms manufactured after 1986.  Justice Scalia provided some groundwork for defense of the NFA and Hughes, by focusing on the idea that the protected arms of the Second Amendment are those that are “in common use” among the people at a given time. Scalia posited; “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 was suggesting that the argument should boil down to the issue of whether the particular arms in question are of a type that is currently “in common use.”  The idea being that since full-auto, military arms like the M-16 are not in common use among the people, they would not be protected by the Second Amendment.

That’s a pretty thin argument, since the only reason M-16s and other true military-style arms are not in common use, is that they have been tightly restricted and prohibitively expensive for the past 80 years.  But that is the argument Scalia was making. It should be noted that this argument was made as part of a larger discussion of the rationale surrounding the Court’s decision in Heller, and was not part of the official holding in the case.

So what the 4th Circuit did, was take this commentary, known as “dicta” in the courts, and claim that what it means is that guns that are “like M-16s,” are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are useful in military service.

That is clearly not at all what Scalia was suggesting.

Usually the Supreme Court is very protective of their past decisions, and they are quick to slap down a lower court that tries to distort and abuse them – especially in a landmark case like Heller.  So for the Court to let such a flagrant assault on such a recent decision, is just astonishing.

We’ve been saying for a long time that the Second Amendment will not be safe until we get at least one, but preferably two more, solid, pro-Constitution justices on the Court.  The loss of Justice Scalia was a serious blow, but even before that, the Second Amendment wasn’t safe, and there was little chance of seeing rights advance.

Justice Kennedy has hinted that he might retire next year, and expectations of Justice Ginsburg’s long-awaited departure have begun to feel like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch, but Justice Thomas isn’t getting any younger – or fitter – either, and precedents are piling up in the lower courts.  Replacing Ginsburg and Kennedy, while Thomas is still on the Court, could pull us back from the brink, but it’s all just guessing and wishful thinking at this point. One thing is pretty certain, Justice Ginsburg would keep serving after her death to avoid having Donald Trump name her replacement.  If Democrats gain control of the Senate, all of this could be moot though, because Schumer and the Democrats will block any and all Trump appointments to the Court, even if he is reelected for another four years.

The strongest argument for a Donald Trump presidency was the judges he would appoint to the Court. Unless the Senate will confirm those judges, last year’s victory will be moot.  If there is a competitive Senate race in your state, you need to be involved.

 

Scientific American Embraces Junk Science

By Jeff Knox

(November 23, 2017) The periodical Scientific American, touts itself as “the most trusted source of science news,” but that claim of trustworthiness should generate skepticism in light of recent articles by Melinda Wenner Moyer.  From titles to conclusions, these articles represent nothing like reputable science worthy of trust. Instead, they are agenda-driven, emotionally based arguments that depend on the “expert opinions” and “research” of radical gun control extremists, and glaringly omit any semblance of balance or healthy skepticism.

In October Moyer penned a piece which was originally published under the title, Journey to Gunland.  I guess that was too ambiguous, so it was re-titled; More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows, and subtitle; More firearms do not keep people safe, hard numbers show.  Why do so many Americans believe the opposite?

This convoluted and presumptuous title fits the biased nonsense that follows it.  The long and repetitive article primarily dwells on three key points:

      1. A 1993 survey which concluded that guns are used about five times more frequently to stop or prevent crimes, than they are to commit crimes.
      2. That a law passed in Kennesaw, Georgia in 1982, requiring every household to possess a firearm, did not result in significant reductions in violent crime.
      3. That Congress, at the urging of the NRA, has blocked virtually all research into firearm injury prevention.

The problem is that, while she makes a pretense of offering a fair and balanced examination of the facts, she treats her preferred “experts” as being unquestionable and above reproach, and offers only token mention of any conflicting opinions, dismissing them as being unreliable or biased.  She also relies heavily on setting up and knocking down straw man arguments, making unsubstantiated claims about what gun owners believe, and then debunking those supposed beliefs with statistics from her preferred, anti-gun researchers.

The 1993 survey by Dr. Gary Kleck and Dr. Marc Gertz, both professors of criminology at Florida State University, asked some 5000 Americans about crime and defensive gun use.  Kleck and Gertz made all of their data and methods available to other researchers, and their findings were reviewed by their peers and found to be compelling. Even many highly respected criminologists and researchers who support gun control grudgingly admitted that Kleck and Gertz had been very thorough in accounting for factors that might have skewed their results.

Several years later, Dr. David Hemenway, an outspoken advocate of gun control who has produced a number of controversial reports of his own, published an examination of the Kleck/Gertz study, and raised a number of questions about their methodology and their conclusions.  Dr. Kleck responded to Hemenway’s criticisms point by point, answering all of his questions, and demonstrating that they had indeed considered and accounted for all of the factors raised by Dr. Hemenway. But Ms. Moyer ignored this and other research that supports the Kleck/Gertz study, as well as ignoring a large body of criticism of Dr. Hemenway’s own “research.”  Dr. Hemenway was one of the “experts” Moyer relied on for this article.

The Kennesaw issue appears to be included simply as a way for the author to insert cultural and regional bias into the article.  She traveled around Georgia and Alabama talking with gun owners and law enforcement officers. Originally from Georgia herself, Moyer presents the folks she left behind as backward science-deniers, but the only evidence she presents regarding the impact of Kennesaw’s law mandating gun ownership – which was symbolic, as it exempts anyone with a moral, religious, or personal belief against owning a gun – was to point out that the reductions in violent crime in Kennesaw appears to have been primarily a result of an unusually high violent crime rate in the year before the law went into effect.  She neglects to note that even if violent crime didn’t go down as much as it might have appeared, it most certainly didn’t go up as a result of the law and its presumptive increase in gun ownership.

As to the Congressional restrictions on the CDC, Moyer gets some credit for making clear that Congress did not outright ban gun research by the CDC, but rather prohibited the agency from spending funds for the purpose of supporting gun control laws.  But she then suggests that the effect was the same since CDC officials are now too scared to get anywhere close to gun research. What she fails to mention is the clear, unvarnished fact that CDC bosses were in an open and acknowledged campaign to reduce gun ownership, and their funding projects were geared toward proving the need for the federal government to take steps to accomplish that stated goal.  In fact, one of Moyer’s other “reliable experts” for this article was Dr. Arthur Kellerman whose blatantly biased and seriously flawed “research” played a significant role in the debate over CDC funding. Kellerman received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for “research” which was so deeply flawed that even many of his fellow gun control supporting academics felt compelled to disavow it.

In a November 2017 article in Scientific American which relied on the same “gun violence experts,” Moyer claimed that four specific gun control laws could prevent mass murders like the recent ones in Las Vegas and Texas.  Though she quietly admitted deep in the body of the article that none of the four laws would have been likely to have actually prevented those two heinous crimes, she and her experts offered “research” to “prove” that they would work in other cases….

Again, her research failed to include any experts with differing opinions or examine research that has come to different conclusions.

It looks like Scientific American is following the old CDC model of picking a side and advocating for it, manipulating data to support the foregone conclusion.  That doesn’t sound very scientific to us.

 

Bloomberg Buying Virginia?

By Jeff Knox

(November 1, 2017) Once again, Mike Bloomberg is dumping money into a state with the hope of buying seats for his anti-rights cronies.  Virginia is one of the few states that holds their elections for governor and the State Legislature in off-years, and this year’s election is a biggie, with very clear lines drawn in the sand, where rights are concerned.

The big race is for Governor, where Democrat, Ralph Northam is running against Republican, Ed Gillespie, and Libertarian, Cliff Hyra.  The commonwealth of Virginia has term limits for the governor’s office, so the current governor, Terry McAuliffe cannot run again.

Bloomberg and his various anti-rights front groups have dumped over $1.1 million into the campaign in support of Northam, and another $600,000 in support of Attorney General Mark Herring’s reelection bid.

Northam is advocating a radical, anti-rights agenda with extreme measures.  He calls for reinstating the failed “one handgun a month” rule. He also calls for a law mandating all firearm transfers go through licensed dealers.  That would include not only sales, but, but long-term loans between friends, neighbors, and family members, or leaving guns with a friend through an extended absence.  Northam also supports a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and wants to mandate “smaller clips.”

In 2013, when Terry McAuliffe was the Democrat candidate, Bloomberg almost cost him the election by his massive spending on the campaign.  McAuliffe’s poll numbers perversely started falling like a rock as Bloomberg pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race to support him.  We’re convinced that the reason McAuliffe’s numbers started falling was that Virginia voters didn’t appreciate Bloomberg trying to buy their election, and they really didn’t like McAuliffe’s support for stricter gun control laws.  Unfortunately, Bloomberg stepped in too late to change the outcome, and McAuliffe managed to hang on for the win.

This year, Bloomberg’s involvement has been prominent throughout the campaign, and all Virginia voters should be aware of Northam’s radical gun control agenda – though he masks it with focus group terms like “gun violence prevention” and “gun safety.”

The fact is that none of his proposals will prevent gun violence.  But they will impact responsible gun owners, restricting what we can own, costing us time and money to jump through useless bureaucratic hoops in order to legally transfer a firearm to a friend, and making us wait a month to buy more than one handgun, regardless of how many we might already own.

Northam plays up his service in the U.S. Army, as a doctor, and his concern for children as a pediatric neurologist, but his claims of support for veterans and children ring hollow in light of his opposition to gun owner rights and his active support for “women’s health care,” aka abortion on demand.

Mike Bloomberg is the worst sort of nanny-state tyrant, and Virginians should look closely at anyone who Bloomberg would support.

Attorney General Mark Herring’s anti-rights extremism is so radical that it was too much even for McAuliffe, who blocked Herring’s attempts to cancel concealed carry reciprocity agreements between Virginia and several other states.  Now Herring is actively opposing efforts to make Virginians’ concealed carry licenses valid in all 50 states, even though years of evidence proves that concealed carry reciprocity does not negatively impact public safety, and suggests that it actually makes people safer.  As the old saw goes, in a life or death crisis, when seconds count, police are just minutes away. But a personal sidearm can be right there when you need it.

Both Northam and Herring served in the Virginia legislature, and both have long records demonstrating their lack of trust for their fellow Virginians, and support for more powerful, more intrusive government, with higher taxes, tighter regulations, and greater reliance on, and subservience to, the federal government.

Ralph Northam and Mark Herring might be native Virginians, but their views more closely reflect those of native New Yorker, Mike Bloomberg.  That’s why he’s willing to spend millions to get them elected.

The Washington Post, New York Times, and other anti-rights media have been attacking Republican, Ed Gillespie on his opposition to gun control, especially in the wake of the October 1 attack in Las Vegas.  Though most gun control advocates grudgingly admit that none of their proposed restrictions would have prevented the Las Vegas atrocity, still they use the tragedy as an emotional hook for pushing their agenda.

The wild-card in the governor’s race is Libertarian, Cliff Hyra.  Though Hyra has virtually no chance of winning, most of his voters would likely support Gillespie over Northam, if it were a two-way race, and those votes could easily decide the matter.

In 2013, when McAuliffe was elected, he beat Republican Ken Ciccinelli by just over 2%, while the Libertarian candidate garnered 6.5% of the vote.  If Libertarians again vote with an upraised middle finger, rather than casting a ballot for the best candidate with a chance of winning, they could again be the deciding factor in the election.

If Northam wins, you can be certain that the victory will be painted as a referendum against the policies of President Trump, and in favor of stricter gun control laws.

This is not an election that any gun owner or lover of liberty can afford to sit out.  If you are a Virginia resident, or you know anyone who lives in Virginia, please be sure to vote and/or encourage your friends and family to go to the polls on November 7th.  The results in Virginia could impact all of us, so do what you can to make sure rights win the day.

 

Evil Begets Evil

By Jeff Knox

(November 8, 2017) After the senseless slaughter of innocents at a Baptist church in Texas, coming on the heels of the attack on a country music concert in Las Vegas last month, the American people have been inundated with non-stop reporting, speculation, posturing, and finger-pointing from the media and politicians.  In the hours and days right after an attack, news programs showed continuous loops of video from the scene, repeating estimates of the dead and wounded, and using phrases like “the deadliest mass shooting” or “the worst mass murder,” while ranking this latest horror against the number killed in previous horrors. They talk with witnesses or anyone else even remotely connected with the tragedy, and engage in endless, often inane speculation about motives and weapons.  As soon as they get a hint as to who the perpetrator might have been, pictures of the killer, along with tidbits from his social media accounts are added to the crime scene video loops and pictures of victims. Invariably, within minutes of the attack, someone will say something about the need for stricter gun control laws to prevent these sorts of massacres, even though they have no idea whether the proposed laws might have made any difference – as if a bit of paperwork with felony penalties would make a difference to a mind twisted enough to put gun sights on a child.

The “reporting” goes on for days or weeks, with timelines, diagrams, victim counts, news conferences from the scene, detailed coroner’s reports, and interviews with former law enforcement officials, all on a continuous loop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with other “news” slowly filtering into the cycle as the “reporting” moves from the actual crime to detailed examination of the perpetrator, the victims, the environment, the motive, and the failures of the system that allowed a lunatic the means to carry out such a heinous act.  And of course they will talk with politicians who want to use the atrocity as a springboard to advance some restrictive firearm legislation, because we must “do something.”

Occasionally, the media talking heads interview an expert on mental health who points out that most of these violent lunatics are motivated by a desire to be famous.  According to the occasional suicide expert, the vast majority of mass shootings are actually elaborate suicides in which the suicidal person has decided that he didn’t want to die a “nobody,” and hits on the idea of becoming famous in his death.  Then the expert will explain that these suicidal lunatics invariably get the idea for writing themselves into the history books, directly from the media reports of previous murder-suicide events. Over and over again we have seen these experts explain that repeating the names of the murderers and tallying and comparing their body-counts, feeds the homicidal/suicidal ideation of other similarly disturbed individuals.

The first thing the program will do after the interview – or sometimes as part of the interview – will be to run down a list of the most prolific mass murderers, showing their pictures, and comparing their victims, as if they are reporting on athletes and their sports scores. In Silicon Valley they call it gamification.

It has long been recognized that mentally unstable people can be tipped over the edge by external factors, and in the case of suicides and rampage attacks, media attention has a significant impact on future events.  When Marilyn Monroe overdosed on sleeping pills suicide rates spiked by twelve percent for the year. In fact, when anyone commits suicide, the heavier the media coverage, the higher the eventual death-toll will be. Suicide experts call this phenomenon “suicide contagion,” and they have developed reporting guidelines for minimizing the impact of suicide contagion.  Here’s what the Department of Health and Human Services says about it:

The risk for suicide contagion as a result of media reporting can be minimized by factual and concise media reports of suicide. Reports of suicide should not be repetitive, as prolonged exposure can increase the likelihood of suicide contagion. Suicide is the result of many complex factors; therefore media coverage should not report oversimplified explanations such as recent negative life events or acute stressors. Reports should not divulge detailed descriptions of the method used to avoid possible duplication. Reports should not glorify the victim and should not imply that suicide was effective in achieving a personal goal such as gaining media attention. In addition, information such as hot-lines or emergency contacts should be provided for those at risk for suicide.

By focusing so much attention on mass murders, the media turn them into macabre celebrities.  And weak-minded people are inspired to follow their example. Many of these murderers have collections of media reports from previous attacks, and engage in a sick game of one-upmanship, competing to go down in history as the “worst,” the “deadliest,” the “sickest,” etc., and the media plays right along with the sick score-keeping.

Sick people exist in every society, and there are aspects of our culture that serve to feed and encourage their dysphoria.  We can’t completely eliminate the factors that promote severe antisocial behaviors, but there are steps that can be taken to identify and treat it, and to interrupt the obvious cycle that we see in mass murder atrocities.

The media has already widely adopted the recommended practices to reduce suicide contagion, and it has proven to be effective.  A famous example is Seattle grunge-rocker Kurt Cobain who fronted the band Nirvana. His suicide received light coverage, and suicide rates actually dropped in 1994.   They need to employ similar practices when dealing with mass murder events.

A resolution aimed at this issue, called the “Don’t Inspire Evil” initiative, has been offered several times at meetings of the Society of Professional Journalists, but has failed to secure enough support for its addition into their Code of Ethics.

Until the media reforms the way they report on these atrocities, we must expect that each one will be followed by others.

We can’t banish evil with new laws, but we can slow its propagation by not feeding it.  As Margaret Thatcher said; “We must starve terrorists of the oxygen of publicity which they seek.”

Is that really possible in this age of the internet and the 24 hour news cycle?

If we must “Do something!” can’t we look at something that might actually work?

NRA: Now More than Ever!

By Jeff Knox

(October 18, 2017) Whether you like it or not, the National Rifle Association is absolutely our most important defender of our constitutional right to arms, and you need to be a member.  Many of us are angry with the NRA for the foolish statement put out by Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in response to the atrocity in Las Vegas, and others are angry with me for publicly criticizing that foolish statement, and calling on the NRA Board of Directors to repudiate it.

Strategy disagreements aside, NRA is the 800 pound gorilla of the gun rights fight.  Without them we cannot win, and people who are not members have very little influence with the organization.

I began purchasing a Life Membership in NRA with my first check out of Army Basic Training back in 1978.  Even though my father was the Executive Director of NRA-ILA at the time, and even though I was only a couple of months too old to get in at the half-price, Junior rate, I got no discount or special pricing.  I’ve never regretted that decision, and I certainly don’t regret it now.

 

For most of the past century the NRA has suffered from leadership that was too often out of touch with the members.  Originally the organization’s leaders were former military officers, including General Ulysses S. Grant. That tradition continued through most of NRA’s history.  NRA staff once wryly called the NRA Board the “Colonels’ Club.” Retired military officers, and more recently, retired law enforcement chiefs filled key positions at the head table, and among paid staff.  While military officers and career bureaucrats often have a good grasp on how things work in the nation’s capitol, they are also conditioned to follow orders from politicians and higher-ups within the Executive Branch.  That’s been an ongoing problem.

Many years ago, before the Annual Meeting became such a big deal, the meetings were always held in Washington, D.C. close to headquarters.  It was not unusual for NRA members would turn the pilgrimage to the meeting into a family vacation, often taking the opportunity to do some sightseeing, and also to stop in and visit their congressional delegation.  This casual grassroots lobbying became so popular among the members, that NRA leaders began hearing complaints from politicians about their active lobbying efforts. The NRA leaders, distraught that their organization was being accused of trying to influence politicians, decided it would be better to hold the Annual Meeting of Members in locations other than the nation’s capitol.  So began the current tradition of moving the event around the country each year – and staying out of Washington.

By 1975, NRA leaders were so determined to avoid being called “the gun lobby,” that they made plans to sell their Washington headquarters and move the offices to Colorado Springs.  That plan was quashed by members at the Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977, where an empowered membership exercised its authority under the law to direct their Association. The assembled members provided new ways to govern the organization and put a new leadership team in place.  Soon after that night, newly-elected Executive Vice President Harlon Carter told his protege Neal Knox that the losing side was already working to undo what was accomplished in 1977. In the 40 years since, most of the reforms of Cincinnati have disappeared, and the legal openings that allowed the membership revolt have been nailed shut.

The current NRA leadership now embraces the “gun lobby” label, but it does so because they are serving a market.  Today’s NRA does not exist primarily to defend the Second Amendment. It is primarily a fundraising operation that has found it can monetize defense of the Second Amendment.  Paid NRA staff members take home million-dollar paychecks, and key vendors, notably its advertising and public relations firms, walk away with even more.

 

If you are angry with something NRA or its executives have done, withholding funds that you might have contributed is very reasonable, and can make a difference.  But canceling, or choosing not to renew your membership, is self-defeating. We need you in the NRA. We need your vote in NRA elections, and we need you to bolster the total membership numbers, to garner more influence with your elected politicians.  If you are an Annual Member, and let your membership lapse, that means you won’t be eligible to vote in NRA elections for another 5 years, unless you pony up for a Life Membership. Realistically, $40 a year is not much, especially considering the magazine subscription and the insurance benefits, not to mention eligibility in NRA competitions.  And you can easily cut that back to $35 by shopping around for discount deals, or buying multi-year packages.

If you want to influence the NRA’s actions, but want to minimize how much of your money goes into the pockets of NRA executives and vendors, the best deal is to purchase a discounted Life Membership at an NRA Annual Meeting.  It’s not uncommon for them to offer Life Member packages with added perks at well below half-price at the Annual Meeting. And once you have your Life Membership, you don’t have to ever give the NRA another dime, but you have a voice for life.

The Annual Meeting and Exhibits will be held next year in Dallas, and the following year it is scheduled to be in Indianapolis, then Nashville, then Houston.  Start planning now to attend the one closest to you, and start putting a couple of bucks a day in a jar so you’ll have the cash to become a permanent NRA Voting Member.

The only way we’ll ever get NRA on the right track – and keep it there – is by having a strong majority of dedicated rights supporters willing and able to vote in NRA elections, so we can get the best possible candidates elected as directors, and the best people leading the staff.

 

NRA absolutely has some serious flaws, and gun owners are facing some very serious challenges, but the answer is not to abandon our most powerful asset, but to take control and steer it in the right direction.

There are few people in the world with a more thorough knowledge of the NRA and its shortcomings than we Knoxes.  We certainly don’t always agree with NRA leadership, and we’ve never been shy about confronting those disagreements when and where appropriate, but there are also few who have worked as hard as we have to build up the organization and move it toward a principled defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  That’s why we urge all gun owners to join the NRA, renew your membership, and if you can, upgrade to Life Membership, then get active and involved in NRA politics. Elect directors who will stand up to the tests and move the organization forward, then lobby those directors to keep the staff in line and working for all of our rights.

Our friends over at the Gun Collective news site have developed a tool for NRA members to reach out to their directors.  Just go to www.theguncollective.com/nra and enter your member information to send messages to your NRA Board of Directors.  We’ve been asking the NRA to create a service like this for at least 10 years, and finally it’s being offered, not by NRA, but by a group of independent members.  Take advantage of it. Stay in the fight, and lobby your elected NRA representatives, just as you would lobby Congress.

Your rights are under fire.  Now more than ever, you need to be a member of the NRA.

 

The Firearms Coalition Calls on NRA Board to Repudiate Statement

By Jeff Knox

The Executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, and Chris Cox, the Executive Director of NRA-ILA, the association’s lobbying arm, issued a joint statement in response to the horrific atrocity perpetrated last week in Las Vegas.  The bulk of the statement was practical and reasonable, sounding a balanced tone between concern for the victims and determination to not let the acts of a mad man be used to undercut the rights of Americans.  It also showed a willingness to at least discuss whether some action related to guns might be warranted. There is nothing wrong with them being willing to talk, as long as they stick to core principles, and refuse to allow blame for the tragedy to be dumped on responsible gun owners.  Unfortunately LaPierre and Cox didn’t stick to principles. Instead of just calling for regulatory review, they declared – in the name of NRA – an opinion on what that review should conclude, and it’s not an opinion that The Firearms Coalition can begin to agree with.

Here’s the part of what LaPierre and Cox said that we have a problem with:

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

“Concede principal” is a common political strategem. Unfortunately, it does not fit with the gun issue. The principle that gun laws will not — cannot — reduce crime needs to be etched in stone  The theories from NRA supporters all suggest that the statement was part of a delay and diversion tactic to buy some time for the heated emotions arising from the Las Vegas attack to simmer down, so that the discussion can then proceed in a rational and logical manner, and keep that debate within regulatory channels, rather than Congress.  The suggestion is, that by putting the ball in the court of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, NRA is trying to keep Congress out of it. A BATFE review will take some time, and if BATFE rules that they made a mistake when they concluded that bump-fire stocks were not restricted devices under the definitions of the National Firearms Act, and places them in one of the restricted categories, that would take the wind out of Feinstein (D-CA) and Schumer’s (D-NY) sails.  If the review concluded that the BATFE doesn’t have the authority to regulate the simple devices, the hope would be that the focus would be pretty firmly shifted onto these novelty devices, rather than the guns they are attached to.

That might actually be the strategy, but unfortunately it falls flat with the inclusion of the above sentence.

By stating that NRA believes the devices “should be subject to additional regulations,” they are not only abandoning bump-fire stocks and trigger-cranks – which is a pretty stupid move in our opinion – but they are conceding the notion that these devices, and full-auto firearms, are too dangerous for average Americans to own.  LaPierre and Cox have since doubled down on the statement, saying on Sunday talk shows that NRA supports the restrictions of the NFA, and thinks that rapid-fire devices should fall under the purview of that law.

This is really troubling, as it abandons the critical, core principle that you cannot control criminal behavior by regulating inanimate objects.

While it’s possible that pitching this issue to the BATFE might cause some delays, and give some politicians an excuse to sit on their hands while BATFE is conducting their review – if they conduct a review – Feinstein, Schumer, and their media pals are already calling out the NRA position as a political ploy, and are pushing all the harder for immediate congressional action.  With NRA already conceding on the issue of bump-fire stocks, they have surrendered any reasonable grounds for objecting to quick congressional action. And since a ban on bump-stocks is now a given, the anti-rights zealots will set their sights on additional targets like limiting magazine capacity and expanding background checks, along with yet another run at an “assault weapon” ban, which they might use as a bargaining chip.

With NRA “leaders” having conceded that bump-stocks should be regulated, and with that concession, also abandoning the notion that restricting tools is never the answer to controlling crime, any arguments they offer against expanding background checks or restricting magazine capacity, will be pounced upon as specious and in contradiction to this stated position.  After all, “if it saves just one life…”

The values expressed in that one sentence of LaPierre and Cox’s statement, represent a major shift in NRA policy, and we’re pretty sure that this shift was not approved by the NRA’s Board of Directors, which is supposed to be responsible for establishing all policies for the organization.  At least we hope that the board would not have approved such a damaging policy shift.

And this is not the first time that LaPierre has shot the organization in the foot.  In a speech shortly after the Columbine atrocity, LaPierre declared;

”We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools.”

A dozen years later, in response to the terror at Sandy Hook, LaPierre was singing a different tune, calling for police and armed citizens in schools, a much more sensible approach.

In 1999, testifying in a congressional hearing, LaPierre declared;

“We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show.  No loopholes anywhere for anyone.”

Like his gun-free schools statement, LaPierre’s position on gun shows didn’t sit well with many NRA members and the official position was quietly shifted back to a harder line.  Still, as late as 2005, candidate questionnaires were still stating that NRA supported mandatory background checks at gun shows. The questionnaires were only corrected to reflect NRA’s actual policy, opposing mandatory background checks for private transfers, after The Firearms Coalition pointed out the discrepancy and demanded the correction.

Now LaPierre has again shot a hole in his own foot – and the NRA’s boat he’s standing in – with his misguided statements about rapid-fire devices for semi-auto rifles.  The difference is that this time the contrary statement has the potential to sink the whole boat. If full-auto is so dangerous that it must be tightly regulated, and devices that make it easier to make semi-auto’s “function like fully-automatic” firearms are so dangerous that they must also be tightly regulated, it is a very short step to demands that all semi-auto firearms be tightly regulated since any semi-auto can be made to “function like fully-automatic” firearms with a simple improvised device, or no device at all with a little practice.  When anti-rights politicians and the media make that demand, what defense can LaPierre offer?

We at The Firearms Coalition feel that this was a serious faux pa on the part of LaPierre and Cox, and we see only one way for the mistake to be corrected.  The NRA Board of Directors must immediately issue a statement declaring the true position of the National Rifle Association, and that the statement from LaPierre and Cox did not accurately reflect that position.  They must make it clear that the NRA policy opposes any efforts to restrict or regulate any firearm, ammunition, or accessory under the false premise that such regulation will prevent the illegal acts of criminals and lunatics.

Political gamesmanship is one thing.  Abandoning core principles as part of that gamesmanship is totally unacceptable.