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.

A Solution to Evil?

By Chris Knox and Jeff Knox

 

(October 4, 2017) Once again, the nation mourns the actions of a pathetic madman apparently acting alone, and we on the pro-rights side of the gun control debate are forced to process our horror and grief under a barrage of assaults from media pundits and politicians.

We’re as horrified by the carnage as anyone, and additionally frustrated that such tragedies always trigger an outpouring of ill-informed, biased attacks on our rights by the political control freaks demanding that “We”  must “Do Something” regardless of how ineffective and counterproductive that “Something” may be.

This sort of thing always puts us in a difficult position, because attacks on guns and gun owners, and calls for action to prevent future tragedies, are widely perceived to be compassionate and rational, while logical retorts and discussion of historical, technical, and moral problems with the proposed “solutions” comes off as cold and uncaring.

That’s the dilemma we find ourselves in right now.  If we remain silent, the knee-jerk reactionaries get free rein to rant unchallenged  and set the narrative about the evils of firearms, and the need for additional restrictions.  By speaking up and pointing out the flaws in the gun control proposals, we are painted as unfeeling ideologues, more concerned about our “hobby” than the loss of innocent lives.  Be that as it may, we cannot stand idly by and allow our rights to be additional victims of a madman’s rampage.

As in most all of the other high-profile firearm attacks in recent history, the killer in this case had no history of mental issues or criminal activity, and acquired his weapons through legal channels after passing multiple background checks.  Yet, one of the first “solutions” we heard offered was a proposal to expand background checks to include personal transfers. And though the murderer didn’t use a silencer, that was the target of Hillary Clinton’s tweet on the matter, suggesting that the tragedy would have been worse if a silencer had been employed, and urging rejection of current legislation which includes loosening of restrictions on those devices.  Obviously she doesn’t understand that the victims, who were 300 yards away from the attacker, were hearing the bullets breaking the sound barrier, not the muzzle blasts of the guns, and silencers have no effect on the crack of a bullet moving at supersonic speeds.

Then, as more information became available, we began to hear calls for restrictions on “bump-stocks” and “trigger cranks,” devices that allow shooters to waste ammunition at higher rates of fire than normal from semi-auto firearms.  Senator Dianne Feinstein has already filed a bill, copied from California statutes, that would criminalize manufacture, importation, sales, and possession of these devices, requiring that present owners surrender or destroy them, or face felony charges.  We’re not sure how this might apply to replicas of 150-year old Gatling Guns. And of course, it completely ignores the fact that these devices are easily fabricated from such exotic materials as rubber bands, scraps of wood, or plastic soda bottles.

The day after the attack, we received a request from the USAToday newspaper’s editorial board asking if we would provide an op-ed counterpoise to their comments on the slaughter.  Their description of the board’s approach to the subject was telling. In the email, the representative of the editorial board said; “We’re going to cite this event as yet another reason, and an opportunity to push, for stricter gun controls.”

We found that word “opportunity” chilling.  The gun control industry keeps focus group-tested, “reasonable” and “commonsense” (they like “commonsense” as one word – it must have tested well in focus groups) measures waiting in the wings for opportunities such as this.  Their allies in the dominant media, which certainly includes USAToday, then beat the drums in unison for those “reasonable” steps whenever the opportunity arises.

The “gun control” agenda is a vote-getter among some constituencies, and politicians who serve those constituencies see tragedies as an opportunity to advance that agenda.  We think that’s pretty sick. What’s worse, the agenda they advance as they dance in the blood is never anything that could possibly prevent or even mitigate the tragedy, nor intercept the next one.  Their “solutions” sound good, and poll well, but in real life they solve nothing. They won’t impact everyday crime, and they certainly won’t have any favorable impact on the big-stage horror show of a mass casualty shooting any more than stricter truck licensing would affect the use of trucks as weapons of terror.

In the coming weeks Congress will hold hearings, celebrities will emote on cue, and very public tears will be shed with pleas that we “Do Something!”  But what if that “Something” does no good? What if it even does more harm? What if a so-called, “Universal” Background Check law simply diverts police resources into shuffling paper?  What if an “Assault Weapons” ban addresses nothing but cosmetics? Congress, our police, and our courts have more important matters to attend to than inspecting guns for “prominently protruding pistol grips” (words from an earlier “assault weapons” ban).  Let’s focus resources where they can be used rather than going down the “gun control” road that has already proven to be an ineffectual and divisive dead-end.

Forces Rallying Against SHARE

By Jeff Knox

The media, anti-rights groups, and politicians are engaging in a full-court press against the SHARE Act, focusing particularly on the inclusion of the Hearing Protection Act, which was added to the sportsmen’s bill in its latest iteration.  As usual, the hype and distortion are running high, with idiotic claims that passage of the bill would “make it easy for felons and domestic abusers to buy gun silencers without a background check,” as Bloomberg-funded stated in press releases and social media postings.

We at The Firearms Coalition would be fine with that, as a matter of fact, we much prefer the SHUSH Act, which would totally deregulate silencers.  They are after all, non-firing accessories, not guns, and if a criminal really wanted one, they are ridiculously easy to make. But the Hearing Protection Act simply shifts silencers from being treated like machine guns, to treating them like regular guns.  What that means for criminals, is that a suppressor would be considered the same as a gun under the law, requiring a 4473 and a background check to purchase one from a dealer. Felons and anyone ever convicted of a crime of domestic violence would still be prohibited from purchasing or possessing them, just as they are prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns and ammunition.

The SHARE Act, which is an acronym for Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement, is an omnibus bill containing wide-ranging provisions of interest to shooters, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreationists.  It contains a number of reforms that are long overdue, and has been pushed by the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus since 2013, with various provisions added or amended through the years. The latest version was delayed by the assassination attempt on Republicans at a baseball practice in Northern Virginia, but was finally filed on September 1, and has moved quickly since then.  It was marked up in the House natural Resources Committee in mid-September and moved out of that committee with a favorable report the next day, at which time it was referred to the full House.

Barring some shenanigans from the Republican leadership, the bill will be voted on within the next couple of weeks, and sent to the Senate – where it will almost certainly languish and eventually die, just as it did in the 113th and 114th Congresses – unless we can force a vote.

The trick is getting the leadership to bring the bill to the floor.  I suspect that Rep. Duncan (R-SC) pulled a bit of a fast one when he attached the HPA and some other pro-rights legislation to the SHARE Act, but it would be difficult for Speaker Ryan (R-WI) to block a vote now.  Unfortunately getting action in the Senate will be more difficult. We’ll need champions to push the bill out of committee, and onto the floor, and the first big obstacle will be Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). For some reason McConnell doesn’t seem to want to vote on gun bills, or help his members keep their election promises.  He doesn’t seem to understand that the gun issue is a consistent winner for Republicans, and ducking or opposing gun votes always loses.

Harry Reid was a master of this game.  While he would allow his members to cross party lines on gun bills if it would help their reelection chances, he would only do so if he was sure he had the votes to kill the bills.  A great example was the vote on national reciprocity in 2009. Mark Pryor (D-AR) initially followed orders to vote against the bill, but after two Republicans, Lugar (R-IN) and Voinovich (R-OH) voted against it, Pryor sought, and was granted permission from Reid to change his vote to “Yea.”  Reid himself voted “Yea” on that one, leaving the measure to fail by just two votes, with the blame for that resting squarely on Lugar and Voinovich.

Chuck Schumer is much less amenable to gun rights than Reid ever was, and Schumer runs a tighter ship, but he’s also a very pragmatic politician.  He’ll most certainly filibuster the SHARE Act, and he’ll insist that enough of his members toe the line to ensure the bill doesn’t get through. He’ll also try to make quiet side-deals with squishy Republicans to con them into voting with the Democrats.

Our job is to make sure that Republicans and Democrats alike understand that failure to vote right on this bill – including in the lead-up procedural votes – will result in their unemployment, as happened with Lugar and Voinovich.

Conservative voters are really fed up with Republicans not keeping promises.  Dragging their feet on pro-rights legislation like the SHARE Act will make many of them vulnerable in ’18.  If Republicans let them down again, GunVoters aren’t likely to vote Democrat in large numbers but, they are likely to not bother showing up at all, and that could be the difference between a stronger Republican majority, or Chuck Shumer becoming Majority Leader.

Now is the time to be hammering your senators about the SHARE Act.  They need to hear loud and clear that you want the bill brought to the floor and voted on, whether the leadership thinks it can pass or not.  In a year like this, pushing for record votes can yield surprising results, but even if the SHARE Act goes down in flames in the Senate, having record votes is much more useful than having the bill simply die in committee.

Call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.  Talk to the staff of your representative and both of your senators and tell them you want record votes on the SHARE Act.  Then call their local offices and tell those staffers the same thing. Call Mitch McConnell’s office too, then call back every day until they take the votes.  The Bloomies and Brady Bunch are pushing hard against it with assistance from the media. We have to be louder and more persistent. Call today.

 

Gun Rights Gathering Scheduled for Dallas

By Jeff Knox

(August 28, 2017) Once a year, gun rights leaders and activists from around the country get together to discuss the state of the movement, and strategies for advancing the cause, at the Gun Rights Policy Conference, sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  The weekend conference is usually scheduled for the last weekend in September at different locations around the country.  This year’s conference is taking place in Dallas, Texas, beginning on Friday evening September 29, and wrapping up on Sunday October 1.  An Alternative Mass Media Conference is scheduled to take place in conjunction with GRPC this year, running all day on Friday the 29th.  GRPC 2017 will be the 32nd year for this annual gathering, and offers attendees the opportunity to network, share ideas, and make plans.

The events this year will be held at the Westin hotel and conference center at DFW Airport.  As always, top leaders of national and state level rights organizations will be in attendance and serving on information panels, along with leading writers, bloggers, and radio personalities.  Attendees will have opportunity to meet and talk with these folks during breaks and multiple receptions surrounding the formal conference schedule.

Attendance is free, but you must pre-register at www.SAF.org to guarantee yourself a seat.  The Second Amendment Foundation usually supplies attendees with a large stack of books from their online bookstore, often including books and DVD’s from some of the presenters.  They even provide free box lunches during the Saturday session.

If you live anywhere near the Dallas – Ft. Worth area, be sure to make plans to attend.

The new media conference, dubbed Amm-Con, is being promoted as a workshop for podcasters, bloggers, online video creators and anyone else in new media that has a connection to the Second Amendment Community.  They say the objective is to help you “learn to make your media more effective and more successful.” It is being organized by the crews from the Polite Society Podcast and the Self Defense Radio Network, and is expected to cover a variety of aspects of production and distribution, from technical challenges, to interview techniques, to promotion and distribution, to advertising and monetization.

Registration for Amm-Con 2017 is separate from GRPC registration, so if you plan to go, head over to www.ammcon.org to get registered.

I have a family connection with GRPC.  Dad helped get it started, and was a regular attendee and presenter for almost 20 years, receiving the conference’s Lifetime Achievement Award – twice.  I first presented at the conference in 1998, and have only missed a few of the conferences since 2004. My brother Chris has also been a frequent participant, making the annual event a long family tradition.

One of the core purposes of the GRPC, is to bring together national and state grassroots leaders, to give them an opportunity to network, share ideas, learn from one another’s successes and failures, and build cooperation to make all of our efforts more effective.  Infighting and competition among different groups can be detrimental to the cause, and the GRPC offers an opportunity for some of these groups’ leaders to sit down and work through differences face-to-face, in a supportive environment. While most prominent groups are represented, a few are sometimes conspicuous in their absence.  While that’s disappointing, it offers some insight into those groups that decline to participate.

For the individual activists who attend, it affords an opportunity to meet and mingle with some of their favorite authorities and experts, like John Lott, Alan Gura, and David Kopel, along with national leaders like Alan Gottlieb and Larry Pratt, as well as media types like Tom Gresham, Mark Walters, and Emily Miller.

The days are filled with back-to-back presentations on issues and information of value to rights activists, and the evenings include official and unofficial receptions and hangouts, where everyone can share their thoughts and work together to solve problems great and small.

Special pricing is in effect at the Westin, which is right next to DFW Airport, making it very handy for those of us flying in, and less expensive rooms are available at other nearby hotels.

If you live in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area, and you care about Second Amendment rights, you owe it to yourself to come join us.  It’s always a fun, educational, and productive event, and I hope to see you there. I’ll be attending Amm-Com, and presenting at GRPC on Saturday morning on the Federal Legislation panel.  I might also participate in other ways, but definitely look forward to visiting with friends, old and new, throughout the weekend.

Go to SAF.org and Ammcom.com now to register for both events.  I hope to see you there.

Open Carry is a Loophole

Car attack generates calls for gun control

By Jeff Knox

(August 23, 2017) Opponents of gun rights are now using the horror and stupidity of the Charlottesville protests to declare open carry of firearms a “loophole,” which of course must be closed posthaste.

Demonstrators in Charlottesville assaulted each other with rocks, bottles, sticks, clubs, chemical agents, and hands and feet in the area around the “Unite the Right” rally, but no one fired a gun.  After the rally had been broken up, one demonstrator drove a car through a crowd, killing one woman, and injuring many others, but again, no gun was used. These facts are irrelevant to those opposed to individual rights though, as they point to Charlottesville and demand an end to open carry during political rallies – which they say “chills” other people’s free speech rights – and a ban on concealed carry during such events, because… “Guns.”

We’ve seen this sort of fear-mongering for political gain play out in the past.  California enacted laws against open carry after the Black Panther Party staged an armed march on the state capitol.  Again, no one was shot or threatened, but the group’s decision to legally display their arms served as the justification for passage of carry prohibitions in California and elsewhere, and contributed to passage of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

It’s worth noting that among the most outspoken proponents of these restrictions on rights are the very people who bear the most responsibility for the events in Charlottesville going so terribly wrong: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer.

The First Amendment can be a very uncomfortable thing.  The core of the right to free speech – especially political speech – boils down to the statement that used to appear at the top of many newspaper editorial pages: “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  The concept is simple at the theoretical level, but gets complicated in the real world.  People opposed to certain speech, whether it be burning a U.S. flag, or spouting racist views, like to point out that the First Amendment only applies to government, and does not require individuals to tolerate people who say hateful things.  That’s true, but the government has an obligation to not only “allow” free speech, but to protect it as well. No one has the right to use force to squelch free speech, particularly in a public space. And the government has a sacred obligation to guard that right, regardless of how repugnant or hurtful that speech may be.

In the case of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the government not only failed in their obligation to protect the free speech rights of the rally organizers and attendees, it looks like they intentionally conspired to allow those rights to be assaulted and suppressed.

Several months ago, organizers of the rally applied for, and received all of the necessary permits to legally hold their rally.  Later, government officials tried to cancel those permits, but their efforts were blocked by a federal judge. The local and state government knew that the views of many involved in the rally were extremely unpopular, and would undoubtedly draw counter-protesters.  They also knew that protests against groups much less controversial than this one, had been met with significant violence in recent months. The obligation of the mayor and governor was to protect the rights of the rally attendees, and to keep the peace. Not only did they fail in their obligation to protect speech in the public square, they set the stage to guarantee failure, and to invite violence.

The number one rule in situations like this is to keep the factions separated, but authorities allowed counter-protesters to congregate right up to the minimal barrier surrounding the park where the rally was to be held.  Rally attendees were forced to run a gauntlet of protesters in order to get into the park, and police did little to protect them from protesters, or protesters from them, as they made their way to the rally. As violence began to break out before the rally, police retreated, ostensibly to don riot gear (which the strangely did not wear from the outset) leaving the warring factions to do battle.  Then, apparently on orders of the governor, the legally permitted rally, which hadn’t officially started yet, was declared an “unlawful assembly” and the police in their riot gear marched out, not to push back the protesters who were assaulting the legally permitted rally, but to push the rally attendees out of the park, into the streets full of protesters.

Who could have guessed that this wouldn’t end well?

There were two factions of “militia” openly carrying rifles, pistols, and shotguns in Charlottesville.  One group was a combined “patriot militia” of about 35 people (which interestingly included at least one African American and at least one openly gay person) who disavowed the views of both sides, saying they were only there to protect people and defend free speech.  The other “militia” group was a contingent of about 20 people from a communist organization called Redneck Revolt, which was associated with the counter-protesters, and provided security at their staging area in another nearby park.

Both “militia” groups conducted themselves professionally, and even though they were assaulted repeatedly, the “patriot militia” was credited with preventing much violence and rendering  assistance to injured people from both sides. No one was shot or even threatened.

When a Black Lives Matter supporter assassinated 5 police officers in Dallas, the media and politicians insisted that his actions shouldn’t reflect on the group as a whole, regardless of their inflammatory rhetoric, which often calls for the killing of police officers.

When an alleged white supremacist ran a car into a crowd in Charlottesville, the media and politicians blame everyone to the right of center, and call for sweeping new gun control.

Why would anyone think there is a double-standard in this country?

 

The Screwing of America — They’re not my friends.

By Jeff Knox

(August 16, 2017) The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia should have every liberty-loving American deeply concerned.  Ronald Reagan’s warning, that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” sounds ominously prescient today.  Clearly the people involved, mostly young men, have no understanding of what freedom and the great American experiment are all about.

This is not just a problem of the “left,” nor is is owned solely by the “right.”  This is a universal problem among all of the participants in the current battle for the soul of our nation, whether they be Constitution-quoting, white separatists or Marx-spewing, anti-Fascists, or anyone else in the rainbow coalition of trolls and idiots that have been capturing the national spotlight of late.

The most obvious evidence of their corrupt concepts and ideas lies in the glaring hypocrisy of their alliances.  On one side, you have nihilistic anarchists, who espouse an end to government and all forms of government authority, teaming up with revolutionary Marxists, who support an all-powerful government that can force individuals to work for the state, along with racist separatist groups like La Raza (which recently repackaged itself as UnidosUS), the Brown Berets, the Black Panthers, Muslim groups that endorse Sharia theocracy and oppression of women, and LGBTQ+ activists who some of these groups would like to see stoned to death or thrown from the roofs of tall buildings, as well as a wide variety of “enlightened” people of “tolerance” who just want all “haters” killed or beaten out of existence.

On the other side, you have Constitution-loving, flag-waving “patriot” groups, marching in lock-step with the patriotic, “God-fearing” morons in the white sheets, and the goose-stepping idiots that revere a man their grandfathers fought and bled to defeat.  Alongside these thoroughly incompatible ideologies, are the various anti-feminists, the anti-homosexuality, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigration groups that say they are being oppressed and supplanted by the various aforementioned groups.

The mainstream propaganda outlets feed the anger with their painfully one-sided “reporting,” while much of the “alternative media” is skewing even farther off course with outrageous stories, rumors, and unproven claims.  Politicians, pundits, and academicians fall in line with the PC Police, to denounce the white, straight, Christian male dominated groups as evil hate-mongers, while ignoring, or playing down the blatant, racism, sexism, and anti-male, anti-Christian pronouncements of the “left.”

No one is interested in the cause of the sudden prominence of “white power,” and “men’s rights” groups, nor are they interested in hearing the complaints of these groups, or the people who have foolishly associated with, or are unfairly lumped in with these groups.  They simply apply a derogatory label and declare their views and opinions invalid and unworthy of being heard, or even being allowed to be uttered. This of course frustrates people, and is the biggest reason for them to ally with people with whom they have so little agreement.

I warned several months ago in this space and elsewhere that one of the repercussions of the rise of the violent left, and the cover provided for them by the media, politicians, and academia, would be increased recruiting by groups on the extreme right.  As frustrated people get together to complain about the unfair treatment they are receiving, they are sucked into associations and actions that they would not have dreamed of a year ago. They feel that the only way they can be heard is if they yell – loudly – and take actions that will attract media attention, like the march in Charlottesville.

Here’s a newsflash for those guys: mainstream America is never going to give serious consideration to anything said by anyone wearing a swastika or a pillowcase, or talking like someone wearing a swastika or a pillowcase.  Nor are they going to give credence to anyone associating with people wearing swastikas and pillowcases.

Using racist epithets and speaking derogatorily about people’s race, religion, ethnicity, sex, or sexual preferences, will never be socially acceptable or tolerated, unless the epithets and derogatory comments are aimed at white, Anglo, hetero, Christian males.  Everything else is strictly off-limits. It isn’t fair, but trying to force the issue just makes things worse – as the march in Charlottesville did.

The natural response to unfair assaults – verbal or physical – is to retaliate, and give as good as you get.  In the real world of national politics and public opinion, that just doesn’t work, especially coming from the “privileged majority.”  Instead of participating in the escalation the ugly rhetoric and violence, aggrieved groups need to take a page from Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi:  non-violence. That doesn’t mean pacifism, meekly taking a beating, but a non-confrontational approach that focuses on facts and reason, and gives the opposition plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their irrational hatred and bigotry.  That was actually happening to a large degree until the sheet-heads and brown-shirts moved up.

Why is this important to the Second Amendment movement?  Because we are frequent targets of the broad-brush smear campaigns that flow from disasters like Charlottesville.  As I am writing this, I just received a fundraising plea from a division of Bloomberg’s anti-rights conglomerate, associating the NRA with white supremacists on the grounds that they supported Trump, and had the temerity to criticize lying media and leftist violence earlier this year.

The ancient proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” might be applicable in some circumstances, and for now it seems to be working for the “left,” but they will eventually turn on each other.  It certainly doesn’t work for the “right,” when that “friend” is a pariah to the world, devaluing the overall message by their mere presence.

 

Read This. Your rights are at stake.

By Jeff Knox

(August 9, 2017) I’ll warn readers at the outset:  this column falls pretty squarely under the heading of “preaching to the choir.” Nonetheless, it is a sermon that the choir needs to hear, because right now too many of our folks don’t know the lyrics, and may not even be humming the same tune.  The crowd-sourced, often leaderless advocacy of the gun rights movement faces two dangers. First, is the assumption that while anti-gunners rely on emotions and feelings for their arguments, gun rights – pro-rights – as friend Alan Korwin likes to put it – advocates operate on cold logic and historic truth.  The second, is that in our advocacy, whether in letters, op-ed pieces, or online discussions, we attempt to sway the wrong audience.

We all “know” that supporters of gun restrictions operate on emotions and “gut feelings” over facts.  But the fact is, many supporters of the Second Amendment and individual rights are also operating on “gut feelings.”  Too many of our most ardent advocates on social media, in article comments, internet forums, and letters to the editor, etc., just repeat bumper-sticker slogans, or devolve into personal attacks.  Those are habits that need to change, and the only way it will change is if you change it.

Those of us who follow politics, study issues, and read political commentary like this article, are the exception, not the rule.  We are odd ducks in this world of selfies and pop-culture, but even among this small subset, factual information is often woefully lacking.  Guys – and let’s face it, most of us are guys – often grasp the basics, but they frequently can’t explain what they know in their heart of hearts to be true without falling back to arguments like: “Because the Second Amendment says so.”

Although we know that the arguments don’t matter to the radical gun control extremists, a solid understanding of basic principles, and practical arguments, can make a big difference when dealing with people who are basically ambivalent to our issue, or more importantly, those who basically support our position, but don’t understand why we oppose laws that seem pretty innocuous to them.  This includes many gun owners, and these are the people that we must educate and bring over solidly to a position of knowledge and strength. We’re not going to accomplish that by quoting the Second Amendment.

That’s why we provide these columns every week, and why we try to go beyond the “rah-rah” rallying cries that are all too common in the gun press and “conservative” media.  Our mission is to report on current events and explain how they impact you, why it matters, and what you can do about them. We want to be your reliable source of useful information on gun issues, but more than that, we need you to be able to use our information to educate your friends and family.

If you don’t understand that background checks on gun buyers waste hundreds of millions of dollars every year investigating innocent, law-abiding citizens, and divert those precious resources away from programs that focus on criminals, and have a real impact on violent crime, how are you going to convince people not to vote for expanding background checks to private transfers?  If you don’t understand that states with no training requirement, and low fees for acquiring a carry license, have no higher rate of licensed carriers doing stupid things with guns than do states that require extensive training and charge high fees, why would you oppose mandatory training or effectively argue in favor of national recognition of all carry licenses?

Just because you support gun owner rights and try to vote for pro-rights politicians, doesn’t mean that your support is effective.  You have influence – probably more than you realize – and that influence can be positive or negative. We – your fellow gun owners – need you to exercise your influence whenever and wherever you can, and we need to be sure that the influence you are exercising is positive for the cause of liberty.  To do that, you have to have reliable knowledge and understanding. That’s what we try very hard to provide, and we need you to use the information we provide to not only improve your talking points, but to help you educate those around you.

If you subscribe to gun magazines, read gun blogs, or watch gun-oriented YouTube channels, look closely at them to see just how little attention most of them give to educating their audiences about the issues affecting your rights.  Are they actually providing useful information, or are they just cheer-leading and/or trying to raise money for an organization?

Too often we see really poor arguments, or obviously erroneous information put forward on forums, in comments, and on question and answer sites like Quora.com.  That needs to change, and you can help to change it.  First, demand better from yourselves. Read, study, learn, and be a reliable resource to the people who fall within your sphere of influence.  Second, demand better from your favorite publications and media outlets. Thank outlets like Ammoland.com, Guns magazine, and Firearms News for  providing useful rights information, and challenge those sites and magazines that give short shrift to rights issues.  Finally, share this article, and others that get more into the details of specific rights issues and arguments, and urge your friends to actually read them.

Writers and advocates have limited reach and influence.  You can expand that reach and influence, and by doing so, you can help change the culture and re-frame the debate.

You are the gun lobby.  Be well-armed for the fight, and always be recruiting.

 

Quinnipiac’s Propaganda Polls

(August 3, 2018)-  Quinnipiac University recently released results for a major poll they conducted on hot political topics. The headline of their June 28 press release announcing the poll results read:

“U.S. VOTERS REJECT GOP HEALTH PLAN MORE THAN 3-1, QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY NATIONAL POLL FINDS; VOTERS SUPPORT GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS 94 – 5 PERCENT.”

Anyone who follows firearm issues knows the “background check” results are totally bogus, and that inaccuracy should cast serious doubt on the “health plan” results as well. We’ve been seeing similar claims related to broad support for “universal background checks” repeated over and over again for years from Quinnipiac and other polling organizations, but when voters have actually been given the opportunity to cast a ballot on the issue the results have always been dramatically different.

Three years ago, voters in Washington State were asked to vote on a “universal background check” initiative, Sponsored by Mike Bloomberg’s gun control conglomerate, Everytown for Gun Safety, and supported by local billionaires including Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The Bloomberg consortium spent between $10 and $14 million dollars urging “Yes” votes, compared to about $1 million dollars spent by pro-rights groups opposing the initiative. Despite the lopsided spending, and polls claiming that Washington voters supported the idea at rates of 85% to 95%, the measure squeaked by with a victory of only about 2%.

Last year, Bloomberg bought similar ballot measures in Nevada and Maine. Again, spending was heavily weighted in favor of the measures, and again, pollsters reported close to unanimous support for them among voters, but in Nevada the measure passed by less than 0.5%, winning a majority in only one county.

In Maine, the voters rejected the measure outright.

These results are akin to pollsters predicting, not just a victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but a massive landslide victory, only to be proven wrong on Election Day.

We attribute the very different voting versus polling results to lack of information on the part of the public being polled, and intentional manipulation on the part of the pollsters. What really raises questions about the most recent Quinnipiac poll, is that the pollsters at Quinnipiac should be well aware of the results in Washington, Nevada, and Maine. If they really were seeking accurate answers, those numbers would clearly tell them that there are some serious flaws in their methodology. For them to press forward with the same flawed methodology generating the same proven inaccurate results, is strong evidence of intentional bias and agenda-driven manipulation, and it should bring all of Quinnipiac’s polling results under suspicion.

Newspapers and TV talking heads love polls. So do advocacy organizations and politicians – as long as the polls go in their favor.

That’s because humans are basically herd animals, and we tend to want to be on the “winning” side of any issue, so if you tell people that virtually everyone supports candidate A, or favors “universal background checks,” people who don’t have an educated opinion are likely to fall in with the crowd. The good news for the politicians and pundits, is that it’s relatively easy to get polls to say just about whatever they want. All it takes is asking the right questions of the right people. Simple questions, like “Which candidate do you prefer for president?” can be manipulated by focusing the polling in geographic areas that lean heavily toward one party or another, but as the questions get more complicated, delving into legislative and policy issues, results are even easier to manipulate, because most people have only a limited understanding of the issues.

The reality is, most Americans don’t think much about politics. They don’t follow issues, don’t pay attention to the news, and certainly don’t do in-depth research. Barely half of eligible voters have enough interest to even bother casting a ballot in presidential elections, and the interest level drops exponentially as you move down the ballot or get into questions about legislation.

Human nature dictates that most of us think we are a little smarter than the next guy, and that we have enough understanding of just about any topic to offer up an opinion.

Of course, most polling organizations, especially those based in prestigious universities like Quinnipiac, claim to be impartial and unbiased. Above the fray, as it were. In reality that is rarely the case.

Polls cost money, and the folks paying the bills usually have an agenda. Pollsters know that if they come up with results that are contrary to what their patrons are looking for, they are not likely to get more funding from those sources in the future. And even if the bias is unintentional, it is almost always present, for the simple reason that the pollsters and researchers are human. They have their own preconceived ideas, opinions, and feelings.  They also often have limited knowledge about the subject matter, so they might not even realize that their questions are leading.

For people well-versed on a given subject, the flaws and biases in polls are usually pretty obvious. Use of emotionally loaded words and phrases can have dramatic impacts on results, as can inaccurate or misleading information framing a question.

Couching questions about abortion in terms of a woman’s right to control what happens in her own body will yield very different results than the same basic questions couched in terms of protecting the life of a baby. Similarly, questions about guns will get very different responses if they use terms like “assault weapon,” as opposed to references to “popular sporting rifles.”

The obvious inaccuracy in Quinnipiac’s “background check” poll suggests that they are not producing polls so much as they are producing propaganda. The mainstream media’s faithful regurgitation of these polling results from organizations that have so thoroughly discredited themselves, is further testament that the “news” organizations are also in the propaganda business.

Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure, and nowhere is that more obvious than in twisted and misleading polls.

Oregon going California Crazy

By Jeff Knox

(July 14, 2017) The term “Californication” has been floating around on bumper-stickers and internet memes for decades, and it is generally thought of in regards to people moving from California to another state, and bringing their crazy, California ideas for laws, regulations, and taxes along with them.  but California has no patent on idiot politicians, and crazy people aren’t their only export.  They also export their crazy ideas.  The state of Oregon is just the latest recipient.  While migration is probably a factor in Oregon’s downward spiral, many of their most radical politicians were born and bred in the state. Still, it’s abundantly clear that Oregon politics is heavily influenced by their neighbors to the south. Their most recent plunge into the realm of California crazy legislation is what proponents call an Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO, and it’s not just California pushing this nonsense, the ERPO is also one of Mike Bloomberg’s pet schemes.

An ERPO is like a Restraining Order or Order of Protection, but rather than ordering a potentially dangerous person to stay away from a named potential victim, an ERPO is supposed to remove the means for violence from the potentially dangerous person.  While specifics vary from state to state, in general an ERPO allows a housemate, family member, intimate, physician, or police officer to petition a judge to order “temporary confiscation” of a person’s firearms and other weapons. The idea is to disarm a person who is exhibiting mental instability that suggests that they might be a danger to themselves or others.

Of course, like most prior-restraint laws, it all sounds reasonable on the surface.  But as usual, the devil’s in the details. Typically ERPOs are issued by a judge, based solely on the testimony of one or more of the above-mentioned persons.  There is no formal hearing, no opportunity for the subject of the ERPO to hear the accusations or argue against the action until after police barge into his home and seize his firearms.  They could also seize other things that they consider potentially dangerous weapons, like knives, razor blades, medications, etc. This begs the question as to how far police can and might go in their efforts to “suicide-proof” a person’s home?  Will they take, ropes, belts, shoelaces, and car keys? Can they compel the person to stay away from tall buildings, railroad tracks, and busy roads?

We have long held that any person who cannot be trusted to possess a firearm, should not be free to circulate with the general public without direct supervision.  In other words, whether we’re talking about convicted felons or people with mental issues, if they are too dangerous to themselves or others to have access to firearms, they are too dangerous to be outside of an institution.  That might sound harsh at first blush, but it’s actually much more moderate than the current standard. The current rule assumes that anyone who has ever been convicted of a serious crime – even tax evasion or writing bad checks – and anyone who has ever been forced to undergo psychiatric treatment, can be released into society, but without their full constitutional rights.  This sort of blanket policy means that people who are too dangerous to be roaming free are living among us, and people who are no danger at all are second-class citizens. Like school policies which dictate that anyone involved in a fight, whether attacker or victim, receives the same automatic punishment, policies that allow dangerous people to roam freely, and which punish people who are not dangerous, are unfair to individuals, and harmful to society.

To my knowledge, every state has laws allowing a person to be involuntarily committed for 72 hours for psychiatric evaluation.  These laws generally require no more justification than is required for an ERPO: testimony from a family member or close associate.  Those laws are problematic too, but they currently exist, and they make the concept of an ERPO redundant, and comparatively anemic. If your family really believes you are a danger to yourself or others, why would they not petition to have you held in a safe place where you cannot hurt yourself or anyone else, and where you can receive treatment for your condition?

These ERPO laws are not about saving lives or preventing tragedies.  They are about demonizing guns and gun owners, and feeding the anti-gun paranoia machine.

Someone bent on suicide is unlikely to be deterred by a meddling relative having armed police come and take their guns.  As a matter of fact, such an event could easily precipitate a tragedy that would not have happened otherwise. A person struggling with Hamlet’s daunting question, might find that it’s easier to simply point a gun at arriving officers than to pull the trigger on themselves.  Worse, if they are really determined, they could take an officer or two with them. Or the person could simply seek one of the hundreds of alternative methods that are readily available beneath the kitchen sink, in the medicine chest, or on the highway.

If it’s others that the person wants to harm, again, throwing police into the middle of that situation could precipitate the tragedy, and not having firearms readily available isn’t likely to make them see the folly of their plan.  Firearms are a favorite weapon of murderers, but they are not nearly the only means of accomplishing the deed, and are not used in almost half of all murders.

Oregon has already adopted a new ERPO law, as has Washington State.  Now Massachusetts is seriously contemplating taking the plunge, and Bloomberg’s gun control conglomerate is actively pushing the idea in several other states.

The Constitution guarantees the right to arms, and it also guarantees “due process” before property can be seized, but Bloomberg and his Californicators seem to think the Constitution only applies to other people’s ideas, never theirs.

 

Ammunition for the grassroots gun rights movement