NRA Meeting to be Held in Springfield, MO?

 

Update: 09/16/2020: NRA subsequently shifted again, settling on a meeting in Tucson scheduled for October 24.  Registration for the meeting opened online at https://www.nraam.org/ on September 16.

(Past Update: 06/09/2020: NRA has a semi-official announcement of the location and date found here: NRA’s 149th Annual Meeting of Members rescheduled in Missouri)

NRA Board of Directors
NRA Board of Directors: NRA Meeting to be Held in Springfield, MO?

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- A letter sent out on NRA Whittington Center letterhead, indicates that, as I had predicted, the NRA Annual Meeting of Members will indeed be held in conjunction with the regularly scheduled, September Board of Directors meeting. What is unexpected is the location discussed in the letter – Springfield, Missouri.

The Whittington Center is a beautiful range facility NRA built in New Mexico. The letter, dated May 28, 2020, told recipients that the NRA Annual Meeting, which had been put off due to COVID-19, has been scheduled for September 5. 2020, in Springfield, MO, with a Board of Directors meeting on the following Monday, the 7th, which happens to be Labor Day.

NRA Whittington Center Conflict Letter
NRA Whittington Center Conflict Letter

The main purpose of the letter was to explain that a previously scheduled event for the Whittington Center, is going to be rescheduled for early October, due to its original date conflicting with the new date for the NRA Annual Meeting.

No official announcements about the new meeting plans have come out of NRA HQ so far. There is nothing about the meetings on the NRA website and there has been nothing in the Official Journal, so consider this information a very solid rumor, rather than a confirmed fact.

Under the NRA Charter and Bylaws, a Members’ Meeting must be held every year before November 30. 2020.

There are also requirements regarding proper notice. Under the Bylaws, notice of the Members’ Meeting must be published in the Official Journal (the NRA business section inside each of the NRA’s magazines) in two consecutive editions prior to the meeting date. Since the lead time for the magazines is usually about 2 months, and the magazine dated for the next month usually comes out early in the month prior, that leaves NRA with few options for making the required announcements. This being the beginning of June, the July edition of the magazine would normally be hitting members’ mail boxes any day now. But it looks like some, and maybe all of the NRA magazines are combining July and August editions, with magazines going out in the third week of June. That narrows NRA’s window even more. If an official announcement about the meeting is not included in a regular July edition, then NRA could be in breach of their obligation under the bylaws if they don’t have announcements in the August and September issues. That would be cutting things mighty thin, and might not meet the legal requirement. We’ll find out soon.

In the meantime, I sent the following note to NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer on Tuesday, June 2:

John,

I’m sending this as an open letter and plan to publish it, along with your reply, if one is forthcoming in a timely fashion.

I saw the Whittington Center letter stating that the Annual Meeting of Members will be held in Springfield, MO on September 5, with a Board meeting following on the 7th.
Can you confirm that this information is correct?

If this information is correct, can you provide some more detail? For instance the venue, times, and information about any concurrent events?
I’d also be interested in any information you could provide me regarding the rationale for this choice of locations, as opposed to holding the meetings in Northern Virginia, close to NRA HQ and the support staff, and whether this choice originated with the Board or with staff, but I don’t want to bog you down with too many questions, so please share whatever you are able to.

I assume that more information will be forthcoming in the July or August edition of the Official Journal, but I would think that getting accurate information out to members as early as possible, would be in the best interest of the Association and its members.
I look forward to hearing from you.

In Liberty,
Jeff

I did get a quick reply back from Secretary Frazer asking me when I was hoping to publish. I responded that I wanted to go to press within a day or two, but have not heard anything since then. I held back publishing this article in hopes of a reply, but can’t wait any longer. If I do hear back from the NRA, I will add a note to this piece.

A friend checked with the Springfield, MO convention and visitors bureau and was told that no deal has been signed with the NRA yet, just a proposal. I also checked with some members of the NRA Board of Directors and they had no knowledge of the meeting being even tentatively scheduled.

It should be noted that the Bylaws stipulate that the Annual Meeting of Members shall be held “at such time and place as determined by the Board of Directors.” If I’m informing Directors of plans for a meeting in Springfield, MO, it’s a pretty safe bet those Directors didn’t participate in the decision to hold the meeting there. Just one more example of the Board allowing staff to lead them, rather than the other way around.

It’s also worth noting that the NRA has taken over the Shooting Illustrated Concealed Carry Expo, which happens to be being held in Dallas over the same weekend that they’re talking about holding the Members’ Meeting in Missouri. Seems like they’d get a better turnout and be able to do more special, fundraising side-events in conjunction with the Dallas event. Didn’t I read somewhere that money is an issue at NRA these days?

The news might change in a few days, but for now, I’ve started shopping for airline tickets and accommodations in Springfield, and I hope many of you will do the same. Just don’t do the non-refundable kind. While the members at an NRA Annual Meeting wield little direct power, we do potentially have enough power to influence the Board to take needed action. If possible, plan to be there for the Members’ Meeting on Saturday and stay through the Monday Board meeting. The Board is supposed to represent the members and the staff is supposed to follow the instructions of the Board. It’s past time for that mode to be put back in place. Get some friends together and plan a road trip, whether to Springfield, Dallas, or DC. Share travel and room costs. Participate in trying to save our Association.

Stay tuned to AmmoLand News and www.FirearmsCoalition.org for updates and other information.

No More No-Knocks, they are Killing Innocent People

Maryland Man Killed by Police During High Risk Warrant
No More No-Knocks, they are Killing Innocent People

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Here we go again. Another innocent killed by police serving a “No-Knock” warrant in the middle of the night, and another person arrested for shooting at unidentified, un-uniformed, home invaders.

This time it happened in Louisville, Kentucky. Although it is only now attracting national attention, the tragedy took place back on March 12, when 26-year old Breonna Taylor was shot 8 times by 3 plain-clothes police officers who had just kicked in her front door. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says he believed the intruders were home-invaders and he fired one shot as the attackers came through the door.

Walker was arrested and indicted on charges of Attempted Murder of a Police Officer. At last report, those charges have been dropped pending the outcome of investigations by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and the FBI. If those investigations don’t come out with favorable findings for Walker, he could find himself before another grand jury facing the same or revised charges.

By twisted coincidence, the police raid on the home of Breonna Taylor occurred less than 24 hours after a similar “No-Knock” raid in suburban Maryland where 21-year-old Duncan Lemp was killed and his pregnant girlfriend wounded. As in the Kentucky raid, the stories of the police involved and the witnesses present, don’t agree. Montgomery County, Maryland Police say their officers announced themselves and that the victim/suspect refused to follow police commands before being shot.

Lemp’s girlfriend says police began firing through a bedroom window while she and Lemp were asleep in bed!

That raid was based on an “anonymous tip” that Lemp was in illegal possession of firearms. Lemp had a juvenile record that stipulated that he was not to purchase or possess firearms in Maryland until he had attained the age of 30. Three rifles and two handguns were found in the home that Lemp shared with his parents and younger brother.

Police statements regarding the raid seem to be carefully worded to allow somewhat flexible interpretations, not unlike Bill Clinton’s statements about what “is” means. For instance, police have said that Lemp refused to obey police commands and that upon entry into the bedroom, a rifle was “recovered,” but they don’t actually say that Lemp was threatening officers with the rifle, or that he was even holding it, just that it was in the same room. These ambiguous statements, and the claims of Lemp’s family, have prompted the family’s attorneys to call for the release of the body-cam videos from the officers involved in the raid. So far, Montgomery County, MD police have refused to release any video of the incident.

That refusal to release video has come under additional fire recently, after another officer-involved shooting by the same department resulted in the release of the body-cam video within 24 hours. Skeptics suggest that the reason that video was released, was because it strongly supported the officer’s contention that he had no choice but to fire in that situation. Could it be that video from the Lemp assault is being withheld because it doesn’t support officers’ claims? Are we next going to be told that none of the officers involved were wearing body cameras, or that those that were, either forgot to turn them on or had some technical issue that caused them not to work, as happened in the Erik Scott case in Las Vegas in 2010?

Back in Kentucky

Police in Kentucky say that there was no video of the assault on Breonna Taylor’s apartment, and that’s believable, though inexcusable. In that case, there were only 3 officers involved in the raid, all in plainclothes. Of course, that raises all sorts of other questions, such as why there were only 3 officers involved, why all were out of uniform, and why there isn’t some policy requiring that cameras be used during any warrant service where there’s time and opportunity to do so?

That’s just one suggestion for policies and regulations that states could implement to reduce the problems associated with “dynamic entries” and other aggressive SWAT tactics used by police:

Require that the warrant service be recorded from beginning to end, preferably with a body-cam on every participant.

Another reform intended to reduce these problems, is a law that requires police agencies to submit biannual reports on the use and activities of their SWAT teams, including reporting when, where, why, and how these officers and tactics are deployed, along with data on suspects apprehended, evidence acquired, and any injuries or serious property damage sustained in the process.

Another Texas Police Department Implements Viridian Gun Cameras
Gun Cameras: Require that the warrant service be recorded from beginning to end, preferably with a body-cam on every participant.

This law was pushed through the Maryland Legislature back in 2009 by the former Mayor of Berwin Heights, a suburb of Washington, DC. The mayor’s arguments for the law were especially compelling since, a few years earlier, he and his mother-in-law had been held at gunpoint, handcuffed face-down on his kitchen floor, in a pool of blood from his two Labrador Retrievers that officers had killed when they raided his home. The raid was based on a package containing marijuana being delivered to the mayor’s address. It turned out that the package was shipped by a smuggling operation and was supposed to be stolen by one of their operatives from the carport where the UPS driver had left it. They hadn’t planned on the mayor’s mother-in-law visiting and taking the package inside before their operative could acquire the package.

This type of law has only been adopted by two states, Maryland and Utah, and obviously it didn’t prevent the March raid on the Lemp residence, so what else could be done to prevent these tragedies?

For starters, judges need to be more demanding and cautious in their issuance of warrants and perhaps face consequences for signing off on a warrant based on a flimsy affidavit.

Of course, judges don’t want to be seen as micro-managing the police or having to face any consequences, but they must take responsibility for the outcomes of warrants they sign. In cases like the death of Breonna Taylor, not only should the officers who executed the raid, and the supervisor who signed off on it, be held accountable, but so should the judge who approved the warrant. At the very least a judge’s involvement in issuing a questionable warrant should be made public knowledge, especially around election season for elected judges.

Ultimately, “No-Knock” or “Knock-Knock-Bang” warrants should only be issued in very specific and extreme circumstances to save lives. Kicking in doors, setting off flash-bang grenades, rappelling down from the roof and crashing through windows, shooting dogs, using armored vehicles to pull off window bars, and all of these other movie-style tactics, simply don’t belong in our neighborhoods. Like the BATF raid on the Branch Davidian Church in Waco, Texas, there’s almost always a better way, such as capturing the suspect while he’s checking the mail or pumping gas, calling on the phone and asking for a meeting, or simply knocking on the door and showing a warrant.

If the evidence being sought is small enough to be flushed down the toilet during the service of a warrant, then it’s probably not enough to warrant putting police officers at risk to try and procure it with a dynamic raid. If the suspect is so dangerous that a SWAT raid might be warranted then it would probably make more sense to try and catch him away from his home turf, rather than trying to take him from his “castle.”

Examples of warrant service going bad are far too common and almost completely preventable. There have been far too many victims created by the tactics themselves.

People like Cory Maye, who served 10 years on Death Row for shooting at strangers kicking down his door, and Jose Guerena, a former Marine and combat vet, who jumped from his bed when he heard pounding and explosions, and was shot dozens of times because he was holding a gun in his own home. Or Cheye Calvo, the Mayor of Berwin Heights Maryland, mentioned above, or Katheryn Johnston, a 92-year old woman who was shot to death after she fired a shot at a group of home invaders crashing through her front door. It turned out that they were corrupt narcotics officers trying to shake-down a drug dealer, but they got the wrong address.

All were innocent victims of aggressive police raids that I’ve written about in the past. Statistically, these tragedies are rare, considering that SWAT teams or tactics are employed something like 40,000 times a year in this country, but even though only a small percentage of those end up in the news as bungled operations, many more result in unnecessary death and destruction, and even more result in trashed homes, trashed lives, and deep scars among some members of the community, widening rifts that departments should be working hard to close.

It’s well past time for the public, politicians, and police unions to join together to address these tactics that unnecessarily jeopardize the police and the public.

Since When are American’s Rights Not “Allowed”!?

Human Rights Lawsuit
Since When are American’s Rights Not “Allowed”!? ~ VIDEO

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- In recent weeks, American adults have been subjected to the word “allowed” at levels they’ve not seen since elementary school.

America’s gun owners have had this word thrown at them for decades, and many have, unfortunately, gotten used to it. Some of us have always bristled at the cavalier way this word has been bandied about in reference to our fundamental rights.

Now more Americans are discovering that it’s unnerving and maybe a little ominous to hear politicians, bureaucrats, and “reporters” explaining what we are and are not “allowed” to do.

While the word “allow” is sometimes chosen out of simple laziness, the word contains a disturbing presumption of authority, which suggests that its use is not always accidental. When a reporter talks about whether the Governor will “allow businesses to reopen,” that statement, unconsciously or not, grants as fact that the governor has the authority to decide whether businesses can be in business. When bureaucrats say that lawful carry of firearms has been “allowed” in the Michigan State Capitol for decades, the use of that word implies a privilege that was bestowed upon the people by a higher authority, and which can be revoked by that authority at any time.

Americans should be outraged whenever the word “allow” is applied to almost anything that they might choose to do.

The word “allow” rightly belongs almost exclusively only to parents, teachers, and property owners. Parents might not allow certain words to be used by their children. Teachers might allow a designated amount of free time for students to work on personal projects, and property owners might not allow smoking on their premises. Those are all valid and acceptable uses of the word “allow.” What is not valid or acceptable is the use of the word “allow” in relation to what a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, may decree regarding the rights of the people.

The government of the United States and the governments of the several states, along with their subsidiary governments, derive their authority from “we the people.” We allow these governments certain powers and privileges, for our convenience and the general welfare. We allow them to institute certain laws and regulations for the public good. We do not authorize politicians and bureaucrats to manage our lives or dole out our God-given rights as they might see fit.

Whether the media and government operatives are using the word “allow” intentionally to suggest certain authority, or they’re just lazy about how they express themselves, the result is the same. They are reinforcing the idea that “the state” is the authority, and “the state” may mandate or proscribe virtually any action or behavior of “the people.”

That’s not how it works. Not under our Constitution and the philosophy of liberty upon which our system of government is founded.

Under our system, “We the People” allow government specific authority and duties, but the government doesn’t “allow” us to do anything. We might allow the government to establish laws and regulations, such as the penalty for a serious crime or a speed limit. But we wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – say that the government “allows” us to drive 65 MPH on the freeway. Instead, we would say that driving faster than 65 MPH is prohibited. It is semantics, but the semantics are important. We, the People, have given the government the authority to set speed limits on public roadways. That’s very different from the government granting the privilege of driving and setting restrictions on our exercise of that privilege, but that is what is implied when the word “allow” is used. The word “allow” assumes wide authority and implies that anything falling under that broad authority, is a privilege granted by the “allowing” entity.

Long-time AmmoLand News readers will recall that I’ve raised this issue in the past. When I’ve raised it before, only a few people, mostly within the gun rights community, have seen the significance of this argument. With the whole Chi-Comm virus mess going on now, more people are seeing the word “allow” used against them, and they’re beginning to understand the nefarious nature of that word.

For many, it’s just a feeling. They’re not sure why, but when they see or hear a report that uses the word “allow,” they feel somehow insulted. The same thing with the term “Essential Workers”. Well, all workers are essential, but that is another debate.

Well, they should feel insulted. We should all feel insulted when any reporter, politician, or bureaucrat suggests that our rights are actually privileges bestowed upon us by a benevolent state, and which the state can revoke for any reason, or no reason at all, at any time. The suggestion is an outrage, and we should all be livid every time we hear or see it.

Rights, liberty, freedom – these are not things that the state “allows.” These are core human rights, and they run through virtually everything we do.

Just a few months ago, it would have been outrageous for any reporter or politician to use the word “allow” in reference to churches meeting. Still, today, we have governors, mayors, and the media openly discussing whether or not to “allow” church services. A major metropolitan police force has declared that “Protest is not essential,” and only essential activities are “allowed.” Gun shops and ranges have had to sue to demand that they be able to remain open and operating lawfully.

Suddenly, thanks to fear of this latest Chi-Comm Virus, the word “allow” is being applied to virtually everything we say or do. That must not be allowed to continue. Every time you see the word “allow” in a news story unless it is talking about what “we the people” allow the government to do properly, you should be outraged and should leave a comment or write a letter to the editor calling out the writer’s use of that word. If the reporter is quoting a politician or bureaucrat, challenge the reporter to question the use of that word, and then send a letter or email to the politician or bureaucrat – and their boss – demanding that they stop using language that suggests subjugation of the American people.

Rights are not “allowed” by politicians or bureaucrats. While the word “allow” can be convenient when reporting about government restrictions, it is lazy, inaccurate, and undermines the perception of rights across the board.

So be outraged. Be angry. Be indignant, and let the reporters, bureaucrats, and politicians know that you’re outraged and that you demand that they stop undermining rights and misinforming the public with their sloppy, lazy, or intentionally subversive choice of words. Demand better. Don’t allow them to get away with this reprogramming effort. Spread this message far and wide, and demand that our rights be respected – in deed and in word.

New Mexico Reverting to Old Mexico?

New Mexico Reverting to Old Mexico?
New Mexico Reverting to Old Mexico?

It seems that politicians and their medical advisors have lost sight of the objectives of social distancing. While they still speak in terms of “flattening the curve,” their actions appear to be more focused on eradicating the curve altogether. While that might be a noble goal, it’s not particularly realistic, and it’s not what we the people signed up for.

Recall that the point of “flattening the curve” was to prevent the novel Chinese Corona Virus from overwhelming our healthcare system, resulting in mass casualties due to a lack of medical facilities to care for the sudden flood of cases. Well, we’re now well into, or beyond, the peak period in most places and this “new normal” that we are all living appears to have worked. Even in critical hot-spots like New York City, where heavy population density, combined with high tourism and global travel, resulted in the worst outbreak in the nation, the spread was slowed enough to get through the worst of the disease, and the healthcare system was able to effectively handle the surge.

But now, as the peak is passing in some places and slowly approaching in others, petty tyrants around the country are still flexing their nanny muscles and demanding that businesses remain closed, people stay in their homes, and all “non-essential” activities be curtailed. As Americans have been resoundingly successful at slowing the spread and preventing the anticipated spikes in the disease, some of our “leaders” have shifted the goalposts, insisting that tight restrictions must remain in place until – when? Until there is no more threat from the disease at all? Until the curve goes subterranean?

New Mexico is an excellent case study. With a population of only about 2.1 million people, spread over an area of over 121,500 miles, New Mexico is among the least densely populated states in the nation. There are only 17 people per square mile, and a full 40% of the total population resides in Albuquerque and nearby Santa Fe. That leaves a lot of mostly empty territory, and few opportunities for the rapid spread of a virus like COVID-19. But Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has clamped down on the state in almost as draconian a fashion as her fellow Democrat, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

One of the things that makes Gov. Lujan Grisham stand out though, is her insistence that gun stores and ranges remain closed, except to provide services to police and other state agents, and only by appointment. This in spite the fact that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared firearm businesses to be “essential” in their guidance, not to mention that pesky bit of the U.S. Constitution stating that the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Even gun-hating governors in California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have backed down on orders for gun stores to close, but not Governor Lujan Grisham.

Gun groups and local activists have filed suit against Lujan Grisham, demanding that she add firearm-related businesses and ranges to the “essential businesses” list, but the governor has doubled down, stating that it is a “badge of honor” to be sued by the NRA.

The lessons being offered up by politicians like Lujan Grisham, are numerous and important. First, she’s teaching us that she doesn’t trust the people who elected her. She’s saying that they must be told what to do and how to do it, and that without her instructions – backed up by burly men and women with guns and badges – she believes the people would just blunder around bumping into one another and infecting each other with COVID-19.

Second, she’s teaching us that she, and politicians like her, respects neither the U.S. Constitution nor that of her state. We all know what the U.S. Constitution says, but here’s what the New Mexico Constitution says:

Sec. 6. [Right to bear arms.]

No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security
and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful
purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed
weapons.

No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right
to keep and bear arms. (As amended November 2, 1971 and November 2,
1986.)

There is no “except in the case of a virus” clause in there.

Third, she’s teaching us that philosophical purity and adherence to party dogma is more important to her than common sense or political sensibility, and that given the opportunity, she and her ilk, would implement the most draconian gun control bills they could think of, as long as they had the votes to get them passed. For example, look up the text of H.R.5717 to see how far they’re willing to go today, and imagine how much farther they would go with a majority in the House and Senate, and control of the White House.

Fourth, Governor Lujan Grisham is teaching us that, either she doesn’t know anything about guns, gun sales, firearms training, and shooting ranges, or she just doesn’t care.

It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people are feeling vulnerable and insecure at the moment, and a whole bunch of them want to acquire firearms to help ensure the personal safety of themselves and their families. They clearly consider this “essential” enough to risk their health to accomplish, though purchasing a firearm or ammunition usually doesn’t involve long lines or crowds, and there are very easy ways to ensure that doing so in the current environment remains safe. It’s also obvious that a whole bunch of people purchased their first firearm in the weeks before the Governor decided to shut down gun stores and ranges. So that leaves us with numerous first-time gun owners who now can’t get training or engage in safe, supervised practice with their newly acquired defensive tools.

It’s also worth pointing out that some governors have grudgingly allowed outdoor ranges to re-open, while keeping indoor ranges closed. This ignores the fact that indoor ranges, thanks to the efforts they go to in mitigating risks of lead exposure, are probably among the safest places a person could be to avoid contact with an airborne pathogen. Not only do indoor ranges have heavy-duty air-handlers that ensure that air is always moving downrange, away from the firing line, most also have physical dividers between shooting stations on the line.

The important take-away is that none of this matters to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. She is proud to trace her family lineage back 12 generations in Nuevo Mexico, and her autocratic, classist approach to governance is reminiscent of that of the old Mexico tradition. Lujan Grisham, who most people probably wouldn’t recognize as Hispanic, unless they were told, seems to gravitate to the role of the caring Patrona looking after her poor, clueless peones, whom she considers incapable of making wise decisions and taking care of themselves. While that description might fit some of her core constituents, the rest of the citizens of New Mexico would rather take responsibility for their own lives, including taking precautions against disease as they see fit, and providing for their own, and their family’s security.

Pandemic America 2020: Just Following Orders… VIDEO

Pandemic April 2020. A man is cited for riding a paddle-board off the coast of California. A father is “detained” for playing catch with his daughter in a city park in Colorado. Police in Kentucky record license plates of cars in church parking lots on Easter Sunday. Businesses are ordered closed around the country, and in some places, “non-essential” items (like gardening supplies and child safety seats) in large department stores are cordoned off and forbidden to be sold.

And of course, gun shops and ranges in many areas have been ordered closed and off-limits.

Around the country, governors, mayors, sheriffs, and other officials, have instituted highly restrictive, blatantly unconstitutional orders. In too many cases, those orders are being actively enforced by police, and in some cases, the National Guard.

The Governor of Rhode Island banned visitors from New York and called out the National Guard to help man checkpoints on highways into the state. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to sue Rhode Island for targeting New Yorkers, the RI Governor shifted the policy to ban travel from any state. He doubled down by having officers drive through neighborhoods and go door-to-door looking for out-of-state license plates and “foreign” visitors. When discovered, these “aliens” were ordered to either leave the state or go into strict quarantine.

What’s really disturbing about these incidents, is that police and National Guard personnel are not only obeying the orders, they’re doing so enthusiastically, with no sign of doubt or resistance.

In the Colorado case, officers who weren’t wearing face-masks or gloves, first ordered the man and his family to leave the park, saying that the park was closed. The man argued that he and his family were harming no one, was not near any of the other people using the park, and should not be ordered to leave. That appears to be the point that the officers started taking the matter personally, demanding that the man – who happened to be a former State Trooper – present ID [read show us your papers], which he refused to do, and then handcuffing him. Then holding him in the back of a patrol car for about 15 minutes, while they checked with their supervisors.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, the State Capitol Police decided to break-up a protest at the State Capitol. Over 100 people had gathered in the area of the Capitol, primarily in their cars in a parking lot, to protest the Governor’s “stay at home” order. It’s not completely clear who decided that the protesters needed to be dispersed, but we would hope that the chief or the ranking officers, or at least some of the line officers, might have said;

“Wait a minute… The right to protest is a cherished, fundamental right that’s enshrined and protected in both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution, so as long as the protesters are peaceful, orderly, and avoiding coughing on each other or people in the area, we can’t interfere.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t their take on the situation. They declared that the protesters were violating the Governor’s order – the order they were there protesting – and told the protesters to disperse, threatening arrest for anyone who failed to obey. They then waded into the gathering, issuing more threats and arresting one middle-aged woman, as she shouted, “God Bless America!”

In the aftermath of that, the Raleigh PD came to the defense of the State Capitol Police, by tweeting out a statement that “Protest is not an essential activity.”

The legal repercussions from these incidents and others like them will undoubtedly play out for years to come. Scholars will debate the nuances of arrest or citation for engaging in an activity, in violation of sweeping restrictions, and the legality of those restrictions. There will also be debate over whether the whole pandemic fear was overblown from the get-go, whether it was significantly moderated by government shut-down orders, or whether it was actually moderated by the voluntary actions of individuals. It’s anyone’s guess how all of those arguments might be resolved if they ever are.

What we do know is that cumulative cellphone location data shows that people reacted almost the same in states where the government took early restrictive action and states where the government was slow to take action. In all cases, the data shows people staying home more, limiting travel, and avoiding crowded places, with movement charts and timelines aligning almost perfectly whether the individuals were under government orders or just responding to the news. That’s a very important observation.

Right now, as it looks like the nation might have turned the corner on the disease, with declining numbers in every region and people feeling the pinch of forced unemployment and confinement, there’s a lot more talk about lifting restrictions and getting back to work. Curiously, a lot of that talk is coming from Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California, echoing what President Trump was saying – and being roundly ridiculed for – three weeks ago.

Polling has also flip-flopped on the issue over the past few weeks, going from about 75% of respondents saying they support the continuation of the restrictions, to about 75% now saying that it’s time to start ending the restrictions.

Interestingly, it’s the “liberal,” sector – the folks who are fond of calling conservatives “fascists” and “authoritarians” – that is still clinging to demands that the government tell them what to do. An informal internet poll on the Microsoft News site showed that a full 59% of over 25,300 respondents, agreed that people should be fined or charged for violating government-mandated social-distancing restrictions. Only 39% disagreed with that idea.

In the long-run, America, and the world will be spending a lot of time looking back on the events of the past six months, trying to figure out what was done right, what was done wrong, and how to handle things better next time.

Within that analysis must be the question of how far police will go in following orders from on high. We saw it during the Katrina disaster, and now we’ve seen it widely in response to the COVID-19 scare; police at all levels tend to simply do what they’re told, even when they know, or should know, that what they are doing is wrong.

That’s a serious concern, and it needs some serious discussion and evaluation. I thought the excuse of “just following orders” had been done away with in Nuremberg.

Re-Learning An Old Lesson

An Old Lesson We Keep Re-Learning

I am taking a moment to look back at a couple of relevant excerpts from Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.  One is a piece written written in in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, which raked the East Coast in 1989.  The piece became what Dad used to call an “evergreen” piece that is always current.

The second was written in the middle of the Los Angeles riots of 1992.  This one became especially relevant when Philadelphia announced that arrests for certain low-level crimes would be “delayed” during the current virus outbreak, and in almost the same breath, that firearms purchase checks would not be acted on by police.

It was in the Los Angeles madness that police gave rare acknowledgement to the fact that you, Dear Citizen, own your own security, defense, and survival.  It is not the police department’s job to protect you personally.  It was in those riots that the “Roof Korean” meme embedded itself in gun lore.

I included both pieces in Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War because they both bring such a simple, yet apparently hard-to-learn lesson:  The Second Amendment exists to protect the security of a free state.  To accomplish that end, the individuals who make up that state must be able to individually bear arms in defense of themselves, their family, and ultimately, their nation.  To infringe on the right to arms — especially in a time of imminent threat — infringes on a human’s right to exist.

As I post this, we face a pandemic.  At the moment, we are in a surreal calm before … something.  No one knows how it will turn out.  Our contingency playbooks are mostly geared toward localized, or at most, regional disasters.  The only ones who had really thought about a global pandemic were those crazy preppers.  You can tell them by their smug smiles as they watch the panic buying.

Californians line up outside of Turners Outdoorsman in Torrance, California to buy guns during the 2020 corona virus outbreak.

No one knows how this will play out because no one has been through it.  We are fortunate to have power and communications, and the stores that are open with only spot shortages — for now.  No one I know has gotten sick — yet.  And, while I am doing my part to make sure I don’t get sick, I am less concerned about being sick than I am about people being stupid.

The really big concern for me is what stupid people may do when faced with a serious problem — such as store shelves that stay empty for a couple of weeks.

And that’s why, along with the modest inventory of extra groceries my wife and I have laid in against a contingency, I have also set aside a few extra boxes of ammo and keep a piece of hardware accessible.   I hope you’re doing the same, and I especially hope that if you’ve made the decision to keep and bear arms, that you have also gotten the training to do it safely and effectively.

God bless us all, our nation, and the rest of the world.  We will get through this.  Let’s learn from the experience.

On Civilization and Hurricane Hugo

LA-Legacy

System Break Down? Fall Back on the Constitution

National Instant Criminal Background Check System NICS
National Instant Criminal Background Check System NICS

When the system and laws break down, Americans must fall back on their State Constitutions and the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution represents the trunk of the tree of government and laws, with state constitutions, statutes, and regulations branching off of it. If there is ever a fault or failure in these branches, the natural path is to bypass the problem branch and return to the Constitution. In the current Chinese coronavirus scare, we see examples of various “non-essential” government agencies going to skeleton crews or shutting down entirely. Some of these agencies that are cutting back play a role in the convoluted process and many paperwork hoops that lawful firearm purchasers are required to jump through. That’s a problem.

U.S. Code says that if a National Instant Check System (NICS) criminal background check on a gun purchaser turns up some information indicating that the buyer might be a prohibited person, but the system can’t verify the information, then the file is kicked out of the computer to a human to investigate further, and a “Delay” order is sent to the dealer selling the gun. Under the law, NICS has 3 business days to resolve the question, before the dealer may proceed with the transfer. Some dealers refuse to ever do transfers without a green light from NICS, while most automatically complete transfers after 3 business days.

In the midst of the panic and confusion caused by China’s COVID-19, the FBI, which operates NICS, has sent out a directive to gun dealers, warning them that the “3 business days” allotted for investigation of “Delayed” reports, means 3 days during which all of the various repositories of information that a NICS examiner might call upon to clear-up a question, are open. That means that the closures and skeleton crews mentioned above are making it difficult for NICS examiners – if they are even still working – to do their job, and that gun dealers are supposed to refuse to process any transfer until the government gets its act back together and everyone gets back to work.

This is totally unacceptable.

Gun Shop Closed
The closures and skeleton crews mentioned above are making it difficult for NICS examiners – if they are even still working – to do their job, and that gun dealers are supposed to refuse to process any transfer until the government gets its act back together and everyone gets back to work.

The 3-day limit was included in the law as a fail-safe, specifically to prevent the government from being able to block firearm sales via bureaucratic inaction or computer glitches. The definition of “3 business days” has always been Monday through Friday, not including federal holidays.

It is outrageous and indefensible for the FBI to be redefining this term now.

At the time the “Instant Check” compromise was worked out between the NRA and Congress, as an alternative to the 5-day waiting period mandated by the Brady Bill, we opposed the whole concept, but if the bill was going to pass, we were pushing for the best deal possible, including a provision that offered more protection to dealers and gun buyers. Our version of this transfer option would have required NICS to automatically send out a “Proceed” notice to a dealer after 3 business days or 5 calendar days, whichever was shorter. There would have been no discretion left to dealers as to whether or not to transfer the firearm and no negative repercussions for dealers doing so. While that’s still not a perfect solution, it would have provided more legal and PR protection for dealers, and a stronger guarantee for people exercising their right to arms.

Of course, our compromise on the compromise wasn’t adopted and instead, we got “Instant-Check” language that provides that a dealer may transfer the firearm after 3 business days, and the FBI’s reinterpretation turns that on its ear, making the “Delay” indefinite.

Similar chicanery is occurring in states that run their own checks, rather than relying on the FBI’s NICS system, and among state and local agencies that issue concealed carry licenses and permits. As with the FBI, processing background checks and license paperwork appears to be a low priority for many of these agencies, and the response from the agencies and the politicians that oversee them has been abysmal. They simply don’t care. They don’t care that it’s a constitutionally protected right. They don’t care that their bureaucratic indifference could cost someone their life. They don’t care that the red tape is unfair, racially-biased, and discriminatory. They just don’t care at all.

Meanwhile, around the country, dozens of petty dictators, in the form of governors and mayors, are issuing “shelter-in-place” orders, requiring “non-essential” businesses, like gun stores, to close their doors, and in some cases, claiming the authority to legally prohibit the sale of guns, ammunition, gasoline, liquor, and other “dangerous” items. So far, no one has offered up any rational explanation for why such restrictions might be needed or how they would assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Some patriot-gun shops in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and probably other states, have refused to close their doors, in spite of orders from politicians and police to do so. As of this writing, there have been no serious confrontations, but seeds have been planted and things could easily get ugly in a hurry.

The really frustrating part of all of this is that there is a simple and obvious solution: Obey the Constitution.

Gun owners are constantly being berated by gun control advocates and the media for not being “reasonable” and accepting “minor inconveniences” in the form of additional restrictions on firearm ownership rights. Well, the laws that are currently on the books, which law-abiding gun owners follow every day, are examples of gun owners being reasonable and compromising. And the current blocks, delays, and bans in the name of protecting society from a germ, are examples of why we resist all of these “minor,” “reasonable,” “commonsense” gun control laws that they keep throwing at us. They’re not minor, reasonable, or commonsense. They’re infringements on our rights, and they cause the most harm at the worst times.

Many supporters of “reasonable” gun control laws in California have begun to realize just how unreasonable those laws really are, but they’ll probably reelect the same politicians who gave them those laws, come November.

In our constitutional republic, the default position for any law or regulation is always supposed to be to the benefit of the individual, not the government, and the burden is always supposed to be on the government, not the individual. This is especially true when dealing with enumerated rights. If we allow the government to institute some laws that encroach on our rights, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that they do so in the most limited way, and it is the government’s burden to meet. If they cannot meet their burden, the process must default to the benefit of individual rights, not the convenience or preference of the government.

In Arizona and many other states, the governor has declared that people with drivers licenses that are expiring, will be given a grace period and their licenses will continue to be recognized as valid for a yet-to-be-determined period. The same sort of blanket extension should apply to all concealed carry licenses and permits, and all firearm owner ID cards and purchase permits in states that require them. If government agencies are unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities in processing firearm and ammunition sales, then those restrictions and regulations are null and void. As to any suggestion of forcing gun stores to close, or banning the sale of firearms or ammunition, such notions should be roundly rejected as blatantly unconstitutional, and immediately quashed by the courts.

The Firearms Coalition is in discussions with attorneys and legal scholars to determine the most expedient way to force a stop to this government neglect, overreach, and duplicity.
A right delayed is a right denied. Saying “We don’t have the personnel,” is not an acceptable excuse for withholding fundamental rights.

NRA Annual Meeting vs. Corona Virus

Editors Note: Right after this Op-Ed was posted NRA officially canceled their Annual Member Meeting.

Biological Attack Virus Pathagen Ebola
NRA Annual Meeting vs. Corona Virus

As fears grow over COVID-19, the new strain of Corona Virus that’s dominating headlines these days, there is a growing concern that NRA leadership might cancel, or dramatically cut back the Annual Meetings and Exhibits scheduled for the weekend of April 16th in Nashville, Tennessee.

Such an action wouldn’t be totally unprecedented. In 1999 the Annual Meeting was scheduled for Denver, Colorado. Just a few days before the event though, two deeply disturbed high school students went on a rampage in Littleton, Colorado. In response, the exhibit hall portion of the Annual Meetings was canceled, along with all social events, and the Meeting of Members was reduced to a bare minimum, in order to meet legal requirements in the charter and bylaws.

A massive outdoor trade show, basically the European equivalent to the SHOT Show, has been canceled until further notice. This news was released last week in direct response to growing fears about the COVID-19 virus. That’s a huge hit for the organizers of that show to take, and it would be a major financial loss to the NRA if they decide to cancel the events in Nashville. It’s not just a matter of losing deposits on hotel, meeting, and exhibit space, and lost revenue from exhibitors. A good bit of that could be offset to some degree by savings in the expenses of putting on the various events that are currently scheduled. There is also the matter of things like the ILA banquet and auction, and the NRA Women’s Council luncheon and auction, where NRA subdivisions typically raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hardest hit by a cancellation though, would be the city of Nashville, already reeling from some devastating tornado damage, and no doubt a decline in tourism, shopping, and dining out. Losing an event that is expected to bring in some 80,000 visitors, would be pretty depressing.

Anyone who has reserved hotel space through the NRA Travel Service will, under the current agreements, be liable for a $100 cancellation fee, if the reservation is canceled after a March 23 deadline. It’s likely that the NRA would arrange some sort of settlement on that, costing who knows how much more of the members’ money.

One thing that is very unlikely to change, is the Meeting of Members.

The NRA is required by their charter and bylaws to hold an annual meeting of members and to provide specific notice prior to that meeting. Changing the meeting date would require the clock and the process to all start over again, meaning that a meeting couldn’t be held for at least several months, causing all sorts of other problems. So, even if the exhibits and social events are canceled, it is almost certain that the Members’ Meeting and the Board of Directors Meeting will both go on as planned.

There’s no question that the COVID-19 virus is extremely contagious, and slowing its spread can help to provide more time for medical researchers and care providers to prepare and manage the cases as they pop up. There’s also little doubt that the virus is not nearly as deadly as it is being painted in the media and by some politicians. Virtually all of the deaths connected with COVID-19 in the U.S. have been people with compromised immune systems and other health problems. The virus appears to be little or no threat to healthy people, as over 60,000 have contracted it and fully recovered, generally within a couple of weeks. The primary focus should be on keeping the virus away from vulnerable individuals, rather than trying to keep it away from everyone. Hospitals, nursing homes, senior care facilities, and those with immune-compromised individuals at home, should be taking extra precautions, requiring anyone coming in contact with these vulnerable individuals, to wear a mask and avoid physical contact as much as possible, along with increasing sanitation practices like washing hands and faces and sanitizing contact surfaces.

Airlines say they are doing extra sanitation and air filtration, and airfares are falling, but with so many people choosing not to fly, it’s likely they will start canceling and consolidating flights soon. Hotels don’t have that option, so the $400 to $600 hotels in Nashville could be offering rooms for a song by the time the NRA meetings are supposed to take place.

The good news is that the media-inspired panic over COVID-19 is likely to start fizzling out by the end of March, as people begin to realize that their neighbors aren’t dropping like flies. If the NRA leadership doesn’t announce the cancellation of the meetings sometime before the first of April, there probably won’t be any changes.

There’s a good chance that Wayne LaPierre and his pals are, at this very moment, weighing whether holding an abbreviated meeting will help or hurt them in the internal political battle for control of the Association. On the one hand, it might be easier to control a trimmed back meeting with fewer attendees, but on the other hand, a lower turnout might result in a higher percentage of attendees being disgruntled members determined to see a housecleaning within their Association. That would be my hope, and regardless of what the NRA does with the exhibit hall and social events, the Member’s Meeting will probably go forward as scheduled. That’s why it’s so important that you are there. In fact, it might be even more important that you attend if the other events are canceled because that might give reformers the upper hand.

Bottom line: Come hell or high water, I intend to be at the NRA’s Meeting of Members, to raise issues critical to the Associations future, and could sure use your help.

Gun Control, Stop & Frisk and Harrasment

Corporate Tyranny Shameful Harassment
Gun Control, Stop & Frisk and Rights Harassment

The one word that best describes Mike Bloomberg, is “Authoritarian.”

Many – including Democrats, Republicans, and others – were pleased and relieved to see him end his campaign for President. But just because he’s no longer a candidate and is a half-billion-dollars poorer for the effort, don’t think for a moment that he’s no longer a threat to Second Amendment rights and to the Republic. When Mike Bloomberg first popped up on my radar with his Illegal Mayors Against Guns, he was reported to have a net worth of around $26 billion. Today, after donating well over $2 billion to various causes, and spending another half-billion on his failed presidential bid, Bloomberg’s net worth is estimated to be around $57 billion.

You can bet that a big chunk of that money will still be working against your rights long after Little Mike is long gone from this world.

During his short-lived presidential campaign, there was a lot of talk about Bloomberg’s “Stop & Frisk” policies during his time as Mayor of NYC. Much noise was made about his “recently discovered” comments to the Aspen Institute about that policy (which AmmoLand news reported on and I wrote about back in February of 2015), with quite a few folks on “our side” grudgingly agreeing with Bloomberg on this particular issue. After all, it is true that a disproportionate percentage of violent crime involving firearms in New York City, and many other large U.S. cities, is perpetrated by black and Hispanic young men, so it seems rational for the NYPD to focus their “Stop & Frisk” efforts on that demographic.

Looking back on my 2015 article, I think I was off-target a bit, and missed the most important point. While Bloomberg’s attitude and policy was indeed racist, or at the very least, elitist, the most disturbing thing about it is how “Stop & Frisk” punishes the innocent many for the crimes of the guilty few, just like gun control laws do.

Bloomberg argues that X number of guns were taken off the street, and that fear of being snagged by the police probably caused many young thugs to “leave their guns at home.”
Okay, but how many people were inconvenienced, insulted, humiliated, degraded, and physically violated – and in some cases physically harmed – by his policy?

Looking for a needle in a haystack requires sifting through and examining each piece of straw. Even employing a magnet still requires significant disruption of the haystack, and the same is true for active enforcement of gun control laws, including New York City’s ban on concealed carry. It is simply not possible to enforce these laws, especially with the use of aggressive tactics such as “Stop & Frisk,” without harassing and abusing thousands of innocent people for each “criminal” act exposed.

Bloomberg’s logic involves multiple haystacks, dividing people up into ethnic groups, age groups, and socioeconomic groups, based on observation and opinion of the cops involved. He told his police to concentrate most of their attention on lower-income, black and Hispanic young men between the ages of 15 and 30, in high-crime neighborhoods, because, when you’re hunting ducks, you go where the ducks are.

Gun control laws in general take this same sort of approach, but naturally focus on different haystacks. If your mission is to find people violating gun control laws, the natural tendency will be to focus your attention where the guns are – never mind whether those guns are at risk of being used in a crime. The rationale behind the passage of the laws is quickly lost. The objective becomes enforcing the gun restrictions, rather than preventing the underlying “gun crimes” that triggered those restrictions. So, in the name of reducing mass murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, murder, suicide, etc., law enforcement agencies target regular, peaceable gun owners, who might have slipped-up in following some obscure law.

I recall a case in New Jersey, prior to the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, where a judge ruled that an NRA sticker on the window of an out-of-state vehicle on I-95, constituted probable cause for police to stop and search that vehicle for firearms. Similarly, friends who have traveled to Canada have related stories of having Canadian border guards conduct detailed searches of their vehicles based on the presence of an NRA sticker on their bumper.

The victims of this sort of harassment are people that the police doing the harassing would readily admit are unlikely to commit any sort of violent crime, with or without a gun, but they appear to the enforcers to be people who might be likely to own a gun, and therefore worth taking the time to thoroughly search them.

We often hear gun control advocates say something like; “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it.” But how many lives are lost because people are unable to defend themselves, thanks to some irrational firearm restriction, and how many more lives are seriously harmed, with arrests, prosecutions, prisons, legal expenses, etc., for some minor infraction involving possession or transport of a firearm? But well beyond that, how many innocent people are debased, threatened, humiliated, delayed, and otherwise stressed and inconvenienced by authorities detaining and searching them, on the chance that they might have a gun stored in the wrong compartment of their vehicle, have a magazine that carries one too many rounds, or they stopped to eat at a truck stop on the wrong side of a state line? In the meanwhile, what crimes go uninvestigated because scarce police resources are dedicated to enforcing paperwork gun crimes?

The vast majority of the people that Mike Bloomberg’s police threw against a wall and frisked looking for guns, were unarmed and innocent. Occasionally finding a gun or illegal knife, does not justify that abuse.

The vast majority of Americans who are forced to jump through legal hoops and prove their own innocence before they can purchase or carry a firearm, and who face an ever-present threat of being targeted and harassed for exercising their constitutionally protected rights, are good, responsible citizens who would never commit any sort of violent crime.

Meanwhile, real criminals do what criminals have always done; they skirt the laws, ignore the “No Guns” signs, avoid the cops, and acquire the tools of their trade from fellow criminals – like the guys they buy their illegal drugs from.

Ammunition for the grassroots gun rights movement