Gun owners, rights activists, and lovers of liberty will be gathering on the lawn of the Capitol in Washington DC on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019, at 1:00 in the afternoon.
If you live within 200 miles of DC, there is little excuse for missing this critical event, and many people who live much farther away will be doing whatever it takes to be there. Buses are being arranged by local groups from as far away as New York, Ohio, and South Carolina. Check with your local groups to see what arrangements are being made, and if they aren’t doing anything, take the initiative and volunteer to be the local coordinator to take reservations and rent a bus or van.
This is a grassroots effort, and you are the grassroots. Without the active participation of you and other grassroots activists, this isn’t going to work. At the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference, activist Nicki Stallard characterized the difference between rights activists and gun control extremists, saying that we’re herding cats, while they are stampeding cattle. That’s pretty accurate, though I think sheep or lemmings would be more appropriate in describing anti-rights activists.
As I said in my presentation at GRPC, the most powerful force in the U.S. political system is YOU. You are the Gun Lobby. We can no longer let someone else do it for you, or say “I gave at the office.” It’s up to You. You must communicate with your elected servants – whether they agree with you or not – and be sure that they know what you expect from them. You must help elect politicians that understand and respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You must be sure that your family, your friends, your coworkers, your church family, your kids’ friends and their parents, all know the importance of the Second Amendment and the fallacy of gun control laws.
You don’t have to be a scholar or an expert, but you do need to do what you can. Politicians don’t actually read your letters and emails, nor do they get detailed notes about your phone calls. The majority of the time, a low-level staffer looks at your correspondence and puts a check-mark in a “For” or “Against” column, which is then relayed to the politician in the form of a report: “362 constituent comments opposing Bill xyz, 48 supporting it.” That’s it. So find a couple of resources you trust to keep you up-to-date on what’s going on in Washington and your state capitol, and when they ask you to take action, take action – every time they ask. And call your elected servants once a week to make sure your check-mark is counted.
Anti-rights extremists think they have the upper hand right now because of the troubles at the NRA and the public’s emotional reaction to the horrific acts of a few murderous lunatics. Those anti-rights extremists are counting on you to shuffle around in circles wringing your hands and wondering what to do.
Even some in our own movement are more concerned about how it might look if only a few rights activists show up at the Capitol on November 2nd. What a self-defeating attitude. They’re not going to attend or encourage others to attend because there might not be enough people in attendance to make a good showing…? Get on-board or get out of the way. Call that defeatist attitude out for what it is.
Others worry about how our opponents might capitalize on one of our number saying something stupid to a reporter or being arrested for illegally bringing a gun into the District. Such concerns show a serious lack of faith and trust in their fellow gun owners. Antagonistic reporters roam the aisles of gun shows and pro-rights meetings on a regular basis. Of course, they’ll try to make us look bad. But refusing to stand up for rights, on the basis of such fears, is tantamount to surrender in advance.
Still others argue that they won’t attend because the laws of the District insist that they be disarmed, and they refuse to do that. I get that, I truly do. I well know the discomfort of “going naked,” especially in “enemy territory.” I spent years commuting into the District almost every day, and it was uncomfortable. But I did it for my wife, my sons, and my grandsons. I was willing to endure that discomfort and degradation, because that was the only way to do what needed to be done, and the risks of running afoul of law enforcement in DC are much greater than the risks of criminal assault. Of course it’s possible that some crazed “Beto” or Bernie, or Elizabeth Warren supporter might decide to take out their misplaced anger and frustration on a “mob of deplorable gun nuts,” but they’d be operating in one of the most densely policed areas in the country, and besides, everyone knows that leftists are lousy shots. If such fears don’t deter Representative Steve Scalise, they shouldn’t deter you.
The core message of the 2nd Amendment Rally, is “We Are the Gun Lobby,” as in “We the People,” and we demand that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights be respected and adhered to. The speakers list is still under construction, but President Trump, Vice President Pence, Representative Scalise, Representative Massie, Senator Paul, and other congressional leaders have been invited, to join with grassroots rights leaders and activists from around the country.
Are you going to be there, or are you going to come up with an excuse?
Is your favorite grassroots group actively working to inform members about the rally and encouraging them to attend, or are they making up excuses? Will you volunteer to change that?
It all comes down to YOU and what you’re willing to do. Get three buddies and plan a road-trip, or better yet, get six buddies and borrow your wife’s minivan. Or even better, get forty or fifty buddies and charter a bus. Push your groups to be involved, and volunteer to help. You can make all the difference.
This could be the most important Second Amendment event of our lifetime. Only You can ensure that it’s a success. Go to www.2ndAmendmentRally.com to register and get more information. Together we can shake up Washington and save the republic. Let’s roll.
It’s been ten years since Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War found its way to print. We’re pleased to announce the release of an updated and expanded Electronic Edition. The link will take you to a list of stores where it is currently available.
Democrats have created a false narrative on guns, and Republicans have been suckered into buying it.
But first, the good news. It looks like Trump is going to hold off on putting forward any “gun package” for another week or so. That gives us time to head this nonsense off before serious damage is done. If the wobbly R’s don’t stop and change direction right now, it’s going to cost them – all of us – dearly in 2020.
The most likely sucker moves the Republicans would make is to accept some kind of “Universal Background Check,” a “red flag” gun confiscation measure, or maybe even both. A ban on standard capacity magazines, is less likely, and a 1994-style “assault weapon” ban is unlikely to get any serious traction, but never underestimate Republicans’ capacity for self-destruction. If enough Republicans vote in favor of any of these to allow passage, it will hurt Republicans much harder than Democrats.
Proponents are using recent mass murders as the impetus for pushing these proposals, but none of them would have made a difference in those or likely future atrocities. “Expanded” or “Universal” background checks certainly won’t. Almost all of the mass murderers who have used firearms over the past 30 years, have passed background checks. Some of those were due to failures in the system, but most had clean records. In some cases, those clean records were thanks to “diversion” policies intended to avoid harming a young person’s future prospects. The few who didn’t legally purchase their firearms with a background check, either stole the guns they used, had someone else illegally buy them, or acquired them in some other, already illegal way. Another layer of laws isn’t going to prevent any of those kinds of acquisitions.
“Red flag” laws or “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” assume that a troubled individual who might harm himself or others will no longer be a danger if guns are removed, but leave easy access to car keys, gasoline, knives, and possibly other guns. The orders are issued ex parte, meaning no opposing view is offered. Too many Republicans, notably Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham, have stumbled into the red flag trap assuming that the laws can be drafted with safeguards sufficient to keep them from being misused. Experience at the state level says different, and more importantly, there are already laws on the books providing for supervised treatment for people who can’t or won’t seek treatment for themselves.
The bottom line: Prohibitions of cosmetic features did not work in 1994, and are going nowhere in 2019. So called “Universal Background Checks” can never block a mass murder. Red flag laws are both too much and too little – too much in the sense that they are guaranteed to be misused and abused, and too little in the sense that by focusing only on guns, they leave someone who is truly troubled, possibly without guns, but also without help.
The Republican attempts to offer a “reasonable compromise” by repackaging the anti-rights Democrats’ snake oil as “Gun Control Lite” will only hurt Republicans. It is an attempt to appease people who will never vote for them, by alienating one of the most important segments of their constituency. The gun community of 2019 will not stand for it. As my late father Neal Knox used to say, no matter how much tartar sauce you pour on rotten fish, it’s still rotten.
Republicans need positive strategies to attack the issue – genuine strategies, as opposed to the slow-motion surrender too many Republicans have offered over the past few years. Here are some suggestions:
Once they start down the gun control path, Democrats can be safely relied on to self-destruct, if you just give them time and space, and don’t interfere.
First, Democrats will almost always overreach, offering proposals that are repugnant to the vast majority of Americans, such as Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s declaration; “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” Republicans stepping in and trying to soften these Democrat proposals into “something that can pass,” is just stupid.
Second, Democrats can be counted on to kill any bill that does not give them the level of government control that they always build into their proposals. The only amendments Republicans should ever offer, should be “poison pill” provisions that seem reasonable to most people, but which they know Democrats will reject.
Of the 4 basic proposals, Democrats know that a gun ban is a non-starter, so they’re just blowing smoke with that one. Likewise, magazine bans should also be dead in the water, but Republicans have allowed those to get more traction. The murderer at Parkland used 10-round magazines. The murderer at Sandy Hook used higher-capacity mags, but swapped them out several times before they were empty (what’s known as “tactical reloads,” a trick learned from video games). This is probably going to be used by Democrats as a trading chip. They know they don’t have a likely chance of passing it, so they’ll offer to take it off the table as a “compromise.”
That leaves “universal background checks” (UBC) and “red flag” laws.
The stated objective is to “keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.” But one of the core features of UBC proposals that is rarely talked about is the requirement for paperwork on the buyers, the sellers, and the guns. If the objective is just to prevent acquisition by prohibited persons, why are Democrats so insistent on creating a paper trail?
In reality, the paper trail – registration by another name – is the real goal. The very rare instances of a prohibited person acquiring a firearm, without a background check, through an otherwise legal private transaction and then using that gun in the commission of a violent crime, does not begin to justify the massive bureaucratic structure required for the UBC proposals.
Just as the lack of background checks on private transfers has been painted as a “loophole,” even though it was a negotiated compromise in passage of the Brady Act, so too will the lack of a computerized registry of guns and gun owners be characterized as a loophole in the future. Anti-rights zealots want the records to exist so they can complain about the records not being readily accessible and usable to track down “gun traffickers” and sources of “crime guns.”
If you doubt this is the real objective, just offer up an amendment that removes any of the paperwork requirements, particularly the paperwork retention requirements, and listen to the Democrats howl about it. Likewise, a Republican amendment to UBC proposals, that would exempt persons who can present a valid photo ID and carry license, would almost certainly be considered a poison pill by Democrat sponsors, resulting in them killing their own bill. Either of those, like any other Republican participation in this farce, should only be used as last-ditch, blocking attempts, to peel away votes, not serious proposals to try and pass.
Gun control laws don’t work. They never accomplish their stated goals, and certainly don’t prevent or mitigate the type of mass murders that have fueled the current push. They are neither good policy nor good political strategy. It is foolish for Republicans to ever play in the Democrats sandbox. This never results in anything other than the Republicans being covered in dirt and cat poop.
The best thing for Republicans to do in the wake of horrors as happened in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton is to be thoughtful, compassionate, and conservative in their reaction. Focus on the Constitution and the restrictions of the Bill of Rights. Listen, and let the Democrats run with their outrageous schemes. Opponents of individual rights want to use crises as opportunities to stampede the herd over a cliff. It is conservatives’ job to be calm and rational in a crisis, and in so doing, highlight the panic and hysteria of their opponents.
The nation is at a tipping point. Gun control is a key issue and impacts an important voting constituency. Compromising on gun control gains Republicans nothing, and could cost them everything.
USA – -(AmmoLand.com 9-5-19)- In the midst of an “epidemic” of emotion and disinformation, let’s have a national discussion about “gun violence,” their words.
But first a couple of ground-rules:
- Only one side gets to talk.
- That side gets to make up their own “facts.”
That’s the gist of an op-ed piece by Marianne Williamson in a guest editorial in the Washington Post. Williamson, my absolute favorite among the crowded field of truly bizarre Democratic candidates for President, is a latter-day hippy and High Priestess of the Church of Spiritual Self-Enlightenment and Warm-Fuzziness (okay, I just made that last part up). In the piece, she shares her “peace-based” wisdom, discussing America’s “gun crisis,” which she says is just part of a more significant “culture crisis.” She’s right that America has a “culture problem,” but as to the nature of the “problem” and the “culture,” she’s all wet.
Williams epitomizes the hard left turn the Democratic Party has taken in recent years. A late Baby Boomer child of the ’60s, who, after what she refers to as “her wasted decade” of drugs, self-indulgence, and depression, found her calling in a self-help course that she interpreted to promote a reinterpretation of “Christian values.” Of course, her interpretation was free of the discomfort of sin, guilt, God, or Christ. She went on to turn her Godless religion of non-religiosity, into a multi-million dollar empire of feel-good books and lectures.
Williamson is remarkably bright, articulate, and crazy as a bedbug. She is a perfect progenitor of the spoiled and triggered, “snowflake” generation that contends that being offended amounts to oppression, and that victim-hood deserves deference and reparations. She represents the philosophy that has doomed a significant portion of a generation to helplessness and dependence.
Ms. Williamson starts her WaPo diatribe in accordance with current dogma, lamenting a tragic and horrific act by a deeply disturbed individual, then goes on to further regret the aftermath of these atrocities: heavy media coverage, widespread outrage, political calls and promises to “Do something,” followed by a subsiding of emotion and reporting, and no substantive action being taken.
We all know the cycle, and we all know the article opening that describes the cycle. Those of us who follow the gun issue as supporters of the Second Amendment also can anticipate the distortions, half-truths, over-simplification, false conclusions, and flat out lies.
Ms. Williamson doesn’t bother with suggestions or explanations, but rather, jumps right in with a series of declarations that she suggests are self-evident and irrefutable:
“Of course, we need universal background checks; we need to close all loopholes; we need to outlaw bump stocks; and we need to outlaw assault weapons and the bullets needed to shoot them.” And, of course, this whole issue, she doesn’t need to tell us (but does anyway), is a “horrific and uniquely American problem.”
Of course, we need to do these things, and of course, crazy people killing people is “uniquely American.” Everyone knows these things – except for the few, gun nuts and industry shills who don’t – because the media and politicians have repeated these “truths” over and over, and over again, with little to no counter to the claims.
Ms. Williamson and the dominant media have perpetrated a hoax on the American people. She may be just another victim of the deception, but I think she may be smart enough to see it for the lie it is. At least she might if she had any interest in doing so. It is the sad truth that, if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth – at least until the truth eventually prevails.
So let’s explore some truths.
Murder, mass murder, terrorism, domestic violence, workplace violence, political violence, etc., is not unique to America. It’s not even uniquely more frequent here. Even though the widespread availability of firearms of all sorts is relatively unique to the U.S., yet the phenomenon of mass public shootings is not unusual to us. As with most things firearm-related, some people like manipulating the data, but in any real comparison, the US is always well down on the list, so not only are we not unique, we’re not even number one.
Williamson then says; “It is not just our gun policy but our politics that fails to free us of this insanity,” before pointing the finger of blame at money in politics, and the favorite bogeyman, the NRA.
Well sorry, Ms. Williamson, it’s not our gun policy or our politics that are at fault. It’s our humanity. Unfortunately, criminals and madness are part of the human condition. Perhaps some policy or political solution can be found to address this, but so far in all of human history, no one has found a solution. The odds are against us.
Williams goes on to suggest that taking money out of politics and having the government fund political campaigns – and along the way presumably making it illegal for citizens to spend money to express their support for their favorite candidates – will somehow remove corruption from government. There are some pretty fundamental constitutional issues involved in that idea, but if you want to do that, go for it.
The funny thing is that such a law would make the NRA and the greater Gun Lobby much more powerful than it already is because the Gun Lobby’s power doesn’t come from money. It comes from our millions of active members and supporters. While the NRA and its sister groups spend a lot of money on political campaigns, anti-rights groups and billionaires like Mike Bloomberg spend as much or more. But they don’t have the broad, loyal following that the so-called Gun Lobby has, so your plan would neuter gun control groups – because money is all they’ve got – while magnifying the power of rights advocates.
Williamson finally gets to the crux of the matter, basically admitting that the solutions she’s been talking about, won’t solve the problems, and saying that we need to address the root causes of the violence. Of course, she has to couch it using more gun control hype, referring to America’s “epidemic of violence.” Epidemic has become a very popular word in the context of crimes involving guns in recent years. That word choice is suspect at best since violent crime rates have fallen precipitously over the past three decades. According to the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crime fell between 59% and 74% from its high in 1993, and 2017. People keep using this word, “epidemic,” but I don’t think it means what they think it means.
Williamson goes on to decry the rampant violence of our society: Violence toward the earth, violence toward people of color in the justice system, violence in movies and video games, violence against women, violence of our government helping those who don’t need help, and not helping those that do need help…. In short, she says we’re hooked on violence, and can only change that by opening our hearts to peace. She goes on to lament the disparity between what the U.S. spends on the military and what we spend on diplomats.
Seriously? How effective does she think our diplomats would be dealing with Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, et al., if they didn’t have the might of the U.S. military backing them up? As I read Williamson’s pleas and her proposal for a “U.S. Department of Peace to coordinate and harness the powers of conflict resolution; restorative justice; violence prevention…” and all sorts of peace, love, and harmony exercises, I kept flashing to an old western movie from the 1970s called “The Culpepper Cattle Company.” In that movie a group of upstanding cowboys trying to get their herd to market, stumble upon a group of people from some sort of Williamsonesque religious sect that has chosen to settle in a beautiful valley. But they’re being threatened by an evil cattle baron and his hired henchmen. The peaceful religious folks are given an ultimatum, to either move on, or be wiped out. The pacifists refuse to leave, and the good cowboys of the Culpepper Cattle Company take up arms in their defense, defeating the evil cattle baron, but losing most of their own men and a few of the settlers in the process. After the dust clears, the pacifists start packing up their wagons. The surviving cowboys ask what they’re doing and are told by the Elders that they’re leaving because they can’t stay in the valley now that it’s stained with blood.
Peace and non-violence are wonderful things, I’m a big fan, but peace can’t be achieved unilaterally. Some 100 million peaceful gun owners avoid shooting or threatening anyone every day across this land. But Ms. Williamson’s plan would, of necessity, require that a goodly percentage of those peaceful people be arrested, imprisoned, or even killed, as a way of keeping a tiny sliver of one percent of criminals from potentially having access to guns. Experience in places like Chicago and Brazil indicates that the criminals probably won’t have any problem getting guns, but will enjoy having more helpless victims.
Ms. Williamson’s solution doesn’t seem very peaceful or socially just.
The scary part though is that as wacky as Marianne Williamson’s ideas are, almost all of the Democratic presidential candidates have publicly endorsed similar gun control proposals.
There seems to be an epidemic of this sort of idiocy these days, so stay vigilant and well-armed my friends.
USA – -(AmmoLand.com 8-29-19)- Anyone who’s been paying any attention at all, knows that the NRA has been having some problems lately. Actually, they’ve been having issues for a long time, but a bunch of those problems suddenly became very public a few days before their Annual Meeting this past April, and the revelations have been coming fast and furious ever since.
The crux has been that a few people at the top – executives, contractors, and consultants – have been making big bucks off of the millions of small donations that pour in from NRA members around the country. This, along with wasteful spending, some seriously shoddy business practices, and some politicians and bureaucrats who despise the NRA and all we stand for, has also led to a pile of lawsuits and investigations, and a bunch of members mad as hell about the way their money has been and is being spent.
One significant bone of contention – which was raised long before all the rest of this stuff hit the fan – was a plan to hold the 2019 Fall Board of Directors Meeting, not in Virginia, near headquarters, as these meetings usually are, but in Anchorage, Alaska. Original plans reportedly included fishing excursions, cruises, and other such non-mission-critical activities. But these extracurricular plans were canceled after members raised a hue and cry about costs, especially in light of reports of the Association’s maxed out lines of credit and negative net worth, bolstered by a flood of fundraising letters claiming that the Association is on the verge of bankruptcy, so send money now!!!
The whole idea of holding the meeting in Alaska was challenged, but those objections were rebuffed with claims that it costs little more to fly Directors to Anchorage, and much less to house them in a hotel there, as opposed to flights and housing for them in Northern Virginia. Of course that doesn’t include the costs of transporting and housing a number of NRA staff, who live in Virginia and wouldn’t need flights or hotels if the meeting were held there, but when a Director raised the issue with the NRA Treasurer and Secretary back in May, he was informed that canceling reservations in Alaska would cost the Association almost $100k, and that even finding a venue and rooms for the 76 (now 69?) Directors (and how many other committee members?) would be almost impossible on such short notice.
So now, three months later, and with three months shorter notice, the NRA has decided that, due to the threat of Congress taking up gun control in the next couple of weeks, they can’t afford to be away from D.C. at this critical time. So they have canceled the Anchorage Board Meeting, and are rescheduling the meeting to be held in Virginia, at a so-far unnamed location.
But who exactly, is so desperately needed in D.C., and are those same people desperately need at the Board of Director’s Meeting?
Only a handful of people can legally lobby on the NRA’s behalf, and those few people have only a few staff members that assist them. It certainly doesn’t help that Chris Cox and his chief deputy were run out of NRA-ILA over the past two months, leaving the “B-Team” to man the trenches. But of course, the NRA still has Wayne LaPierre to lead and direct the lobbying effort. While it’s helpful for Directors to hear from executive staff when formulating decisions about legislative policy and budgets, it’s likely that such duties could be handled by someone lower on the totem pole, or via telephone if needed. Really, there’s only one person who would probably be considered indispensable both on the lobbying front and at the Board of Directors meeting – Wayne LaPierre.
So this actually boiled down to a matter of Wayne LaPierre needing to be in D.C., while the Board was meeting in Alaska?
They couldn’t justify the change a year ago when people were raising objections about the expense. They couldn’t justify the switch four months ago when it was clear that the finances were crashing and members were furious. But suddenly, just weeks before the scheduled meeting, the decision is made that the meeting must be changed so that Wayne LaPierre can personally attend, without leaving the D.C. area?
But why does LaPierre need to be at the Board meeting? He has a very well-paid Chief of Staff that should be able to answer any questions about finances, management policies, or the myriad lawsuits the NRA is currently involved in. He also has a $100,000 per day attorney who seems to be representing him personally in all things, so between the two of them and a telephone, what is the urgency of LaPierre’s attendance?
Another critical question that every Director should be asking right now is; “Who made this decision?” The bylaws say this meeting should be held approximately 120 days after the Members’ Meeting and that “The exact time and place of each meeting may be determined by the Board of Directors at the previous meeting, reasonable notice being given.” Obviously, the entire board didn’t make this decision. So was it the Executive Committee? Did the Executive Committee hold an emergency meeting to decide whether to move the meeting so Wayne could attend? And does this email from the Secretary legally constitute “reasonable notice?” Or was this a unilateral decision made by the executive staff – Wayne LaPierre?
There’s no question that gun rights are at risk in the next couple of weeks, and it’s probably prudent for certain key NRA staff to be in D.C. to hold politicians’ hands and keep them from doing something stupid. What is in question is what that has to do with the Board of Directors meeting in Alaska, and whether the absence of a few key NRA staffers from that meeting is worth flushing the $100k+ that the move is reportedly costing the Association.
I opposed the Board Meeting being held in Alaska in the first place, and I lobbied for it to be changed back to the Northern Virginia area where most NRA staffers live, and where most of NRA’s business is done. But I seriously question this sudden reversal, and the expense it entails – assuming they were telling the truth when they said it would cost $100k – for no better reason, apparently, than that Wayne LaPierre doesn’t trust the Board of Directors meeting without his personal supervision.
Isn’t LaPierre supposed to work at the pleasure of the Board, or did I get that backwards?
USA – -(AmmoLand.com 8-10-19)- Today’s political and social climate is treacherous territory to navigate.
It is so easy, through social media and the bubble that forms around particular groups, to throw out snide, incendiary, and downright mean comments, with little thought about how they might be perceived by people outside our bubbles, including people in law enforcement.
To you, it might just be banter among “friends,” a group of like-minded folks snarking and crabbing about the events of the day, but to others, your witty comments might be interpreted as threats and calls for violence.
A recent example highlights this danger. A young man in Ohio, named Justin Olsen was commenting on things like gun control and the Waco tragedy, on a site called iFunny and a private chat site called Discord – both very popular sites, especially among teenage boys. Among his comments and memes, was a picture of some actor in a Hollywood movie blazing away with two guns simultaneously, with the text “Me walking into the nearest Planned Parenthood.” Other memes included a picture showing a mask and an AR-type rifle, with a caption encouraging people to republish the meme if they “would take liberty into your own hands.”
But the comment that seems to have gotten the 18-year old, recent high school graduate into serious trouble, came in the context of a conversation about the Waco Texas massacre. Olsen related a broadly inaccurate and simplistic description of the tragedy, to which the other person in the conversation commented that he had seen some documentaries about it, and that “it’s really unfortunate.”
To which Olsen replied; “In conclusion, shoot every federal agent on sight.”
It’s not clear if it was that comment or something else which originally captured the attention of FBI agents in Alaska early this year, while Olsen was still only 17, but after the account saw a spike in people following his posts – up to about 4500 total – the FBI requested more information from iFunny, on the user who called himself “ArmyofChrist,” and an investigation was launched. Olsen was identified through his Google account, and his location was determined. The case was then transferred to the FBI’s office in Cleveland, Ohio, where it was assigned to a brand new agent with not quite a year in the agency. Then on August 12, 2019, a little over a week after the atrocities in El Paso and Dayton, the FBI arrested the college-bound teen on charges of “threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer.”
While whole parades of people calling for “dead cops” go unchallenged and un-arrested?
I don’t know Justin Olsen, and I’ve only been able to find limited information, as his messages on iFunny and Discord appear to have been deleted. His Facebook page [now deleted] features a picture of him smiling, wearing a jacket and tie, with friends at some function, possibly church-related, and some other photos of him golfing, snorkeling, and hugging his dog. Not to judge a book by its cover, but this looks like a happy, well-liked, well-adjusted, middle-class kid. He was apparently about to start college in Texas through an ROTC program.
Olsen reportedly lived with his mom most of the time but had been spending the last few weeks living with his dad in the same town, before heading to Texas for college.
Based on what I have found and read in the criminal complaint filed against him, it appears that he’s being prosecuted for making the same sort of comments that might be seen pretty regularly under articles and in Twitter and Facebook posts. The only significant distinction I can see in this guy’s case is that his comments got flagged to authorities, while most similar comments just get deleted or ignored.
Unfortunately for Olsen, he happened to have been on the FBI’s radar at a moment when everyone from the President on down, is calling for someone to “do something” to prevent mass shootings, and particularly, detect potential mass shooters early and interdict before they can carry out their plans.
The media has tended to be very selective about the comments from Olsen that they are quoting and reporting on, and very sketchy about the context of the comments, editorializing with statements like; Olsen “voiced his support online of mass shootings.” They’re also breathlessly reporting that he “lived in a house with 25 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.”
Some reports eventually go on to explain that the guns and most of the ammo, were found in Olsen’s father’s bedroom, where the “assault-style rifles and shotguns” were locked in a safe, which the father obligingly opened upon request for the FBI. Those reports also like to mention that there was camouflage clothing in the room.
Many of my regular readers are, no doubt, looking at those numbers with one raised eyebrow. Not raised in surprise at that many guns and that much ammo, but rather surprise that such modest numbers would be considered significant.
As I say, I don’t know this kid, and there very well could be more to this story, but based solely on the criminal complaint and media reports, I’d say that the FBI, and probably every other federal, state, and local law enforcement agency, is operating on high alert, terrified of having another case of a mass murderer committing his heinous crime, later to have it come out that he’d been flagged to authorities, and they’d done nothing. This has unfortunately happened several times in recent years, with the Pulse nightclub murderer, and the Parkland high school murderer, both in Florida, being the most egregious examples. But it should be recognized that both of those cases displayed extreme negligence on the part of law enforcement, with the murderers making some pretty direct and overt threats prior to their crimes. This case, on the other hand, appears to be stretching out pretty far to try and make this kid look dangerous.
The important take-away though, is that online comments are permanent, and can be dangerous. We don’t need any more martyrs, and we don’t need to be using rhetoric that can be construed as threatening. I don’t know if this particular case is an example. But anti-rights extremists have long been employing a strategy of silencing their opponents by “flagging” and “reporting” comments, sites, channels, and pages, that they don’t agree with, to the administrators of popular social media sites, and they might have stepped that up to now include reporting such things to law enforcement as “threats.”
Justin Olsen’s whole life has probably been negatively impacted by what might be nothing more than bad jokes and some poor word choices. Even if he beats this rap, serious harm has already been done. Don’t take chances. Be smart and be safe.
A couple of mentally defective losers decide they want to be famous as killers, and Republican politicians are once again responding by shooting themselves – and their party – in the foot. If they don’t get themselves under control in a hurry, they are going to do irreparable damage to their chances in 2020.
President Trump is offering suggestions on how to pass gun control laws and particularly pushing deadly “red flag” laws. Republicans in the House and Senate are pledging to vote for various gun control laws if they are brought to a vote. Governor Ducey in Arizona has revived his “pre-crime disarmament,” STOP bill that helped kill the political aspirations of several promising Republicans in 2018, and the list goes on.
Your action is needed now. Republicans, from Trump on down, need to hear from you immediately. They need to hear from you in email, phone calls, on their social media accounts, and at any live events during their August recess.
Don’t wait. Contact them now. Remind them that only foolish politicians react to events, based on emotion and their immediate perception of public sentiment. Tell them that they should be sticking to the principles that brought them to the party. Appeasing people who aren’t ever going to vote for them, regardless of what they do – short of switching parties – is just dumb.
Alienating a large segment of their base, that was going to vote for them, and work for their campaigns, and bring their families along, is even dumber.
Gun control laws didn’t stop lunatics before, and they won’t stop lunatics in the future. Criminalizing private sales and transfers of firearms was a bad idea last week and last year, and it’s still a bad idea.
Taking guns away from someone because someone else said they were crazy and dangerous – rather than taking the crazy dangerous person away from all potentially harmful objects and getting them some professional help – was a dangerous, unconstitutional idea last week and last year, and it’s still a dangerous, unconstitutional idea.
Banning scary-looking firearms that are safely owned by millions of Americans and which function the same as guns that have been readily available for 100 years, didn’t work between 1994 and 2004, and it won’t work in the future – and those millions of American gun owners aren’t going to put up with attempts to take them away.
Mass shootings and mass murders are terrible tragedies that make all sane people sad, angry, and frustrated. Passing unconstitutional laws that won’t and can’t prevent such tragedies, is no sort of rational response.
Contact your elected servants today. Reach out to them via every means at your disposal, and let them know that you and your family recognize that they are under extreme pressure to “do something,” but that pushing gun control laws – expanded background checks, “red flag” laws, “assault weapons” bans, or any other infringement on the right to arms – will cost them and their party your votes. Remind them that many GunVoters were already suspicious of Republicans, but we’re going to support the party as a blocking move against anti-rights Democrats, but Republicans rushing to gun control will kill that tenuous arrangement, resulting in many GunVoters foregoing the elections, and seriously hurting Republican chances.
Call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Find your Senators and representatives at www.Senate.gov and www.House.gov, and send them messages, then find their local office numbers and call those. Find them on Facebook and Twitter, and link them to this article. Finally, share this article on all social media and with all of your friends who value their rights.
The U.S. doesn’t have a gun problem. The U.S. has a crazy problem. Gun laws won’t fix that.
Three dedicated, hard-working, thoroughly committed NRA directors have resigned their seats in protest of the leadership’s heavy-handed tactics, and the inability to gain access to information critical to them fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities. Ester Schneider, Tim Knight, and Sean Maloney tendered their resignations this morning, and they were, I suspect, gleefully accepted by President Carolyn Meadows. I’m very disappointed to see them go, but know that they will continue the fight.
These resignations of 3 of the six directors who have had the gumption to call for an independent audit of the association, highlight the core issue that all of this wrangling boils down to ~ The issue of trust.
Whether or not Wayne LaPierre participated in the financial misdeeds that were clearly going on at the NRA for well over a decade… Whether or not he has been correcting the ship over the past year or so… And whether or not LaPierre is personally orchestrating the obstruction and stonewalling that’s going on… The fact is, the original lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, is, all by itself, a public confession that the Association management was not being prudent and responsible with the members’ money. That, along with the wide array of evidence that has come out regarding conflicts of interest, nepotism, cronyism, and clear incompetence in the case of Carry Guard™, combine to form a damning indictment of the man at the top, who was tasked with overseeing all of those things, and of the board of directors that was tasked with overseeing the man at the top. LaPierre must bear the responsibility. That’s where the buck stops.
There’s no doubt that this scandal has damaged the trust relationship between the NRA and its members, and seriously damaged the NRA’s brand. Now the question is, what course can restore trust and revive the brand the fastest and most effectively. Doggedly insisting that all is well while supporting the person responsible for the damage and loss of trust, is a failing strategy. Insisting that only LaPierre can save us and that without him, the NRA will fall, resulting in Donald Trump losing the presidency, and Republicans crashing in 2020, is simply ludicrous. But that’s the public position being advanced by LaPierre loyalists on the NRA board. (See “What’s Really Going On Inside NRA Operations” by Director Scott Bach)
Ronald Reagan famously said; “Trust, but verify.” That’s as good an idea in business and effective nonprofit organizations, as it is in nuclear disarmament. If we, the members and supporters of the NRA, are going to trust the NRA and its leadership, we must verify that our money is being spent wisely and responsibly. To that end, it is imminently practical and reasonable for the board to commission an independent audit of the NRA, with special attention being paid to areas of particular concern, such as fundraising, executive compensation, conflicts of interest among staff and directors, and legal expenses.
Rather than answer the recent spate of myopic excuse-making from various members of the NRA Board of Directors, I’d like to invite those, and all of the remaining 73 directors, to answer five simple questions:
- 1. Why does Josh Powell still have a job at the NRA after his thorough bungling of Carry Guard™?
- 2. How is it even remotely possible for a law firm with only about 10 attorneys and a total of 30 to 40 employees, to validly bill between $90,000 and $100,000+ PER DAY for their services?
- 3. Have you personally reviewed the documentation related to the issues raised by Emily Cummins in her briefing notes for the Audit Committee and her letter regarding William Brewer, or have you simply taken someone’s word for it that these things have been “reviewed, vetted, and approved?”
- 4. What do you expect the response would be if you asked to see this information or publicly supported the idea of ordering an independent audit?
- 5. What possible, rational reason can you offer for Wayne LaPierre blocking any sort of independent audit of the Association’s books and business practices?
As I said in the opening of this column, everything going on at the NRA boils down to trust. Do the members trust the leadership? I would submit that it is obvious that a large percentage do not.
Whether that mistrust is founded in rational thought, irrational emotion, or some sort of vast left-wing conspiracy, is irrelevant. What matters is that there is a trust deficit that must be addressed if the NRA is to move forward. Reassurances from directors and dire warnings about potential political consequences, will not restore trust. Casting aspersions on those of us asking questions and calling for transparency, will not restore trust. Neither will suing everyone who dares to challenge the status quo.
What will restore trust, is openness and honesty – verified by documentation.
I personally believe that Wayne LaPierre should have resigned long ago, and if he truly cared about the NRA and its mission, he would have fallen on his sword the moment the allegations of impropriety (which have never been refuted, or in large part, even denied, by the way) were made public. No one is irreplaceable. It is ridiculous to think that major donors only give what they do because of their relationship with Wayne LaPierre. That would be remarkably shallow of them. Sure, those relationships – that trust – matter, but in the final analysis, it’s the mission, not the man, that motivates people. Had Wayne stepped down sooner, he could have maintained those relationships and continued to support the cause, but now he’s tainted himself and thrown mud on everyone around him, seriously compromising both his personal reputation, and that of the Association. That’s a tragic shame, and the only way to regain the trust that has been lost is to earn it, through diligent work, full disclosure, and holding people accountable for their actions.
Donald Trump is not going to lose his bid for reelection due to the dysfunction within the NRA, and declaring that he will, is not going to solve the NRA’s credibility gap.
Letitia James, the NY AG, is not going to be prevented from conducting a full audit of the NRA, by bogus lawsuits or personal endorsements from supporters of LaPierre. She has the full authority, under New York law, to examine all aspects of the NRA’s operations, and you can bet she’s going to exercise that authority with a vengeance. Conducting an independent audit in advance of her assault would not be detrimental to the NRA’s cause. It would not provide her with ammunition that she couldn’t get anyway, nor would it expose anything that she’s not going to find. What it would do, is provide the NRA Board with the opportunity to identify problems, correct those problems, and address issues of accountability, before she and her audit team come in.
I predicted this situation back in April, before the Members’ Meeting in Indianapolis, and advised that the board needed to take immediate steps to clean their house, identify any questionable actions, and correct them, and distance the Association from those responsible for those questionable actions. I pointed out that everyone at the NRA should know that they are under a magnifying glass, and must shun even the appearance of evil. The board didn’t take my advice then, but they had better take it now.
Get your house in order. Regain the trust of the membership. That starts with identifying the areas that need work, and that means an independent audit.
Amid the claims and counter-claims, suits and counter-suits, and all of the other nonsense swirling around the National Rifle Association these days, something significant has been missing.
While our new NRA brass like President Meadows, Vice President Cotton, Vice President Lee, and directors like Marion Hammer, Tom King, and Joel Friedman have repeatedly told us that everything that Wayne and his cohorts have done was “reviewed, vetted, and approved,” what none of them, nor any other member of the board has said, is “I knew all about that, examined it, and approved it before it was done.”
They all seem happy to insist that there’s nothing to see here, so move along, and anyone asking questions is a traitor to the cause. The NRA leadership insists collectively that “the board knew,” and “the board approved” things…. But so far no one has stepped up to claim personal, direct knowledge or responsibility for what has been going on, nor have they explained exactly what it was that was “reviewed, vetted, and approved.”
Is President Meadows saying that she knew about and approved payment of over $4,000 per month for a luxury apartment for an intern? Was Vice President Cotton personally aware of and did he approve Wayne LaPierre buying $30,000 worth of clothing – on our tab – from a swanky, Beverly Hills clothing store in one day? Did Vice President Lee directly approve LaPierre’s $274,000 shopping sprees from that same-store over a period of years?
If they knew about it and approved it, why wasn’t it reported on the Association’s tax forms as compensation to LaPierre? And since it apparently was not reported as required by law, are those directors who vetted and approved all of that, ready to pay the penalties out of their own pockets?
Are NRA officials saying that they personally “reviewed, vetted, and approved” payments from the NRA Foundation to charities that have nothing to do with firearms or firearms education, in violation of the Foundation’s charter? Are they saying that they personally “reviewed, vetted, and approved” having NRA executives and their spouses working for, and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from NRA vendors? Are they saying that they have personally “reviewed, vetted, and approved” the details of the services and payments being made to attorney William Brewer and his firm?
At the same time that the above-mentioned officers and directors have been telling us that “the board knew all about these things” and that “the board reviewed, vetted, and approved” everything. At least a dozen different members of the board have told me personally that they didn’t know anything about a wide variety of the activities that were going on at headquarters. Or that they have not seen any detailed explanation as to what precisely the NRA is getting for the 2 million dollars a month, or so, that NRA is paying to the Brewer law firm. Those directors who have had the temerity to ask to see any of that information have been called “unprofessional,” been denied committee assignments, and been threatened that they won’t be renominated by the Nominating Committee.
Just a few months ago, President Meadows herself, signed onto a letter demanding a comprehensive review of Brewer’s invoices and services, but now she is punishing and marginalizing any director who dares to ask for that same information. Since her election, she has insisted that every director has always had full access to all of the information on everything going on at the NRA and within the various committees and that if they don’t know something, it’s their own fault for being lazy or incompetent. But then she and her cohorts in leadership, punish and publicly chastise any director who asks for more information.
The argument now appears to be that certain directors can’t be given access to certain, “highly sensitive” information, because those directors aren’t trustworthy and might be secretly working for an enemy of the Association. Meanwhile, the criteria to determine who is worthy of trust is whether they are asking questions or requesting more information.
How’s that for a Catch-22?
Many NRA members have been challenging directors with uncomfortable questions over the past couple of months, primarily whether the director supports replacing Wayne LaPierre as Executive Vice President. That’s a good question, but it leaves lots of weasel room. Better questions would be things like:
“Did you personally know about and approve paying Wayne LaPierre an extra $274,000 under the table, for Italian suits, on top of his $1.4 million compensation package and expense account?”
“Have you personally reviewed the work and working agreement for William Brewer and approved paying his firm $100,000 per day?”
“Do you support stripping committee assignments from board members who ask questions about how the Association’s resources are being spent?”
Actually, NRA directors should be asking themselves these questions, and they should be paying their own lawyers to ask them too and help them formulate some excellent answers because it’s looking like they are about to be asked by other lawyers – in court.
A group of NRA members, lead by well-healed NRA donor David Dell’Aquila, has launched a plan to return transparency and accountability to the NRA. They started by withholding funds and pledged donations in the millions of dollars. Now they’ve published a report card grading directors’ performance, along with a letter strongly suggesting that directors have only a narrow window in which to demonstrate that their loyalty lies with the NRA membership, not with any individual or group within the board or the staff.
It seems pretty clear to me that Dell’Aquila and his group are planning to file suits against individual directors for failing to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to the members. Even though the NRA maintains an exorbitant amount of liability insurance for directors, New York law allows individual directors to be held accountable if they are negligent or corrupt in the performance of their duties.
This should be causing some serious concern for those directors who have just been going along to get along, and even more for those that have been riding the gravy train.
A brief disclaimer:
Some 23 years ago, my father tried to correct a problem he saw growing within the NRA, and he failed. He was pushed out of the leadership of the organization and eventually dropped from the board. I have some hard feelings about that, but I try very hard not to let my personal feelings shade my judgment or my reporting. For me, as it was for my father, the critical issue is that the NRA be strong, effective, and true to the principles of the Bill of Rights.
Each time I write one of these articles reporting on issues inside the NRA, I am accused of squeezing sour grapes and grinding my dad’s old ax. I’ve also been accused of “attacking the NRA” for my own financial gain.
It’s reasonable to believe that my own experience and feelings might color my view of the happenings within the NRA, and it’s reasonable to take my reporting with that grain of salt. If you see some fact that is incomplete, or that might be interpreted in a different, less negative light, perhaps that’s my bias showing through, but please don’t discount the facts. Do your own research, and if you ever find that I’m unfair or inaccurate, please provide details in the comment section.
As to me benefiting financially off of my “NRA bashing,” I sure wish that were true because I could use the money. The reality is that I get paid very little for my articles, and typically see a bump in contributions to my organization of about $40 to $100 dollars whenever I publish one of these pieces. That’s nice, but it’s not going to pay for a new Italian suit. I’m pretty sure that GOA and SAF get significantly more financial support from the readers at Ammoland.com than The Firearms Coalition does, as is typically evident in the comment section, where there is invariably a slew of comments saying something like; “Jeff’s right. I’m sending my donations to GOA.” Or SAF. Or FPC….
I feed my family with the words I write, but I don’t write for the money. I write for the cause.