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.
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.
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:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first round of Democratic Presidential Debates is over, and the first casualty has been listed. Gun control zealot, Rep. Eric “Nuke’em if they won’t turn them in” Swalwell, dropped out shortly after the first debate.
The second round is on the way, as the large – and growing – field of candidates continues to jockey for position. During the first debates, the candidates made it pretty clear that even the most “moderate” of their number, are seeking support from the far-left, socialist/communist, anti-rights element of the Democratic base.
This makes sense because this is the most vocal and vindictive segment of the party, credited, in large degree, with abandoning Hillary Clinton, resulting in Donald Trump’s victory. It’s not all just political gamesmanship though. A couple of these candidates may be just pandering to the hard-left, while actually holding positions that are more moderate, but it appears that the majority has committed to “progressive” policy positions like free healthcare for illegal immigrants, decriminalization of “undocumented border crossing,” and taxpayer funding of student loan payoffs and healthcare costs.
And while these positions might be unpopular among the majority of GunVoters, they are, of course, not the issues that are most important to us.
While not all of the candidates in the debates got a chance to express themselves on Second Amendment matters, those that did, were frankly frightening, and the others took no opportunity to offer any push-back on the radical ideas that were put forward. All of the candidates have publicly embraced the basic gun control planks of the Democratic Party platform: banning “assault weapons,” criminalizing private firearm transfers, and confiscating guns based on unsubstantiated claims of a family member, angry ex, or feuding neighbor. Most have called for even more extreme measures, and it’s pretty clear that, if elected, any would immediately sign any gun control bill that might make its way through Congress.
Several, like Sen. Kamala Harris, have declared their intention to use executive orders, if Congress fails to give them the gun control they want.
In the debates, Joe Biden, the current Democratic Party’s version of a “moderate,” was representative of the entire field when he declared that the “enemy” is the firearms industry. Biden, who has in the past pointed to his expensive Italian, over-and-under shotgun as proof that he supports the Second Amendment, sponsored a ban on “assault weapons” during his time in the U.S. Senate, and as Barack Obama’s VP, was the administration’s point-man on gun control. During the debates Biden agreed with others that there should be a mandatory government “buy back” of scary semi-auto rifles, then suggested that it should be illegal to sell any gun in the United States that isn’t equipped with mythical “smart gun” technology, to prevent it being used by anyone not authorized to do so.
In classic Biden style, “Uncle Joe” said; “No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger.” (Can your biometric measure pull a trigger Joe?)
While Biden might be an expert of sorts on “biometrics,” he’s got no clue about guns or economics. But ignorance of the basics never stopped a gun control zealot before, so why should we expect logic and fact-based rationality to guide them now? Even a conservative estimate for “buying back” the 16 million or more “assault-style rifles” currently in circulation places the cost at around 10 billion dollars, and that’s just paying for the guns, not the cost of administering or executing the plan, not to mention the cost in human lives lost or destroyed in the process as formerly law-abiding gun owners are turned into outlaws at the stroke of a pin. If you think it can’t happen, consider that fewer than a thousand semi-automatic rifles have been turned in by somewhat compliant Kiwis in New Zealand.
As to “smart guns,” you first, Joe. Order your Secret Service security detail to only carry “smart guns.” After they have proven their efficacy, move on to mandating “smart guns” for all police and licensed security personnel, Hollywood bodyguards, and such. Maybe after that, we’ll consider a thoughtful discussion about bringing them into the public market as a serious option.
The other candidates who got a chance to talk about gun control, seemed to be competing for the title of “Most Anti-Rights,” though none could top Swalwell’s past threat to nuke non-compliant gun owners. Now that he’s out of the race though, the others will no doubt continue pushing his idiotic ideas.
In the entire field of 25 “credible” candidates, only three have ever said anything supportive of the right to arms, all while they were running for, or holding offices in heavily pro-gun jurisdictions. All three of those candidates have publicly repudiated those statements, now that they are seeking higher office. I don’t know which is worse, a politician with a long record of opposition to the right to arms, or one who “used to believe” in the right to arms, but abandoned that position when their political ambitions dictated.
At this point, it is pretty clear that GunVoters will have a choice in 2020 between a Republican who has betrayed us while claiming to support the Second Amendment and might do so again, and a Democrat who has promised to work to criminalize our rights actively. Given the importance of court appointments and the good that has been done in that regard over the past three years, I think GunVoters must choose the “maybe” over the “definitely,” but much more important will be making sure that whoever is in the White House, doesn’t have an anti-rights-dominated, Democrat-controlled House and Senate to work with. That would be a very bad thing for individual rights.
The NRA is in trouble. Continuing to elect the same people who keep making the same mistakes, is not going to solve the problems. We need new ideas, new perspectives, and new approaches. That means we need new people on the NRA Board of Directors.
The NRA Board of Directors only meets four times a year. They are tasked with setting policy for the organization and overseeing the proper execution of those policies on behalf of the members, including ensuring that money is raised and spent responsibly. This responsibility is officially reported as requiring about one hour per week from each director, but actually fulfilling the role will probably take much more time than that.
The Bylaws list a minimal set of qualifications, but the real qualifications go well beyond the minimums listed in the Bylaws.
First and foremost, an NRA Director must have an understanding of – and dedication to – the principles of liberty, as described in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. An NRA Director must be a Second Amendment absolutist who recognizes that rights cannot be compromised or bartered. Political pragmatism has a place as a short-term tactic, but the NRA must never put political considerations above the core principles our nation and our organization were founded upon. Every NRA Director must be well-versed in that history and those principles, which must be the foundation for every decision made as a director.
Second, a Director must bring to the Board some professional-level expertise about business, finance, fundraising, membership organizations, politics, or some other topic that may affects the Association and might require a Board policy directive. No one can be an expert in every topic, but every Board member should be an expert in his or her particular field and be able to assist the other Directors in developing a well-grounded policy on that topic.
Finally, an NRA Director must be widely recognized as honorable and respected members of the firearms community. That doesn’t necessarily mean having a wall of trophies, but guns and shooting should be an important part of any Director’s life, whether it be focused on hunting, target shooting, or collecting.
The best candidates are people who have had leadership roles in state or local organizations, while also building or working for successful businesses, or other complementary careers. The ability to effectively speak in public, or experience lobbying politicians, can be useful, but it’s not critical, and that ability or experience doesn’t trump the qualifications listed above.
Good candidates are typically going to be older individuals with significant amounts of experience under their belts, but that does not mean that there isn’t a place for younger candidates who have earned the respect of the community by demonstrating their commitment and abilities. To the contrary, it is critical that the organization have representation from a wide variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skill-sets to offer.
Candidates must be nominated either by the Nominating Committee [tightly controlled by insider board members] or by petition of fellow members. It takes signatures from the equivalent of 0.5% of the number of ballots cast in the preceding BoD election, this year that’s about 730 valid signatures from NRA members who are eligible to vote. That might not seem like all that many, after all, there are hundreds of people at gun shows every weekend, but the catch is the “eligible to vote” clause. There are around 100 million gun owners in the U.S., but only about 5.5 million NRA members, and only about half of those members are eligible to vote in NRA elections. That means that among any 100 random gun owners, only about 5 will be NRA members, and only 2 or 3 will be eligible to sign a nominating petition. So, even at a gun show or a busy range, you’ll have to ask about 2,000 people, in order to find 100 eligible voters – and then you have to get their NRA Member Number. Do you carry your NRA membership card or a mailing label from your NRA magazine around with you? Most people don’t. That means that the signature gatherer will have to do some followup to try and collect that information. In the end, it will typically require talking to at least 16,000 people, in order to find 730 NRA members eligible to sign the petition, but many of those won’t sign, because they don’t know enough about the candidate, and aren’t willing to take the time to learn.
There’s no question, getting the valid signatures needed to qualify a petition, is a whole lot of work to go through just to get your name on a ballot to run for a thankless job that pays nothing. Still, last year, past-President Marion Hammer had the temerity to suggest that someone nominated by petition of the members is somehow suspect, and unworthy of the members’ trust.
Of course, getting the petition signatures is only the first hurdle, then comes the matter of being elected. The elections are held by mail among all 2.5 million NRA Voting Members, but only a small segment (historically less than 7%) of those members actually cast a ballot, and the vast majority of those who do vote, get all of their information about the candidates exclusively from NRA magazines – which of course, are controlled by the NRA establishment. This gives incumbents a huge advantage that is very difficult to overcome.
But the current members of the Board of Directors is never going to make the changes needed to make the NRA the principled, effective, organization that the members deserve, so changing the Board has to be the first step in restoring the NRA, and that’s going to take at least 3 or 4 years, even if we’re wildly successful.
Do you know people with the principle, integrity, and experience willing to take on this challenge? Are you ready to go to work to help get them elected? It might be too late for the next election, but there’s one every year, and we need to be ready. Reach out to me or the folks at Savethe2A.org, and let’s get started.
With all of the hubbub over the mess at the NRA, now seems like a good time to remind everyone that YOU are the Gun Lobby.
This is a theme I have come back to again and again in the 13+ years that I have been writing about Second Amendment issues and leading The Firearms Coalition, and even before that. In a speech on the Arizona Capitol grounds earlier this year, I said that the gun lobby “is not a bunch of overpaid suits in Washington D.C. … if the NRA disappeared tomorrow, the Gun Lobby would still be just as powerful, because it’s not the NRA, it’s NRA members and tens of millions of other dedicated patriots just like you.”
In retrospect, those comments, which were very similar to comments I made at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania over a decade ago, seem somewhat prophetic, especially considering Wayne LaPierre’s $276k clothing bills, but the point has always been true. All of the NRA’s power, prestige, money, and influence flow directly from you and me and people like us. While the NRA is a useful tool, it is not the source of power or influence. You are.
It is particularly important for everyone to understand that the ugly mess facing the NRA today has the organization crippled, and it will remain crippled for some time into the foreseeable future.
Even if the NRA “leadership” allows the last of our dollars to bleed out into the pockets of lawyers and charlatans, even if the organization allows itself to be torn down by politicians and bureaucrats, the gun lobby must continue to be strong.
With the NRA distracted and in disarray, it’s critical for you, the Gun Lobby, to take personal responsibility for protecting your rights. You can’t rely on the NRA, or any other group, to do the heavy lifting for you. You must roll up your sleeves and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbors to ensure that the radical rights opponents don’t flush your children’s and grandchildren’s birthright down the toilet.
After decades of a slow erosion of our rights, and occasionally regaining small bits of ground, we stand on the brink. The slippery slope is only inches wide, with nothing but a sheer cliff beyond it. The Democrats have given their party fully over to a “progressive” philosophy of total government control and citizen subservience, with a government monopoly on arms being one of their primary goals. Until saner heads regain control of that party, it is critical that they are defeated.
We, as defenders of freedom and lovers of liberty, can no longer afford to hang back and lend our support only to the cream of the solid, pro-rights candidates. At this point, the Democratic Party has taken that luxury away from us. Now our only option is to work for their defeat, regardless of the individual stands of their candidates or their opponents. Right now, it’s all about majorities – in Congress, in state legislatures, and on county boards and city councils. Even in states with low crime, and strong traditions of firearm freedom, like Maine and Vermont, Democrat majorities are pushing agendas of draconian gun control, simply because they can, and because Bloomberg and the Giffords’ group keep dumping millions into local elections, in support of radical Democrat, rights restrictors.
These assaults on our rights must be answered with votes. Gun owners can’t rely on the NRA to do it for us. We never could, but it’s more true and urgent now than ever before.
Too many times our guys got mad at Republicans for failing to deliver on promises, or for foolishly making concessions to the rights opponents, and stomped off in a huff, refusing to vote, or voting for third-party candidates with zero chance of winning. That’s how we got eight years of Barack Obama, and most recently, it’s how we lost the House of Representatives in 2018.
That absence from the field provided proof to Bloomberg and Democrat strategists that the power of the gun lobby and GunVoters was just a myth. They successfully painted GunVoter frustration with broken promises, as apathy and impotence, because we allowed vocal, gun control advocates to be elected with little opposition from our disgruntled troops.
Political power lies in the ability to impact politicians’ most precious asset: the ability to be elected. Conventional wisdom says that can only be done with huge amounts of money spent on advertising, but conventional wisdom is wrong. We don’t need advertising, because we have the numbers we need already. All we need is for our fellow gun owners and rights advocates to stand up and get involved. Every one of us must engage in the battle, working for the candidates who are going up against the radical gun control zealots — defeating the party of gun control, by working for the party that isn’t dedicated to taking away our guns.
We must do this, even if the Republican candidate isn’t great on our issue, because right now, Democrats have declared war on our rights. The only way to change their position, and to wake up the squishy Republicans, is for GunVoters to turn out in droves, putting up signs, making phone calls, walking neighborhoods, and making sure that everyone in their family, their friends, their entire sphere of influence, is informed and activated to defeat those who oppose the Bill of Rights.
We didn’t make this a partisan fight, Democrats did. We’ll never make them change their minds by sitting on the sidelines or punishing weak-kneed Republicans by going hunting on Election Day. We must get busy, get involved, and demonstrate in November that the gun lobby is indeed alive and well, and we won’t tolerate open assault on our rights.