I am taking a moment to look back at a couple of relevant excerpts from Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War. One is a piece written written in in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, which raked the East Coast in 1989. The piece became what Dad used to call an “evergreen” piece that is always current.
The second was written in the middle of the Los Angeles riots of 1992. This one became especially relevant when Philadelphia announced that arrests for certain low-level crimes would be “delayed” during the current virus outbreak, and in almost the same breath, that firearms purchase checks would not be acted on by police.
It was in the Los Angeles madness that police gave rare acknowledgement to the fact that you, Dear Citizen, own your own security, defense, and survival. It is not the police department’s job to protect you personally. It was in those riots that the “Roof Korean” meme embedded itself in gun lore.
I included both pieces in Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War because they both bring such a simple, yet apparently hard-to-learn lesson: The Second Amendment exists to protect the security of a free state. To accomplish that end, the individuals who make up that state must be able to individually bear arms in defense of themselves, their family, and ultimately, their nation. To infringe on the right to arms — especially in a time of imminent threat — infringes on a human’s right to exist.
As I post this, we face a pandemic. At the moment, we are in a surreal calm before … something. No one knows how it will turn out. Our contingency playbooks are mostly geared toward localized, or at most, regional disasters. The only ones who had really thought about a global pandemic were those crazy preppers. You can tell them by their smug smiles as they watch the panic buying.
No one knows how this will play out because no one has been through it. We are fortunate to have power and communications, and the stores that are open with only spot shortages — for now. No one I know has gotten sick — yet. And, while I am doing my part to make sure I don’t get sick, I am less concerned about being sick than I am about people being stupid.
The really big concern for me is what stupid people may do when faced with a serious problem — such as store shelves that stay empty for a couple of weeks.
And that’s why, along with the modest inventory of extra groceries my wife and I have laid in against a contingency, I have also set aside a few extra boxes of ammo and keep a piece of hardware accessible. I hope you’re doing the same, and I especially hope that if you’ve made the decision to keep and bear arms, that you have also gotten the training to do it safely and effectively.
God bless us all, our nation, and the rest of the world. We will get through this. Let’s learn from the experience.
When the system and laws break down, Americans must fall back on their State Constitutions and the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution represents the trunk of the tree of government and laws, with state constitutions, statutes, and regulations branching off of it. If there is ever a fault or failure in these branches, the natural path is to bypass the problem branch and return to the Constitution. In the current Chinese coronavirus scare, we see examples of various “non-essential” government agencies going to skeleton crews or shutting down entirely. Some of these agencies that are cutting back play a role in the convoluted process and many paperwork hoops that lawful firearm purchasers are required to jump through. That’s a problem.
U.S. Code says that if a National Instant Check System (NICS) criminal background check on a gun purchaser turns up some information indicating that the buyer might be a prohibited person, but the system can’t verify the information, then the file is kicked out of the computer to a human to investigate further, and a “Delay” order is sent to the dealer selling the gun. Under the law, NICS has 3 business days to resolve the question, before the dealer may proceed with the transfer. Some dealers refuse to ever do transfers without a green light from NICS, while most automatically complete transfers after 3 business days.
In the midst of the panic and confusion caused by China’s COVID-19, the FBI, which operates NICS, has sent out a directive to gun dealers, warning them that the “3 business days” allotted for investigation of “Delayed” reports, means 3 days during which all of the various repositories of information that a NICS examiner might call upon to clear-up a question, are open. That means that the closures and skeleton crews mentioned above are making it difficult for NICS examiners – if they are even still working – to do their job, and that gun dealers are supposed to refuse to process any transfer until the government gets its act back together and everyone gets back to work.
This is totally unacceptable.
The 3-day limit was included in the law as a fail-safe, specifically to prevent the government from being able to block firearm sales via bureaucratic inaction or computer glitches. The definition of “3 business days” has always been Monday through Friday, not including federal holidays.
It is outrageous and indefensible for the FBI to be redefining this term now.
At the time the “Instant Check” compromise was worked out between the NRA and Congress, as an alternative to the 5-day waiting period mandated by the Brady Bill, we opposed the whole concept, but if the bill was going to pass, we were pushing for the best deal possible, including a provision that offered more protection to dealers and gun buyers. Our version of this transfer option would have required NICS to automatically send out a “Proceed” notice to a dealer after 3 business days or 5 calendar days, whichever was shorter. There would have been no discretion left to dealers as to whether or not to transfer the firearm and no negative repercussions for dealers doing so. While that’s still not a perfect solution, it would have provided more legal and PR protection for dealers, and a stronger guarantee for people exercising their right to arms.
Of course, our compromise on the compromise wasn’t adopted and instead, we got “Instant-Check” language that provides that a dealer may transfer the firearm after 3 business days, and the FBI’s reinterpretation turns that on its ear, making the “Delay” indefinite.
Similar chicanery is occurring in states that run their own checks, rather than relying on the FBI’s NICS system, and among state and local agencies that issue concealed carry licenses and permits. As with the FBI, processing background checks and license paperwork appears to be a low priority for many of these agencies, and the response from the agencies and the politicians that oversee them has been abysmal. They simply don’t care. They don’t care that it’s a constitutionally protected right. They don’t care that their bureaucratic indifference could cost someone their life. They don’t care that the red tape is unfair, racially-biased, and discriminatory. They just don’t care at all.
Meanwhile, around the country, dozens of petty dictators, in the form of governors and mayors, are issuing “shelter-in-place” orders, requiring “non-essential” businesses, like gun stores, to close their doors, and in some cases, claiming the authority to legally prohibit the sale of guns, ammunition, gasoline, liquor, and other “dangerous” items. So far, no one has offered up any rational explanation for why such restrictions might be needed or how they would assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Some patriot-gun shops in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and probably other states, have refused to close their doors, in spite of orders from politicians and police to do so. As of this writing, there have been no serious confrontations, but seeds have been planted and things could easily get ugly in a hurry.
The really frustrating part of all of this is that there is a simple and obvious solution: Obey the Constitution.
Gun owners are constantly being berated by gun control advocates and the media for not being “reasonable” and accepting “minor inconveniences” in the form of additional restrictions on firearm ownership rights. Well, the laws that are currently on the books, which law-abiding gun owners follow every day, are examples of gun owners being reasonable and compromising. And the current blocks, delays, and bans in the name of protecting society from a germ, are examples of why we resist all of these “minor,” “reasonable,” “commonsense” gun control laws that they keep throwing at us. They’re not minor, reasonable, or commonsense. They’re infringements on our rights, and they cause the most harm at the worst times.
Many supporters of “reasonable” gun control laws in California have begun to realize just how unreasonable those laws really are, but they’ll probably reelect the same politicians who gave them those laws, come November.
In our constitutional republic, the default position for any law or regulation is always supposed to be to the benefit of the individual, not the government, and the burden is always supposed to be on the government, not the individual. This is especially true when dealing with enumerated rights. If we allow the government to institute some laws that encroach on our rights, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that they do so in the most limited way, and it is the government’s burden to meet. If they cannot meet their burden, the process must default to the benefit of individual rights, not the convenience or preference of the government.
In Arizona and many other states, the governor has declared that people with drivers licenses that are expiring, will be given a grace period and their licenses will continue to be recognized as valid for a yet-to-be-determined period. The same sort of blanket extension should apply to all concealed carry licenses and permits, and all firearm owner ID cards and purchase permits in states that require them. If government agencies are unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities in processing firearm and ammunition sales, then those restrictions and regulations are null and void. As to any suggestion of forcing gun stores to close, or banning the sale of firearms or ammunition, such notions should be roundly rejected as blatantly unconstitutional, and immediately quashed by the courts.
The Firearms Coalition is in discussions with attorneys and legal scholars to determine the most expedient way to force a stop to this government neglect, overreach, and duplicity.
A right delayed is a right denied. Saying “We don’t have the personnel,” is not an acceptable excuse for withholding fundamental rights.
Editors Note: Right after this Op-Ed was posted NRA officially canceled their Annual Member Meeting.
As fears grow over COVID-19, the new strain of Corona Virus that’s dominating headlines these days, there is a growing concern that NRA leadership might cancel, or dramatically cut back the Annual Meetings and Exhibits scheduled for the weekend of April 16th in Nashville, Tennessee.
Such an action wouldn’t be totally unprecedented. In 1999 the Annual Meeting was scheduled for Denver, Colorado. Just a few days before the event though, two deeply disturbed high school students went on a rampage in Littleton, Colorado. In response, the exhibit hall portion of the Annual Meetings was canceled, along with all social events, and the Meeting of Members was reduced to a bare minimum, in order to meet legal requirements in the charter and bylaws.
A massive outdoor trade show, basically the European equivalent to the SHOT Show, has been canceled until further notice. This news was released last week in direct response to growing fears about the COVID-19 virus. That’s a huge hit for the organizers of that show to take, and it would be a major financial loss to the NRA if they decide to cancel the events in Nashville. It’s not just a matter of losing deposits on hotel, meeting, and exhibit space, and lost revenue from exhibitors. A good bit of that could be offset to some degree by savings in the expenses of putting on the various events that are currently scheduled. There is also the matter of things like the ILA banquet and auction, and the NRA Women’s Council luncheon and auction, where NRA subdivisions typically raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hardest hit by a cancellation though, would be the city of Nashville, already reeling from some devastating tornado damage, and no doubt a decline in tourism, shopping, and dining out. Losing an event that is expected to bring in some 80,000 visitors, would be pretty depressing.
Anyone who has reserved hotel space through the NRA Travel Service will, under the current agreements, be liable for a $100 cancellation fee, if the reservation is canceled after a March 23 deadline. It’s likely that the NRA would arrange some sort of settlement on that, costing who knows how much more of the members’ money.
One thing that is very unlikely to change, is the Meeting of Members.
The NRA is required by their charter and bylaws to hold an annual meeting of members and to provide specific notice prior to that meeting. Changing the meeting date would require the clock and the process to all start over again, meaning that a meeting couldn’t be held for at least several months, causing all sorts of other problems. So, even if the exhibits and social events are canceled, it is almost certain that the Members’ Meeting and the Board of Directors Meeting will both go on as planned.
There’s no question that the COVID-19 virus is extremely contagious, and slowing its spread can help to provide more time for medical researchers and care providers to prepare and manage the cases as they pop up. There’s also little doubt that the virus is not nearly as deadly as it is being painted in the media and by some politicians. Virtually all of the deaths connected with COVID-19 in the U.S. have been people with compromised immune systems and other health problems. The virus appears to be little or no threat to healthy people, as over 60,000 have contracted it and fully recovered, generally within a couple of weeks. The primary focus should be on keeping the virus away from vulnerable individuals, rather than trying to keep it away from everyone. Hospitals, nursing homes, senior care facilities, and those with immune-compromised individuals at home, should be taking extra precautions, requiring anyone coming in contact with these vulnerable individuals, to wear a mask and avoid physical contact as much as possible, along with increasing sanitation practices like washing hands and faces and sanitizing contact surfaces.
Airlines say they are doing extra sanitation and air filtration, and airfares are falling, but with so many people choosing not to fly, it’s likely they will start canceling and consolidating flights soon. Hotels don’t have that option, so the $400 to $600 hotels in Nashville could be offering rooms for a song by the time the NRA meetings are supposed to take place.
The good news is that the media-inspired panic over COVID-19 is likely to start fizzling out by the end of March, as people begin to realize that their neighbors aren’t dropping like flies. If the NRA leadership doesn’t announce the cancellation of the meetings sometime before the first of April, there probably won’t be any changes.
There’s a good chance that Wayne LaPierre and his pals are, at this very moment, weighing whether holding an abbreviated meeting will help or hurt them in the internal political battle for control of the Association. On the one hand, it might be easier to control a trimmed back meeting with fewer attendees, but on the other hand, a lower turnout might result in a higher percentage of attendees being disgruntled members determined to see a housecleaning within their Association. That would be my hope, and regardless of what the NRA does with the exhibit hall and social events, the Member’s Meeting will probably go forward as scheduled. That’s why it’s so important that you are there. In fact, it might be even more important that you attend if the other events are canceled because that might give reformers the upper hand.
Bottom line: Come hell or high water, I intend to be at the NRA’s Meeting of Members, to raise issues critical to the Associations future, and could sure use your help.
The one word that best describes Mike Bloomberg, is “Authoritarian.”
Many – including Democrats, Republicans, and others – were pleased and relieved to see him end his campaign for President. But just because he’s no longer a candidate and is a half-billion-dollars poorer for the effort, don’t think for a moment that he’s no longer a threat to Second Amendment rights and to the Republic. When Mike Bloomberg first popped up on my radar with his Illegal Mayors Against Guns, he was reported to have a net worth of around $26 billion. Today, after donating well over $2 billion to various causes, and spending another half-billion on his failed presidential bid, Bloomberg’s net worth is estimated to be around $57 billion.
You can bet that a big chunk of that money will still be working against your rights long after Little Mike is long gone from this world.
During his short-lived presidential campaign, there was a lot of talk about Bloomberg’s “Stop & Frisk” policies during his time as Mayor of NYC. Much noise was made about his “recently discovered” comments to the Aspen Institute about that policy (which AmmoLand news reported on and I wrote about back in February of 2015), with quite a few folks on “our side” grudgingly agreeing with Bloomberg on this particular issue. After all, it is true that a disproportionate percentage of violent crime involving firearms in New York City, and many other large U.S. cities, is perpetrated by black and Hispanic young men, so it seems rational for the NYPD to focus their “Stop & Frisk” efforts on that demographic.
Looking back on my 2015 article, I think I was off-target a bit, and missed the most important point. While Bloomberg’s attitude and policy was indeed racist, or at the very least, elitist, the most disturbing thing about it is how “Stop & Frisk” punishes the innocent many for the crimes of the guilty few, just like gun control laws do.
Bloomberg argues that X number of guns were taken off the street, and that fear of being snagged by the police probably caused many young thugs to “leave their guns at home.”
Okay, but how many people were inconvenienced, insulted, humiliated, degraded, and physically violated – and in some cases physically harmed – by his policy?
Looking for a needle in a haystack requires sifting through and examining each piece of straw. Even employing a magnet still requires significant disruption of the haystack, and the same is true for active enforcement of gun control laws, including New York City’s ban on concealed carry. It is simply not possible to enforce these laws, especially with the use of aggressive tactics such as “Stop & Frisk,” without harassing and abusing thousands of innocent people for each “criminal” act exposed.
Bloomberg’s logic involves multiple haystacks, dividing people up into ethnic groups, age groups, and socioeconomic groups, based on observation and opinion of the cops involved. He told his police to concentrate most of their attention on lower-income, black and Hispanic young men between the ages of 15 and 30, in high-crime neighborhoods, because, when you’re hunting ducks, you go where the ducks are.
Gun control laws in general take this same sort of approach, but naturally focus on different haystacks. If your mission is to find people violating gun control laws, the natural tendency will be to focus your attention where the guns are – never mind whether those guns are at risk of being used in a crime. The rationale behind the passage of the laws is quickly lost. The objective becomes enforcing the gun restrictions, rather than preventing the underlying “gun crimes” that triggered those restrictions. So, in the name of reducing mass murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, murder, suicide, etc., law enforcement agencies target regular, peaceable gun owners, who might have slipped-up in following some obscure law.
I recall a case in New Jersey, prior to the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, where a judge ruled that an NRA sticker on the window of an out-of-state vehicle on I-95, constituted probable cause for police to stop and search that vehicle for firearms. Similarly, friends who have traveled to Canada have related stories of having Canadian border guards conduct detailed searches of their vehicles based on the presence of an NRA sticker on their bumper.
The victims of this sort of harassment are people that the police doing the harassing would readily admit are unlikely to commit any sort of violent crime, with or without a gun, but they appear to the enforcers to be people who might be likely to own a gun, and therefore worth taking the time to thoroughly search them.
We often hear gun control advocates say something like; “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it.” But how many lives are lost because people are unable to defend themselves, thanks to some irrational firearm restriction, and how many more lives are seriously harmed, with arrests, prosecutions, prisons, legal expenses, etc., for some minor infraction involving possession or transport of a firearm? But well beyond that, how many innocent people are debased, threatened, humiliated, delayed, and otherwise stressed and inconvenienced by authorities detaining and searching them, on the chance that they might have a gun stored in the wrong compartment of their vehicle, have a magazine that carries one too many rounds, or they stopped to eat at a truck stop on the wrong side of a state line? In the meanwhile, what crimes go uninvestigated because scarce police resources are dedicated to enforcing paperwork gun crimes?
The vast majority of the people that Mike Bloomberg’s police threw against a wall and frisked looking for guns, were unarmed and innocent. Occasionally finding a gun or illegal knife, does not justify that abuse.
The vast majority of Americans who are forced to jump through legal hoops and prove their own innocence before they can purchase or carry a firearm, and who face an ever-present threat of being targeted and harassed for exercising their constitutionally protected rights, are good, responsible citizens who would never commit any sort of violent crime.
Meanwhile, real criminals do what criminals have always done; they skirt the laws, ignore the “No Guns” signs, avoid the cops, and acquire the tools of their trade from fellow criminals – like the guys they buy their illegal drugs from.
GunVoters around the country celebrated in relief when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s “assault weapons” ban was tabled in a Senate committee, effectively killing it for the current 2020 session. Similar celebrations occurred in Washington State when a ban on “high-capacity” magazines was abandoned after pro-rights Republicans loaded the bill up like a Christmas tree, with all sorts of amendments.
But as Han Solo said to Luke Skywalker; “Don’t get cocky, kid.” These are just skirmishes in a long fight, and retreats are often just an opportunity for the opposition to regroup.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that killing the Virginia bill for the year, means that voters will have a chance to shift the balance of power in the legislature before the bill can be revived. Unfortunately, Virginia runs on an “off-year” election cycle. They hold legislative elections in odd years instead of even years like most of the rest of the country. The unusual cycle is a major contributing factor to the low voter turnout in Virginia legislative elections. That scheduling quirk worked for Bloomberg’s anti-rights crowd last year, but it also means that newly-roused and organized GunVoters could have an advantage in the 2021 election.
So long as they stay roused and organized for the next two years.
Many GunVoters in Virginia, and the rest of the country, have become complacent in recent years. Among gun owners, we have some sluggards who think “they’ll never pass that stuff here,” a collection of kamikaze types who refuse to vote in protest of politicians who fail their personal Second Amendment purity test, and those who think going hunting or stockpiling toilet paper in their Boogaloo bunker is more important than voting, Any or all of those attitudes can cost us our gun rights.
The hard fact is GunVoters have had little impact on recent elections.
Many of those who should be GunVoters, have been rudely awakened by the actions of Virginia’s Democratic majority. The clowns that have been aggressively pushing radical gun control legislation in Virginia since they managed to eke out a slim majority last year won’t face voters again until November of 2021. In the meantime, they still have a whole slate of rights-infringing proposals in the pipe, and the beat goes on.
The Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee, which referred Northam’s “assault weapons” ban to the Crime Commission last week, turned around and voted in favor of a “red flag” proposal on Monday, along with:
a ban on your private transfers,
limiting handgun your purchases to one per month,
criminalizing your failure to report lost or stolen guns in a timely manner (whatever that means),
mandate how you store your guns,
and obliterate the commonwealth’s preemption laws, which will allow cities to come up with their own idiotic gun laws.
The fight in Virginia isn’t anywhere close to over, and as things stand now, thanks to differences between the House and Senate versions, the two houses of the legislature will be deciding between gross infringement of rights and really gross infringement of rights. Either way, you lose rights and freedom.
At best, it looks like Virginia Democrats might just have to do a little less this year and plan to come back for the rest next year.
In Washington State, the Democratic majority has revived their “high-capacity” magazine ban, by relabeling the bill as a budget issue. Washington Republicans are trying hard to hammer a stake through the heart of that zombie proposal, but they’re running out of trick plays.
Meanwhile, the New Hampshire legislature has again passed a raft of gun control bills in the “Live Free or Die” state, leaving rights supporters to hope that their Republican governor will stand firm and veto the bills again, as he did in the last session.
Vermont, Maine, and other “safe” states for gun owners have also seen Democratic majorities ram through gun control legislation.
The right to arms should be a non-partisan issue. But the two major parties have dug into their positions and drawn their battle lines. Mike Bloomberg, George Soros, Tom Styer, Bill Gates, and dozens of less prominent fat-cats have pumped billions of dollars through groups like the Giffords, the Brady Bunch, and various “philanthropic” foundations like Joyce, McArthur, and Ford, out to Democratic candidates. They have successfully revived an issue that most political observers had thought had died with the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. That was the year when GunVoters turned out in droves to defeat politicians who had pushed through Bill Clinton’s “assault weapons” ban.
The most astute political analyst of the day, then-President Bill Clinton, credited – or blamed – GunVoters for the Democratic Waterloo that even turned out a sitting Speaker of the House. Years later, with Bloomberg’s money backing them, Democrats declared the “gun lobby” to be a paper tiger, all roar with no teeth. They were proven right by apathetic and disengaged gun owners who failed to rise to the threats.
At this point, the right to arms has become one of the most straightforward partisan issues in the country. The four Democrats who bucked their party leadership in Virginia and voted to send the governor’s “assault weapons” ban out for review, demonstrated the importance of having pro-rights Democrats, but they went on to prove, with their votes for other gun control bills, that their power and cojones are very limited.
Hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will once again have Democrats and Republicans fighting to earn the support of GunVoters, but we’re not anywhere close to that right now. Where we are right now is a place where Democrats in the majority of any legislative body, from city councils to county commissions to state legislatures to Congress, pose an existential threat to our rights.
In the past we have urged you to write and call your legislators and representatives to urge them to fight gun control and stand up for the Constitution. That’s still important and you should be doing that regularly, even if it’s only a matter of clicking on an email from your favorite rights group, attaching your name to a letter they have pre-written for you. But that’s not enough. Neither is it enough to just show up at the polls.
GunVoters have the potential to be a political powerhouse in this country again, but it will take work.
We can’t just vote, or just educate our friends and family and get them to vote. We have to become a machine like the labor unions and civil rights activists of the ‘60s. We have to get deeply involved in the messy process of electing our supporters and blocking our opponents. We’ve got to get involved in the nitty-gritty, day-to-day grind of partisan politics and elections. And we can’t rely on some organization – any organization – to do it for us.
If you want to make a difference in the future of the Republic and preserve your rights for your children, grandchildren, and for your great-grandchildren, here’s what you need to do: When you write to your elected servants to let them know how you feel, let them know that you are going to work for them, or their opponent, in the next election. Then reach out to those pro-rights politicians’ campaigns and volunteer. Tell them that you’re a gun owner concerned about the future of your rights and that you want to help get pro-rights candidates elected. Reach out to your county party and tell them that you want to get involved. Go to the meetings. Participate in petition drives, phone banks, literature drops, door-to-door canvassing… Whatever they ask you to do.
If you’re a Democrat, work to change your party’s position on the right to arms, and refuse to support any candidate that doesn’t get that issue right. If you’re a Libertarian, support candidates that have a chance of actually winning, but if they don’t have a chance of winning, shift your efforts to the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Democratic candidate. If you’re a Republican or an Independent, go to work for the at-risk Republicans, and against the vulnerable Democrats.
The bottom line in the coming elections, and elections for the foreseeable future, is to deny Democrats any majority, even if that means giving seat to a squishy – or even an openly anti-rights – Republican. As I’ve said before, a RINO in the midst of a herd of elephants is a nuisance, but a RINO in the middle of a herd of jackasses is a catastrophe. Republicans aren’t perfect, but they are a far sight better than the alternative and they are our only hope right now.
The Democratic Party has declared their intentions and proven their commitment to gutting the Second Amendment as soon as they achieve a majority within a chamber. Your job this year – and for the next several years – is to deny them that opportunity.
You are the Gun Lobby. You have the power to have a significant impact on who holds the reins in Washington and your state government. This year, we must stop Democrats from gaining any majorities, then we can focus on weeding out the weak Republicans.
They picked this fight. Now it’s up to you to make them regret it.
The first shoe has dropped in the legal assault on the NRA. The New York State Department of Financial Services has formally filed a Statement of Charges against the NRA for violating a variety of New York insurance laws, including producing and selling insurance without a license, selling unlawful insurance products, and “unfair and deceptive marketing materials” regarding their endorsed insurance products.
This is not just about NRA’s much-maligned Carry Guard program, which the Statement of Charges labels as an “unlawful insurance” product, but covers all of NRA’s insurance offerings. According to the Statement of Charges, NRA’s endorsement of, advertising for, and receipt of “royalties” for their various endorsed insurance products, constitutes “operating as an insurance producer without a license.”
In other words, they’re saying that the NRA was “engaging in the business” of producing and selling insurance without acquiring the necessary licenses.
The legal action is seeking monetary penalties against the NRA and the repercussions could go well beyond fines and future restrictions on their activities in New York. Insurance carriers that were working with the NRA have already reached settlements with New York enforcers, agreeing to pay over $13 million. Fines and penalties against the NRA could easily approach the $50 million mark.
The Statement of Charges (read below) also includes a Notice of Hearing, scheduled for April 6, 2020, just 10 days prior to the kickoff of the 2020 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, TN. Expect the NRA to try and delay that hearing until after the Meeting of Members, so they can tell the members who gather in Nashville that it’s all just political smoke and mirrors.
I have been predicting that the AG’s of New York and DC would hold off on filing charges until those filings would do the most possible damage to the Association’s efforts in the 2020 election. I’m sticking by that prediction, as I expect that this insurance matter will prove to be just the first of several actions brought by regulators in various jurisdictions.
Investigations into the NRA’s insurance programs are just the tip of the iceberg. Regulators are known to be looking into revocation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status, and the New York AG has threatened to revoke the Association’s charter and lock-up NRA’s finances – to protect the members. Those watching the case closely will recall that current and former members of the NRA Board of Directors, along with current and former NRA employees, have been deposed by investigators from New York – where the NRA is chartered – and legal experts have suggested that the lines of questioning suggest the AG’s office could be preparing to file criminal charges against some NRA employees and Directors for fraud, misappropriation of funds, self-dealing, and dereliction of fiduciary responsibility.
For their part, it appears that the NRA strategy is going to continue to revolve around a claim that NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, is the victim of a conspiracy, led by his long-time friends and allies at the PR firm Ackerman McQueen (AcMc). The claim is that LaPierre discovered some questionable billing and payment issues a few years ago and when he tried to right the ship with a “good governance” campaign, his friends at AcMc, along with their operatives on the Board and elsewhere in the Association, turned on him and launched a concerted campaign to smear him, trying to stage a coup against him.
Recent events, including the suspension and eventual termination of LaPierre’s Chief of Staff, Josh Powell, suggest that Powell, who LaPierre installed as Executive Director of General Operations and lead executive in charge of the Carry Guard program, will be painted as the primary culprit in the insurance matter. LaPierre will again claim that he discovered the problems and took “decisive action” to rectify them by suspending, investigating, and terminating Powell.
Of course, the major flaw in official NRA’s strategy, is that LaPierre has been the CEO of the NRA for nearly 30 years, with authority and responsibility for the oversight and operation of all facets of NRA operations.
Every person who has been in any way implicated in any of the scandals at the NRA has been closely associated with LaPierre, and in most cases they owed their positions and influence within the Association directly to LaPierre. So either Wayne LaPierre was aware of, and complicit in the various schemes and scandals, or he is the worst judge of character, and the most inept manager to ever run an organization. In either case, the responsibility lies with LaPierre and so should the consequences.
It is impossible to separate LaPierre from the actions of his subordinates, especially when those actions span decades under his watch, and especially when he has seen substantial personal and familial benefits from these actions.
There’s no question that the legal attacks on the NRA, from the expose’s from the Trace and the New Yorker, to the investigations by the New York and DC AG’s offices and the inquiries from various members of Congress, are all politically motivated. That’s been clear from the outset. But just because the impetus for the investigations was political, that doesn’t nullify the findings. The Trace reporter set out looking for dirt and he found it – lots of it – and he found documentation to back up the dirt he’d found. Similarly, the dirt that’s come out of the lawsuits involving Ackerman McQueen is tainted with various personal motives and has been couched in the most inflammatory terms imaginable, but the core issues revealed are serious and NRA members deserve serious answers, not just childish finger-pointing and name-calling.
As I said at the outset, these charges from the New York State Department of Financial Services, are just the tip of the iceberg, and more charges from other agencies will undoubtedly be forthcoming. Meanwhile, NRA members have been paying something in the neighborhood of $2 million per month for the past 2 years, for an attorney whose primary focus appears to be the protection of Wayne LaPierre, with little or no apparent concern for the NRA itself or its members.
NRA’s legal and financial troubles are just beginning. More will most assuredly be on the way. There’s a slight chance that the members might be able to affect some positive change at the NRA Members’ Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on April 18 2020, so every NRA member who can make that meeting should try to be there. Attending the meeting is going to cost me something in the neighborhood of $1000.00 out of my pocket, but even a slight chance of saving our organization makes that expense worth it to me. I hope you’ll join me there and let your voice be heard.
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Each year I try to provide some guidance to NRA members wondering how to best utilize their votes in the election of members of the NRA Board of Directors. Usually, this entails calling for “bullet voting” for one or two good candidates in a sea of establishment “yes-people.” But this year is a bit different. Many of the problems that I’ve been reporting on and warning about for years, came to a head over the past year, proving that I was justified in my concerns, and demonstrating the serious dangers of having an overabundance of “yes-people” on the Board.
Thanks to a number of resignations from the Board over the past year, this year’s ballot involves 31 seats, rather than the 25 that are normally up for election. The Board is comprised of 75 3-year seats and one 1-year seat, for a total of 76, with 1/3 of the 3-year seats up for election by mail-in ballot each year, and the 76th seat elected by the members at the Annual Meeting.
The vast majority of the people listed on your ballot are current members of the Board running for reelection. That means that they are people who have either participated in, turned a blind eye toward, or been too distracted to notice the chicanery that’s been going on.
Of the “new” people on the ballot, only one is a true newcomer who wasn’t picked by the establishment to run. That is Frank Tait of Pennsylvania.
Frank who leaped into the spotlight at the Members’ Meeting in Indianapolis last year when he introduced a resolution calling for an accounting of the accusations of malfeasance and cronyism at members expense and called for a vote of “No Confidence” in Wayne LaPierre and members of the Executive, Audit, and Finance committees. The resolution was shut down in a parliamentary boondoggle, but Tait went on to launch a successful petition campaign to get his name on this year’s ballot.
Tait has since said some things that cause me some consternation, but I am standing by the endorsement I gave him during his petition drive.
The only other candidate to have been nominated by petition only is former Director John Cushman, who has served on the Board off and on for more than 20 years. I’m not sure what Cushman said or did to get himself rejected by the Nominating Committee after his long, loyal service, but I consider him to have been part of the problem, not part of the solution, so I am not endorsing him.
Of the other candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee, I see most of them as rubber-stamp candidates nominated to support LaPierre. One exception is Phillip Journey of Kansas. I’ve known Phil for many years and always found him to be a man of integrity and intellect, and I will be giving him a vote this year. I also like and respect Niger Innis of Nevada, with the hope that he will prove to be something of the man his father was. The final person I’m supporting in this category is James Wallace of Massachusetts. I worry that he might be too much of an insider, but I deeply respect the work he has done with the Gun Owners’ Action League deep behind enemy lines.
Along with the long-time Directors who I see as culpable in the NRA corruption, there are also several who are relatively new to the Board, having been elected in just the past couple of years. I’m giving several of them the benefit of the doubt and offering them my vote. This includes Anthony Colandro (Anthony is Endorsed by Ammoland News) of New Jersey, Mark Vaughn of Oklahoma, Mark Robinson of North Carolina, Robert Mansell of Arizona, Kevin Hogan of Illinois, and Paul Babaz of Georgia.
While there are a few Directors who have quietly expressed support for reform within the Association, “quietly” is the operative word, and I can’t in good conscience offer them my support.
There are also some candidates on the ballot who have been very active in defending LaPierre and helping to shut down dissent on the Board, with First Vice President Charles Cotton being one of their leaders.
NRA members can send a loud message to the Board and the powers that be, by rejecting Mr. Cotton’s bid for reelection, along with the bids of past presidents, Ron Schmeitz and Alan Cors. (Read Do NOT Vote for.)
The NRA is in deep trouble. I honestly expect indictments and financial sanctions to be coming down very soon from investigations being conducted by the New York and DC attorneys general and other agencies. All of these troubles tie directly back to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA Directors who allowed him to abuse his power so egregiously. If the Association can be saved, it’s going to require Directors willing to make hard decisions and stand firmly on principles. This ballot doesn’t offer a lot of hope for that, but we must do what we can with what we’ve got.
Candidates I Support:
Frank Tait of Pennsylvania
Phillip Journey of Kansas
Niger Innis of Nevada
James Wallace of Massachusetts
Anthony Colandro of New Jersey
Mark Vaughn of Oklahoma
Mark Robinson of North Carolina
Robert Mansell of Arizona
Kevin Hogan of Illinois
Paul Babaz of Georgia
Candidates I Oppose:
Charles Cotton of Texas
Ron Schmeitz of New Mexico
Alan Cors of Virginia
In other NRA News, New York State Files Charges Against NRA related to Insurance Violations:
The New York Department of Financial Services has filed a Statement of Charges against the NRA for “defined violations of insurance law,” and set a hearing date of April 6, 2020, just 10 days before the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits.
Note that this Statement of Charges only deals with insurance matters, not all of the other issues that have been being raised about the organization.
I expect that this is only the first of several legal challenges that will be brought over the next several months.
I’ll have more about this soon. In the meantime, you can read the Statement of Charges here.
New State’s Statement of Charges Against NRA February 2020
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency and banning all firearms and other weapons from the public areas around the Virginia Capitol Building in Richmond, as well as several nearby parking areas.
In the order, the governor recalls the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia 3 years ago, involving clashes between activists protesting the planned removal of a Confederate monument, and violent leftist, counter-protesters.
The governor claims in the order, that “credible intelligence” indicates that “tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square,” for events culminating on January 20 (a scheduled rights rally and Lobby Day, organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), which has been held annually, without incident, for almost 2 decades) and that “Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection.”
What “available information” Governor? A few Instagram memes from the outskirts of the fringe? Is that what it takes to deny the rights of “tens of thousands,” a suggestion that some people might do something bad?
In Charlottesville, there were two general groups that were both known for engaging in violence, and both had placed the potential for violence between them, squarely out on the public table.
Then Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s response to this situation was either incredibly incompetent or maliciously effective. He pulled police back from the conflict zone, then literally pushed the two factions together. Even with that, the resulting violence was isolated and in most cases, relatively minor, until one deranged young man with “white power” ties, accelerated his car into a group of the counter-protesters.
The Upcoming Pro-Rights Lobby Day is totally different.
There is no conflict between warring factions. In this case, the conflict is primarily between supporters of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the Democrat politician majority in the State Legislature. Neither group, nor the Democrats’ anti-gun supporters, have any sort of history of violence. While there have, no doubt, been some imprudent comments and over-hyped memes thrown out on the interwebs, that sort of chest-thumping is common, and no reflection of events in the real world.
Virginia Citizens Defense Lobby Day
VCDL’s Lobby Day has been an annual event on Martin Luther King Day since 2002. For most, if not all of that time, citizens were able to, not only be legally armed at the rally on the Capitol grounds but to maintain their personal protection sidearms while visiting their elected servants. In all of that nearly 2 decades of rallying and citizen lobbying, there has never been a serious issue involving guns or any sort of violence.
Participation in Lobby Day this year is expected to be much greater than in years past because Democrats in the legislature have introduced and vowed to pass, several draconian gun control measures that many people are very upset about. But they are gathering in Richmond to express their concerns in accordance with the traditions of our republic, not to assault or intimidate anyone with violence. Yes, many will probably be armed. That’s very normal for gun rights advocates. Yes, some militia groups – typically with a mission statement of protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution – are expected to participate.
And yes, even some Antifa and other “left-wing” groups are planning to be there – standing shoulder-to-shoulder with “right-wing” groups, in support of individual rights and opposition to government infringement of those rights.
When faced with violent groups clashing in Charlottesville, Governor McAuliffe pulled police back from the conflict zone and pushed the antagonists together.
Now, when faced with a broad coalition of activists following the rules and gathering to petition their government for a redress of grievances, Governor Northam is pulling out all of the stops, bringing in hundreds of law enforcement personnel, and violating rights by executive fiat.
Just as Governor McAuliffe’s actions can readily be interpreted as facilitating violence that could then be used for political purposes, Governor Northam’s actions appear to be intended to inflame an already heated situation, again for political purposes.
Governor Northam’s actions are patently illegal. Gun Owners of America has joined with the VCDL in filing a lawsuit calling for an immediate injunction against the governor’s unlawful edict, and I think there is potential for criminal charges to be brought against the governor in this case.
The United States was founded on principles of trust and cooperation among disparate individuals. Gun control laws and actions like Northam’s illegal Executive Order are based on fear and mistrust. They are always about what someone fears that someone else might do. Oppressing the rights and liberties of the majority, for fear of what might be done by some small minority, is the definition of tyranny.
If you can make it to Richmond on Monday morning, do it. We don’t need a show of arms to make our point, but we do need a strong show of people. As I said in my previous piece on this subject, the way to win this fight is to overwhelm the opposition with kindness.
Be polite. Be courteous. And most importantly, Be There!
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The “rabble” has officially been roused in the commonwealth of Virginia, and there is serious potential for things to get ugly.
We strongly urge defenders of gun rights to be calm and careful as they stand firm for their rights. The hyperbole has gotten heated and has been fed by extremists from both sides, making exaggerated claims, threats, and pronouncements.
This whole mess could easily get out of hand in short order, but the situation isn’t nearly as precarious as the hype is trying to paint it.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League has been very effective in spreading the idea of Second Amendment Sanctuary zones, mostly in counties, and also in some municipalities.
The movement is primarily symbolic, a loud message to legislators in Richmond that the people are not happy with the direction they are threatening to take the state. Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership has been responding with threats and name-calling. Rather than seriously listening to the concerns of their citizens, and that has resulted in an escalating hyperbole war.
On the first day of the legislative session, Democrats in leadership used their slim majority to ram through a new rule forbidding firearms in the Capitol and adjacent administrative buildings, and they have been exploring ways to restrict legal firearms from the Capitol grounds. They claimed that the move was made at the request of the police who guard the Capitol, but the head of that agency denied this, stating unequivocally that neither he nor his agency had made any such request or suggestion. The latest rumor is that anti-rights Democrat Governor Northam might declare an Emergency to ban guns from the Capitol grounds. It’s just a rumor, but it would be a huge mistake.
The Democrats’ moves are in response to the publicity surrounding this year’s annual VCDL Lobby Day Rally, planned for this coming Monday, January 20, 2020. That is when thousands of gun rights advocates are expected to rally on the Capitol grounds and visit legislators’ offices to insist that the U.S. and State constitutions be respected and obeyed.
For years, there has been no rule requiring duly licensed citizens to disarm before entering the Capitol Building, and as an “open carry” state, Virginia citizens have always been able to carry on the Capitol grounds lawfully. To my knowledge, there has never been any sort of serious problem as a result of this respectful policy. When I attended Lobby Day in 2008, I spoke with several law enforcement officers who were working the event. All expressed their appreciation for the rights activists’ friendly and courteous demeanor, and told me that they had no concerns about our people causing any problems. Several of the officers I spoke with had worked the rally numerous times in the past, and they said that gun rights proponents were among their favorite groups.
As with all gun control efforts, the issue with disarming people at the Capitol isn’t about what actually happens, but rather about what could happen – what someone might do. In other words, irrational fear and mistrust.
I was a guest speaker at the VCDL Lobby Day in 2008, less than a year after the tragic attack at Virginia Tech. As a Virginia Citizen with a concealed carry license, I was able to lawfully carry as I visited my elected servants and spoke with the crowds outside. Everything was very peaceful and comfortable, even though the Brady Bunch was there holding a “counter-rally” and staged a “die-in” on the Capitol lawn. I even had a brief and polite discussion on-camera, with a young man who had been a victim of the Virginia Tech shooting. He related how he had crouched behind a chair, dialing 911 on his cellphone as they heard the attacker moving down the hall to their room. He insisted that he puts his trust in the police (who were, no doubt, on their way to help, while he and his classmates were being shot) and didn’t believe that having a gun would have helped. I responded that having carried a gun on my hip through most of my time in college (even though it was against school policy), I was sure that, rather than anxiously dialing a phone, I would have been crouched behind that chair with my pistol at the ready, and I’m confident that I would have ended the attack the moment the murderer stepped into the doorway. He suggested that he didn’t want to “live in fear” like that, and stuck with his position on mandatory helplessness, but we shook hands and I wished him well. He went on to be a spokesperson for the Brady Campaign for several years.
I expect the rally on the 20th to be just as safe and peaceful as the rally in 2008 and all of the gun rights rallies before and since have been. But I also expect many politicians and their media allies to try to paint the rights activists who attend, in the worst possible light. They will be looking for pictures and videos of people on our side behaving badly, displaying racist or neo-nazi emblems, or those few who will insist on turning out in full camo or battle-rattle, with their “scary-looking rifles” on their shoulders.
I encourage everyone who can, to please attend, but please don’t feed the opposition’s propaganda machine. There will be no large group of Antifa clowns there trying to cause trouble.
The opposition protesters from the Brady Bunch, Everytown for Gun Prohibition, and Mad Mommies Demanding Bubble-Wrap will be obnoxious, but not dangerous. So there’s no need to arm-up for safety, and we’re not there to intimidate anyone. The objective is to let politicians know that they will pay a severe price in the next election if they keep running after Mike Bloomberg’s money, and that’s all. Speculation about a second Civil War is not productive, nor are Confederate battle flags, or anything else that the media can use to paint our group as racist or violent.
We are the good guys. The prohibitionists have already started backing away from the worst of their proposals, but they’ll use any negative imagery from the rally to revive those proposals, so don’t give it to them, and don’t let anyone think that their minor concessions are a victory for us. We demand that they back away from all of their nonsense, not just the worst of it and that demand won’t succeed if we scare the soccer moms. So best foot forward on the road to victory.
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- In an amazing twist that was somehow completely overlooked by most of the nation’s media, Dan Gross, who served for 6 years as president of the gun control advocacy group, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, joined thousands of Second Amendment supporters at a rally on the West Lawn of the nation’s capital in Washington DC.
Not only did Gross express support for Second Amendment rights and respect for gun owners, but he also criticized gun control groups for intentionally and dogmatically demonizing guns and gun owners, while focusing on restricting guns instead of saving lives.
In the past, there have occasionally been lobbyists and politicians who abandoned pro-rights groups or positions to express support for some form of gun control, and those defectors typically received significant media attention for their actions.
But here we have the president of one of the oldest and most prominent gun control organizations in the country, publicly rebuking his former employers and reversing his own longstanding position, with no more than a yawn from the dominant media.
Gross’ remarks are available on multiple YouTube channels and were covered in the “conservative” and “gun press,” including here on AmmoLand News, so it’s not hard for anyone interested to see exactly what he said.
As a member of the 2nd Amendment Rally Organizing Committee, I interviewed Gross before we agreed to invite him to the rally. I found him to be sincere in his commitment to the right to arms, if not quite as devoted to the full extent of the protections the amendment provides. At least he’s open to discussion and learning.
There’s a possibility that Gross came out in support of the Second Amendment as a publicity stunt, looking for exposure and support for his new effort that focuses more on the responsibilities involved in gun ownership than on additional government regulations, and I’m okay with that. Gun ownership carries significant responsibilities, and as long as those pushing the message of responsible firearm ownership aren’t advocating for government intervention into the lives of gun owners, I welcome them to the discussion. I might not agree with everything that Gross decides to promote, just as I don’t always agree with the actions and positions of established gun rights groups, but “iron sharpens iron.” Discussions, even arguments, over philosophy and the best approach to the right to arms are a useful and productive process, unlike shouting and foot-stomping.
The 2nd Amendment Rally was, overall, a huge success.
We gathered over 2000 rights advocates on the Capitol lawn on very short notice, and without funding or active support from any of the major advocacy organizations. We brought together some 30 speakers representing a wide array of perspectives and approaches, all fiercely advocating against the creeping encroachment of government regulation on our fundamental right to arms. We were respectful, cheerful, and more diverse in terms of race, outlook, and lifestyle than the dominant media would ever admit.
We used technology to send our message far beyond the couple of thousand in direct attendance to thousands more virtual participants watching the live stream, and still, more who have and continue to watch the archive footage online, making this one of the most widely seen Second Amendment events ever held.
The core theme of the rally was the message that “You Are the Gun Lobby.” It is and must remain the core message of the pro-rights movement. You can’t rely on some group – any group – to protect your rights, and just sending a few dollars now and then does not get the job done. You must take direct action in the form of calls and letters to elected officials, and involvement in getting the right people elected. It’s also critical that you engage with friends and family, with clear facts and by demonstrating a strong example of responsible gun ownership.
Efforts to spread the truth about gun owners and gun ownership into non-traditional communities – women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, LGBTQ folks, and people of every political and religious persuasion – depend on you. We need everyone to know that the Second Amendment protects THEIR rights, just as it protects our rights. The Second Amendment is for everyone, and we need everyone we come in contact with to feel welcome and appreciated as a fellow rights supporter. The right to arms must transcend our differences and bind us together under a single banner and common cause.
Don’t let other differences and disagreements get in the way of what really matters. The right to arms is universal. Christians and Jews and Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus and Buddhists and atheists and everyone else, have the right to defend themselves and their families from criminals and from oppressors. We don’t have to agree on the path to Heaven or road to enlightenment, but we can all agree that life is precious and worth defending.
Democrats and Republicans and Socialists and Libertarians and Independents and members of every other political party or philosophy, can agree on the right to arms while disagreeing on virtually everything else, and that agreement is the common ground on which personal relationships and mutual respect can be built.
Sure, it’s hard to understand how someone could be a supporter of the Second Amendment and also be a supporter of Beto O’Rourke, but they undoubtedly exist. The trick is to focus on the former rather than the latter. Embrace the agreement rather than focusing on the difference, and you might have a chance of changing their mind about their choice in presidential candidates. If instead, you focus on the difference, you not only have virtually no chance of influencing that choice, you run a very high probability of pushing that person away from support for rights, by making them feel unwelcome. That’s not how we win in the long run. For more insights into this sort of thing, check out the new podcast from my “liberal” friend Sarah Cade and Jon Hauptman. I think this is going to be a very useful series.
The Second Amendment belongs to everyone, and we must let everyone know that because we need everyone supporting it if we ever hope to secure our rights.
It wasn’t that long ago that some of the most dedicated defenders of the Second Amendment in Congress were Democrats, and gun rights legislation could pass with bipartisan support. That’s not the case today, but could be true again at some point in the future, but not if we push away Democrat gun owners.
That’s why I welcome Dan Gross into our fraternity. He can’t hurt us, and he could potentially help us immensely. He can help us to understand our opponents better, and that’s always useful. The most important thing though, is that we can only win this fight by increasing our numbers. Rejecting and offending people who could be our allies is just foolish and self-defeating.
You Are the Gun Lobby. Your activism, your example, and your influence are what will make the difference between winning this fight, or sliding down the slippery slope of never-ending, incremental gun control.
The 2nd Amendment Rally Organizing Committee has disbanded, and all of our records are being deleted, as we promised they would be, but a new committee is already forming to hold another rally next year. Start planning now to be part of its success, but more importantly, start acting now to own the title of “the Gun Lobby,” and lead the way into a brighter future.