[UPDATE 12/01/2022: The Second Amendment Foundation, along with The Firearms Policy Coalition, and several businesses and individuals, has filed suit in Federal Court against the magazine ban section of Ballot Measure 114, which is scheduled to go into effect on December 8. The suit calls for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief to keep the ban from being enforced.
More information about the suit can be found in articles here on Ammoland.com, here and here.
The NSSF has now filed a suit as well.]
U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Politicians in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Washington, Chicago, and elsewhere, keep telling the world that their constituents – the people who elected them – are stupider, less responsible, less rational, less trustworthy, and more prone to violence than the people in other areas of the United States. And the voters in those states and jurisdictions keep reelecting them.
Is that proof that the politicians are right and their constituents are stupider than the rest of us out here in flyover country?
Tombstone, Arizona –-(Ammoland.com)- You might be familiar with the question-and-answer site on the internet called Quora.com. While a lot of the discussion on the site is just garbage, a question that’s worth exploring occasionally pops up. Amidst the wrangling over “military-style” weapons and such, I recently ran across a question that I think is worth answering.
The question was:
“What is the legal precedent allowing private ownership of military weapons in the United States?”
First, “private ownership of military weapons” is not “allowed” in the US. It’s a right.
You wouldn’t say that practicing Catholicism or Judaism is “allowed” or that reading book is “allowed.” It is a right that is recognized in the US Constitution as fundamental and preexisting that document. The government can’t “allow” rights. They either recognize and respect them or don’t, which is how civil wars start.
Contrary to what President Biden keeps babbling on about cannons, the Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms” was considered comprehensive at the time of the founding. Civilians could and did own cannons, repeating rifles, and even warships armed with cannons. In his ridiculous decision in the Dred Scott case, explaining why dark-skinned people of African heritage could not be citizens, Justice Taney infamously rolled out his “parade of horribles,” saying that if African-Americans were citizens, they would be able to freely travel between states, hold political meetings, and carry arms wherever they went.
That suggests that the Supreme Court at that time recognized that the Second Amendment is the individual right of all citizens and that it was not restricted to only federal limits.
In 1934, Congress used legal sleight-of-hand to get around the prohibitions of the Second Amendment by calling restrictions on machine guns a tax measure rather than a firearm restriction law; supporters of the law were concerned about it potentially being overturned by the courts. They were looking for a perfect test case to try and slip a new law, the National Firearms Act, past the courts. They found what they were looking for in a case known as US v. Miller, in which a couple of low-life thugs had been caught for bank robbery and were additionally charged with possessing a sawed-off shotgun and transporting said short-barreled shotgun across state lines for illegal purposes. Their lawyer challenged the additional penalties for violating the NFA, which was fast-tracked to the Supreme Court in 1939. In their decision, the Court focused on the “militia clause” of the amendment, saying that any review of the amendment must consider the militia’s purpose.
That’s the part of the flawed decision that all of the lower courts latched onto for the next 70 years, but that was really just part of the dicta of the decision.
The actual meat of the ruling was that, since the Court had no evidence that a short-barreled shotgun served any purpose in the proper function of a militia, they found that such a weapon was not covered by the protections of the Second Amendment.
Often overlooked about Miller is that there was no one arguing on behalf of Miller and his accomplice. One of them was dead, and the other was serving long sentences for other crimes. No lawyer representing them or their side appeared to present any briefs or arguments. A second overlooked or intentionally missed point is that short-barreled shotguns have always had a place in military units. But here was no one to tell the Court that.
The government argued that the Second Amendment protected the “collective right” of being armed during active militia service, but the Court directly rejected that argument.
A true reading of the Miller decision suggests that the objective of having access to a properly functioning (in other words, “well regulated”) militia must be taken into account when looking at Second Amendment cases and that the amendment covers only such arms as are useful to a properly functioning militia. That would mean that ONLY military-type weapons would be covered, which, if Miller were properly read, would include machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and crew-served infantry weapons.
Instead of giving the Miller decision a fair reading, a lower court judge misrepresented the Court’s militia comments to mean exactly the argument that the Court had rejected about the Second Amendment referring to a “collective right.” All of the other courts jumped on that court’s misconstrued interpretation. For almost seventy years, care was taken to avoid ever sending any questionable case back up to the Supreme Court.
For most of the last century, that flawed interpretation was the standard the courts used as “settled law” and what was taught in law schools.
In the early 1970s, a University of Arizona law student named David Hardy, stumbled on the Miller decision and recognized the incompatibility with what he was being told in his studies.
He approached his professor and was encouraged to pursue the subject to better understand what he was reading wrong in the precedents. Hardy dove deep into the case law and the history and couldn’t get around the fact that there was simply no true precedent for the prevailing attitude holding the Second Amendment to be dealing with a “collective,” not “individual,” right. He wrote an article for the Arizona Law Review explaining his findings, and that article was widely ignored as the Arizona Law Review was not a very prominent journal. Fortunately, California attorney, criminologist, and constitutional law professor Don Kates happened to read the article and thought it worth pursuing. In 1983, he wrote his own article in the Michigan Law Review, supporting Hardy’s conclusions. More people read the Michigan Law Review than the one from Arizona, and Kates’ article was noticed by a prominent law professor in Texas named Sanford Levinson. Levinson thought the article was absurd, so he and his graduate students began a research project to correct the errors of Kates and Hardy. The result was an article in the Yale Law Review titled “The Embarrassing Second Amendment,” in which Levinson lamented the fact that after thorough research, he had concluded that Kates and Hardy were indeed right.
The Second Amendment did protect a virtually unrestricted individual right to arms.
Over the next 20 years, the Supreme Court steadfastly avoided taking Second Amendment cases, and activists on both sides of the issue helped steer potential SCOTUS cases away from the Court, as neither side was confident in how the Court might rule.
Finally, in 2008, even though the NRA had tried to derail the case, fearing the Court would rule against their interests, the Court heard the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, resulting in a landmark decision. Though the case was very narrowly focused on the question of whether Dick Heller had a constitutional right to have a functional handgun in his home in DC for personal defense, the Court couldn’t help voiding the mistaken notion of a “collective right” being implied in “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” All nine Justices agreed that the right protected was “individual” in nature, but four of the Justices argued that “shall not be infringed” somehow meant “shouldn’t be unreasonably infringed” and that the individual right to arms had to be directly connected to active service in the militia. Those four were outnumbered by the five justices who concluded that NO direct connection to active participation in the militia was necessary and that “shall not be infringed” does not imply the inclusion of the word “unreasonably.”
The Court majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, included some dicta suggesting that the protection only applied to such arms as are in “common use” at the time and which would be normal for a person to bring with them to militia service if called upon. (In the US, all able-bodied persons above the age of 18 are automatically considered to be members of the militia, regardless of any active service.)
A few years later, in the case of McDonald v. Chicago, the Court held that the right protected by the Second Amendment is “fundamental” and applies to the states under the “Equal Protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Then, just a few months ago, the Court ruled in NYSRPA v. Bruen, in a six to three decision, that the “right to keep and bear arms” includes bearing arms for personal protection outside the home. The decision also set the standard for evaluating the application of the amendment to the actual text and its perceived meaning and application at the time it was adopted, without consideration for the “public safety” or other concerns of states or municipalities.
Under these rulings, Heller, McDonald, and NYSRPA v. Bruen, and to a lesser extent Miller, the Court has established that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms, inside and outside the home and that the right applies to arms that are commonly held by the populace, and that the protections apply to the federal government and all subsidiary governments, as a fundamental right.
As “military-style” arms are specifically identified as protected in the Miller decision, and as virtually all firearms have evolved from military designs, and “military-style” arms such as the AR15 and AK variants are among the most popular and common rifles in civilian hands, the matter should be considered pretty well settled.
Rights advocates are now pushing for rolling back or repealing laws like the Hughes Amendment, which cut off the sales of new, full-auto firearms back in 1986, and the National Firearms Act, which added restrictions on a wide variety of arms back in 1934.
Meanwhile, gun control advocates keep pushing new laws which are clearly unconstitutional, such as bans on so-called “assault weapons” and limits on ammunition capacity.
As Sanford Levinson wrote in his Yale Law Review article, “The Embarrassing Second Amendment,” the correct approach for those wanting to restrict firearms must begin with amending or repealing the Second Amendment.
Tombstone, Arizona –-(Ammoland.com)- The Supreme Court has only one job. That job can be multi-faceted, but it’s still just one job. The job is to look at laws and lower court decisions and determine whether the law or conclusion of the lower court is following the Constitution.
It should not matter whether a Justice is personally “pro-abortion” or “anti-abortion,” “pro-gun” or “anti-gun,” “pro-religion” or “anti-religion,” or any other personal philosophy or beliefs that they may hold. The only thing that matters is that they fairly, rationally, reasonably, and faithfully interpret the original intent and meaning of the words in the Constitution and apply those words, intent, and meaning to the application of laws today.
For decades (actually almost from the very beginning), some members of the Supreme Court have allowed politics and personal beliefs to encroach on the way they apply the Constitution.
They’ve played games with the law and manipulated language, history, and logic to find creative justification for doing what they have wanted to be done, rather than doing the difficult but more straightforward work of applying the Constitution as it was written and intended, even when it doesn’t comport with their desires or philosophy.
Justice Clarence Thomas is an exception.
His decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the recent ruling striking down New York’s requirement that a person has a demonstrable need, above and beyond a general desire for self-protection, to be “granted” a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public, is a demonstration of applying the Constitution correctly. Not only did he and the majority of the Court reject New York’s arbitrary “need” requirement, he, with their concurrence, also made clear the constitutional standard the lower courts are supposed to be using to evaluate any fundamental right claim.
That standard is whether the law or lower court ruling comports with the Constitution.
He gives no leeway for states or municipalities’ “pressing need” or “compelling public interest,” but instead focuses solely on the meaning and intent of the words at the time they were adopted.
If Thomas’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen made people angry, his concurrence in Dobbs, the case which overturned Roe v. Wade, made them apoplectic, especially when he called for a reversal of other SCOTUS decisions which employed the same questionable legal theory known as “substantive due process.” Cases depending on that theory include a decision regarding same-sex marriage and another regarding choices in contraception. The rulings and Thomas’s objections to the theory of “substantive due process” triggered a flood of vitriol driven by a justifiable fear that the legal foundation for those rulings had been undermined.
The core of the insults, threats, and abuse is the idea that Thomas has a political agenda. In reality, Thomas is blocking and exposing the political agendas of others, not promoting one of his own.
It’s a pretty safe bet that Justice Thomas doesn’t have personal objections to people choosing their preferred form of contraception or consenting adults sleeping with or marrying whomever they choose. He objects to the use of a legal theory that he considers bogus to create a constitutional right where none exists, or if it does exist, it can be proven under a better argument than “substantive due process.” To Justice Thomas, it’s not about blocking abortions, making it easier for people to carry guns, or interfering in the bedroom choices of average Americans; it’s about faithfully following the Constitution. If the American people don’t like the limits or restrictions of the Constitution, they have the means available to make changes to it. But the Supreme Court is not supposed to be a shortcut to amending the Constitution, and Clarence Thomas is on a mission to not only prevent that sort of end-run in the future but to correct the abuses of past iterations of the Court.
While Justice Thomas is the most prominent example of this “originalist” approach to the job of a Supreme Court Justice, other past and current members of the Court have shared his beliefs to some extent. Some, like Chief Justice John Roberts, object to disturbing established precedents because correcting them would create a ripple effect through the judicial system. They demand adherence to precedent, even when it’s clear that precedent stems from bad decisions that have become the foundation of additional bad laws. Others are committed to the political or philosophical objectives of the bad precedents and don’t want them reversed because that would go against their political views.
While Thomas generally looks to the Constitution as it was written and at the cases that were decided shortly after it was ratified, he is also willing to accept duly ratified amendments, notably the Fourteenth Amendment.
In McDonald v. Chicago, which confirmed that the individual right to arms is a fundamental, individual right that the states cannot ignore, Justice Thomas agreed with the majority that the right must be enforced against the states. But he argued against the use of “incorporation” under the “Due Process” clause of the 14th Amendment. Instead, Thomas argued in favor of restoration of the “Privileges and Immunities” clause of the 14th Amendment, as it was intended when it was ratified.
The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, in the wake of the Civil War, to establish freed slaves as full citizens of the United States, with all of the constitutionally protected rights, privileges, and immunities, enjoyed by all other U.S. citizens. But back in 1873, in a case that didn’t involve race, the Supreme Court entered a ruling that gutted the core of the Amendment. Here’s the pertinent section of the amendment:
Section 1. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The Court has parsed that section into three distinct clauses: The “Privileges and Immunities” clause, The “Due Process” clause, and The “Equal Protection” clause. In 1873, less than 5 years after the 14th Amendment was ratified, in a ruling widely known as the “Slaughterhouse Cases,” the Court delivered their controversial decision claiming that the “Privileges and Immunities clause” only applies to federal laws on federal properties, and did not protect all of the rights of citizenship for all citizens of the United States, even though that was the clear and very public intent of the amendment authors, and was advertised as such in the campaign to ratify it. In subsequent cases, the Court has stood by this seriously flawed decision, but through the years, the Court has effectively restored many of the intended protections of the “Privileges and Immunities” clause by selectively and creatively applying the “Due Process” and “Equal Protection” clauses.
The decision in the Slaughterhouse cases is widely considered one of the worst decisions to come out of the Supreme Court.
It is unlikely that you could find a single legal scholar in the past 100 years, who would defend the decision as right and correct, yet the Court has steadfastly refused to correct this glaring error, instead choosing to use creative workarounds.
When the McDonald case came to the Court in 2010, arguing that individuals’ Second Amendment rights could not be usurped by the states, many legal scholars saw the case as a prime opportunity for the Court to correct their long-held Slaughterhouse error. Indeed, attorney Alan Gura, representing Otis McDonald and the Second Amendment Foundation, argued during the first half of his allotted argument time, that the Court should take this position. The second half of his argument time was planned to be focused on the Court’s more favored “incorporation” theory for applying the “Due Process” clause. In the end, the Court allowed the NRA to intervene in the case, and the “Due Process” arguments were offered by their attorney, Paul Clement – who happened to have been the Solicitor General who argued for the government in the Heller case.
The Court ruled in favor of McDonald, but chose to use “Incorporation” under the “Due Process” clause, instead of reversing the Slaughterhouse decision.
Justice Thomas argued at the time in favor of reversing Slaughterhouse and has consistently argued for Supreme Court Justices to correct past mistakes and reduce their reliance on past precedents in ruling on cases. He doesn’t argue this to advance his own political agenda or make his job easier, but to bring the Court back into alignment with the Constitution and hopefully keep it there.
At the moment, Justice Thomas is the leading advocate for this approach, though there are a couple of other justices currently on the Court who tend to agree with his position, at least to a substantial degree.
But there are powerful forces that are adamantly opposed to Thomas’s originalist approach. Those forces include most of the legacy media and the entire Democratic Party. They paint Justice Thomas as a crazed right-winger, trying to undo all of the good things the Court has accomplished over the past 50+ years, and they have riled up mobs of people who are now convinced that Thomas is the greatest threat to our democracy that anyone has ever seen.
This is wrong, abusive, and dangerous – to Thomas and our nation.
So I ask you to join me in praying for Justice Thomas’s continued good health and safety, and for his efforts to rein in the Courts to be successful.
Tombstone, Arizona –-(Ammoland.com)- The Supreme Court finally announced its long-awaited decision in the case of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen yesterday, and as expected, it’s a doozy.
The decision was written by my longtime favorite Justice Clarence Thomas and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Justice Breyer was joined in a lonnnnng, emotion-laden dissent, by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor.
Probably the single most important aspect of Thomas’s ruling is a repudiation of the lower courts’ use of various “balancing schemes” and “tests” in deciding Second Amendment cases. A declaration that these cases should be decided based on the text of the Constitution, and the historical application of that text at the time it was adopted, not by any sort of “ends-means” scrutiny. The ruling, and much of the dicta going along with it, is narrowly focused on New York’s “may issue” licensing system, which gives bureaucrats the authority to deny carry licenses on the basis of arbitrary standards and their own discretion.
Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief justice Roberts, penned a concurring opinion that goes to some pains to point out limits on the reach of the Court’s ruling, particularly noting that the ruling doesn’t negate state laws that require that certain conditions be met before issuing a carry license, such as criminal background checks, safety training, and education on state laws related to firearm use. He also quotes from Heller to stress the idea that the Second Amendment is not without limits, and that some regulation of firearms and firearm owners, as has been traditionally employed, is tolerable under the Constitution.
This concurring opinion from Kavanaugh and Roberts reinforces the perception of many in the rights community, that these two are the “weakest links” in the Court’s “conservative” block.
What’s important though, is that by denouncing “ends-means scrutiny” and “balancing test” schemes, Justice Thomas and the Court majority have effectively removed the most commonly used tool of the appellate courts for skirting the protections of the Second Amendment.
This will make it much more difficult for those courts to come up with excuses for allowing clearly unconstitutional infringements, to remain in force. The ruling basically says that from now on, when a court is looking at a Second Amendment case, they must look at the original text and history, and if that text and history does not support the infringement, then the law must be ruled unconstitutional, regardless of what sort of government interest might be served by allowing the law to stand.
This should have far-reaching ramifications.
In response to the majority opinion, the “liberal wing” of the Court offered a long, rambling dissent, penned by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who once called for a repeal of the Second Amendment. In it, Breyer pours out all sorts of irrelevant statistics about “gun deaths,” mass shootings, “gun suicides,” and other such “guns are bad, m’kay” nonsense. To his credit, in his own concurring opinion, Justice Alito shredded Breyer and his emotional dissent, pointing out that none of his 100+ pages of arguments and statistics have any bearing on the case at hand, which is about the defense of fundamental human rights.
This case and decision serve as a reminder of how much elections matter, and how important it is to sometimes hold your nose and vote for someone who’s not our friend, but who is also not a friend to our enemies. [read Dr. Oz] I was never a Donald Trump fan, and the best arguments I could come up with to vote for him were:
1. He wasn’t Hillary Clinton.
2. He might hire some sharp people to help him get his head right on guns.
3. He’d be under extreme scrutiny and have to fight for everything he tried to do, with Democrats vehemently opposing him, and a number of Republicans watching and opposing him almost as much.
4. The next President would be naming at least one or two Supreme Court Justices, and those picks would be critical for decades to come.
In the end, many of my concerns about Trump proved out, as he did betray gun owners with his actions on bump-stocks and his calls for “red flag” laws, but he surprised me with much of what he was able to accomplish during his term. Most importantly, President Trump nominated three relatively solid new Justices to the Supreme Court and got them confirmed. I’m not completely thrilled with Justice Kavanaugh, and I’ve been a little disappointed with Justice Gorsuch at times, but the ruling released yesterday demonstrates just how important those three appointments were, and will be for the next decade or two. Appointments like those are worth taking a chance on a back-stabber if it gets Gun Voters the majority control, especially when you know that the alternative would be a hundred times worse.
Pray for Justice Thomas
Going forward, we all need to pray for the continued health and safety of all of the Justices, especially Justice Thomas, who is the longest-serving Justice on the Court, and now the oldest member of the Court, at 74, as well as the most constitutionally correct. While the other members of the Court are much younger than Justice Thomas, they face risks as well, particularly since the “leak” of the draft opinion in the Dobbs case, which exposed today’s decision by the Court to overturn the infamous decision in Roe v. Wade. Illegal protests have now been activated outside Justices’ homes, and threats of violence have significantly increased.
Earlier this month, a man was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland. The man had a pistol and extra magazines, along with a “tactical” knife, tools, duck tape, and other “burglar equipment.” He had arrived at Kavanaugh’s home in a taxi a little after 1:00 in the morning but walked down the street after noticing two Federal Marshals in front of the house. The man then called 911 and reported that he was armed and suicidal, and he had traveled from California with the intention of killing Justice Kavanaugh, then killing himself, as a way to “give his life meaning.”
He was arrested without incident, while still on the line with the 911 operator. The man told FBI investigators that he had decided to kill Kavanaugh because he assumed Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and against New York in the NYSRPA v. Bruen case, “weakening” gun control laws.
For some unfathomable reason, the media has been unusually quiet about this failed political assassination plan, instead of focusing on the January 6th “insurrection” hearings, and the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation suit. Of course, we can only speculate on what news coverage might look like if one of the “liberal” justices had been the target of an assassination plan by a crazed “right-winger,” but I’m guessing it would be just a little more aggressive. In fact, it would probably trigger another round of demands for more gun control laws. After all, this criminal nut-job apparently acquired his weapons and ammunition in California, flew to DC, then took a taxi to Kavanaugh’s house in Maryland. Obviously stronger gun laws would have prevented all of that. (<– the writer typed sarcastically.)
With the ruling on Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case now out, we can expect more violent responses. Several “groups” and individuals have been openly advocating for a day – or week or month – of civil unrest and destruction in response to the expected decision. Again, for some reason, the legacy media doesn’t seem interested in those threats, and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook don’t seem interested in suspending or canceling these folks’ accounts. As long as they’re not saying anything extreme and controversial, like suggesting that a woman is an adult female human, I guess they get a pass.
Pray for Justice Thomas’s continued health, and for the safety of all of the Justices. The crazy’s getting pretty deep.
Gun owners, rights activists, and lovers of liberty will be gathering on the lawn of the Capitol in Washington DC on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019, at 1:00 in the afternoon.
If you live within 200 miles of DC, there is little excuse for missing this critical event, and many people who live much farther away will be doing whatever it takes to be there. Buses are being arranged by local groups from as far away as New York, Ohio, and South Carolina. Check with your local groups to see what arrangements are being made, and if they aren’t doing anything, take the initiative and volunteer to be the local coordinator to take reservations and rent a bus or van.
This is a grassroots effort, and you are the grassroots. Without the active participation of you and other grassroots activists, this isn’t going to work. At the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference, activist Nicki Stallard characterized the difference between rights activists and gun control extremists, saying that we’re herding cats, while they are stampeding cattle. That’s pretty accurate, though I think sheep or lemmings would be more appropriate in describing anti-rights activists.
As I said in my presentation at GRPC, the most powerful force in the U.S. political system is YOU. You are the Gun Lobby. We can no longer let someone else do it for you, or say “I gave at the office.” It’s up to You. You must communicate with your elected servants – whether they agree with you or not – and be sure that they know what you expect from them. You must help elect politicians that understand and respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You must be sure that your family, your friends, your coworkers, your church family, your kids’ friends and their parents, all know the importance of the Second Amendment and the fallacy of gun control laws.
You don’t have to be a scholar or an expert, but you do need to do what you can. Politicians don’t actually read your letters and emails, nor do they get detailed notes about your phone calls. The majority of the time, a low-level staffer looks at your correspondence and puts a check-mark in a “For” or “Against” column, which is then relayed to the politician in the form of a report: “362 constituent comments opposing Bill xyz, 48 supporting it.” That’s it. So find a couple of resources you trust to keep you up-to-date on what’s going on in Washington and your state capitol, and when they ask you to take action, take action – every time they ask. And call your elected servants once a week to make sure your check-mark is counted.
Anti-rights extremists think they have the upper hand right now because of the troubles at the NRA and the public’s emotional reaction to the horrific acts of a few murderous lunatics. Those anti-rights extremists are counting on you to shuffle around in circles wringing your hands and wondering what to do.
Even some in our own movement are more concerned about how it might look if only a few rights activists show up at the Capitol on November 2nd. What a self-defeating attitude. They’re not going to attend or encourage others to attend because there might not be enough people in attendance to make a good showing…? Get on-board or get out of the way. Call that defeatist attitude out for what it is.
Others worry about how our opponents might capitalize on one of our number saying something stupid to a reporter or being arrested for illegally bringing a gun into the District. Such concerns show a serious lack of faith and trust in their fellow gun owners. Antagonistic reporters roam the aisles of gun shows and pro-rights meetings on a regular basis. Of course, they’ll try to make us look bad. But refusing to stand up for rights, on the basis of such fears, is tantamount to surrender in advance.
Still others argue that they won’t attend because the laws of the District insist that they be disarmed, and they refuse to do that. I get that, I truly do. I well know the discomfort of “going naked,” especially in “enemy territory.” I spent years commuting into the District almost every day, and it was uncomfortable. But I did it for my wife, my sons, and my grandsons. I was willing to endure that discomfort and degradation, because that was the only way to do what needed to be done, and the risks of running afoul of law enforcement in DC are much greater than the risks of criminal assault. Of course it’s possible that some crazed “Beto” or Bernie, or Elizabeth Warren supporter might decide to take out their misplaced anger and frustration on a “mob of deplorable gun nuts,” but they’d be operating in one of the most densely policed areas in the country, and besides, everyone knows that leftists are lousy shots. If such fears don’t deter Representative Steve Scalise, they shouldn’t deter you.
The core message of the 2nd Amendment Rally, is “We Are the Gun Lobby,” as in “We the People,” and we demand that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights be respected and adhered to. The speakers list is still under construction, but President Trump, Vice President Pence, Representative Scalise, Representative Massie, Senator Paul, and other congressional leaders have been invited, to join with grassroots rights leaders and activists from around the country.
Are you going to be there, or are you going to come up with an excuse?
Is your favorite grassroots group actively working to inform members about the rally and encouraging them to attend, or are they making up excuses? Will you volunteer to change that?
It all comes down to YOU and what you’re willing to do. Get three buddies and plan a road-trip, or better yet, get six buddies and borrow your wife’s minivan. Or even better, get forty or fifty buddies and charter a bus. Push your groups to be involved, and volunteer to help. You can make all the difference.
This could be the most important Second Amendment event of our lifetime. Only You can ensure that it’s a success. Go to www.2ndAmendmentRally.com to register and get more information. Together we can shake up Washington and save the republic. Let’s roll.
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.
Do you know individuals who are qualified?
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.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
By Jeff Knox
(February 5, 2009) It has been famously said and often repeated that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. While this statement is generally true, it is incomplete. Regardless of what the Supreme Court says, the Constitution ultimately means what the People believe it to mean.
So far in our history the Supreme Court has refrained from any interpretation of the Constitution that was so flagrantly at odds with the beliefs of the People that a serious, violent uprising ensued.But they may have come perilously close in last year’s decision in DC v. Heller. In that case the Court unanimously agreed that the Second Amendment refers to an individual right to arms, but disagreed in a 5 – 4 split as to whether the District of Columbia’s virtual ban on handguns violated that individual right. Even in the prevailing opinion, the justices expressed positions which are completely at odds with the understanding of those of us in the Second Amendment community.