May 24, 2016
One of the best reminders that NRA really does represent a real grassroots movement is that members directly elect the board of directors. There’s a clearly defined way to become a voter and the results are published openly.
I’ve added this year’s numbers to my collection of NRA voting data. There are a few interesting differences this year over previous years.
The number of voting members who were sent ballots has increased 36.5% since I started keeping track in 2006. Most of that growth has happened since 2011 when there appears to have been a cleaning of the rolls.
The yellow bar is how many were mailed back vs. how many were mailed in red.
2016S represents the special recall election of 2016.
The number of voters actually participating in the elections is, unfortunately, not very high and not growing substantially. But given that we have a growing problem of too many celebrities and are losing activist leaders with diverse skills, this may not be a great number. It would probably be better to see more informed voters rather than increasing numbers of people voting for any name they vaguely recognize from popular culture.
Perhaps one of the most interesting statistics is the fact that “last winner” was on a fewer percentage of ballots than ever before. The same was almost true for the top vote getter as well. (Technically, last year’s top vote winner, Ronnie Barrett, was on a lower percentage of the ballots, but not by much.) Those two numbers indicate to me that more voters are more likely bullet voting – voting only for a handful of candidates instead of all 25 slots. That’s actually a much smarter way to vote if you’re interested in getting key candidates on the board. Increasing the votes of those who you care about less could end up hurting your favorites on the ballot.
Another good number from this election is that the percentage of invalid ballots is still low – 2.79%. That’s compared to a high of 8.71% from the years I’ve been tracking. The most common mistake is marking too many candidates. But the next highest mistake is an easy one to fix – remembering to sign the envelope before you seal it and mail it. A whooping 723 voters didn’t have their ballots counted because of this authentication error.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is what a difference only a few votes makes. The difference between the candidate who did make the 25th seat and the one who did not was only 841 votes. That’s a number smaller than some 100% NRA clubs. Votes do matter, and I loved that NRA started giving out buttons to members who took the time to vote in the 76th director race. If they keep doing that, you know I’m going to start a collection and wear them on my pass each year. :)
May 24, 2016
While I was driving all the way from Louisville to Philadelphia-area yesterday, Sebastian handled the reporting of what so many always want to know – how many freedom lovers came out to hang out with fellow NRA members.
Beyond the fact that it’s the 2nd largest convention, how does it really compare? Fortunately for you all, I like data that no one else seems to keep.
I’ve been keeping track of the attendance ever since my first meeting in 2004, or as I call it, Pittsburgh #1. Since that first meeting I attended out of college, this year’s meeting was about 1/3 bigger (31.2%). Over last year, the growth was nearly 2,000 people, but only about 2%.
In that time, we’ve had 4 repeat cities – Louisville, Houston, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh. Aside from Houston which is kind of an anomaly, Louisville actually saw the greatest same city increase in attendance (21.5% compared to Pittsburgh at 16% and St. Louis at 14.3%).
Most of the dips you see in the early columns are simply location issues. That has become less of an issue since I started attending, as more people are willing to make this an annual or nearly annual tradition regardless of how far it is. In this article on Indianapolis securing two more years, they note that Houston’s last convention saw 43% of attendees coming from 200 miles away or more. You can see this reflected around the floor and in the member meeting where this year’s family of the youngest life member was from Chicago and the oldest life member traveled from Ft. Smith, Arkansas.
And while I don’t have firm numbers since the other side is against such measures, I can tell you that you can largely flip this chart around and chop off many zeros on the numbers to represent the anti-gun side presence at each event. There were actually a good number of protesters at Pittsburgh #1. They were pretty good spirited folks, too. There was a chanting contest and someone who shipped a Million Moms banner up from their Atlanta chapter. The biggest downers at the event were the ACLU volunteers who were trying to convince NRA members that they had no right to photograph protestors on the street, presumably in an effort to keep us from highlighting how few there were compared to the 61,319 NRA members. There was an uptick for Pittsburgh again in 2011, but otherwise, the protests just keep getting smaller.
It will be interesting to see the future. The event is getting large enough now that many cities simply cannot handle it. Even though Louisville has some of the largest event space in the country, the logistics just don’t work well. The Expo Center didn’t open enough gates for getting people into the parking lot, and there parking attendants weren’t on top of making sure spaces were filled in an orderly manner on their busiest days. They also apparently did nothing to try and direct traffic on the main roads to under-utilized gates. The gate we used (6) had very little wait on Friday based on the Google traffic report and very little on Saturday, too. That’s on the city hosts, and not on NRA. However, since NRA has to look at the bottom line of member experience, Louisville could lose future business by their unwillingness to manage traffic in a reasonable manner for an event they knew to be huge. Interestingly, it looks like Louisville is losing other conventions of similar sizes like the FFA which is close to 60,000 people. That article actually notes that new hotel space is only going up downtown, away from the Expo Center. That only compounds the traffic concerns.
As for the immediate future, the dates and locations are:
2019 – Indianapolis, Indiana
2020 – Nashville, Tennessee
May 21, 2016
Usually when a reporter wants to spin against the NRA and its millions of grassroots members, it’s a lot more subtle than outright fabrication of things that did not happen where cameras and thousands of people are present. I mean, let’s face it, that’s just bold to think you won’t get caught in that kind of lie.
However, that’s what Louisville Business First‘s Baylee Pulliam tried to pull off in her Twitter coverage of the NRA Annual Meeting.
Pulliam tried to claim that NRA was dubbing dog noises over video of Hillary.
Except they didn’t. It’s a complete lie that NRA dubbed barking noises over Hillary. NRA simply played the video of Hillary herself barking like a dog.
Even though I was in the law seminar during the political event, I checked with multiple people there, and I watched the video which NRA News helpfully streams live and posts after the event.
But don’t let that stop the narrative that must be told that NRA and its members hate women. No, Pulliam needs to help push a narrative, so false accusations of dubbing must fly around social media.
Since at least one person has called her out, Pulliam tried to delete her tweet. But was there any kind of correction or apology posted? Nope.
Acknowledging such an accusation means it gets documented that the reporter doesn’t actually keep up with current events and somehow missed the news of Hillary barking, doesn’t do research before throwing out claims against innocent organizations, or she really is simply willing to unfairly accuse NRA of actions they did not take until someone publicly calls her out. With more than 20,000 videos on YouTube and nearly 500,000 Google links when searching “Hillary Clinton barking,” I find it doubtful that someone covering political events would miss that kind of news. It’s certainly possible that she just throws out accusations and doesn’t do research before doing so, but that seems a little reckless for a reporter at a business-focused media outlet. Sadly, that leaves the third option as a very real possibility.
May 19, 2016
As we planned our route through various states on the way to Louisville based on their carry laws, I was just thinking about how many laws I could break if I decided to wear more hats.
I didn’t have time to see if the states we’ll be traveling through still have hatpin restrictions on the books, but I was just thinking about this while digging out my American flag pin and admiring my great grandmother’s (1890-1986) hatpin that my mother gave me that resides in the same holder.
As you can see, this one isn’t very stabby anymore, so it may be fine under some ordinances. However, some of the bans were written based on how far the pins protruded from the hat (not the brim) rather than how sharp the ends might have been.
This one got its first test with me during a memorial service last month, and I’m happy to report that it was stabby enough to get through my hat and my hair. If I needed to, I’m sure it could have been sufficiently stabby enough to get through an attacker’s hand with some force. (Maybe. I’m not about to risk the heirloom pin to find out how much force it can take.)
It’s very tempting to see if any future cities for NRA conventions still have highly restrictive hatpin laws on the books that were specifically passed to keep women from defending themselves and find some lovely new hats that warrant wearing pins to secure them in place. A little civil disobedience can be fun. I checked, and I don’t see any newspaper accounts or Google hits for anti-pin ordinances in Louisville. Being the home of the Kentucky Derby, I would imagine that a ban would be more fiercely fought there than other places.
So whether your self-defense tool of choice is a handgun or hatpin, women are well protected in Louisville.
Mar 16, 2016
President Obama will announce his nominee to replace Justice Scalia shortly. The press reports that it is Merrick Garland.
Not surprisingly, he’s got a record that does not point to a positive future for the Second Amendment if he is confirmed.
This article from Dave Kopel in 2008 warned of Garland on a short list to be appointed, and he cited red flags from Garland’s role in Parker v. District of Columbia and NRA v. Reno. Kopel summed it up this way:
Merrick Garland is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He could be counted on not only to oppose Second Amendment rights in general, but even to nullify explicit congressional statutes that protect those rights.
More recently, even National Review noted that Garland’s positions on the Second Amendment were enough cause for worry since the White House indicated they might choose someone “moderate,” and these aren’t signs of moderate positions on the right to keep and bear arms.
Media Matters had a post up early this morning trying to claim that these previous moves are “myths,” and that he’s not really anti-Second Amendment. I guess that means the White House knows it will be a problem. Now would be a great time to call your Senator and let them know what you think about this nominee.
Feb 13, 2016
Word is just breaking that Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead this morning in Texas. Thoughts and prayers go to his family.
Politically speaking, this really shakes up the Supreme Court on the issue of the right to keep and bear arms. In 2012, Sebastian blogged about this potential in terms of the odds that all Heller Five make it to the end of 2016. The numbers weren’t good, and they proved to be accurate.
Jan 8, 2016
Merriam-Webster defines extortion as “the act or practice of extorting especially money or other property; especially: the offense committed by an official engaging in such practice.”
The mayor of Harrisburg who has made clear that he hates NRA and its members went to the press whining that NRA isn’t engaging in pay-for-play for hosting the Great American Outdoor Show in his town.
As part of the deal with the county to host the show, NRA did agree to support regional grants in accordance with the typical rules of the NRA Foundation’s policies and by-laws. Just like your local Friends of NRA banquet gives at least 50% of the money to regional grant requests, the Great American Outdoor Show program is following the same model.
Harrisburg’s mayor is fuming that NRA is holding true to the agreement and his city isn’t the automatic, pre-determined grant winner every year. Apparently, NRA did make the offer to fund a smaller grant this year, but the Mayor threw a hissy fit when he learned they wouldn’t agree to make that a set fund for him annually in direct violation of the NRA Foundation’s by-laws. So, he seems to have rejected their grant offer.
The city officials are fuming since they thought the cash would pad their budgets each year, and now they learn that other worthy area entities in need will benefit. This will not stand for Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter who believed they would be the exclusive beneficiaries of the grant request process. As it is, NRA already pays somewhere around $200,000 in amusement taxes to the city and school district. Plus, the city gets the tax revenue from the millions brought in by vendors, hotels, eateries, and other sales associated with the event. But that’s not good enough.
So, when the Mayor and Police Chief were angered to learn that the rules and by-laws wouldn’t be bent to hand the cash to them, they demanded a bigger payoff in other forms. They wanted to increase the rate that NRA would have to pay for off-duty police officers to assist with the event. Since the rate was apparently agreed to be on the low side, NRA offered to pay more, working up to a 33% increase over the next three years. This was not acceptable to the City, and the mayor demanded an immediate 67% increase. Since the rate the Mayor wanted apparently wasn’t remotely market rate compared to even larger cities, NRA has now turned to the county and departments from other cities who will likely gladly take the money. Harrisburg now loses $10,000 in fees associated with that deal.
However, that wouldn’t stop officers from taking vacation time to work the NRA show, something that has apparently been done with the support of the department for nearly 30 years. Since Harrisburg has now declared war on the Great American Outdoor Show, the Police Chief is banning his officers from taking vacation during that period so they can’t earn extra money from the huge event. He’s also going to mandate overtime to more patrolling to try and keep them away.
While the behavior may not meet a legal criminal definition of extortion, it sure does seem to me like the quotes in the article by the mayor and police chief fit the spirit of the dictionary definition of the term.
Dec 3, 2015
CeaseFire PA is bragging that Sen. Pat Toomey called them with promises of pushing more gun control as he goes into his final year of this term.
As you may recall, the gun control legislation that Pat Toomey actually authored is not at all what Pat Toomey tells voters he’s backing. Toomey’s numbers were already anemic at best. I don’t see how telling American gun owners that they need to give up their gun rights in light of a terrorist shooting is good politics.
Nov 23, 2015
New South Wales has moved to ban the possession or sharing of information on 3D printed firearms.
Considering that plans have been available since 2013, this seems a bit like trying to put the genie back into a bottle. We know how well it works to tell people that they can’t have something anymore when it can be downloaded from the internet. It’s not like Australia doesn’t already have laws on the possession of actual guns, but I guess now they want to ban the knowledge of guns, too.
Nov 3, 2015
In New Haven, the mayor is saying great things about a plan by police to steal personal items from people’s closed cars that they can turn around and sell for profit after 60 days. The police claim that this is done in the best interest of the car owners, as it prevents a thief from stealing it and taking it to the pawn shop for a profit.
And this is why local elections matter.