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Bloomberg’s $20 Million Mistake

This is a lovely harsh rebuke to the Bloomberg allies who are trying to convince their supporters that the evil Republicans are to blame for not having total background checks on every single firearms transfer. They point out that, no, the gun control groups pushing the initiative are 100% to blame for the “mistake.”

NRAAM Participation Trends

I really wish that the anti-gun groups would take an actual detailed account of how many participants they have their anti-NRA protests for annual meeting each year so we could compare. Somehow, I don’t think their graph would look like this one.

This is based on data I’ve been tracking since I attended my very first NRA Annual Meeting in 2004. (I just realized the error in the title with the years. I clearly forgot to update that, but the numbers include Atlanta in 2017, even though that also says 2016 at the bottom. Sorry! It’s fixed in the spreadsheet for next year…)

Other data points that I keep in the spreadsheet that aren’t in this chart is how much the NRA annual meeting has grown since that first one I attended way back when. It’s now 33.5% larger in terms of attendance compared to Pittsburgh 2004. Each time we revisit a city, the number of attendees has gone up between 14% and 44%.

It’s almost like the more that people learn about what NRA is really doing, the more they are on board.

NRA Legal Seminar Catches Press Attention

I suspect it’s a good thing when media that specifically serves the legal profession covers the NRA law seminar and the fact that it qualifies for CLE (continuing legal education) credit.

Even though many attendees were ready to open fire, if the need arose, the daylong event looked and sounded like most other CLEs.

I have to admit, it would be nice if they would have mentioned it’s an annual event that will be offered in Dallas next year. I’m sure there are plenty of pro-gun lawyers in Georgia who didn’t learn about it in time and would love to get out to the next one.

My Good Deed Following NRA

My favorite section of the NRA convention is always the collector section. Each year, there’s always something new to see. In Houston, I was really excited to see a major display from Dallas Arms Collectors themed around the Revolutionary War. When I realized that several items were traced back to specific patriots, I tried to do a good gun deed and track down a few descendants who appreciated learning their ancestor’s firearm still exists. I know I would love to find out that my ancestor’s gun is still in someone’s collection and preserved somewhere.

This year, on the way back from Atlanta, we stopped at King’s Mountain, where they also have a display of weapons and related items actually used by soldiers who participated in the battle. You know what I had to do, right?

When I go down to DC in June to visit DAR headquarters, I’ll be looking up the descendants of William Smith & Jacob Beeler who have joined DAR. For all I know, they already know about their ancestor’s gun and gear on display. But, on the chance that they don’t know…well that would be amazing to share with them.

The Supreme Family Tree

In light of Trump’s victory, Gorsuch’s confirmation, and another 3 1/2 years of the term, it’s reasonable to discuss what’s next for SCOTUS. The topic becomes a bit morbid when you’re talking about non-retirement openings that could change the Court because one study found that “the justice’s death-in-office odds are about tripled” when the sitting president is from a different party than the that of the president who appointed the justice.

Sebastian & I were curious about the chances of an unplanned opening on the SCOTUS (aka not a retirement) and realized that family history can yield some important clues to the health of descendants. This post isn’t meant to indicate we’re wishing any negative health to sitting justices, it’s just an interesting intersection of law and genealogy. Here’s a look at the oldest Justices on the Court right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Much has been discussed about her health since she was diagnosed with one of the deadliest cancers a few years ago. However, it was caught early and things seem to be fine with her. Regardless, she is the oldest member of the SCOTUS at 84.

I actually can’t trace Ruth’s family back very far because her father was an immigrant and her mother was the daughter of immigrants. What makes it worse is that she’s from New York which is generally a nightmare for records. (There’s a reason that Reclaim the Records has had to sue them the most.) However, I have learned that Ruth may well have a fine collections of furs in her closet since her family was big in the fur business. I’d love if she’d flaunt them.

Regardless of the challenges, Ruth has far surpassed the average age I’ve been able to confirm with any confidence of her direct ancestors – 61.5. That number is largely so low because her mother died very young of cancer. Once you factor in collateral relatives such as aunts/uncles, the average age jumps up to 79.38.

Needless to say, it’s understandably why some on the left are upset that she didn’t retire under Obama. However, if she takes after a couple of uncles, then she’s got another ~3 years to meet their lifespan, and that’s enough to get into another administration should Trump not win another term should he run again. In fact, given better healthcare, it’s possible she could last through 2 terms of Trump if he can pull off a win in 2020.

Anthony Kennedy
As the next oldest member of the Court, Anthony Kennedy also has a strong recent immigrant background that makes it a little harder to trace his family tree. However, he’s the first one I found that has any line going back to the Revolution. (I don’t think that’s required or anything, but it’s just interesting.)

Anthony Kennedy is turning 81 years old this summer. The average lifespan of his direct ancestors is only 69.4 years. Factoring in those indirect relatives in reasonably close generations drops that average to 62.3 years.

It’s fair to consider that Kennedy may not want to pass on the bench. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he probably would want to retire soon. Based on his family history, he is rather lucky to have these extra years. (Granted, I don’t know the causes of death for his family, so it could well be that medical advances would have easily extended their lifetimes.)

Stephen Breyer
The third in line based on age is Stephen Breyer who will turn 79 this summer. What I can research of his tree doesn’t go back very far since his maternal grandparents were the immigrants on that branch and all great grandparents on the paternal side made the trek to America.

Direct ancestors and indirect lines come out to the same average – 73.1 years. In that regard, family history would indicate that maybe Obama’s term may have been a better time to retire if he wanted to confidently keep his seat in liberal hands.

***
I’ll do further research on the younger justices soon. And, based on suggestions at the bar this weekend, I may also expand this to study the family histories of any other potential nominees. (Watch, this will result in judges having to submit a family tree to be considered for SCOTUS!)

2017 NRA Board Election Results

As requested by readers, here’s a complete list of the NRA Board of Directors results:

Tom Selleck – 110,812
Peter J Printz – 91,410
R Lee Ermey – 89,540
William H Allen – 87,059
Ted W Carter – 87,025
Leroy Sisco – 84,136
Howard J Walter – 83,785
Patricia A Clark – 83,256
Melanie Pepper – 82,817
Thomas P Arvas – 82,500
Linda Walker – 81,874
Charles L Cotton – 80,779
Curtis S Jenkins – 80,529
Carl Rowan, Jr. – 79,104
Allan D Cors – 79,021
Todd J Rathner – 78,516
Lance Olson – 75,978
J Kenneth Blackwell – 74750
Steven C Schreiner – 73,406
Sean Maloney – 72,924
Heidi E Washington – 72,600
Clel Baudler – 72,576
Dan Boren – 69,829
Graham Hill – 68,672
Robert E Mansell – 68,492
Willes K Lee – 68,299
Kim Rhode Harryman – 67,906

Those who didn’t win a seat:

James S Gilmore III – 67,760
N Stephanie Spika – 67,097
David Carruth – 67,066
John L Cushman – 66,949
Richard L Kussman – 63,251
Robert A Unkovic – 62,946
Adam Kraut – 62,400
Stephen D Stamboulieh – 57,897
Eric Wright – 48,454

They also reported that since Roy Innis passed away after ballots were printed, he did earn 77,340 votes. However, everyone below him moved up one. The last two winners are fulfilling unexpired terms of previously sitting board members.

I know there were concerns over bylaws changes impacting one’s ability to run as a petition candidate for the board, so those numbers are as follows. There were 135,118 ballots cast in the board election. However, 4,558 were invalid. So that leaves 130,560 valid ballots cast in the board election. With the members overwhelmingly supporting the bylaws changes (92%-8%), that means 653 signatures will be needed for new petition candidates to make the ballot. Honestly, it’s not hard in the age of the internet to connect with other NRA members, and with anyone who has made any connections through NRA’s many volunteer opportunities that mostly draw NRA members – competitions, elections, and/or Friends dinners.

UPDATE: I forgot to link earlier a stat earlier that showed of 5 new members of the Board, 3 are women. That makes 13 female members of the NRA Board of the Directors, which is about the same percentage as Congress.

NRA Member Engagement with the Ballot

However many paid activists Shannon Watts flew in doesn’t even begin to compare to the number of NRA members who engage with their association by voting in our group elections.

It’s a reminder that we’re a real, authentic grassroots movement of gun owners who can hold our leaders accountable. “Members” of Bloomberg’s various groups can just unsubscribe from their emails at best.

I’ve already added this year’s numbers to my magic spreadsheet of voting data that goes back to 2006.

It’s not the lowest voting participation rate that I’ve ever documented, but it’s definitely close. However, it’s probably not a complete surprise since the number of ballots mailed in elections has increased 42% in that time. (And that even takes into account the year I think they cleaned up the mailing list since the number dropped to an oddly perfectly even number.)

That said, I do think it would be nice to get more members voting. However, if that comes at the expense of experienced activists who work with NRA members on the ground to more celebrity candidates, then I’d be more hesitant to endorse that idea. Even today, I saw people advocating on social media for people to go vote for 76th director hours after polls closed for the entire session, so clearly voter education is an issue.

The rate of errors that resulted in invalid ballots went up this year (3.4%) compared to last (2.8%), but it’s far below 2013’s error rate (8.7%). This year’s top mistake is the same as last year – too many votes. Count, people. After that, the biggest mistake that kept nearly 1,000 ballots from being counted is the lack of a signature on the envelope’s authentication portion. Were you one of those people? If so, pay attention to your envelope. And somehow 24 people managed to find a ballot from a previous year and vote. Who are you people?? It’s not just that you kept them, but you actually found them and managed to cast them during the right time period. That’s special effort right there.

Perhaps the most interesting stat of the 2017 election year is the fact that I’ve never recorded such a close vote tally between the “last winner” and “first loser” – just 146 votes between the two. That’s less than half the votes of the previous closest amount, 356 in 2012.

It’s no surprise that Tom Selleck is the top vote getter this year. About 85% of voters included him on their ballot. He was nearly 20,000 votes higher than the next one in line, Peter Printz who even beat out R. Lee Ermey. The “last winner” is my favorite Olympian, Kim Rhode Harryman. She’ll actually be on the ballot next year because she was elected to finish an unexpired term.

I am a bit PO’d that they ran out of “I Voted” buttons this year. I was trying to start a collection, NRA! Now you Atlanta conference planners have ruined my plans to express my grassroots-iness. Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows over my ruined conference in a glass of wine.

2017 Gun Law Seminar

Have you planned out your days for the NRA annual meeting yet? I’m just sitting down to do it now, and it’s worth reminding people about one of the best hidden gems of the massive convention. The NRA Foundation’s law seminar is an experience that shouldn’t be missed if you have any interest in gun laws at all. Even if you’re not an attorney, you’ll get something out of it – besides a good time with good and interesting company.

This year’s line-up is, as always, an interesting cross section of areas of gun law that will likely give me something new to chew on. You don’t have to be an attorney to get something out of the seminar. Massad Ayoob will present on avoiding unjust verdicts in self-defense shootings. If you’re a member of a gun club at all, there will be a topic on 501(c) issues related to your activities. Looking at legal issues impacting the industry, one topic will be on defending manufacturers and retailers when they are sued for caused by the criminal misuse of firearms by others. You’ve got broader Second Amendment updates from Stephen Halbrook and Nelson Lund to look forward to as well.

Last year’s topic by Chris Zealand (a Senior Research Attorney at NRA) on the Social Security gun grab was incredibly useful for me as a political activist. The details he gave for the process and what types of issues Social Security lists as mental disability codes were eye-opening and gave great fodder for me to make an informed argument to those who were just reading newspaper headlines about the topic. If, like me (and Sebastian), you’re not an attorney, but want to be informed and serious activists, you should consider attending the legal seminar.

If you are an attorney, then there’s no question you should absolutely attend. If you’re a law student, there’s a discount.

You get breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail reception along with your day of legal education. Not to mention, it’s usually very interesting to talk with others at lunch and during breaks about the issues they are facing at home or the type of work they are seeing come up.

Though neither one of us has ever visited Atlanta, Sebastian’s family has been there before years ago. I’ve made Sebastian promise not to behave like the last time they visited the lovely city. However, if any readers have any suggestions for places we must eat or visit while we’re there, please do share. Local eats are a huge factor in having a solid convention experience.

Women’s Marchers Debase Women’s Monument

A monument dedicated to women on the site of the largest complex of buildings owned exclusively by women seems like it would be a great place to stop and pay some respect during the Women’s March, doesn’t it?

It was, if you define paying respect by climbing up the monuments to slap on signs, clothing, and hanging crap off of the outstretched hands. If respecting the property means stomping over flower beds, kicking the greenery up, pushing through the bushes, leaving trash strewn about, and apparently also smearing paint on statues, then sure, lots of respect was paid to the monument and buildings owned by women. (The paint apparently isn’t visible in the videos below because they were shot after signs were placed on top, but I’ve seen it mentioned by several who visited the site later.)

The buildings owned exclusively by women since the empty city block across from the White House lawn was purchased more than 100 years ago – before women could even vote in this country – and are home to the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR is non-partisan and apolitical. I know women in the group who are far more conservative than I’ll ever be and far more liberal than I’ve ever been. And yet we have a few things in common – a sense of respect for American history and values, and we’re always volunteering for something in our communities.

In fact, the monument that was “decorated” by the marchers is dedicated to the founders who spelled out that DAR was supposed to be a community service organization. Our current goal for recorded service in our community is 19 million hours collectively doing meaningful service – not writing checks or showing up to a gala for a cause – in 3 years. The 19 number comes from the fact that our final year of recording hours will be the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.

I’ve seen marchers defend the mess they left on sidewalks by saying that the City wanted to handle clean up so they wouldn’t have as many trashcans that could be a security risk. Assuming that’s accurate, this mess is not on a sidewalk. In fact, much of it is not even on concrete. It’s in bushes and dropped over gardens. It’s on private property that women have to pay to clean. So all those complaints about the gender wage gap? A man is on video calling for people to leave their trash that women who make less will have to pay to have cleaned. That flower he laughs about kicking out of the ground, sure it’s just one bloom. But those gardens are paid for by women. So much for respect.

Inside those halls, if the people in the video had any interest in history, they would find a museum that primarily runs exhibits relating to women’s connections to history and craft. They would find collections put together by volunteers and staff (paid by women) dedicated to documenting the rich history that covers this country’s recent immigrants to the Revolution’s minority patriots. They would find out about how a group of women raised money to plant entire forests in every state – many of which are still preserved public green spaces today. Instead of actually showing even a reasonable level of respect for those efforts, they spread paint on our monuments and leave their trash behind as a “shrine” for women to clean up. (At least a past national officer reported that the paint seems to have been water based and was removed without further damaging the statue.)

But I have to say that it’s not just the marchers who left their trash behind in an effort to force non-partisan groups into partisan political debates, it’s also the reaction afterwards. Needless to say, the images of this vandalism have been shared widely in various DAR groups online. Some of the liberal members of the group are trying to put a positive spin on the intention, but also recognize that this is a man who is organizing some level of vandalism on our statues and that it will require women’s funds to clean up. I have seen some who have asked their fellow marchers to contribute to those expenses by donating to the DAR’s building maintenance fund in recognition of the fact that it wasn’t appropriate to leave everything behind for a private, non-political group that wasn’t involved to clean up.

Then there are those members who participated who I’ve seen demanding women who share information about the clean up efforts be banned from the organization. Their argument being that DAR is non-political, so a post about cleaning up the trash and paint left on our property by a political march is considered political because it makes their cause look less than perfect. Newsflash ladies, every movement has a**holes. If you’ve been involved in real grassroots action before, you know this. Call them out on their bad behavior and do what you can to correct that image. Instead, they want to silence those who are expressing disappointment in bad behavior. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe that a shared American value should include that even when you’re passionate about an issue, trespass and vandalism of private property is inappropriate.

So Long, Kirk

The Senate is one of those situations where there is no easy answer for the gun voter. There are atrocious Republicans who deserve the boot, but we have to remember the Supreme Court factor on the Second Amendment issue. It gets complicated.

There has been debate here over the role Toomey plays in that calculation. While I held my nose and voted Toomey this year, I did withhold other support for him.

However, one seat that I’m really not sorry to see flip is Illinois – Mark Kirk. It’s not just because he was anti-gun to begin with. He decided to go piss on my other pet group with a blatantly racist attack. This wasn’t an SJW-defined racism that is really just a case of “you disagree with me!” type racism accusation. What Kirk did was make a judgement specifically attacking a woman because of how she looks based on half of her heritage.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), seeking to unseat Sen. Mark Kirk (R) in Illinois, invoked her family’s military service while answering a debate question.

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth said. …

Kirk was offered a chance to rebut. “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” he said.

Duckworth’s mother, Lamai, is Thai, but her late father, Franklin, was a Marine veteran whose family roots in this country trace to before the American Revolution.

From basic opposition research, he would have known she was a) a veteran who lost her legs serving her country, and b) from a family of veterans. That’s simply the basics you’re going to know since you’ll know she’s going to hit you on military issues. He didn’t have to know that she’s actually a member of DAR, but that’s not what he judged her on. He judged her based on just one half of her family history that’s visible in her skin tones and used it as an attack. That is racist. It’s also sloppy opposition research. He should have known she’s a member of DAR since she has spoken to the group and the Illinois state society did actually use her as a model for a statue honoring women who have served the country in our military. There is simply no defense for his statement at all.

Needless to say, that kind of attack reflects poorly on the whole party. Given that he was bad on guns anyway, I just can’t say that I’m sorry to see him go. Because Kirk clearly burned the bridge to his re-election, I made the decision on Toomey to help try and keep the Senate. To see someone booted who would sink as low as Kirk did in order to try and oust an opponent, I think I’m okay with my decision.

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