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NRA Youth Day at Annual Meeting

Because my entire family in the area came out on Sunday of the NRA annual meeting, I managed to check out a few things I normally wouldn’t check out and see things through a fresh perspective. Like any event of this size, there was good and bad with it. Even with the bad, I think there’s great potential, but it’s just a matter of finding the right people who can pull it off.

NRA specifically hosts an NRA Youth Day on the last day of the convention. I’ll be honest, with as many kids as I saw on Saturday, I think they should consider doing at least something kid-focused on both weekend days in the future. The number of families keep growing at every convention, and they have such a great opportunity to offer something special that stands out for the kids.

Even if they never grow up to be gun owners, my niece and nephew will grow up remembering that they attended an NRA meeting and that everything seemed nice, normal, and fun. Even if they don’t grow up to be activists, there’s a good chance they won’t ever be voters for the other side of the issue since they realize that good, normal folks own firearms without incident because of their trip to the annual meeting.

When we arrived about half an hour after the Youth Day area opened, the room was still a little sparse. A few activities weren’t really going, the prize table was just a big empty spot, and there weren’t a ton of kids. However, this did make it easier to talk to some of adults doing demo stuff. For example, I talked to Bob who was dressed up as a frontiersman and manning a display of various antique arms. While my 6-year-old niece may not have been thrilled, I was certainly enthralled when he mentioned a colonial-era gunsmith family I’d never heard of before – a name that just happened to be a line in Sebastian’s family tree and, according to this guy, from a few counties over… More research is now needed. (Related bleg: Who knows about the Honaker family of gunsmiths, reportedly connected to Pennsylvania at some point?)

One of the best features, in my opinion, was the exhibit floor scavenger hunt. They printed a sheet of sponsors and told the kids to go get signatures from each of the sponsors with booths. When all were marked, the sheets would be returned to the Youth Day area and exchanged for raffle tickets. I loved the idea since it gives parents an excuse to see the floor while their kids get something fun in return.

Some of the people signing the programs were really sweet to my niece, and she got a kick out of the trucker hat Winchester gave out to the kids. I would actually love to see this expanded a bit. Inviting groups with consistently interesting booths to participate might be a fun idea. For example, even though they aren’t sponsors, why not reach out to a collector group with a cool display to see if they would be willing to offer some kind of little hand out to kids? It gets families across more of the exhibit hall and checking out more sections to cover every interest. As it was, the area covered by the sponsors on the list spread across less than half of the hall.

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Calls for Bloomberg-Bought Kathleen Kane to Resign

Not even Bloomberg’s riches could cushion Kathleen Kane’s fall from grace. The Philadelphia Inquirer has a scathing call for her to resign.

They highlight that it has recently come out that she personally intervened to revoke subpoenas for men with apparent ties to the mob, and then got a $25k political donation out of it. She did eventually decide that maybe she should return it, but it’s clear they assumed she should be “rewarded” for her effort derailing the corruption investigation.

As a close Clinton ally, I’m sure that we’ll soon hear the claim that this is all part of War on Women and that it’s clearly only because she’s attractive. There’s just no way that anyone could think she’s incompetent based on the fact that she’s looking at potential criminal charges for her actions in office and is now tied to two cases of stepping in to derail corruption investigations into political allies. Clearly, it’s just because she’s a woman. /sarcasm

A Pardon Well Deserved

Chris Christie is clearly trying to boost his pro-gun credibility in whatever way he can given the extremely anti-gun legislature he deals with since he signed a full pardon of Shaneen Allen today.

This is wonderful news for Allen, and it will hopefully send a message to New Jersey’s police officers and prosecutors. New Jersey isn’t exactly going pro-gun, but maybe there will be a little more sanity in the enforcement of the laws.

Peruta Goes En Banc

According to legal sources, it seems the Ninth Circuit has issued an order for an en banc hearing in Peruta. It might be the bit of pessimist in me, but I doubt this is good news for gun owners in the Ninth Circuit.

Gov. Wolf’s State Police Appointee’s Theft on Video

If you just claim that it’s “for the children,” our new Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner (an import from Maryland) seems to argue that theft is okay – especially if you’re stealing from those who criticize you in your official role as a public servant.

Marcus Brown is facing opposition for appearing in uniform that creates the perception he graduated from the state police academy, which he did not. When a critic had signs printed pointing out that he shouldn’t wear such things that he did not earn and legally placed them on a public area, Brown apparently decided to steal them in the name of “[his] children” since their bus stop is nearby.

Now, stealing someone else’s signs from a public area is a crime. You’d think that means Brown would be apologetic for getting caught on video committing this crime, but he’s standing by his theft proudly – behind the back of the spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police.

I’ll be honest, if I lived out there, I’d be very tempted to have signs made up that say “Marcus Brown Stop Stealing Signs,” “Marcus Brown Stop Trying to Silence Critics,” and “Marcus Brown The First Amendment Applies in Pennsylvania, Too” and plaster them all over public areas to the degree allowed by law. There wouldn’t be a corner he could turn where he wouldn’t be reminded that Pennsylvanians value their freedom of speech and ability to speak their mind on what public officials are doing with their office.

Funny enough, the video that captures him stealing the signs in the name of “safety” for his children shows him leaving up non-critical signs in the same spot. It’s pretty clear he’s abusing the right of those who disagree with him and there is no safety issue involved. The video makes it appear that he singled out their message to be silenced based on the content critical of him and he now admits to taking the sign. Perhaps his stationary order got mixed up and he thought that being in charge of the Pennsylvania State Police was being charged with overseeing the Police State of Pennsylvania.

Peddling Outrage While Leaving Out Key Facts

It seems that Media Matters set their sights on Cam Edwards yesterday, challenging him on biography. See, at one point Cam said he received a resolution from the Oklahoma State House. It turns out it was a citation recognizing from not only the House, but also from the Lt. Governor. Yup, big discrepancy there.

However, their focus is on trying to make him look like he’s a media version of “stolen valor” by claiming an Emmy award. They even got the local executive director to back up the claims, yet Media Matters and the executive director aren’t acknowledging that Cam did actually receive an award giving his name in the honors section for his “significant contribution” on the documentary that won the Emmy. It’s signed by their president and everything.

Now, Cam did take time to update his bio to be more accurate. I mean we don’t want the Media Matters folks to worry their heads about the “Great Oklahoman citation” wording any more. And now it’s clearer that it came from not just the House, but even the Lt. Governor at the time. But more importantly, he did re-word it so it more accurately reflects that his work was part of a team effort that won an Emmy.

As Cam notes, this is part of the effort to keep everyone outraged about everything. Even with evidence presented that raise questions about their accusations (right now, MM is calling the Emmy thing a “lie” on their front page, despite having been provided the evidence that he did receive an honor from them), it’s not about accurately reporting the situation.

National Firearms Law Seminar

If you’re an attorney or just interested in firearms laws, then you shouldn’t miss the National Firearms Law Seminar at the NRA annual meeting.

I have to say that this year’s program really stands out for the combination of nationally known speakers, as well as the practical topics covered a bit more in-depth by some of the lawyers working on Second Amendment issues you may not have heard about yet.

For one, the lunch speaker is Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame. Having heard him speak before, I can say that he always delivers a really good presentation that informative as well as entertaining. The program notes that his lunch speech will look at “the transformation of the Second Amendment from an ’embarrassing’ outlier to the Bill of Rights, to a provision that, like other parts of the Bill of Rights, protects identifiable individual rights in court.” Massad Ayoob will be giving a presentation on armed self-defense, highlighting mistakes “by the shooter at the scene, and by defense counsel in court.” That should be quite interesting, even for the non-attorney.

In my opinion one of the most interesting topics looks like it could end up being the session on the Brady Campaign’s recent litigation strategy against individual FFLs. The description of this talk by Cord Byrd notes that they have been “utilizing state laws including negligent entrustment, negligence per se and public nuisance to circumvent the protections afforded by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.” Then you have the always wonderful Sarah Gervase who packs so much practical information for attorneys into her topics each year talking about civil rights actions in firearms cases for this year’s Nashville seminar.

Registration is online, and there are discounts for various folks – law students, those who only want to attend the lunch speech by Glenn Reynolds, just a half day, and even for non-attorneys. There’s pretty much no way that you won’t walk out of the sessions learning something new if you choose to attend.

Even as someone who isn’t a practicing attorney and who doesn’t do the legal analysis for the blog, there’s usually something I pick up that gives me so much more context and understanding about the cases we hear about during the next year. More importantly, as I’ve met many people who maybe had a little minor offense, often nothing related to firearms at all, when they were 18 who are still paying a penalty with their firearms rights when they are 68 over the years, I’ve realized how invaluable it is that defense attorneys should know at least something about this area of law and how it impacts their clients.

What a Pain it is to Deal with Freedom

I had to take a couple of breaks from this Atlantic piece on how awful it is that the First Amendment allows unpleasant people to say unpleasant things in an unpleasant manner.

Yes, freedom does mean that some people will live and speak in a different manner than you – maybe even in a way that is offensive. Speaking out and telling them how offensive they are is often a great tool to get them to quiet down. In fact, such results might even be considered social shaming, which is a form of punishment that exists outside of government. It involves things like individual people making the decision to no longer support the people who offend them and letting them suffer social consequences that can often be extremely unpleasant. However, the Atlantic writer appears to believe that since such punishment doesn’t involve a police gun to the head, handcuffs, and a court room, it’s not actually any punishment at all.

I think what really got me going was the extreme elitism on display in this bit:

No one with a frontal lobe would mistake this drunken anthem for part of an uninhibited and robust debate about race relations. … If the First Amendment has become so bloated, so ham-fisted, that it cannot distinguish between such filth and earnest public debate about race, then it is time we rethink what it means.

It would seem that the argument is that if you can’t speak eloquently and aren’t engaged in thoughtful debate, then your First Amendment rights should be “rethought.”

I have to say that one reason this elitism on speech probably drove me a little more up the wall today is because I just witnessed someone in another forum who, to be blunt, is currently incapable of speaking eloquently or engaging in what the writer would consider “earnest public debate.” While her form of rather odd text speak at all times is nearly impossible for others to follow, that doesn’t mean the government needs to declare that she deserves less in the way of protection for her speech than what I deserve because I am likely capable of being more articulate in expressing the same things.

Freedom means that some people will make different choices that you don’t like. The beauty of freedom is that when those people are in charge, you can make the choices they don’t like and feel confident that you won’t be put away for the “crime” of those statements and actions.

NRA Convention vs. CPAC

Charles C. W. Cooke of National Review did this interview with a Philadelphia radio station yesterday, and I loved a comment that he made about the size of CPAC – a general right-of-center, every issue you can imagine convention – versus the NRA annual meeting which is largely single issue.

“And this is going to sound ungrateful, but it’s small because I’m used to the NRA convention which is Madison Square Garden-sized.”

This is the argument I used for years with people in the conservative movement when pointing out that they need to look more to what the NRA has done over the years. It seemed like the gun issue was so often overlooked, yet the NRA consistently turned out more people to participate than anything that was happening in DC circles. So it’s kind of funny to hear Cooke mention the vast difference in size for an event that wants to represent an entire “side” of the political aisle and the many different issues that come along with it.

Besides, the NRA convention is more fun in my experience. I was sick of CPAC by the time I went for the fourth time. Most of my friends felt the same way when I was in DC. But I still look forward to the NRA convention. While I’ve shifted what events I tend to visit at the convention, there’s still something interesting going on each day. I like that it’s a chance to dig deep into the issue – whether it’s connecting with other people passionate about grassroots, the law, or just getting out to shoot.

Anyway, go listen to the interview since I think it’s a really good one beyond the NRA comparison. I’ll have to add Cooke’s new book, The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future, to my wish list now.

Charges Dropped in New Jersey Antique Gun Case

It would seem that someone gave the Cumberland County, NJ prosecutor a clue that putting an elderly man away for 10 years (likely life in his case) is not really an appropriate move for someone who collects 18th century stuff and managed to pick up a flintlock pistol. Charges have just been dropped without further comment from the DA.

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