Currently Browsing: Gun Rights Organizations

Pennsylvanians: Don’t Forget Tomorrow’s Elections

NRA has endorsed candidates in the off-year elections tomorrow, November 3rd. It is very important for every gun voter to show up this year. PVF’s web site looks like it’s finally correct, and has all the endorsed candidates. FOAC also has their slate of candidates up, with some further local races you might want to pay attention to. We elect judges in Pennsylvania, and that’s mostly what this election is about. The Supreme Court plays a big role in drawing of districts, and realize that if the Dems manage to take full control of this state in their current “wild-eyed leftist and loving them some gun control” incarnation, your gun rights will be finished. This is no exaggeration. The important statewide candidates:

Supreme Court

  • Anne Covey (R)
  • Michael George (R)
  • Judith Olson (R)

Superior Court

  • Emil Giordano (R)

Commonwealth Court

  • Paul Lalley (R)

Also, if you live in State Senate District 37, which comprises parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, you have a special election tomorrow where Guy Reschenthaler (R) is the NRA and FOAC endorsed candidate.

Rumors of NRA’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

A lot of ink has been spilled over Professor Adam Winkler’s WaPo article predicting the demise of the NRA. Both John LottBob Owens, and Eugene Volokh have taken on Prof. Winkler’s assertions. I think one of the big mistakes Winkler makes is assuming NRA’s locus of power is rural. It is not. It is suburban. I wish I could recall the citation to support that claim, but it’s a true claim. NRA’s power is weak in large metropolitan areas centered around restrictive cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but in other more permissive metro areas, you’ll actually find where NRA gets is numbers. In Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh metro area is where NRA gets its big numbers. I’m sure you’ll find the same thing around Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. Probably Phoenix too.

I tend to agree with Eugene Volokh’s position, that one can’t assume public opinion among minority groups is static. NRA was doing just fine when whites had a similar polling disparity on this issue. But that’s not to say NRA doesn’t have challenges ahead. Here are, as I see it, the big threats to NRA going forward:

  • Bloomberg is able and willing to spend big on the issue, and our movement is not one of rich elites. Gun folks tend to be middle-to-upper-middle class. You’ll find some of us in the millionaire to multimillionaire class, but you won’t find many of us at all among the billionaire class.
  • NRA’s power has traditionally been rooted in its ability to cultivate and deliver a large single-issue voting base that can swing close elections. It could do that because it had members in both parties. All the positive polling and new gun owners in the world aren’t going to help us if they don’t vote on the issue. If you’re a gun owner, and still voting for anti-gun progressives because of other issues, even if you don’t really agree with gun control, your opinion isn’t worth much to the movement because you’re not voting on it. Increasingly, Democratic politicians are believing that NRA’s numbers are baked into the existing Republican numbers, and that NRA can’t find enough new single-issue voters, or enough Democratic voters, to hurt them. NRA absolutely has to find more single-issue voters among all these new gun owners and new and growing gun culture demographics.
  • NRA’s membership is aging. Young people are not joiners and they do not participate in civil society. This is a problem facing all civic organizations, not just NRA. But it’s a nut that will have to be cracked. Eventually Wayne LaPierre will need to retire and let a younger face lead the NRA. I’ve never really felt like Wayne has spoken to my generation, and I’m 41 years old. NRA is also desparately in need of fresh ideas on the technology front. If you’re still doing cold calling for GOTV you’re not reaching young people, no matter how sophisticated your cold call system may be. The Orange Postcard is an NRA institution, but if you’re using mail, you are definitely not reaching young people. All my mail goes in a box until its time to sort it, and 90% of it is junk. I don’t even bother reading mail.

So I don’t lay awake at night worrying too much about the things Adam Winkler was writing about. I worry about the things above.


How’s That “Corporate Gun Lobby” Meme Going?

This article from CNN Money destroys the notion that NRA is funded by the gun companies and is primarily concerned with selling guns for the industry. Keep this article link handy when you see this meme pop up on the Internet. It pops up often. There’s an important psychological reason that the gun control groups push this meme hard. No one really feels bad for corporations, and especially people on the left feel empowered by taking on entrenched corporate interest.

If NRA is just a corporation representing merchants of death out of make a profit, you can call them terrorists and keep smiling at yourself in the mirror. If you’re fighting to stop the tainted profits of an evil industry, you can go to bed at the end of the day feeling righteous.

But if instead you are calling millions of your fellow citizens terrorists, and fight to take away something your fellow Americans cherish and believe is very important, rather than being a Social Justice Warrior speaking truth to the corporate death machine, you instantly transform into a horrible person.

So don’t let them get away with telling themselves and their fellow travelers soothing untruths. Remember this article, and spread it forth. No one can accuse CNN of being conservative stooges.

Vox Gets What No Gun Control Group Does

If I had a list of rules of effective political advocacy, on that list would be that you should be able to know and argue your opponents position as well as, or better than they can. The left-leaning runs an article speaking truth about who they are up against in the fight for more gun control, and I think they pretty much get it right.

But money alone cannot explain the gun lobby’s success. Members of the NRA and allied groups bring an intensity, volume, asymmetry, and geographic reach of passion that is rare in American politics. Until that is matched on the other side, the gun lobby will continue to win.

This is essentially why Bloomberg struggles for success, despite being able to outspend us. If the Democrats were supportive of the Second Amendment, even if it was just lukewarm, I could probably find better things to do on election days when I’m dissatisfied with the Republican choices on other issues (which I usually am).

Unexpected Ad Buy in GOP Debates

Given the ratings the debate got, this was probably money well spent. But Everytown has been working hard to distance their brand from Bloomberg. I think we constantly need to remind the public that Everytown is Bloomberg. The gun control movement, at this point, is Bloomberg. One very rich man is all that’s keeping this issue alive.

NRA Instructor Wins Fight Over Hat

Apparently during the elections in Georgia last October, an NRA instructor was asked to remove his “NRA Instructor” hat at a polling station. Georgia’s law is not uncommon, in that it does not allow campaigning or election materials at or near polling stations. Bundy Cobb was made to take off his hat, but later decided to fight. It appears that he won.

I often wear some kind of NRA hat or shirt so the local politicians can see that we show up and vote. I’ve never had a problem with it, but this isn’t the first story I’ve heard of people being asked to take off NRA paraphernalia. On the other side of the issue, I’ve been scolded before as a poll stander for helping an elderly NRA member who was legally blind find his way into the polling place, and I forgot I had put campaign materials (for a candidate) on my hat. That was my fault, and I apologized to the poll watcher, but once they realized the voter was blind, the presumably Dem watcher didn’t seem to mind so much.

UPDATE: The title originally said lawsuit, but he did not sue. He appealed to the State Department and County Election Board.

The State of Gun Control Finances

I’ve suspected for a while that the non-Bloomberg gun control groups had to be in pretty bad shape. Not just because gun control is a losing issue, but because to whatever extent gun control was revived by the President’s exploitation of the Sandy Hook Massacre, most of that benefit has gone to Bloomberg’s organization since everyone else seems to be getting ignored by the media. But to know for sure, we had to wait until the 2013 Form 990s we out. The answer seems to be that everyone in the gun control movement undoubtedly reaped a windfall from the massacre, and their movement’s 501(c)(3) branches continue to do better than they did pre-Sandy Hook.

First, let’s look at the Brady Campaign. In 2012, the Brady Campaign made 4.91 million dollars in revenue, which was up from 2.93 million in 2011. We suspect most of that money poured in during the few weeks after Sandy Hook on December 15, 2012. It was the fight into early 2013 where it became apparent that Bloomberg and the White House were running the gun control agenda, and Brady started falling off everyone’s radar. So it is not surprising that in 2013, the Brady Campaign did not raise as much money as it did in 2012, most of which was probably raised in the first several weeks of that year.

Now for the Brady Center, their 501(c)(3) public charity. It looks to me like they might have shifted their fundraising, and some of their personnel cost over to The Brady Center. The Center didn’t get as much of a windfall in 2012, bringing in 3.82 million versus 2.88 million in 2011. But the Center managed to increase it’s revenue in 2013 to 4.58 million.

I also note that in 2013, salary costs to the Brady Campaign drop by 33%, while the Center’s salary costs increase 31%. I suspect they are shifting more of their personnel costs to the 501(c)(3). Previously, when the Bradys were in really dire straits, it became apparent they were using the Center as a bit of a lifeboat, since the Campaign was nearly out of money. Without a doubt, Sandy Hook saved their asses, and I suspect they are still enjoying some benefit of Obama making gun control cool again.

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence had a similar story to the Bradys. They had raised 333 grand in 2011, and 492 grand in 2012. But again, in 2013, they were down to 484 grand. EFSGV, their 501(c)(3) branch, also tracks the Brady Center. In 2011, 460 grand in revenue, then 638 grand in 2012. In 2013, EFSGV raised 950 grand, almost a million dollars. I guess maybe that foaming at the mouth stuff works! They outperformed the Brady Center in terms of revenue growth.

VPC is largely supported by wealthy foundations, but their revenue was also up in 2013. They managed to boost their public support percentage to 21.50%, which is actually still pretty sad, but better than 2011 when it was 17.28% and 2012, when it was 18.17%. I’m sure they are hoping since their public support is heading in the right direction, the IRS will stay off their backs. They typically have to include a letter explain why it’s so low, and what they are doing to bring it up. They’ve been doing this for a while.

It is without doubt Everytown is now king of the gun control movement, with 2103 revenues of 36 million. Their 2012 revenue was 4.86 when they were MAIG. I’d note that Everytown spends previous little on fundraising, which means most of that money is likely coming from Bloomberg. We all pretty much knew as much. Bloomberg is certainly generous about spreading his organization’s wealth around. Their 2013 990 shows a 47,500 grant to CSGV, 6 grand to CeaseFirePA, 263 thousand to Moms Demand Action, among other groups.

So how does Moms Demand Action look? She raised 890 large in 2013, and we know 30% of that came from Bloomberg through Everytown. She spent a reasonable amount on fundraising. You’ll note in their 990, however, that MDA as a separate entity officially terminated the same year, and merged into Everytown. So Shannon Watts’s operation is entirely Everytown, and not a legal, separate entity. Everytown’s 2014 990s will be very interesting. I doubt MDA was ever really independent from Bloomberg, and the whole thing was a Bloomberg-backed venture from the get go.

So where does that leave things? A gun control movement that probably got most of it’s boost in the weeks after Sandy Hook, but are still largely benefitting from the raised awareness the President and Bloomberg’s money have bought the movement. I would not get despondent over their improved fortunes, however. Why?

Because in 2012, NRA’s revenues went from 219MM to 256MM, and in 2013 they went to $348MM. Get that? Between 2011 and 2013, NRA’s revenue increased by 129MM. That’s more than 3x the amount of every other gun control group’s revenue increase from 2011 to 2013 combined. And that’s just NRA proper. The NRA Foundation went from 29MM to 43MM from 2011 to 2012, then dropping slightly to 41MM in 2013, I suspect because people wanted to donate to the political arm since that’s where the threats were coming from.

The President’s and Bloomberg ginning up of gun control post-Sandy Hook has made NRA much stronger proportionally than the gun control movement. That’s because of people out there like you.

It’s one thing to put your foot in your own mouth …

… and quite another to put your foot in 5 million other people’s mouths. After a tragedy, NRA usually doesn’t have much to say other than thoughts and prayers for the family. And why would they? Let the media and politicians start throwing blame in NRA’s direction; it only makes it stronger. The debate is going to come to us regardless, so it makes sense for our side take the high road while nerves are still raw, and let the other side be the ones seen as not letting a crisis go to waste. Of course, it would be nice if everyone were on board with this.

The media, of course, quickly picked up on Cotton’s post, and before he could even delete it, headlines went around like: “NRA Board Member blames victims for church massacre.” Here’s what Charles Cotton actually wrote on a Texas gun forum Jun 18:

And [State Senator Clementa Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.

I think some of the headlines about this were overwrought, but that’s not to excuse Cotton’s statement. I have no disagreement with repealing government mandated restrictions on carrying in churches. Whether or not carry is allowed in a church should be between a church and its parishioners, not between a church, it’s parishioners, and the state. Even if carry were legal in churches in South Carolina, it would seem very likely none of the parishioners would have been carrying. I agree they should have the choice, but I don’t think the law in this case would have fundamentally changed the outcome.

But I don’t want to detract from the main issue here: whether it’s appropriate to second guess the voting record of a Senator who was ruthlessly murdered only the evening before, and on top of that to do it on a public forum as an NRA Board member. The answer for me is an emphatic no.

NRA Board members have one thing, just one thing to do in the wake of a tragedy like this: shut up. We’ll have our say eventually.

Cutting the Administration’s Funding

I just got this from NRA:

Fairfax, Va. – The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today lauded the passage of H.R. 2578, the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act (CJS), which contained strong pro-Second Amendment provisions aimed at stopping the Obama Administration from enacting its gun control agenda through executive action.

“On behalf of the NRA’s five-million members, I want to thank House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and House CJS subcommittee Chairman John Culberson for their leadership in fighting against the Obama-Bloomberg gun control agenda,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director NRA-ILA. “Their hard work and unwavering commitment to protecting our freedoms resulted in a strong pro-Second Amendment piece of legislation. The NRA will continue to work with Congress to prevent President Obama from imposing his back door gun control agenda on the American people.”

Among the key measures in the House CJS Appropriations bill are:

  • a prohibition on the use of funds for “Operation Choke Point,” a program that chokes off banking services to legitimate businesses;
  • a prohibition on funds to prevent the Obama Administration from banning commonly used ammunition, such as M855;
  • a prohibition on the use of funds to prevent the Justice Department (or any government entity) from spending taxpayer dollars on “gun walking” programs such as the flawed and controversial “Operation Fast and Furious”;
  • a prohibition on the use of funds to maintain any record or gun registry on multiple rifle or shotgun sales to law-abiding individuals;
  • a prohibition of funds for collecting data regarding a person’s race or ethnicity on a Form 4473 when purchasing a firearm.

That should help, but they’re still working on 41P, among other things. But it does show we can control the purse strings. Though, keep in mind this Administration is currently in court over spending money they weren’t authorized to spend, so this is no guarantee he won’t just do it anyway.

Remember that Yahoo Hit Piece on NRA?


The Washington Free Beacon did a follow up piece on it, and the BS continues to unravel. The Free Beacon talked to actual experts and not just Democratic Party operatives:

Donald F. McGahn, a former commissioner and chairman of the FEC, said the misdirected donations are not a major lapse and are unlikely to draw significant attention from the federal government.

“It’s not uncommon,” he said. “Not the first time this has happened. Won’t be the last time it’ll happen to somebody similarly situated. This isn’t a big deal. Previous reports, I think, were way overblown.”

McGahn said he does not believe the violation is serious.

“What you look for isn’t so much the ‘gotcha’ glitch, it’s did they discover it? Did they take corrective action? Did they unwind whatever happened? In this case it looks like they did.”

As I said before, those accusations were way too juicy for an outfit to the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic, or other mainstream news outlet, none of which are friendly to NRA or our cause, to decline running with it. That had to have meant there were flaws even today’s journalists and editors could see through.

Federal Election Laws and the Internal Revenue Code are both byzantine labyrinths of rules and regulations. Even the regulators don’t really understand them all. That article from beginning to end was finding technical violations and trying to peddle them as serious an unprecedented, passing off DNC stooges as experts on the matter.

« Previous Entries