The big question I have is why is the “American Independent Institute” funding a story about Larry Pratt and Gun Owners of America, and why now? I don’t make any secret that I’m not a fan of either Pratt or GOA, and this article outlines a lot of the reasons why. But I’m at a loss for what motivated it. Rolling Stone has been doing a lot of hit pieces on guns lately, at least one of which was supremely stupid. If the purpose was to make gun owners and the gun rights movement look like far-right lunatics, I don’t think the article succeeds at that, since it continually highlights the differences between GOA and the rest of the movement. It does succeed at making Pratt look like a lunatic. But what do our opponents have to gain by attacking Larry Pratt and GOA in such a manner, and attacking now? Are they hoping to raise his profile in the hopes to keep using him as a foil? Hardly seem to be the way you’d go about it if that were your goal.
The Benson case was consolidated into Illinois Association of Firearm Retailers v. City of Chicago and that case challenged five aspects of Chicago’s law: (1) the ban on any form of carriage; (2) the ban on gun stores; (3) the ban on firing ranges; (4) the ban on self-defense in garages, porches, and yards; and (5) the ban on keeping more than one gun in an operable state.
Of course, fighting civil rights lawsuits isn’t cheap, so really this is just reimbursement for costs incurred fighting lawsuits that wouldn’t have any reason to exist if the City of Chicago wasn’t determined to evade the Second Amendment by hook or by crook. But it’s always good to hear the City of Chicago being a top NRA donor. Will we need to issue Rahm a gold jacket? He’s been donating at that level.
Waves were made in the gun community with a claim that a university is trying to stop a student from starting a Second Amendment-themed club, but further review shows that the student may not have expressed his intent or the situation clearly.
As someone who has been through the process before, it’s incredibly important to come up with a clear plan before approaching officials about something like this. According to the school, the student said he wanted a student group to organize a change in their gun policy. They didn’t tell him he couldn’t do that, but that a simple goal like that didn’t fit the requirements for an official school group that may be eligible for funding. That’s a perfectly legitimate response from the school, if that’s the case.
Now, if he wanted to start a Second Amendment group that does a wide variety of activities and may also have a campaign to change the school policy, that’s a very different request. Knowing the difference between those two requests will make a difference between denial and approval – unless there is real bias going on.
Clearly, there are cases of extreme anti-gun bias in academia, so it’s not out of the question that there is a problem. However, I find it telling that the latest reports say the student admitted he really didn’t know about the process of starting a club and he plans to work on the statement of intent for the group. That tells me that the school’s defense is likely accurate.
I’m not really pleased with NRA taking a position on this issue, so I’ll join the chorus of gun bloggers who have been condemning it. Bob Owens notes:
We’re giving real, selective-fire assault rifles and submachine guns to officers that mean well, but who were never trained to the point of competence, and law enforcement leaders are increasingly using these units in a wider range of operations in order to justify their expense.
I don’t know of anyone would would deny law enforcement officers the use of body armor, sidearms, or patrol rifles as needed in the course of their duties, as long as those officers are adequately trained. Unfortunately, many agencies are using military tactics and weapons in routine operations, where they are contributing to the risk of innocent people being hurt or killed, instead of serving and protecting.
Read the whole thing, because I think Bob hits the nail on the head here. On a humorous note, I had to add a like to the top-rated comment when NRA shared this on their Facebook page:
I’m sure if I talked to someone there about this, they’d stress the importance of not alienating law enforcement. It is unfortunately true that we depend on law enforcement acquiescence in order to maintain our political power (politicians might be OK with going against the IACOP, but when the FOP has turned on us we’ve traditionally lost). Also, a decent portion of NRA’s membership are LEOs and former military. Despite that, I don’t think NRA needed to take a position on this issue. It may help with the cops, but probably a decent portion of NRA’s membership believes they are on the wrong side of this issue.
Despite concerns I have about the anti-gun groups looking like they may actually be building momentum, Stephen E. Wright writing at “The Bluff” has taken a detailed analysis of the statistics, which show that the anti-gun groups actually aren’t doing as well as you might think:
1. Anti 2nd amendment FB groups are much smaller than pro 2nd amendment groups (like 10x)
2. Anti 2nd amdment FB groups are growing much slower than pro 2nd amendment groups (like 4x)
3. Anti 2nd amendment FB groups have an older following than pro 2nd amendment groups (like 25-44 for the NRA and 55+ for Bloomberg’s Everytown)
Go read the whole thing. Of course, it’s depressing that NAGR has so many Facebook followers, given my very low opinion of that group and its proprietor. But as Bitter mentioned, Brown is very good at creating the kinds of graphics that people share and that go viral. Either way, it does show that as much as they might be gaining media juice, we are too, and faster than they are. And with the more favorable demographics.
Chris Cox appeared on NRA News yesterday to clarify NRA’s earlier statement. He suggested it was unwise to characterize the behavior as “weird,” “foolish,” and “scary.” Personally, I don’t think they ought to feel the need to apologize for being right. Nonetheless, the media was having a field day with the statement, and started characterizing the statement to include all forms of carrying a firearm, and not just restricted to long gun OC under these specific circumstances.
That’s why I was a bit surprised they’d make a statement in the first place. It’s almost a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, and you can fully expect the media and our opponents to distort it. Nonetheless, I think making the statement was the right thing to do, and I think they should have just stuck with the original statement.
Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that. Over at National Review’s “The Corner,” Charles C.W. Cooke essentially says the same thing.
UPDATE: Bob Owens: “As a general rule of thumb, when you see a group—public, private, or government—issue a statement and then walk it back days later instead of immediately, it strongly suggests that the original comment is precisely what the group does think internally, but that they have found that position to be politically inconvenient. I’m not saying with any degree of certainty that this is what happened here, but I have my suspicions.”
Sweet weeping Jesus, now they are being morons in Target! If they aren’t careful, they are going to end up losing rifle OC in Texas. Don’t think it can’t happen. But hey, at least there’s a joke to be made about Target being Targeted. What will Shannon Watts hashtag be? #GunsForTargetsNotTarget? It almost writes itself this time. I don’t think any amount of shame is going to work. I don’t think these guys have any shame. This is like a long nightmare you really want to wake up from, but can’t.
UPDATE: It’s #OffTarget. Come on Shannon. You can do better than that.
UPDATE: I should note that OCT is saying this is another case of Moms Demand digging through their archives. OK. I accept that. Now could you guys please clean up your archives so we don’t have to suffer your prior foolishness any longer?
Good on Open Carry Texas for setting things right. You can find the statement here:
For all further open carry walks with long guns, we are adopting the following unified protocol and general policy to best ensure meeting our respective legislative mission to legalize open carry:
- Always notify local law enforcement prior to the walk, especially the day of.
- Carry Flags and signs during your walk to increase awareness.
- Carry the long gun on a sling, not held.
- Do not go into corporate businesses without prior permission, preferably not at all.
- If asked to leave, do so quietly and do not make it a problem.
- Do not post pics publicly if you do get permission and are able to OC in a cooperate business.
- Do not go into businesses with TABC signs posted with a long gun (Ever).
- If at all possible, keep to local small businesses that are 2A friendly.
I think if people follow these new guidelines, we won’t have any problems form here on out. I still question the value of the overall tactic, but I’m mostly concerned about stopping the bleeding, and I think this should accomplish that. Now hopefully people will listen.
I’d also note that any time I offer criticism of other gun rights advocates or groups, there’s always one or two people who try to argue that arguing with each other is counterproductive, and only helps the antis. I agree that can sometimes be the case with petty bickering, but in cases where tactics put the image of the movement is at risk, and our opponents become energized and emboldened, I think it’s important to speak out. This shows that speaking out can work. Shame is a powerful motivator.
Hat Tip to Bob Owens, who notes this probably won’t be good news for Shannon Watts.
There’s been quite a bit of press attention over NRA’s new attempt to reach younger gun owners with “NRA Freestyle.” It turns out, I’m not too far off the target audience, except that I have a sense of civic duty and am actually engaged on the issue – something that doesn’t apply to the vast majority of the demographic they are targeting.
I’m technically a millennial and a woman. Only, unlike many people in my “generation,” I don’t believe the world exists to entertain me and I actually participate with the community around me. However, if you define me down by age and, to a lesser degree, gender, then I am close to who they want to reach.
So, with all the hubbub surrounding this, what’s my take? It’s ultimately, “eh.”
First, there’s the practical issue of the technology to access it. When I tried to access videos through the website, relying on Ackerman McQueen’s video system, it was completely unwatchable. The videos kept skipping as badly as an old, dirty record. I checked my internet connection, and it definitely was not on this end. I gave up in frustration. Only after things are posted to YouTube are they even accessible. So that’s a problem, and one that I’m sure NRA is paying extra for.
But, let’s face it, the content, when accessible by YouTube, is more important. So, let me start with my take on the show that is getting the most attention – Noir.
As others have noted, some of the attacks coming from the media and general left outlets are actually pretty racist. One piece compared Colion Noir using a stage/screen name to a porn actor, while never making such assertions about the many fairer skinned entertainers who use them, such as Brady Campaign celebrity supporters Anthony Dominick Benedetto and Eilleen Regina Edwards. When they have to resort to launching race-based attacks, I think that’s generally a good sign for our side. In fact, he had a little fun responding to pieces and how belittling they were to him as an individual capable of making informed decisions and living his life as he chooses on the second episode, which I think is a good thing.
But, that doesn’t mean I’m in love with the show. Colion Noir clearly built a following of gun people, many of whom trended much younger, on his own even before NRA ever reached out to him. He’s a bit more natural in the role, but his co-host is rather forced. Until her clearly scripted lines in the first episode, everything about her body language and facial expressions screamed discomfort. Sure, she successfully delivered her “pop culture” lines about topics like Lululemon (that I had to explain to Sebastian), and she does break up the action of just one man talking to a camera about a subject. It’s just that she doesn’t appear really comfortable with the gun topic in this format.
Here’s the thing that I would say about that. I am not a gun nut who can give you a detailed technical analysis of a favorite rifle. I am not the awesome font of gun knowledge that is a woman like Tam. I know that, and I don’t pretend to be that, so I’m perfectly comfortable in my level of involvement with and understanding of firearms. I freely admit that when I purchase a gun, the first thing that always pulls me in is when I think, “THAT’S SO PRETTY!” And, you know what? This method has worked for me and resulted in some guns that I really love, which is why I’m not afraid to own it. It is possible to not be a total gun nut, and be comfortable in your role in the gun community, and I think that’s what Amy Robbins is missing in these early episodes. I hope that will change.
There are several parts of the show that are a little awkward, specifically the segment on “Gun Pads” stands out on that front. It was just a clip show with cameras panning past guns and some airplanes. There was no context given, and it was entirely too long for nothing more than videos of guns in different places of a house and airplane hangar. If the same person owns those guns & airplanes, they are probably a pretty interesting person. Why not at least talk about them, even if they are a stereotype of old and white? If they have younger family members who share the passion for guns & planes, why not feature that family member as a spokesperson? I have an attention span longer than your average millennial, and I wanted to close it and watch something else.
While Reason criticizes the feature that reviews guns, they do seem to ignore that gun reviews and videos are some of the most popular features of any gun-related site or media venture no matter the age of their target audience. I suspect that they will never really say anything bad in any NRA Freestyle gun review, so it’s not a totall honest critique, but they can still highlight things they like about a gun without getting negative. Oh, and I might add that both Sebastian & I checked out the featured gun of the first episode at the NRA Annual Meeting and we both really liked the feel of it and because it would fit our carry/shooting lifestyle, which the Reason writer apparently believes to be a “cringe-inducing” feature in a gun review.
Funny enough, as a woman, the concept and content that appealed to me the most with NRA Freestyle is actually Dom Raso’s Media Lab that deconstructs and re-creates movie fight scenes. It has a clear purpose, and it’s fun. Given the body of work in all the big budget action movies that Hollywood has created, there’s really some potential to have some real fun critiquing movie fights and shoot outs.
Raso’s show kept a good pace in both episodes that have been released, and the fun he can have in the next episode (tomorrow) on “Dodging Full Auto” is something I’m actually looking forward to catching. The specific scene they will use as an example is from White House Down, a movie I haven’t seen. Though, let’s face it, with Roland Emmerich involved, I’m pretty sure I can sum it up as explosions, guns, and fights. The plot details aren’t important, and that’s why these things are purely entertainment.
This show has the most potential to reach a much broader audience. Everyone knows movies are fake, and everyone loves talking about how fake or unrealistic a scene was even as we chow down on our popcorn and pull the movie up on Netflix. Given the content, it’s also far more likely to be caught by people doing random searches for various movies who may be interested in the topic and also intrigued by the background NRA branding for something entertaining. It’s got the pop culture connections without being too over-the-top.
I guess my overall impressions with the two shows currently available is that Noir has potential, but if they continue try a little too hard to force the pop culture references, it risks coming off as the butchered version of Lelaina’s reality tv show from Reality Bites. (If I see floating faces on a pizza, I’m going to be very disturbed. For you youngsters responsible for Noir, that’s a Gen X movie reference – you know, the old people.) Media Lab needs a better name, but it has the best content, in my opinion. It flows a little more seamlessly right off the bat.
I think the best feature of both shows is that they don’t do a hard sell to connect with the organization. However, that also leaves me concerned about whether or not the target audience for the network will ever be told that they need to give enough of a shit about their guns to join NRA or join the actual grassroots movement instead of sitting around watching the videos all day.
In light of yesterday’s post from Sebastian about concerns over messaging from NRA, and combined with the effort I’ve noted from Mother Jones to try and divide and conquer, the left-wing magazine is now trying to promote the notion that NRA doesn’t really have much in the way of grassroots and that everyone is just a paid shill of the evil gun lobby.
Their argument is that the NRA News commentators are paid, so therefore they aren’t really the grassroots of the gun culture. There’s just one big glaring problem with their story: the evidence doesn’t support it. Sure, the NRA News team and the commentators themselves have confirmed they are paid now, but Mother Jones ignores the fact that these people only got picked up because they were already actively part of the grassroots gun culture.
For example, they say this about Colion Noir:
Team member Noir recently confirmed in the Los Angeles Times that he was approached by the NRA and agreed to a deal, but also declined to discuss his compensation.
It makes it sound like NRA went out and to just find a black guy and offer him money to spit out pro-gun talking points. What Mother Jones leaves out is that Noir was brought on as staff in March 2013, but he already built a successful Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/Instagram following long before that in 2011 (or 2012, in the case of Instagram). He was approached to come on as staff because he was particularly successful as part of the grassroots gun culture.
For another commentator, Billy Johnson, he came onto NRA’s radar because he decided to make a video about real gun violence statistics at the end of 2012. That single video has more than 1.2 million views. Think about that. A video about statistics posted during the holidays has pulled in more than 1.2 million views. Billy Johnson told followers that NRA News didn’t contact him until the summer of that year. In other words, they found him only because he was already successful as a grassroots commentator speaking to Second Amendment issues.
The other commentators have similar stories, but slightly different backgrounds in the grassroots gun culture. None of those pesky little facts about the history of involvement that each of these men and women had in the grassroots gun culture is ever mentioned, and I suspect that is on purpose. It wouldn’t help their cause to remind politicians that while these people are currently paid staff of NRA News, their backgrounds in the issue before they were paid represent hundreds of thousands of people all involved in promoting the Second Amendment and the shooting sports.
Of course, I would also say that NRA needs to remember this lesson as well. Sure, Ackerman McQueen may have put some of the better grassroots spokesmen on the payroll to roll out a few decent videos, but those spokesmen aren’t NRA’s power. NRA’s power lies in the millions who vote their gun rights, organize their shooting leagues, and bring the message of the Second Amendment to their family and friends. One reason I’m concerned that some in Fairfax may be forgetting this is because I only heard one speech that actually acknowledged this real power of our movement.
Even the Grassroots Seminar this year wasn’t promoted very much. It was left out of the event app, is nearly impossible to find on the Annual Meeting website and schedule, and was smaller as a result of the missed opportunities for promotion. An annual election volunteer coordinator event was cut this year, though Sebastian & I still reached out to Grassroots staff to have a chat on strategies and organizing in the movement. Granted, one factor in participation is likely a feeling of a little burnout because the movement has had to be “on” constantly for at least two years now, but NRA just needs to remember that a snazzy video channel and fancy posters don’t replace the rest of the field of grassroots activists.