Last night was our annual Bucks County Friends of NRA banquet. Our last dinner was in 2014, because of burnout with the committee, we didn’t have a dinner in 2015. We were happy to have 150 people show up, most of whom were new. We turned out more people than Shannon Watts did at her last protest! One thing I noticed is that the number of women attending is way up, and this year we had a number of younger couples, like 20s and 30s younger. We’re not just attracting the OFWG demographic anymore. The community is definitely changing, or at least the people engaged with the issue enough to attend a fundraiser is changing.
Our rough estimate is that we raised $13000 for NRA Foundation programs. We’ve done better, and we’ve done worse. Overall, I think it was a good dinner for having skipped a year. Half that money stays in Eastern Pennsylvania, the other half goes into the Foundation’s fund to fund shooting programs generally. Every year the Eastern PA committees meet to go over grant requests and decide who gets the money raised through these dinners. Youth shooting programs come first. You can read more about the Friends program here, or find a dinner near you.
About a year ago I got tired of trying to win guns and losing, so I started putting all my tickets in to the cheesiest item on the table that no one else was bidding on. One year I got the NRA fan, which is actually a decent desk fan. This year I got the hand blown NRA wine decanter. Doesn’t everyone need a hand blown NRA-branded wine decanter? Once you have one, you’ll never know how you ever lived without it.
Disappointing this year was the NRA toaster. A few years ago NRA had a toaster that would toast “NRA” onto your toast. It was a two slice model, and it went for $400 dollars at the live auction. This year they decided to introduce the same toaster in a four-slice high-capacity assault configuration, and it only went for $110. Disappointing really.
It actually started after Al Gore’s defeat when the Democratic Party began to accept that gun control as an issue was hurting it. The thinkers and strategists that built the 2006 comeback did so on a “blue dog” strategy, of running Democrats who could win in their districts, which included being pro-gun if that’s what it took. Obama largely laid off the gun issue in his first term, largely because gun control threatened the seats of his blue dog coalition. In 2010, the blue dogs decided to en mass, unbox the tantō Obama had laid before them proceeded to commit ritual suicide one after the other…. by voting for Obamacare. The resulting political backlash was so severe that the gun vote couldn’t protect them, despite NRA endorsing a large number of Democrats.
Additionally, despite NRA’s endorsement of Harry Reid in the past, in the 2010 election cycle they experienced a backlash from their membership, largely driver by talking heads and conservative radio shows, most of which don’t give a rat’s ass about gun rights short of its usefulness to them for promoting conservatism as a whole or promoting themselves. The official line was that judicial votes now matter, and I think they ought to, but the perception (in politics, it’s perception that matters) was that NRA stiffed the Majority Leader because he was a Democrat, and their membership are conservative voters rather than single-issue voters.
After the death of the blue dog coalition, and Harry Reid getting stiffed, the Democrats no longer viewed being amenable to gun rights as being in their political interests. Then Bloomberg comes along with a huge pot of money and that seals the deal. If there’s ever going to be a bipartisan consensus on gun rights again, it’ll happen because the Dems have political talent to protect, and that has to start somewhere. Long term safety for this issue will only come if there’s a bipartisan consensus to protect gun rights. As long as this issue is tied to only one party it is tied to the fortunes of that party, and the fortunes of any political party go up and down as the political winds blow.
There’s been articles in both the Washington Post and The Guardian about how NRA is split over the whole Castile police shooting. Personally, I think it’s better for NRA not to go off half-cocked at events like this until all the facts are in. For events like this, it’s often good to look at what NRA News is saying, since they are NRA’s official unofficial spokespeople (meaning they say things NRA can’t since they don’t officially speak for the NRA):
NRA is always going to be reluctant to risk coming across as anti-cop because a) police and former police compromise a decent percentage of the membership, and b) when NRA has gone up against law enforcement in the past, NRA has lost. You can lament that state of affairs, but it is the state of affairs.
NRA is never going to have a knee jerk reaction to events like this, and to be honest, they shouldn’t. The Civil Rights Defense Fund often takes cases involving people, and yes, even black people, who’s civil rights were unjustly violated, but they are very careful about which cases they back. Again, they should be.
I think the division is not necessarily ginned up by the media, but is real. NRA is a coalition, just like any other movement, and we don’t all come to this issue from the same set of principles. There are libertarian NRA members, like myself and I suspect a lot of readers, who are very concerned with civil liberties and police overreach. But there are also a lot of NRA members who are populist and think the police can do no wrong. The folks in Fairfax have to be concerned with keeping these people focused on the issue and not at each other’s throats. That’s not an easy job.
Islam’s conspiracy made a fake call to police, leading police to the NRA head’s Virginia home and leading them to “briefly detain” him, LaPierre’s lawyer said.
The dude’s last name is Islam, just to be clear. Sounds like he was a recluse and probably a bit off his rocker. He also published Mike Bloomberg’s Social Security Number, so it doesn’t seem like he’s just picking sides here. Sounds like a loser who needs to feel powerful.
We are happy to meet with Donald Trump. The NRA’s position on this issue has not changed. The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed. That has been the position of Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) and a majority of the U.S. Senate. Sadly, President Obama and his allies would prefer to play politics with this issue.
The thing that worried me from the get go is when you start arguing on constitutional grounds, people either don’t understand or their eyes glaze over. That’s why it’s always, “Politician is going to take X from you.” It’s a sad state of affairs, but most people are not ideological. They don’t care about higher principles. What motivates them is whether their ox is going to get gored by this or that. That’s why Trump has done well among non-ideological voters in the primary. People will burn down phone switches if they think their ox is getting gored. Abstract principles appeal to fewer people. So it is incumbent among us who do get and do care about due process to call our Congressmen and Senators and tell them no new gun control laws. Keep it that simple.
Both the ACLU and NRA are opposed to the Terror Watch List, but don’t expect that to get in the way given that civil liberties are out of fashion among progressive lefties, and “law and order” populists have never been very concerned.
The terrorist in Orlando had been investigated multiple times by the FBI. He had a government-approved security guard license with a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security. Yet his former co-workers reported violent and racist comments. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s political correctness prevented anything from being done about it.
I still stand by my earlier observation that because our political opponents came out all over the place, rather than staying on message, they once again sabotaged themselves. When you start talking gun bans, our people listen very carefully, and then get very angry and start melting the phone and e-mail systems of their local politicians. They don’t stop paying attention just because it takes the other side a while to get on message.
I think it’s important to point out this guy was a licensed security guard for DHS. This is the kind of guy even pretty extreme gun control folks agree should be allowed to have a gun, even if the rest of the proles are disarmed. Push that point.
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. :)