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NRA Part of Russia Conspiracy Now

I’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop. Russia has a RKBA movement that NRA has been involved with for several years. I met and spoke briefly with a representative from their organization at the NRA convention in St. Louis before Trump was even a thing. Somewhere I have her business card but I can’t seem to find it. Am I part of the conspiracy too now?

Now, this Russian RKBA group is not an opposition group. That’s not allowed in Russia. This group has the blessing of the Kremlin. This is not a new thing. NRA has been working with this group for years. NRA has always been willing to work with foreign RKBA movements and to help promote the shooting sports in other countries.

The common interests do go farther than that. Russia is an opponent of the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and when it comes to ATT, allies are scarce. It’s basically the Russians and Chinese who don’t want it. The sanctions placed on Russia are also indirectly an RKBA issue, since a lot of our cheap surplus comes from Russia. Now, I am fine with the sanctions as long as their true purpose is to act as a legitimate instrument of US foreign policy and not just a back handed way to screw American gun owners. I never got the impression that Obama’s sanctions were targeting us directly. I would not like to see NRA take a position on the sanctions, even if they interfere with imports of firearms and ammunition. To me that’s a foreign policy issue and a legitimate prerogative of the President and Congress. In other words, not a gun issue, even if we’re indirectly affected.

There’s a lot of smoke here, but I’m not sure there’s fire. I might feel differently if I haven’t been seeing Russian nationals at NRA long before Trump came along, and before Putin started getting frisky in Ukraine and the Middle East.

NRA Board Slate & Bylaw Changes for 2017

Tis the season of NRA voting, and while we have generally done endorsements in the past, these days I don’t quite go so far. You see, endorsing depended on us going to board meetings to talk with people and see them in action. I no longer have the time or the money to hang out in DC quite so much. But I will tell you some of the people I’m voting for.

If you want to vote for them too, knock yourself out, but know that while I see a lot of these folks at Annual Meeting, I’m not sitting in on Board or committee meetings anymore.

First, the bylaw changes: I’m voting yes. NRA has grown a lot, and requirements for recall and petition candidates ought to change with the size of the voting membership. After Glenn Beck started promoting the recall against Norquist, I realized there was a lot of room for someone willing to burn some money to cause very serious mischief within NRA. Most of these changes are aimed on closing the door on that.

As for Board members, I never vote for any celebrities. I think some of them are valuable to NRA, but they just don’t need my vote. They will win handily based on their celebrity status. So who will we vote for? There may be others, but I’d highlight these folks:

Dan Boren. Even now, I still think it’s important to keep Democrats involved in the issue. The shame is that pro-gun Dems have become an endangered species.

Graham Hill. Graham has a lot of experience at getting things done in Washington. He’s on the Board of Directors for the American Suppressor Association so knows that issue well. This fits with one of our chief legislative priorities.

Todd Rathner. Gets shit done. He’s been very active with advancing Knife Right’s agenda. He’s also going to be useful in the suppressor fight.

Kim Rhode Harryman. We need people on the Board who understand the shooting sports. Kim is a record setting multi-olympic Gold Medalist. I’d like to give her a chance and see what she can contribute.

Patricia A. Clark. Again, she’s more shooting sports oriented. She’s also from an embattled state, and I think we need to keep representation from those states.

Allan D. Cors. Current NRA President. Overall has a lot of experience with many facets of the Association.

Linda Walker. She has a record of getting shit done in her home state of Ohio. Look at Ohio now versus a decade ago. She was a key driver in a lot of that.

Again, I keep my list pretty small to help people I think might be able to use some help. There are other worthy candidates that haven’t made my list that are decent. John Richardson has a round up of other people’s thoughts here.

Been Busy Raising Money for the NRA Foundation

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.

NRA DecanterAbout 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.

NRA Endorses Dem for MO Governor: A Good First Step on the Road Back

NRA has endorsed Democrat Attorney General Chris Koster for Governor of Missouri, and at least some of the media has taken notice. The current state of affairs we have reached with this election is not inexplicable.

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.

Real Controversy? Or Ginned Up by the Media?

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.

Wayne LaPierre SWATed?

According to this article, about the conviction of the man who reportedly did this to several celebrities:

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.

Either way, he got two years.

NRA Worried Members Aren’t Lining Up Behind Trump?

First NRA ad of the season:

Arrests Made Outside of NRA HQ Protest

Code Pink and a few other groups apparently decided to sleep outside of NRA Headquarters to protest for a ban on assault weapons. Things were going fine until the next morning they whipped out red paint. They were charged with loitering on the public highway. I can’t tell if the issue was the red paint, or they were blocking the road. In the pictures, I don’t see any red paint on the road.

A Sign Things May Not Be Going Well on Capitol Hill

From NRA:

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.

NRA Out With a Statement

Chris Cox has an editorial in USA Today. In the past, NRA has blacked out, but this response was pretty quick:

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.

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