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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?

YellowJournalism

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.

A Harbinger of Federal Action on Suppressors?

It’s a good omen when Chris Cox is bringing the Josh Waldron, President of SilencerCo, out to the annual Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation Congressional Shoot-Out:

This would be an indicator that NRA is doing the necessary ground work to push for having suppressors removed from the National Firearms Act at some point in the future. If we have a favorable outcome in 2016, something like that might make a good second term project for a Second Amendment friendly Administration. Though, maybe I’m being wildly optimistic. I’m probably being wildly optimistic.

2A Rally Photos

Yesterday was the 10th Annual 2A Rally at the PA Capitol. Pictures can be found here. I have not gone for several years. Mainly because we’re not facing any major threats. The situation in Pennsylvania is this: With the GOP firmly in control of the legislature, we’re not likely to see any bad bills. With Governor Wolf in the Governor’s mansion, we’re not likely to get anything done. So for the next four years, it’s a stalemate unless the Democrats manage to gain seats in the legislature. The other issue is numbers. Illinois does their IGOLD rally day which was turning up thousands. That’s many people makes an impression on legislators, especially when you can get repeatability every year. We’ve always struggled with that in Pennsylvania. Illinoisans had issues that galvanized their grassroots. We don’t have anything like that here in Pennsylvania.

I’m not saying don’t go, but if you do, I’d head in after the speeches to your lawmaker’s office and try to speak with them one-on-one about your concerns as a gun owner. If you can bring someone else from the district too, that would be even better. I’m big on the impact of direct contact with lawmakers. Not so much on rallies and protests, unless you can turn out numbers that wow lawmakers. That’s a hard thing to do without an issue or threat that galvanizes people.

Knife Rights a New Front in the Second Amendment

Andrew Branca notes that Freddy Grey’s knife was, in fact, illegal. We need to repeal all knife laws. Laws against sharp pointy things are even more ridiculous than gun control. Even Bloomberg News is recognizing that Knife Rights have become the new gun rights. Of course, I wouldn’t agree gun rights have gotten old, but the Second Amendment isn’t just about firearms, it should be about all personal weapons, armor, and other accouterments.

Against my better judgement, I became involved in a comment discussion on this article that appeared in Raw, accusing the NRA of not caring about the rights of African-Americans, because they weren’t standing up for the Second Amendment rights of Freddy Grey. I viewed my goal in this to dispel myths, rather than sling insults back at people. I do not speak for NRA, but in my opinion, when defending the organization online, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using “we” if you’re a member. It is, at the end of the day, your organization, and it helps people understand this isn’t just about some nefarious gun lobby:

Myth Number 1: NRA doesn’t care about the rights of someone like Freddy Grey. For one, even though NRA is not directly involved in knife rights, KnifeRights.org is a lot of the same people, and there’s cooperation. We are working to try to repeal and preempt the kinds of laws that got Freddy Grey into the situation that got him killed.

Myth Number 2: NRA doesn’t care about the rights of blacks. Gun rights is only for white people. No, we stand for the right of all peaceable people to keep and bear arms for self-protection. Gun control is actually far more burdensome for poor blacks to exercise their rights than it is for white people who can more often afford license fees, training classes, and to live in communities they aren’t likely to get harassed by the cops.

Myth Number 3: NRA is just the sales arm of the gun industry. It’s amazing how many people have a genuine and sincere belief that this is actually true. I believe it’s a deliberate self-deception at times, because if you’re for restricting the freedoms of millions of Americans, some of whom might be a lot like you, that kind of makes you a real killjoy. But if you’re fighting against some nefarious imagined “gun industry,” well, that’s just sticking it to the corporate man, and you one can think oneself a hero of the common man.

These were the common myths. Of course you had plenty of crap like this:

Niger [Innis]? he’s another self hating black man, who hates his race. Tell me about Wayne LaPiere’s lack of racism. Tell me about Pedophile Nugent’s lack of racism. When the NRA leaders stop making speeches about rebelling against the government, and attacking blacks and Mexicans, I’ll believe there;s no racism in the NRA. until then, the NRA is nothing but an organization dedicated to scaring ignorant white people into buying guns, out of fear of a black president and brown and black people.

He’s not speaking about the actual National Rifle Association, but instead a caricature of the organization constructed partly by the writer’s vivid imagination, partly by agitators who work very hard to divide Americans against one another, and partly by Ted Nugent, who is the former type’s wet dream, since he self-caricatures.

As an organization, NRA needs a lot more people like Sheriff Clark speaking for the organization, and a lot fewer people like Ted Nugent. Knife Rights, for its part, responded very well, I thought, to the current events happening in Baltimore.

The Magazine Battle in Colorado

Most everyone is aware of the effort by Senate Republicans in Colorado to repeal Colorado’s post-Sandy Hook gun control laws. That effort runs into issues in the Democratically controlled house, and then finally with Governor Hickenlooper. So you’d think of the Democrats conceded that maybe they went too far, and they’d be willing to consider a bill that would ease the magazine ban to 30 rounds, you’d jump at that right?

Not Dudley Brown. See more at the Denver Post:

“It is unforgivable that it is RMGO and not Michael Bloomberg keeping me from buying a 30-round magazine,” Caldara said Friday. “Just as every gun owner needs to know who was behind the terrible gun laws in 2013 — Bloomberg and Gov. John Hickenlooper — every gun owner needs to know that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is stopping a huge step toward fixing it.”

Dudley is holding out for full repeal, suggesting the Dems need to repeal the law or “face the election consequences in 2016.”

First, I’d never be that confident that the 2016 elections are going to go our way. If the GOP fails to take back the Colorado House, you’re probably stuck with the 15 round limit, unless the courts come through, which I also would not count on. If Colorado stays in Democratic hands through the 2020 census, there’s a very good chance there is no saving the state at all, and it’ll continue to get worse.

On the other hand, 30 rounds is on the table now, which would mean the vast majority of magazines people tend to own in Colorado would be legal. It would render the magazine law essentially meaningless, which would mean getting the other half of the pie later would be an easier sell. If the GOP does prevail in 2016, well, then you’re one step closer to full repeal already. I just don’t see any downside to taking the House Dems up on their offer.

The Denver Magazine asks “Has Dudley Brown Finally Gone Too Far?” Also see this video with Dave Kopel:

Last Wednesday, Brown tried an unheard of maneuver that caught everyone off guard, and was eventually ruled out of order, and ultimately defeated, with five Republicans joining the Democrats. It should be noted that even on a straight party line vote, this would have been defeated. Brown is now threatening the five Republicans who voted against the motion in primaries. Those Republicans are:

  • NRA A Rated and Endorsed Rep. J. Paul Brown
  • NRA A Rated and Endorsed Rep. Timothy Dore
  • NRA A Rated and Endorsed Rep. Bob Rankin
  • NRA B+ Rated Yeulin Willett
  • Rep. Jon Keyser (never returned the NRA questionnaire

OK, I’d give Dudley challenging Keyser, and maybe Willett depending on whether or not that district can support a better candidate, or whether replacing him with a stronger gun rights candidate would throw the race to an anti-gun Democrat. I don’t know the district. But the first three are solid people on the issue, who perhaps voted against the maneuver because once you unleash a weapon like that, you invite your opposition to use it on you. There is a reason deliberative bodies have procedures.

We all want the magazine ban completely gone. But we can get 95% of the way there now, or hold off and rely on vague hopes that things will go as well or better for the GOP as they did in 2014. I’m for taking what we can get now. This no compromise stuff just doesn’t work in the real world. If Dudley were really the powerhouse he claims to be, and if he were truly a strategic genius, Colorado would never be in this mess in the first place.

Wayne LaPierre’s “Demographically Symbolic” Dog Whistle

It’s really not often you’ll find me agreeing with the Internet trolls at Media Matters, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Media Matters linked to a portion of Wayne’s Speech at the NRA Annual Meeting, which I must have missed when we skipped out to cover the MDA protest. Here’s video for the context:

Wayne was quoted saying, “eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough,” in the context of Hillary Clinton following Barack Obama into the presidency. What the hell is that even supposed to mean? Why bother with the dog whistle? Just come out and say “We don’t need another affirmative action token President,” and be done with it, because isn’t that what was really said?

What speechwriter of Waynes’s thought it was a good idea to put that jab in there? How did Wayne, who presumably might have practiced the delivery once or twice, not realize how this is going to sound to blacks, hispanics, and women? Are Ben Carson or Bobby Jundal “demographically symbolic?” Or what about Marco Rubio,  Suzana Martinez, or Carly Fiorina, all of whom might throw their hat into the ring themselves, or be a sensible veep picks. It’s not just Republicans either. What about Democratic Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clark? At what point does one become merely “demographically symbolic?” I don’t understand the rules for this.

I am not coming at this from the same angle as Media Matters, because I don’t want to give NRA or Wayne a black eye; I want them to be more effective. I don’t believe this error is going to take down the NRA, and I don’t believe Wayne is a racist or sexist. His very capable executive assistant, who essentially runs his office, is a female minority. Whoever wrote or reviewed that speech made a very serious lapse in judgement. Before folks comment that I’m just tooling for the politically correct junta, and that there isn’t anything wrong with saying things that imply White Male Conservatives need to be in charge, there’s a bit of reality you need to understand.

One is that the issue has made tremedous progress among women. Each year there are more women and families on the NRA Annual Meeting show floor than the previous year. Bitter even brought out her brother’s whole family this year, since they live in the Nashville area. Where women go, families follow. It is very important to appeal to women, and dog whistling to white males is not how accomplish that.

Second, this issue has to reach out to blacks and hispanics, and win them over. You’ll hear criticism of NRA for not getting involved in the immigration issue. I agree they should not, because even if you stopped the flow of illegal immigrants completely, hispanics are still going to grow as a share of the voting public for the simple reason that they are having children at a greater rate compared to other demographics. You will not fix this problem with even perfect border control, only delay the inevitable.

NRA has no choice: it must reach out to women, blacks and hispanics if it wishes to secure the long term health of the Second Amendment. Polling among these groups show we have a base of understanding that we can use to get the conversation moving. Statements like Wayne’s not only don’t help us achieve our goals, but serve to reinforce the notion that NRA is an organization for White Male Conservatives. The implication is even stronger when Wayne makes that statement on a stage where the only people visible are other White Male Conservatives. NRA hasn’t had a female President since Sandy Froman left the stage eight years ago. Despite a huge influx of women into the issue, I don’t notice the nominating committe reaching out to try to attract more women on the Board.

If in ten to twenty years NRA is only an organization for White Male Conservatives, the NRA will become an irrelevant organization.

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