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Currently Browsing: How Not to Win

Opposition to Range Improvements

I can’t help but laugh at this story that promotes all sorts of negative political stereotypes, and all because neither the writer nor the interviewees appears to have done any homework on the issue.

So a Colorado shooting range is having problems maintaining & improving their facilities on membership dues. Becoming a 100% NRA club will make them more likely to qualify for grants from NRA that can pay for some of these improvements. Not to mention, NRA sanctions many shooting competitions, they provide firearm safety training programs, club insurance, and they are a pretty helpful resource for information for gun ranges looking to expand or improve. All of this falls into the category of General Operations and/or the NRA Foundation. None of it is the territory of NRA-ILA, a separate political entity with its own funding and another separate political action committee in NRA PVF.

Yet, Democratic members are complaining to the media that with a new requirement to join NRA as part of your membership to the shooting range that they are being forced to join “a fringe right-wing political organization” without actually making any effort to learn about the apolitical side of the organization that the club is turning to for help. But the advocates of the membership requirement aren’t exactly working to educate people when they are touting that they agree with NRA on politics, so it’s all okay.

A little education on both sides would go a very long way in minimizing hard feelings on the decision…

Gun Advertising in Tennessee

I find it funny that you can’t drive 10 miles in the Nashville area without passing a billboard for some kind of gun shop or seeing a gun shop from the road.

Even if many of them are very simple with their graphics and their messages, it’s entertaining. It certainly reflects that the gun culture is healthy even in an urban area.

However, there’s one that drives me up the wall in all of the years I’ve been driving through from the East Coast to Nashville area. It’s Outdoor Junction at exit 290 off I-40. In all of the years they have been advertising on billboards along I-40, they have only catered to men. They bill themselves as a place to buy “Men’s Toys” with a picture of a handgun. It would be one thing if, somewhere in their advertising corridor, they included a billboard catering to women. They don’t. They have multiple billboards to promote how they appear to only sell things to men. I can tell you right now that I would never be willing to walk in because their advertising sends a message that they simply don’t even acknowledge women as customers shopping for themselves as opposed to shopping for their men.

When I see some stores so obviously go out of their way to embrace the shooting culture as being only meant for men, it makes me wonder how long places like this will manage to hang on and stay alive in the evolving community. I’d be curious to know if those of you in other parts of the country see these kinds of gun shops that go out of their way to frame their products as only appropriate for men sticking around. Do they manage to pull of a bustling business in spite of ignoring outreach to the largest growing portion of the gun owning community?

How to Lose Friends and Make Enemies

There is a modest goal of legalizing open carry in Texas. Maybe I’m crazy, or just don’t have a true appreciation for all the subtleties of the use profanity for making one’s point, but I’m going to suggest outbursts like this are doing nothing except helping move more sensible activists farther away from the goal of legal open carry in Texas:

What is the goal of this? The dispute seems to be over the fact that the officers are arresting people for carrying antique firearms openly, which as far as I know is allowed in Texas. But this is a reason we have civil rights lawsuits. The purpose of civil disobedience is to act in a manner that draws attention to your plight and gains public sympathy for it. Its purpose is also to rouse people to action, by showing there are others out there who not only believe in the cause, but are willing to risk prison for it. This is not going to rouse anyone to action. It’s likely going to just alienate people, discourage them from joining our cause because they don’t want to be associated with things like this, nor antagonize law enforcement unnecessarily. None of these things are a winning formula.

Had this been New York, I think a carefully arranged act of civil disobedience would be admirable and appropriate. But even for civil disobedience, this isn’t the way to do it. This is also Texas, and not New York.

Folks need to look at where this issue really is. One quarter of Americans are still perfectly fine with banning handguns, and we still have a plurality that would like “more strict” gun laws, with only 13% wanting fewer laws. We don’t need to be fighting our fellow citizens, and certainly not law enforcement, every step of the way when it comes to moving the ball forward. There is a time and place for civil disobedience, but that place isn’t Texas, and the time isn’t over trying to get open carry legalized.

Another One From the Bad Idea Files

I think politicizing the anniversary of the Newtown massacre is a mistake. Yes, I know the other side will do it too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart tactic for us. Whether it feels emotionally satisfying or not, there are things the other side can do that we can’t get away with, and this is one of them. This is the same impulse that made the Republicans go over the cliff with the government shutdown. That the Administration would play theater and make people suffer was predictable, and that the media would do everything humanly possible to blame the GOP was a fore-drawn conclusion.

I don’t like fighting on ground that’s favorable to my opponents, and that’s exactly what this is. Whether it’s right or wrong, waving the bloody shirt is always going to be a stronger tactic for them than it is for us. Our best counter-tactic is to argue this represents shady billionaires and DC-insiders preying on people’s grief and vulnerability for political gain. The best counter-tactic is not to snatch the bloody shirt from those very people, and start waving it ourselves.

Another Case of Open Carry Activism Fail

How many kids, teachers, and school administrators were “educated” by this?

The district responded to the flood of complaints it received by revising its policy to require schools to go into immediate lockdown if somebody is openly carrying a gun nearby.

No state or city laws prevent the open carry of legal firearms in Hillsboro. Had the man been on school property, he would’ve been arrested.

Surely the parents of the children are now much more supportive of guns in public and around schools as well. All it took was someone OCing a shotgun near the school to convince them! My favorite part of this?

It turns out, his mother is a teacher at Century High. He said she doesn’t know it was him carrying the gun, and that she’ll likely be upset when she finds out.

No word yet on whether he was grounded.

The Latest Not-Really-Pro-Gun Group

Tomorrow, a new group claiming to represent America’s gun owners will launch that claims to be for “SANE” gun ownership policies. Their goal is to be an alternative to NRA on everything, including safety and firearms education. Yet, they also proudly declare that none of them are experts on firearms handling. That’s not their only disconcerting claim.

R + P CEO Waylan Johnson, a petroleum magnate, tells Whispers he hopes the group will also set itself apart by being more focused on members than the NRA.

“The NRA represents the firearms industry. There’s not a lot of membership input,” Johnson says.

This was a quote, presumably said with a straight face, by a man declared as CEO by an organization that, according to their own “Join” page, doesn’t appear to have a mechanism for the membership to vote on the leadership. Meanwhile, the supposedly firearms industry-run NRA sent out 1,718,786 ballots for NRA members to vote on the organization’s leadership this year.

There are so many over-the-top claims that this group is making, it’s really laughable that any reporter gave their PR girl the time of day. For example, their number one priority for use of member dollars? “Helping to Identify and Get Treatment for the Mentally Ill to prevent firearms abuse” So are they a mental health organization with professionals on staff to identify mentally ill people? Everything I’ve found about the leaders indicate that their backgrounds are in IT, energy, and other business ventures. How will these non-medical professionals designate appropriate treatment that will supposedly focus on preventing firearms abuse? They say the money will be spent on such treatment, so prospective members have a right to know about these programs they claim they fund.

This new American Rifle & Pistol Association says that their number two priority in using member dollars is to “Promoting Programs Aimed at Getting Illegal Guns off the Streets,” yet they tell us nothing about how they define an illegal gun or what those programs look like. Does that mean member dollars will be used to fund gun buybacks that often collect and destroy antiques and collectible firearms? Does it mean to support a registration system for all gun owners? There are all sorts of things such a broad message could mean.

The group wants you to know that they will give members “Representation before Elected Officials on behalf of the Voice of the R+P Membership,” presumably by the leadership team who have never made any donations of any kind to any officials as documented by OpenSecrets.org and the Texas Ethics Commission. In fact, the leaders want members to feel good about the fact that they have no background in lobbying and that they are NOT experts in the new field they will start lobbying in. Talk about convincing members that they are in the very best of hands…

For a group that claims to want to make sure that gun owners are trained in “SANE” handling, they so far refuse to share any information about their supposed “competency training and certification courses” that will presumably be developed by their non-expert leaders who are not actually elected or accountable to members. Unlike NRA-ILA’s library of resources on various issues that explain topics and give a general indication of their positions on the specifics of firearms policies, R+P provides no such information for prospective members. I guess their idea of “member-centric” is to keep prospective members in the dark about their actual planned lobbying efforts so that it’s all a big secret until you hand over the cash.

I’m curious how long the 15 minutes will last for this new astroturf group. I’m also curious as to how long they will continue the Horrible Capitalization Abuse on Their Website.

UPDATE: It turns out that the Enemies Of Proper Capitalization Use are also not such fans of gun ownership as they claim. (Thanks to reader Andrew for the tip.)

Here are the screenshots that show the Connecticut converted to Texan Chairman of American Rifle & Pistol Association who is an Obama supporter who is pushing Bloomberg/MAIG’s gun control campaigns while helping to promote Moms Demand Action, a group trying to pressure companies to ban lawful concealed carry so gun owners can’t carry in public anymore and convince gun retailers to stop selling the most popular guns in the country.

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Mike Bloomberg isn’t the only gun control supporting New Yorker that Peter Vogt promotes, as evidenced by his repeated sharing of a NY-based website run by people who believe that Senators supporting Second Amendment rights deserve the label of child killers.

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Vogt is also a fan of New York lawmakers who are more interested in name-calling against gun owners than actually trying to have a conversation about concerns for Second Amendment rights.

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These are the publicly shared views of American Rifle & Pistol Association’s leader, and it certainly does not appear to reflect someone who is actually concerned with protecting the individual right to bear arms. These shared materials reflect an ally of groups that would take your guns without a trial, ban licensed concealed carry owners from even getting a cup of coffee at the most common coffee house around, and who thinks that gun owners with concerns about federal legislation are just little jackasses.

Just like the concept of “member-centric,” I don’t think that the leaders of American Rifle & Pistol Association actually understand the concept of being pro-Second Amendment.

NAGR Steps into Pennsylvania Politics

I’m just going to say “not helping.”

It’s clear that Dudley Brown knows nothing about the political climate here in Pennsylvania. I haven’t seen any PA-specific approval ratings lately that indicate any kind of serious plunge or distrust of Obama, but aside from that issue, their messaging for a blue state is terrible. Brown chooses to focus on questioning whether Pat Toomey is a true conservative. Well, in a state like Pennsylvania, being less than perfectly conservative (or at least perceived as such) is a good thing. It’s clear that Pennsylvania doesn’t want hardcore conservatives.

Fortunately, according to PoliticsPA, the ad buy is small and limited to cable.

Don’t assume that this is a “support Toomey no matter what he does to us” kind of post. I’m really not a fan at the moment, and I’m not going to forget it when the next election comes about. But as a person who actually lives in the suburbs of Philly that make such a huge difference in Pennsylvania elections, I can say that this messaging is off. I’m just glad that it is years out from the election. Hopefully Brown will stay out of Pennsylvania politics again because he clearly doesn’t know how to message to voters here. Portraying Toomey as someone the right expects to be an extreme conservative isn’t the way to win votes of squishy GOP and moderate voters.

Don’t Taze Me Bro

A counter-protester at the MAIG rally in Concord, NH today ended up getting tazed by police when he allegedly tried to interrupt one of the speakers on the podium. From the article:

Musso was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and two counts of simple assault, allegedly against a person who was attending the rally and a police officer. He was held on $5,000 cash bail, and will be on arraigned June 19.

A great example of how not to win.

Alan Gottlieb Lobbies Grassroots to Support Toomey-Manchin Amendment

Sebastian made a comment while reading the Toomey language for his gun amendment that, while there are flaws, it appeared that it was written by someone with more gun knowledge than your average congressional staffer. Turns out that Alan Gottlieb is officially taking credit for having his staff help write the amendment based on this video.

I have some issues with this recording for a couple of reasons.

One, he misrepresents the ability to buy guns across state lines. At 3:03, Gottlieb says, “Another important one, you cannot now legally buy a handgun in a state that you don’t live in. If you’re not a resident of that state, you can’t buy a handgun. Under the so-called background check bill, you’ll be able to buy a handgun in all 50 states. As long as you buy from a licensed dealer, you can buy it from anywhere you want.” He adds more later, claiming that with “a gun license of any kind from any state, under the Toomey-Manchin proposal, there is no background check.”

Two, he promises that none of the 4473s on concealed carry licensees from FFLs will go to the government. Gottlieb says, “you have to fill out the 4473 form, it stays in the dealer’s file and never even gets called into the government.”

These two statements are just false. In fact, on the registry/4473 point, Dave Kopel’s initial review of the Toomey-Manchin amendment points out that the registry ban doesn’t include records from FFLs who close down and therefore must send their 4473s to the federal government for storage.

Beyond the actual policies in dispute, there’s a question of the strategy of this speech. Gottlieb asks dinner attendees to back this amendment specifically to advance their partisan agenda. I’m all for political reality and dealing with the fact that some people are willing to trade away our freedoms, but I truly do view defending the Bill of Rights as a non-partisan fight. I don’t want any party sitting comfortably thinking the Second Amendment is just something to take advantage of when it fits their agenda.

Gottlieb also tells the audience that these are all “secrets” to the bill – including a promise that a restoration of rights amendment is going to be presented and already has the votes – that he doesn’t want any gun control proponents to know about until after the amendment is official. So, then, help me understand why that would be announced in a room full of people while a video camera is going. (Clearly, this isn’t a hidden camera. It appears to be right in front of him, even if handheld.) That doesn’t seem very strategic to me. If CNN runs this video on repeat, those votes have likely disappeared.

My outrage moment, though, happened when Gottlieb told the crowd that every day, at every gun show, men who can’t speak English go in and purposefully load up with guns without showing ID and without ever undergoing background checks. Gee, thanks, Alan. As many gun shows as I have attended running a table, I have never witnessed anything like that happening. In fact, I have seen far more gun sellers refuse sales that they just don’t feel comfortable with than I have seen even a normal, ID-showing private sale.

Look, I get why some think that pro-gun folks should have been involved in the process of writing this amendment to try and keep innocent gun owners out of jail. That’s a reasonable argument to me. But, that’s very different from calling the Toomey-Manchin amendment a “Godsend” and misrepresenting what it does in order to lobby for grassroots support.

I would ask, if the Toomey-Manchin language goes through as presented, is the Second Amendment Foundation going to fund an Alan Gura defense for the first arrested gun owner who was just confused by the new rules about when processing through an FFL is required?

h/t to Misfires & Light Strikes for sharing this video and opening the discussion.

UPDATE: Interesting that the video is now starting to disappear from the internet. I found another copy of it. It’s the exact same video because the timing marks to my quotes line up.

Fast Cars & Freedom*

I love markets. Markets generally tell us what people really want and how much they value something. For example, gun rights and fast cars.

For those of you who aren’t NASCAR fans, NRA has sponsored a race tonight, the NRA 500. As a politician opposed to freedom and fun, Chris Murphy (D-CT) stepped in and tried to use the pressure of his office to have NASCAR turn on NRA’s long planned sponsorship. That didn’t work, so Murphy turned on Fox to try and get them to yank it from the air. (Though NASCAR has pledged to review their sponsorship agreements after the race.)

Fox didn’t pull it, but fans are noticing that Fox announcers are going out of their way to avoid saying the name of the race tonight except where they are contractually obligated to do so. (I would embed the tweet on that topic here, but Cameron Gray of NRA News, who reported on the contract requirements, blocks us for some reason, so I cannot get the embed code.) I just can’t fathom how a network that really needs to attract viewers willing to spend money on sponsors and advertisers decides that it is in their best interest to piss off those people ready to spend money.

How do I know they are ready to spend money? Easy, the President of the Texas Motor Speedway tells us that the combined NRA & NASCAR fanbase is spending big, big bucks:


According to a statement by Gossage covered by ESPN earlier, objections to the NRA sponsorship are few and far between. Interestingly, they actually looked up those who complained and found that the vast majority of those few are not even customers.

“We’ve had fewer than a dozen responses,” Gossage said. “Of those, only two had purchased tickets [to other TMS events]. There is no controversy or big uproar or even a tiny uproar.”

But Fox is hardly the only shortsighted business involved in tonight’s race. The same ESPN article notes that the PR directors for two drivers ordered them not to grant any interviews in the media room so that they won’t have to be pictured with the letters NRA behind them. No doubt those same PR pros have probably squashed any efforts by the driver or their teams to use the #NRA500 hashtag tonight on Twitter – you know, the hashtag that’s trending nationwide right now. We wouldn’t want those drivers to turn up for any racing fans searching that hashtag, now would we?

If I was a driver, regardless on my views of guns, I would look at the merchandise sales and the social media opportunities lost, then I would promptly fire my PR person for not knowing a damn thing about my customer base. Numbers don’t lie, but PR directors apparently do when motivated by politics instead of the best business interests of their clients.

If Gossage is interested, this former Texas Motor Speedway customer appreciates the class the Speedway has shown in the face of a hostile media and an lawmaker who forgets we’re a free society. Granted, the last event I attended was a Rolling Stones concert in high school. But I am a proven customer nonetheless!

*Title shamelessly stolen from ExUrban Kevin

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