May 7, 2013
I don’t spend much time on the show floor these days, but I was pleased to get to fondle an IMI Tavor for a bit.
I’ve never been a big fan of bullpups, because I find the ergonomics on most of them border on sadistic. The Tavor was one of the best laid out bullpups I’ve handled. Let me compare it to another, somewhat new bullpup, like the Kel-Tec RFB, and to the AR-15 platform most of us are familiar with.
The Tavor’s magazine is released easily, and removed from the magazine well. It is simple to accomplish this with one hand without losing your sight picture. The RFB’s magazine rotates into place, somewhat similar to an FAL or AK. Except in the RFB, my shooting hand gets in the way of the magazine coming out. The Tavor is vastly better for magazine changes than the RFB. But the Tavor is not better than the AR-15. With an AR, I can drop an old magazine out with my shooting hand while my support hand has already fetched a fresh magazine. The Tavor requires the support hand to engage the magazine release and remove the old magazine.
The safety selector on all three is pretty ergonomically positioned, but there’s a great deal of difference in the bolt release. Both the RFB and Tavor put the bolt release toward the rear of the weapon, at the butt of the stuck. Both also feature ambidextrous bolt releases. But the Tavor’s bolt release in a lever located at the bottom of the stock, and only requires a quick slap to send the bolt forward. The RFB has small nubs on either side of the stock which requires a finer motor skill. I find the RFB’s bolt release is harder to actuate instinctively. The AR-15 bolt can be slapped home too, but the AR-15 lacks ambidexterity here.
Triggers on bullpups are generally awful, and a big reason I don’t like them. I don’t have great things to say about either the Tavor or RFB in that area. The AR-15 stock trigger beats both, and there are excellent custom trigger options on the AR platform. I’m also not to keen on systems that have limited options for open sights.
So I won’t be trading in my AR for a Tavor any time in the near future, but the Tavor is one of the only bullpups I’ve tried I would even think of buying.
May 7, 2013
I have arrived back home from Houston. The flight was a little bumpy, but otherwise uneventful. Flying these days always seems to involve waiting, but we actually breezed through security at Intercontinental with no problem, after checking the sidearm. We had time to kill, so we stopped for some lunch at a Chili’s, amusing ourselves that they had posted a 51% sign out front, even though it was in the secure area of the airport. This Chili’s also only gave out plastic utensils, but would sell you a bottle of beer in the bottle. I guess none of the TSA bureaucrats have ever gone on a pub crawl in Glasgow after a soccer match lets out.
Houston was a great convention city. Given that I’ve done seven of these at this point, I feel I can critique. Saint Louis has been the only repeat city, and I’d only classify it as OK, but both times it’s broken records, including the one that just fell. I thought Phoenix was the best overall convention city until Houston, attendance numbers aside. Pittsburgh was the worst, with Louisville a good runner up for worst. The problem with Pittsburgh is the city can’t handle day trippers, which is most of attendance. The location has great potential, but they just can’t physically bring in people at a fast enough rate to set major records. Pittsburgh’s downtown area also epitomizes the word “rust belt,” and the hotels are spread out too much. Louisville can handle day trippers in spades, but the convention center is not where the hotel space is, and the split convention was kind of ridiculous. It was better for the day trippers, but sucked for anyone who wasn’t. Charlotte was a nice city, and a record breaker too, but too damned expensive. North Carolina carry laws at the time were obnoxious as well.
But overall, it’s always a great event. As I’ve said in the past, many of the people in this issue I have great respect and admiration for are approachable, down to earth, and fascinating people to speak with. We haven’t really formally organized anything for the past few years, but thing still happen on their own. Bob Cottrol came down to the press room for a while, and talked to a number of bloggers, for instance. And it’s not just Prof. Cottrol. How many anti-gun celebs, like Bloomberg, would offer to buy beers and share their cake? Yeah, right. But Michael Bane will (they surprised him with a birthday cake at the Michael Buys the Beer event). Those who came to that event also had an opportunity to meet Dave Kopel. Both Michael and Dave are now behind enemy lines in Occupied Colorado, though I think they both intend to do a great deal more than sit in the chair against the wall.
I can’t tell you that if you’re a rising star in social media, and attended NRA Annual meeting, you’ll be sipping drinks with Wayne LaPierre by the pool before you know it, but there are certainly interesting people to meet and speak with, and NRA has, for several years now, been willing to grant credentials to non-traditional media outlets. From there you can make your own opportunities. The Annual Meeting & Exhibits are in Indianapolis next year. If you do social or new media in the gun rights or gun arena, and are interested, e-mail me.
May 5, 2013
Congratulations, Houston. You managed to turn out more protesters than any city since 2004, save Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for your political agenda, that turnout was still under 40 people.
We overheard many conflicting messages. For example, there’s the man who says that it’s okay to own a two-round firearm for hunting only. Turn to the right, and you find this sign at the rally:
After that conflicting message, one of the protesters pondered why we can’t manage to find a middle ground. Gee, I wonder why. (Said protester also wanted to know why we couldn’t have a conversation, then he accused me of being a Westboro Baptist Church supporter for being pro-gun. This is why there is no conversation.)
These folks said they they didn’t want to take our guns, just promote more regulation. Well, call me paranoid, but when your messaging is that my next firearm purchase (even with a background check) is somehow to blame for death, I don’t have much faith that you’re being honest about being willing to stop at background checks.
Last night, an anti-gun group on Twitter was proclaiming a “WORLD RECORD” protest because someone stuck around for a couple of hours and read lots of names of crime victims. Somehow, I don’t think it set any real record, nor do I think Guiness will be calling them anytime soon.
For the people who claim they all in favor of outright democracy and rule of the majority, there was a common theme that they could not understand the concept that they were simply outvoted. It’s not possible for them to wrap their heads around the notion that not everyone agrees with their world view, so it must be all due to money.
And, finally, this woman says that her precious snowflake is more important than any of your civil rights.
May 4, 2013
There were 1,718,786 people eligible to vote in the NRA board elections this year. That number is overwhelmingly made up of life members. What’s significant about this number is that it’s nearly 122,000 more than last year. That’s how many more (mostly life) voting members we have now.
Of those ballots mailed, only 123,646 bothered to vote at all. A little under 11,000 had to be tossed because they were invalid. The overwhelmingly common problem (nearly 3,400) is people voting for too many candidates.
More than 10,000 people more voted than last year. The top vote getter (Ollie North) received more votes than the top vote getter last year. There are plenty of years when there are no candidates who break 100,000 votes, but three did this year. Even more amazing, one of them was Sandy Froman even though she’s not a celebrity. (She’s just awesome and wonderfully likeable.)
When we get home, I’ll do up a serious analysis of how people participate in their NRA. This is just a quick and dirty set of facts picked up quickly from the election committee report.
May 4, 2013
Starting very shortly the event that this whole show is based around will start: the Annual Meeting of members. A good bit of this meeting is political theater, but it serves a bylaw function, and members can still take the floor and have their say and put motions on the floor. If members are really upset about NRA’s position on Manchin-Toomey and the eventual gun vote, this is where they can take the floor and confront NRA leadership. If MAIG is correct, the members ought to be lining up. Coverage will begin shortly:
09:50AM: About to head over there. It should be noted that after the 1977 Cincinatti Revolt, the revolutionaries, like most revolutionaries, made sure no one else could do to them what they had done. While NRA members ultimately control the organization, members can’t do things like make motions to fire Wayne, vote on it, and have it be binding. Generally, certain kinds of motions seem to get referred to Board committees. I’m not an expert on the ins and outs of NRA procedures.
10:01AM: Inside the meeting hall. I feel like I’m inside a pair of the old style 3D glasses. Everything is illuminated in red, white and blue lights. It’s trippin’.
10:03AM: Police presence is heavy in the hall. Mounted police are outside the convention center. I don’t know what they are so worried about. Gun violence prevention advocates are peaceful.
10:09AM: They are introducing the officers. Those are, for those who don’t know, Edward J. Land, Secretary, Woody Phillips, Financial Officer, Kyle Weaver, Operations, Chris Cox, Chief Lobbyist, David Keene, President, and Wayne, EVP.
10:11AM: Meeting called to order.
10:14AM: Prayer, National Anthem, Pledge, etc. Not necessarily in that order.
10:19AM: Wayne is now doing the oldest and youngest NRA Life members in attendance. This is always fun. Millie is running around the floor trying to narrow it down and yelling at Wayne. Youngest NRA Life member was born in 2009. That’s pretty old. It’s usually an infant. They are a family from Austin, Texas.
10:22AM: Now for the oldest Life Member in attendance. The oldest NRA Life Member in attendance was born in 1917. Wow. He’s getting a standing ovation from the crowd. His name is Wayne Bird, from Arkansas. He’s been an NRA Life Member since 1938.
10:26AM: Edward Land is calling the role. This involves having all the voting members stand from Endowment down to 5 year voting members. ”Mr. President, we have a quorum.”
10:28AM: David Keene is asking non-citizen members to stand and be recognized. This was a motion put on the floor last annual meeting, and it has been approved. Keene is now explaining the parliamentary procedures. At least the basics.
10:32AM: Members have approved the agenda, and the minutes from last year’s minutes. This is like a giant version of your local club meeting. The approval of the agenda was the opportunity for members to add items to the agenda. No motions were made to add to the agenda. So much for members being unhappy with NRA and its positions.
10:33AM: Jim Porter, who will replace David Keene as NRA President is now giving his report. I think Keene has been an excellent spokesman for the organization, during difficult times. Porter is also a pretty good spokesman, so I think we’ll do fine moving forward.
Where are all the unhappy members who agree with Bloomberg?
10:43AM: David Keene is giving his report. He’s thanking everyone for coming out and helping send a message. I’ll be sorry to see him go as NRA President. Before Keene was President, he sat down with bloggers at breakfast just to talk, and he was an interesting guy to talk to. I also appreciated his efforts at ACU, unrelated to NRA or guns, for sticking up for GOProud’s participation in CPAC. “We handed Barack Obama the first significant defeat of his Presidency,” to thunderous applause.
10:52AM: Given the lighting NRA has been using, today the room isn’t filled with a bunch of old white guys. The media perpetuated stereotype is false. Today the room is filled with old red guys. Sometimes old blue guys when they switch hue on the lighting.
10:54AM: Keene recognizes the NRA Board Members. Turns out they do have white lights they can use, but now I’m back to feeling like we’re on the bridge of the Enterprise battling Kahn.
10:56AM: Speaking of old white guys, Ollie North is addressing the meeting.
11:01AM: A Wayne montage is playing on the big high-resolution projection screen.
11:04AM: It’s an introduction to Wayne, who gets a standing ovation. This is normal for annual meetings.
11:09AM: Wayne to media, paraphrased: I warned you about Obama, you said I was paranoid. Who’s paranoid now beoches!?
11:10AM: Wayne announces NRA has hit 5 million members, and the organization is still growing.
11:12AM: When they turn on both the red and blue lights, it’s very hard on the eyes. I feel like I ate the wrong mushroom.
11:14AM: .oO( Hmm, I wonder if they’ve put out the cheese spread in the press office yet? ) Wayne is talking about what a crime infested hellhole the City of Chicago is.
11:19AM: Wayne is speaking about how Bloomberg is America’s National Nanny. Sometimes it’s useful to have such distasteful enemies.
11:20AM: When Wayne lambasts the media, I’m sitting here wearing an NRA media pass. I feel like I should write that Wayne is paranoid and insane.
11:21AM: “We will never surrender our guns. Ever!” The crowd takes to their feet in celebration. Now they are going wild and tearing the place apart. It’s pandemonium! They are taking to the streets. Well, no, not really.
12:24AM: Wayne paraphrased: “There are bad people out there, and they are plotting to getcha!” It’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you.
11:25AM: And we do have the required, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun!” The crowd loves the line.
11:27AM: .oO( Cheese! Cheese! I hanker for a hunka cheese. ) Battery running low. May have to return the press room shortly.
11:28AM: THe crowd takes to their feet on the line “Leave us alone!”
11:37AM: Had to head back to the press office to plug in, and get some cheese. Chris Cox is being introduced.
11:40AM: Cox notes that we are the strongest NRA has ever been in its history… but it needs to be stronger. When we were leaving, Wayne threw down the gauntlet to get 10 million members. If there were 10 million NRA members, we wouldn’t have to compromise on anything.
11:43AM: Chris is speaking about the blood dancing nature of our opponents, in terms of exploiting tragedy for political gain.
11:44AM: Chris Cox: “… ignorance also has another name, and it’s Joe Biden” Followed by a Joe Biden Tactical Training School montage.
11:46AM: Chris Cox introduces a Diane Feinstein montage.
11:47AM: It’s the shoulder thing that goes up! Carrie McCarthy makes a good montage.
11:51AM: Chris Cox paraphrased: Anti-gun members of Congress are stupid and ignorant.
11:53AM: Chris Cox is retelling the story of the mother who emptied a revolver into a home invader.
11:55AM: Chris Cox has insulted the fine and enterprising people behind the occupy movement!
11:56AM: More blasting Bloomberg. Fortunately, Bloomberg makes this very easy. His character is self-assassinating. Crowd goes wild on “Our freedom is not for sale.”
11:59AM: Chris Cox, and his Tennessee accent, has left the stage. Chris’s accent is going to go out for drinks later with John Bolton’s mustache.
12:03PM: Now we get to the Board Elections. Bitter will have a post about this later. Ollie North was the highest vote getter in this cycle. Ted Nugent was the second highest. They were followed by Sandy Froman. We think highly of Sandy. We did not, unfortunately, get around to endorsing Board candidates this year. But we are quite happy Graham Hill and Tom King have been re-elected.
12:10PM: There is no old business. Time for new business, and to consider resolutions.
12:11PM: There are three resolutions for the members to consider. They will be presented by Secretary Land.
- From Johnny Nugent of Indiana. It is a commendatory resolution for Chris, Wayne and the NRA for their service in the defense of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. There is a motion to adopt the resolution, and it is seconded. A life member, didn’t catch his name, from Sheridan, WY rises in support of the resolution. Board member Johnny Nugent rises in support of his resolution. Nugent is an Indiana state legislator. Another life member rises in support of the NRA, generally. Sometimes members get up just to have their say. There is a vote. It is approved unanimously.
- The second resolution. It is a call to implement the National School Shield Program, which was outlined by Asa Hutchison. Good idea to put this to the members, I think. There has been a motion to adopt, and it has been seconded. David Coy, Board Member from Michigan, who is the author, rises in support of the resolution. A life member rises against the resolution, but not to oppose it, but to suggest it be amended to strike “federal” from the resolution. He makes a motion. The motion is seconded. A member rises to support the amendment. Another member rises in opposition to the amendment, pointing out that the federal government has the federal gun free school zones act needs to be repealed to implement this. David Keene clarifies that the language was not meant to create a new federal program, but was indeed intended to demand the federal government remove restrictions that interfere with the implementation. The original member who proposed the amendment withdraws the motion from the floor. Another member rises is support of School Shield. A life member who is a retired New York State trooper rises in support, but asks that the School Shield program consider using retired police officers like himself. Keene clarifies that is part of the program. There is a vote, and the resolution is adopted.
- The third resolution is submitted by Jeff Knox, Endowment Member from Arizona, and son of the late Neal Knox, one of the key founders of the modern NRA. It is a commendatory resolution for NRA staff for their resolute stand in the late fight, and also implores them to continue to remain steadfast to all expansions of gun control. Jeff Knox rises in support of the resolution. A life member from Wyoming rises in support of the resolution. A member from Boston, Massachusetts rises in favor of the resolution. John Sigler, past president of the NRA, rises in opposition. His concern is that there’s a substantial cost with publishing the resolution and wants that section struck. David Keene notes some parliamentary issues, and suggests what Sigler can do. Sigler motions that the resolution be amended such that it not require publication. Jeff Knox speaks in opposition to Sigler’s amendment. Debate is closed by 2/3rd vote of members. There is a vote. Sigler’s amendment is adopted. A benefactor member from the City of Chicago, and Chicago firefighter, rises in support of the amendment. Member Robert Kauffman from Louisiana rises in support of the resolution. There is a vote on the resolution. The resolution is carried.
Secretary Land notes that there is no further business.
12:44PM: The Annual Meeting of Members is adjourned.
May 3, 2013
With the law seminar winding down, the NRA Annual Meeting nightlife is about to begin. Last night we were happy to meet up with Bob Cottrol, Steven Halbrook, John Frazer, Dave Kopel, and Dave Hardy for dinner. Top minds in this issue, and there was enlightened discussion about how to save the world.
Tonight we’ll be headed to a dinner for NRA volunteer coordinators. We’ve been coming to NRA Annual meeting every year since 2007, and Bitter has been an annual attendant longer than that. We’ve become experts at where to pick up free food and free drink.
Later tonight I’m meeting up with a long time friend who lives in the area, along with her partner. Today is her birthday, actually, so that makes the timing good to catch up. I can buy her some dinner.
One thing of note: security at this Annual Meeting is far tighter than in previous years. There is a law enforcement presence even inside the media room and in the conference rooms. Apparently the peace loving gun violence prevention advocates have been making threats and no one is taking any chances as to whether they are serious.
Tomorrow we’ll try to get down to the floor and get some pictures.