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Not Deliberately Ignoring You

My apologizes for the light posting since I’ve returned from Annual Meeting. I’m working on a deadline to get a report done for a client. So far it’s looking like 20+ pages. Probably more by the time it’s all done. It’s good to have clients with lots of problems, since that’s how we make a living, but since this requires me to write all day, it kind of saps all my writing energy for the blog. I’ll have several news stories and a news dump once I get some time. It’ll be an epic news dump. The tabs are quite constipated!

More NRA Convention Notes

Sorry for the Tax Day silence yesterday. We figured you could all use a break to either a) file at the last minute, or b) drink away your sorrows at just how much you owe. Of course, when you realize how much you pay in alcohol taxes, it may be enough to make you start brewing your own beer.

I’m doing a little research on a historical gun I photographed at the meeting, but I did want to share these random photos from the Nashville NRA Annual Meeting that I thought were mildly interesting, but not quite enough to support an entire post.

The first item is the visual right across from the Mom Demand Action from Illegal Mayors in Everytown. Sebastian & I had to do a double take when we saw the faded painted brick on this building that was part of the backdrop for their press conference. See if you catch what we noticed.

Lipscomb Guns & Iron

Somehow this just seemed so terrible fitting to have at the Nashville convention. I almost wanted one as a souvenir.

Guitar Gun Case

Finally, I love the North-South Skirmish Association‘s booth each year. This year’s highlight was this set up from the only all-women’s mortar team in last year’s competition. According to the gentleman we spoke with, the women on the team compete in full women’s costumes and they placed 8th out of 63 teams.

NSSABooth

I really need to get Sebastian down to their annual event in Virginia. I mean how can you miss this?

Member units compete in live-fire matches with original or authentic reproduction Civil War period muskets, carbines, breech loading rifles, revolvers, mortars and cannons.

They compete with cannons and mortars! Seriously, it’s a pretty fun event to just watch. The competitors really look like they have a good time.

NRA Youth Day at Annual Meeting

Because my entire family in the area came out on Sunday of the NRA annual meeting, I managed to check out a few things I normally wouldn’t check out and see things through a fresh perspective. Like any event of this size, there was good and bad with it. Even with the bad, I think there’s great potential, but it’s just a matter of finding the right people who can pull it off.

NRA specifically hosts an NRA Youth Day on the last day of the convention. I’ll be honest, with as many kids as I saw on Saturday, I think they should consider doing at least something kid-focused on both weekend days in the future. The number of families keep growing at every convention, and they have such a great opportunity to offer something special that stands out for the kids.

Even if they never grow up to be gun owners, my niece and nephew will grow up remembering that they attended an NRA meeting and that everything seemed nice, normal, and fun. Even if they don’t grow up to be activists, there’s a good chance they won’t ever be voters for the other side of the issue since they realize that good, normal folks own firearms without incident because of their trip to the annual meeting.

When we arrived about half an hour after the Youth Day area opened, the room was still a little sparse. A few activities weren’t really going, the prize table was just a big empty spot, and there weren’t a ton of kids. However, this did make it easier to talk to some of adults doing demo stuff. For example, I talked to Bob who was dressed up as a frontiersman and manning a display of various antique arms. While my 6-year-old niece may not have been thrilled, I was certainly enthralled when he mentioned a colonial-era gunsmith family I’d never heard of before – a name that just happened to be a line in Sebastian’s family tree and, according to this guy, from a few counties over… More research is now needed. (Related bleg: Who knows about the Honaker family of gunsmiths, reportedly connected to Pennsylvania at some point?)

One of the best features, in my opinion, was the exhibit floor scavenger hunt. They printed a sheet of sponsors and told the kids to go get signatures from each of the sponsors with booths. When all were marked, the sheets would be returned to the Youth Day area and exchanged for raffle tickets. I loved the idea since it gives parents an excuse to see the floor while their kids get something fun in return.

Some of the people signing the programs were really sweet to my niece, and she got a kick out of the trucker hat Winchester gave out to the kids. I would actually love to see this expanded a bit. Inviting groups with consistently interesting booths to participate might be a fun idea. For example, even though they aren’t sponsors, why not reach out to a collector group with a cool display to see if they would be willing to offer some kind of little hand out to kids? It gets families across more of the exhibit hall and checking out more sections to cover every interest. As it was, the area covered by the sponsors on the list spread across less than half of the hall.

(more…)

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.

Shannon Watts’ Epic Fail

On Saturday, we reported on Moms Demand Action’s flop of a protest. Watts had claimed there would be 400 in attendance, and by our count there were at best 150 people. The Guardian incredulously claims  there were 500 protesters in attendance, even though no one else would claim that. Bob Owens’ shot from the bridge shows better than anyone else’s that number is an ouright fabrication. Miguel explains the heaping helping of trick photography Moms Demand uses to bolster their bogus claims. But nontheless, the real measure of success or failure is how successful Shannon Watts was at bringing forth the media to write stories.

Certainly we saw a lot of reporters there at the protest, and cameras abound, but as of this morning this is all that appeared on Google News:

Moms Demand Action News Fail

The first story is from Breitbart News, and the second Bob Owen’s article. I could fine one other casual mention of the protesting moms on ABC News, but other than the Guardian piece linked above, as best as I can tell it’s crickets. I spoke with someone who said they had been watching the news broadcasts to see if there was any coverage, and there wasn’t.

So without oxygen from media outlets, it’s pretty apparent that Mike Bloomberg would have done better to pile up all the money spent on planning, busses, hotels,  t-shirts, signs, and box lunches, and burned it. Shannon Watts protest at NRAAM this year was an epic failure.

Hat Tip to Gail Pepin for the best photo of Shannon Watts ever which appears as the “featured image” of this post.

NRA Attendance Figures for Nashville 2015

NRAAM_Nashville

As is our tradition, we try to be the blog to turn to in order to get the very important NRA Annual Meeting attendance figures. But because Nashville is so close to the fly/drive line, and we chose to drive, we had to skip the NRA Board meeting this year where they announced the figures. Fortunately we managed to get someone who would be attending the meeting to send us the figures.

We place Nashville up there with Houston as a convention city, and the attendance numbers reflect that. There were 78,865 attendees at this year’s meeting! How’s that compare to previous years? The record is still Houston, Texas in 2013, with a total attendance of 86,228. That was the meeting right after Sandy Hook, when the blame and shame machine was running full tilt against the American gun owner. Last year’s figure in Indianapolis was 75,267. Nashville this year was the second highest attendance figure in NRA’s history.

You can see from Bitter’s graphic last year, the meeting continues to climb along roughly the same slope, with post-Sandy-Hook Houston being a statistical outlier. I find this funny because that’s kind of how things have worked with traffic for this blog, with 2013 being an usually high year for traffic, and then returning to historical norms.

One thing I want to mention, because we ran into some friendly bloggers and media on the issue: be sure if you attend with media credentials to also register as an attendee. Media creds don’t count for attendance figures, and there was one meeting (I think Pittsburgh in 2011) where we came within a few hundred persons from the previous record.

Moms Demand (Not Much) Action

With Shannon Watts speaking about drawing 400 protestors out to Riverfront Park, we decided to take a walk down there to see whether she was living up to expectations. More importantly, given that last year at Indianapolis, Watts hired armed security, we were wondering whether she’d be dumb enough to bring armed security into parks while simultaneously lobbying against bringing guns into parks in Tennessee. She did have armed security, but they were police officers. Probably hired police officers, since I doubt you’d get that many without paying them. Must be nice to have Bloomberg’s money. I’d estimate about 150 people, which we know were bussed in.

DSC_0414 DSC_0419 DSC_0420

We walked around almost as if we were tourists, and the women shouted out offers of free t-shirts to us just for walking around. The police officers, on the other hand, were trying to make sure they stayed away from the camera while keeping an eye out for the group. We overheard one officer telling the other he didn’t want to be in any camera shots since he didn’t want to really been seen with their cause. Instead, they started talking about gun shows on tv.

NRA Street Festival 2015: Can Shannon Watts Protest This Much Fun?

It hasn’t been unusual for NRA Country to bring country artists into arenas to do shows for NRA members. That’s been the case many times in the past, but they’ve always been confined to arenas or events that have been going on “in there.” But this year is really the first time NRA has put on its own street festival. Is it successful?

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It’s hard to see because it’s pretty dark out, but that crowd stretches packed tight all the way up to the stage. Don’t ever let them tell you we’re not mainstream, or that we’re all just a bunch of crazy extremists. NRA is now very much part of the mainstream.

Meanwhile, Shannon Watts and her fellow dour puritans at Moms Demand Action, are expecting to draw 400 people for a protest against this much fun! Personally, I think 400 is a bit optimistic.

NRA Firearms Law Seminar – Panel V

Sitting next to me at the Annual Firearms Law Seminar this year are Todd Vandermyde, who is the Illinois State Liason for NRA. Todd works miracles. Also, John Richardson of “No Lawyers, Only Guns and Money

3:30PM CDT – Derek DeBrosse

This presentation is “Gun Rights Restoration – The Nuts & Bolts and Present-Day Military Issues.” He covers the various cases that concern rights restoration for people who, for one reason or another, have become prohibited from buying and possession firearms. An interesting thing I didn’t know is that you could send a fingerprint card to the FBI, and they will determine whether or not you’re eligable to own a firearm. You can argue you were misclassified, and get a UPIN number that you use on subsequent purchases. If you think you might be prohibited, and you go to try to buy a gun, and you end up denied, technically you just committed a crime if it turns out you are indeed prohibited.

He’s focusing more on the economics of rights restoration from a lawyer’s point of view than other speakers. That’s a polite way of saying he’s talking about the fact that a lawyer can make good money in this category. I don’t have a problem with that. Running a law practice is a business just like any other.

“I’m going to have to speed this up, because I’ve got 55 slides here.” Yeah, I’d agree. It’s you and one more speaker standing between me and beer. It’s not a good idea to get in between me and a beer.

There’s quite a lot of detail when it comes to rights restoration. It has to be done correctly. There are a lot of pitfalls. Too much detail for me to successfuly summarize for you all. Much of it is new to me. For instance, I did not know that felons get a Certificate of Final Release when they are released from prison, that often says “restoration of civil rights.” There is case law that suggests that gun rights are restored. He notes that recently, authorities have wised up and put “except for firearms” on Certificates of Final Release.

I also didn’t know it was still possible to raise due process issues in Misdemanor Crimes of Domestic Violence. Years ago, I can’t remember the case, Lautenberg Amendment was challenged on ex post facto grounds and lost. I thought that was the end of that. But apparently not completely, when seeking grounds to get a conviction set aside by the courts.

He speaks to the NICS Improvement Amendment Acts of 2007, passed in the wake of Virginia Tech. It’s very helpful with mental health restoration of rights in states that have implemented its provisions, but not all states have.

Going into military and veterans cases in regards to gun prohibitions, as DeBrosse goes through all the cases: I have to say is how the government and VA treats our veterans in regards to their gun rights is appalling. I believe this is by design.

It’s very surprising how much a domestic lawyer who doesn’t know gun laws could screw up an ordinary, uncomplicated divorce case and earn their clients a permanent prohibition on their gun rights, and possibly land them in jail for quite some time if they aren’t properly informed. It’s quite apparet we have a legal system, not a justice system. You can thank the late Senator Lautenberg for this state of affairs.

Interesting gun law trivia: It’s easier to restore the rights of a felon, apparently, then someone who was convicted of a MCDV (Lautenberg). I’m not sure I quite understand the reason that is, but something to do with because it was a misdemeanor, you never really lost your rights, so they can’t be restored.

4:35 PM CDT – William J. Ryan

William Ryan works in the Office of Cheif Counsel, BATFE, Firearms, Explosives and Arson Division (FEA). His talk is on NFA trusts. “Hopefully I can take a little of the mystery out of the NFA Branch.” His first few slides are background information, noting that both attorneys and ATF often get terminology confused. I’d note that ATF’s own slide says:

Note that even ATF admits that a trust is a person under the NFA, but it is missing from the Gun Control Act. This is important, because 18 U.S.C. 922(o), popularly known as The Hughes Amendment, is part of the Gun Control Act, and not the National Firearms Act. So how does a the post-86 machine gun ban, part of the Gun Control Act, apply to trusts? Why can’t a trust possess a post-86 machine gun when by ATF’s own admissions under GCA a trust is not a person.

There’s some discussion of NFA transfers to heirs. Heirs fill out Form 5 and do not have to pay tax. They are considered involuntary transfers. But apparently if the decedant had a trust, and it is transferred to an individual, even under a bequest tax must be paid.

ATF notes that NFA forms processed are increasing exponentially sine 2002. Wow! He encourages lawyers to do more work with trusts, because trusts handled by lawyers cause fewer problems than ones put together by individuals.

He speaks to 41P rule change, regarding trusts, to require the same checks and CLEO signoff as an individual. He notes that the APA requires them to respond to any serious public comment, and they receieved a ton of them.  THIS IS WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO COMMENT!! Mr. Ryan notes that ATF is still persuing rulemaking on 41P.

A question is asked about what happens if an executor is a prohibited person. ATF notes that as long as there’s a probate ruling from a judge putting the collection in the hands of an FFL, ATF is fine with that for as long as probate is proceeding.

Back to the issues of pro se trusts, Mr. Ryan relays a story of a trust that was copied extensively on the Internet, where people would change the name, but not change the name of the beneficiary. “So some woman in Kansas is going to inherit thousands of machine guns!”

NRA Firearms Law Seminar – Panel IV

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I continue with liveblogging the seminar. Really pseudo liveblogging, since I’m not using timestamps for every update. But I am trying to keep things updated as the seminar unfolds.

2:50PM CDT – Cord Byrd

Cord Byrd’s presentation is “‘Bad Apple’ Gun Dealers: The Brady Center’s Latest Assault on the Second Amendment. Most readers are familiar with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), and state analogues, which offer limited immunity from some lawsuits based on questionable grounds. For some time now, the Brady Center has focused on blowing holes through the protection, using the exceptions that are found in the PLCAA. Those exceptions are, roughly:

  • An action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly hardmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted.
  • An action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se.
  • An action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or makreting of the product, and the violation was a proxmiate cause of the harm for which relief is sought.

It is the second item under which Brady is focusing much of its litigation. It’s very interesting that he notes that the firms that are providing legal services, presumably pro-bono, don’t know the federal and state firearms laws very well, and aren’t very good at litigating on them.

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