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What’s Going on at NRA?

I should preface this by noting that over the past two years, I’ve focused on things other than keeping up with internal NRA gossip and goings on. We still know people there, and still can give some Board members a call to find out what’s going on, but for the most part, I’ve been focused on other things. So people who ask me what’s going on in Fairfax, I don’t likely know more than you do at this point.

That said, I’ve noticed a few things going on at NRA over the past several months. One is that The Trace is actually doing some quality reporting on NRA’s internal issues. Granted, you have to understand the lens through which they want to present things, which is to make NRA look bad generally, but they are doing interesting work if you read it with a critical eye.

Second, whatever is going on at NRA, there are people willing to leak to The Trace either because they are that disgruntled, or to gain the upper hand in internal battles by outing their internal opponents dirty laundry in a way that will cause embarrassment. Either way, it tells me the internal quibbles are bad enough that there are people who think airing dirty laundry to the enemy is better for the organization than letting their internal opposition win. That’s not a good situation to be in.

I know there are reformers out there trying to make a difference, and I’m open to reformers. But I’m not seeing anything out there I feel like I could get behind. So I offer the following advice for reformers, which you can take or leave. I don’t really care either way:

  • If you’re going to come in hard and strong, openly claiming to represent an upending of the status quo, and challenging the Board’s powerful members (I’m talking to you, Adam Kraut), you better be coming with an army behind you. NRA has 76 Board members. One, two, or three people aren’t going to change the Board, and you can absolutely expect any organization to circle the wagons against an avowed revolutionary.
  • Even if you can get one, two, or three reformers on the Board, you’re better off learning the Board’s politics and working with it. At this stage it’s important to not be seen as having personally antagonized people. Otherwise the body is going to do everything they can to keep your reformers out of the loop and keep them as powerless as they can manage.
  • Every organization I’ve ever been involved with has a handful of practices that are culturally destructive. You won’t be able to fix all of them. Take them on one at a time. Your allies for each will probably be different. You may not even be able to get the worst practices. Stick to what’s doable, and what’s doable is going to depend on what you can find allies for.
  • Even people who agree NRA needs reform need to understand the political situation and know what limitations we face. There are times when retreat is necessary. Generals who don’t understand when they need to retreat in battles lose armies and lose wars. You have to know when a position is untenable, and the best option is to fall back and regroup. Here’s an unpleasant truth: bump stocks are not a tenable position. Machine guns or anything that shoots like a machine gun is not a tenable position. Saving semi-automatic rifles is a tenable position, and they are under severe threat in a number of states, such as Washington, Oregon, and probably soon to be Nevada and Colorado. Machine guns were lost in 1934. That was the time to fight, and our grandparents and great-grandparents blew it. We’re in a “save what we can, where we can” situation with respect to machine guns, and the bump stock issue threatens to upend that whole applecart. I just use this issue as an example. But fighting everything, everywhere, all the time, 100% is a recipe for losing. “No compromise” is a recipe for losing. We do not have the numbers to always get our way.

I’m not saying revolution is bad, necessarily. In 1977 it was necessary. Maybe it’s necessary again. But the NRA of today is very different than the NRA of 1977. For one, it’s about 5x larger. Over the years it’s also put mechanisms in place to thwart revolutions. It would be very difficult if not impossible to pull off another Cincinnati Revolt. If there’s NRA is to reform, it’s probably going to come incrementally.

Pick one or two issues. They can be big issues. Even issues that is likely going to make some staffers cringe. But be realistic about what you can achieve. Be very careful about attacking people personally. If you do so, you better be sure doing so will gain you more allies than it’ll cost you. If you’re going to aim for the king, you had better not miss.

Couldn’t Have Happened to a Bigger Bunch of …

Dicks Sporting Goods says it may have to close its Field and Stream stores because of poor sales. Still, they say they don’t regret their choices and would make the same choices again if they were given a do-over. It’s not many companies that will deliberately and knowingly piss away significant business while telling investors they are happy to have cost them money. I notice they are rated a sell currently.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc holds several negative signals and is within a wide and falling trend, so we believe it will still perform weakly in the next couple of days or weeks. We therefore hold a negative evaluation of this stock. Due to some small weaknesses in the technical picture we have downgraded our recommendation for this stock since last evaluation from a Hold/Accumulate to a Sell Candidate.

Sounds about right to me!

There’s No Possibility Getting National Reciprocity During Lame Duck

Why does everyone in the gun issue think a Lame Duck passing of National Reciprocity is possible? It’s not. Not happening. Wasn’t going to happen in any known universe of possibilities.

Lame duck sessions are when you might get an outgoing party to do something for an important constituency they didn’t want to otherwise do if having to face re-election. It’s not a magical time where you can get anything you want. First, the Lame Duck House has already passed National Reciprocity. They weren’t the problem.

The problem is getting 60 votes for cloture in the Senate. The votes for that aren’t there, whether it’s a lame duck session or not. The only option would be to eliminate the filibuster, and while I do think the filibuster should be taken back to what it used to be prior to the 1970s, I have a bad bad feeling if we did that now, we’d very much come to regret it in the not too distant future.

The only way we’re likely making progress is to have the courts firm up the 2nd Amendment a bit, and make Bloomberg reel some. Strategically, I think the number one goal should be to get gun bans off the table. You cannot ban handguns, rifles, and shotguns, no matter what they look like, and what ergonomic features they have. Semi-automatic firearms are categorically protected. We also need some kind of protection for common accessories, like magazines. If those are off the table, we’re on much better ground for moving carry forward. I’ve never agreed with putting carry first on the priority list. We need bans off the table, first and foremost.

Kennedy May Have Been the Weak Link

Dave Hardy noticed something in John Paul Stevens’ piece on writing his memoirs:

He said he had taken an extraordinary step in trying to head off the decision. Five weeks before Justice Antonin Scalia circulated his draft opinion for the majority, Justice Stevens sent around a draft of what he called his probable dissent. He said he could not recall ever having done anything like that.

“I thought I should give it every effort to switch the case before it was too late,” he said.

The effort failed. But Justice Stevens wrote that he helped persuade Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in the majority, to ask for “some important changes” to Justice Scalia’s opinion. A passage in the opinion, which Justice Scalia had plainly added to secure a fifth vote, said the decision “should not be taken to cast doubt” on many kinds of gun control laws.

As Dave notes, this is pretty strong evidence that Kennedy was the weak member of the coalition, and his replacement by Justice Kavanaugh may tip the balance. Of course, that assumes there was only one weak link, not two. But this is very encouraging. It’s clear that Stevens targeted Kennedy to flip, and when he wouldn’t he at least convinced him to water down the ruling. Indeed, those passages have been latched on by lower courts and gun control advocates to render Heller and McDonald largely meaningless.

This is very good news, because at some point the Republicans will be out and the Dems in, and Dems are still competitive in dozens of states with currently reasonable gun laws. We really do need strong court protections for the Second Amendment, and we’re not going to get them through Congress.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Looking to Exit Guns

They’ve been taking a beating, and are looking to exit the business. How stupid is Dick’s CEO? Let’s say you’re in a business where part of your business is regulated in such a way that emerging players like Amazon can’t easily compete with you. Lets also say you have some good economies of scale over mom and pop businesses that are your other main competition in that area, and can move product more efficiently and offer lower prices. Do you:

  1. Make every effort to stay in the regulated space and keep those customers happy with your brand, so give your brick and mortar business a business line Amazon can’t touch?
  2. Decide, in the same of Social Justice, to anger your customers in your regulated business and piss it away, leaving you to compete directly against Bezos, who eats brick and mortar stores for breakfast, in markets he finds much more favorable.

If you went with two, you’re about as stupid as Dick’s CEO. Angering gun owners and pissing away that business was about the dumbest things Dick’s could have done. You had a strong presence in a protected industry. Are you nuts?

New Shiny Thing: Mk.262

At my club, 200 yards is the max I can reach out to, so the regular old 55 grain FMJ-BT is my bullet of choice. These days what powder I use depends on where I can get some for a very low price or free. Since I’m still going through powder I have scrounged from various sources, I’m not all that familiar with the wide array of choices. I generally have been sticking to Varget, H322, IMR4895 and I just came across a few pounds of Varmint and IMR4198.

I know a couple of guys who occasionally head to a 600-yard range near Atglen to do some long-range silhouette shooting. I haven’t really shot Silhouette in years, because it’s honestly about as much fun as watching paint dry if you’re not getting better. I don’t have the time, patience, or desire to master the sport. Those Silhouette guys helped improve my shooting a lot, but there came a point where it had done everything it was going to do for me without devoting more time to the game than I was willing to give.

But turn it into a precision rifle event with half-scale animals at ridiculous distances? You once again have my attention. That’ll be fun even if I’m missing a lot, and it gives me an excuse to tinker, which never gets old.

However, the most precisionist rifle I have is my AR, which isn’t anything to write home about. I bought it during the height of the ban almost 20 years ago by this point and it’s 100% stock, save the bayonet lug and birdcage flash suppressor I put on after the ban. It has regular old A2 furniture. A few weeks ago I uncased at the club and had some young guy say, “Wow. That’s old school!” It seems like just yesterday it was me saying shit like that to grey haired shooters. I resisted the urge to come back with, “You know, back in my day, we didn’t have any of these free-floatin’ barrels and fancy-dancy ACOGs with illuminated reticles.”

Old school or not, I’m thinking of slapping a halfway decent optic on it, and taking it out to see how I do at that distance with so-so equipment. But no way I’m taking my regular 55 grain load. I’m interested in the capabilities of the Mk. 262 round for reaching out to 600 yards. For those of you who may not be familiar, the Mk.262 is a 5.56x45mm round developed by SOCOM for longer range work. It uses a 77-grain Sierra Match King bullet. It is about as decent a round as you can get and still be able to stuff them into a magazine. I want to work with a practical round and not with loadings that have to be single-loaded into the rifle.

The trouble is, I’m not used to working with bullets that heavy in this chambering, and I’m paranoid about overpressure. A few months ago, I ran into a supply of 75gr HPBT bullets, and I am starting with those. That bullet with 22gr of H322 driving it isn’t yet a compressed load at 2.26″ OAL. Hodgdon says that’ll push out at about 2785ft/sec with 48,100 CUP from a 24″ test barrel. For a 77gr bullet, 21.8grs of H322 pushes 2,721ft/sec a 50,900 CUP. Black Hills seems to get close to 2900ft/sec out of a 20″ Colt AR barrel, so I’m guessing they have to be loading over the SAAMI spec and closer to the NATO spec on chamber pressure, which is about 10,000CUP higher. Anyone have any experience trying to replicate this load to get the same performance as the factory Black Hills load?

The Consequences of Swalwell’s Redneck Snuff Fantasy

Larry Correia has an article well worth reading that takes apart the current memes suggesting the 2nd Amendment is obsolete.

The confiscators don’t live on base. They live in apartment complexes and houses in the suburbs next door to the people you expect them to murder. Every time they go out to kick in some redneck’s door, their convoy is moving through an area with lots of angry people who shoot small animals from far away for fun, and the only thing they remember about chemistry is the formula for Tannerite.

In something that I find profoundly troubling, when I’ve had this discussion before, I’ve had a Caring Liberal tell me that the example of Iraq doesn’t apply, because “we kept the gloves on”, whereas fighting America’s gun nuts would be a righteous total war with nothing held back… Holy shit, I’ve got to wonder about the mentality of people who demand rigorous ROEs to prevent civilian casualties in a foreign country, are blood thirsty enough to carpet bomb Texas.

If we have another Civil War, and the military is as divided as our society on its loyalties, we won’t have room for all the bodies it’s going to generate. It’s going to be ugly. And that’s even before our foreign rivals use the chaos to take what they can. Remember, the last time we had a Civil War, we didn’t have to worry about the rest of the world as much because the British Empire mostly had that under control, and they weren’t going to intervene on behalf of a CSA avowing to preserve slavery. We won’t have that luxury this time around. If we have another go, you can expect everyone and their brother to make a play for any asset they think they can get.

I suspect in that case we’d need to have an accommodation with both sides in the Second Civil War that control of the nukes stays in neutral hands, maybe military leaders both sides trust, where our policy would be to nuke any power making a grab for US assets like Guam, Hawaii, or Alaska and use the nuclear umbrella to secure things while we killed each other like civilized people. That would really be the only option.

Turn ‘Em In Or We’ll Nuke Ya

I don’t much concern myself with what clowns say, and make no mistake: Eric Swalwell is a clown. But this should serve as notice that confiscation is no longer a fringe issue. It never has been. Don’t think just because the Senate is in Republican hands we’re safe from this. Be worried about deals on larger bills and be ready to start flooding phone banks.

One thing they want to go after is home gun smithing. This is a smart move for them. I would do this if I were them. You want to separate out and extinguish the true believers and evangelists from the casual gun owners who don’t do things like home build ARs. You’d be looking for issues where you can get the strongest believers without much protest from the average believer.

If your goal was to extinguish a religion or culture, you wouldn’t want to go after all the adherents. You go after the people who most strongly identify with and spread it. After you get them, you work on the casual people. Because you’ve gotten rid of their leaders, you have the option to either wait them out, assimilate them with your preferred culture or religion.

In any other context this would be considered a monstrous evil by the left. But not this one. Hating on gun culture gets a pass from the same people who would cry foul if we were colonizing Lebanon, and trying to convert everyone there to Christianity and American culture. But if you’re from New York City and decide to engage in a little cultural imperialism on Lebanon, Pennsylvania, well, that’s just fine.

UPDATE: He’s still digging:

Heller and McDonald largely put handgun bans out of the realm of legitimate discourse. Even though Heller wasn’t as strong as it could be, the Courts largely took handgun bans off the table. What we need is a strong ruling protecting rifles and accessories too.

The Grand Realignment

Salena Zito has an article out in the Washington Examiner that’s worth your time. The whole notion that “The Republicans have lost the suburbs” is way overstated. If that were true, the Dems blue wave would have materialized as they expected, rather than being a historically ho-hum midterm performance for the party out of power. But that’s not to say I think the Republicans are playing all the right moves. The Dems are doing a far better job of selling to wealthy suburbanites than the GOP is doing of selling to working class voters. What you’re seeing now is wealthy suburbs shifting hard for Democrats, while working class suburbs that have been traditionally democratic are shifting more slowly.

The GOP will find its home not necessarily just with blue collar workers: there’s whole classes of educated, middle-class voters out there who are working professional jobs, but aren’t rich enough to afford the wild redistributionist schemes of the progressive left. We aren’t going to pay for universal health care and free college by taxes on the wealthy. You and I will pay for those things, and if you think they’re expensive now, wait until they’re free. If I were running the GOP, here’s what I’d tell them:

  • Forget the Chambers of Commerce. Let the Dems have them. A lot of the small business people are in that “not quite rich enough” category, so you’re not going to lose them by telling the chambers to piss off.
  • Forget free trade. Smacks of globalism, and whether you like it or not, Trump has positioned the GOP as a nationalist party that believes in borders and trade agreements that benefit the American worker.
  • You’ve lost the rich to the Dems, so why promote corporate friendly policies and tax structures that benefit them? They are begging to pay more in taxes. So have it!
  • Use the immigration issue to crack into the black working-class vote. You might also find that latinos who are already here aren’t keen on wage competition with new arrivals either. You want to break tech workers away from their oligarchical overlords? Run on ending the H1B program. Sure, your donors will squeal, but you need votes more than donors.
  • Front candidates who are talented at retail politics, and who get what that means in the 21st century. You can win elections on the cheap if you know what you’re doing. The great conceit of all the consultants is that they can take the most Quasimodo of political candidates and make them winners. That is an exhausted model that takes a lot of money, which needs a lot of donors. You can get donors by kissing ass to wealthy elites, but at the cost of votes from your base. Trump defeated Hillary on a shoestring budget. Sure, Hillary had more money to showcase the country how awful she was, but that’s not to say Trump didn’t do a lot of things right.
  • Religious, but not too much. The wear your religion on your sleeve model of politicking is as dead as a doornail. This will vary from region to region, but if you want the rust belt states, you’ll scare them with too much overt religiosity. Trump should have shred to pieces the notion that you can’t win the Jesus vote without praising Jesus publicly and loudly.

I’d note that a lot of these aren’t my preferred position: if you’ll notice, economic libertarianism is the loser in this realignment. But it’s not like it really had a home before. This is where I see all this going. The overall realignment, and not just here but globally, is between nationalists and globalists. Globalism will probably win in the end, but the fight is going to be over whether globalism happens democratically, with nation-states in voluntary cooperation, or whether we continue creating international institutions controlled by the wealthy for their own benefit.

Where do guns end up in all of this? The ruling classes have never been in favor of the peasants being able to shoot back. Unfortunately, I do not see the Democratic Party coming back to gun rights any time soon. Our home will be with the Republicans for the foreseeable future. What we have to hope for is that even when the Dems take control, they can never take enough control to really push the worst. We’re also playing the court game very well, and that could provide a firewall against the Dems’ worst excesses.

What will the Dem coalition look like? A party of wealthy elites is a losing party. The Dem coalition will be between the wealthy and urban and suburban poor. You see this in California. The wealthy will provide the money, from both themselves, but also from their political opponents in the working class, to provide benefits for their poor coalition members.

Is Anyone Really Surprised?

The new Dem house is going to make gun control a priority. Here are the stakes: next time the Dems control everything we’re getting gun control out the ass. A new and worse ban on “Assault Weapons” is almost a guarantee. And yes, this will give the GOP an excuse to take us for granted and not do anything for us.

We’re back on the defensive, folks. How do you people who laughed Bloomberg off feel now?

For those of you in Montana: have you lost your minds? We can’t afford a state like Montana having a guy like John Tester in the Senate. I can’t believe Montana has been californicated to that degree. You can do better. Now we have six years before we get another shot at him.

Everyone was cheering the meme that “The blue states are losing population! Worst thing ever for the Dems!” Yeah, maybe that would be true if they were leaving the country, but that’s not what’s happening. They are moving to other states and ruining those places too.

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