On the History of Gun Rights

From Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition:

For a good overview 1966 – 2000, may I suggest you pick up a copy of “Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War” (www.NealKnox.com). Dad was very involved in the fight both as a reporter and a lobbyist and his articles from the time are enlightening. There was not nearly as much emphasis on fundamental philosophy back in ’68 as there is today and there was a whole lot more of the same sort of mentality that you see from clubs that ban the shooting of “humanoid” targets, the wearing of camouflage clothing, or the shooting of anything “rapid-fire” (heaven forbid full-auto), or the Oklahoma Rifle Association board that came out in opposition to an open carry bill last session because open carry might make people uncomfortable. Over the years there have been many leaders of NRA and the industry who have exhibited such attitudes.

As to NRA, they have made mistakes. They have on several occasions caved or cooperated long before political pragmatism would have suggested, and they don’t play well with others who they should consider compatriots rather than competitors. But, NRA is the Big Dog in the fight and love them or hate them, they are who the politicians listen to. No amount of bitching on the internet is going to change that. Everyone who cares about gun rights should be a member of NRA – preferably a Life Member. Once you’re a member, kick them in the shins to take stronger positions and withhold any additional contributions until they do so. Vote in Director Elections and lobby those Directors to push the organization toward a harder line – and replace them if they don’t do what you want them to do. At this point most of those efforts will be futile, but another Cincinnati Revolt is not completely impossible – though not quite like Cincinnati since they’ve changed the bylaws to take such power away from the members – and eventually a large, noisy contingent of the membership demanding better of the NRA will result in a better organization.

I have a copy of the book he mentioned (to which I have added a link). While I only got about half way through it before all this job uncertainty hit, from what I read so far, I would recommend it. Their father Neal was one of the architects, really one of the prime movers, of the 1977 Cincinnati revolt. Jeff and Chris, following in the footsteps of their father Neal, follow a more hard core and less-compromising path than I often think is prudent, but the fundamental emphasis they place on working from within is a worthwhile; if you don’t like what NRA is doing, work to change it. I’d certainly like to see less legislative priority placed, for instance, of infringing on the free speech of doctors, or interfering with employment laws and property rights. But there’s not much the organization is going to do to stop me from participating in it. I’ve tried to become a voice, and advocate for the things I believe in. Jeff and Chris, like their father, also do the same.

4 thoughts on “On the History of Gun Rights”

  1. Jeff’s advice sounds good, but it’s not very practical for the average NRA member. For most members, the NRA is a black box. There is very little useful information out there about BoD candidates at election time, and there’s even less information about how to influence BoD members after they’ve been elected. How much influence does the Board have over the ILA’s major decisions, and how can the average member influence these decisions? I try to pay attention to these things, and I don’t know the answers.

  2. I’ve tried to help give people more information on board members in previous years. This year I just didn’t have time, and I feel bad about that. Ultimately, the way NRA is structured, the Board is essentially rules. But in practice staff have a lot of say in how things are run. Currently, that’s largely because we’ve been winning, and there’s not a whole lot of reason to be displeased. But that could change.

  3. And yet Jeff Knox is rabidly opposed to my seeking a Federal injunction against California’s ban on Loaded Open Carry.

    Some folks, like the NRA leadership think that your “right” to carry should be limited to government issued permission slips to carry handguns concealed, with the proper training (by NRA instructors of course).

    Both the NRA and SAF have brought Federal lawsuits in California seeking “shall-issue” CCW and lost. I guess they missed the part of the Heller decision which said that states may ban concealed carry. Unfortunately for them, neither of the District Court judges did.

    The SAF lawyer (Alan Gura) in his lawsuit told the court that states may ban Open Carry. The NRA lawsuit “warned” the Court of Appeals that if they do not rule in his favor it would result in the ban on Loaded Open Carry being overturned, along with the Gun Free School Zones. The NRA lawyer said that this would be a “drastic” result.

    The NRA lawyer (Chuck Michel) wrote a brief in the Nordyke gun show case saying that Gun Free School Zones are constitutional.

    The NRA and SAF dumps on the Open Carry activists and far too many of them say “Thank you, may I have some more?”

    Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

    “Likewise, in State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann. 489, 490 (1850), the Louisiana Supreme Court held that citizens had a right to carry arms openly: “This is the right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and which is calculated to incite men to a manly and noble defence of themselves, if necessary, and of their country, without any tendency to secret advantages and unmanly assassinations.”” – US Supreme Court Heller decision. Pg 40

    “Unmanly” certainly describes the “concealed carry or no carry” crowd.


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