I have to say that I haven’t been perfectly great about actually doing the live blogging because the opening the actual Meeting of Members has been one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was funny and sweet, and really reminded me of the great PEOPLE that make up our real grassroots movement.
Amazingly, Wayne did not screw up the the Youngest NRA Life Member contest. There were lots of folks standing when he started at those who were born in 2004 or later, but it went into 2014 and enough people were still standing that Wayne joke, â€œweâ€™re going to need the delivery room here.â€ The youngest life member has been a member for 5 days and was born in February. The family is from Spring, Texas, and based on the cheers, it seems there’s quite the contingent from Texas here today.
The Oldest Life Member is from Richmond, Indiana and was born in 1927. He advised the audience that the best thing a man can acquire is “a great wife” and insisted his wife be recognized. He said that he went hunting in Africa as recently as September 2013, and he never goes on a hunt unless his wife can go with him. Of course, you don’t get that age without getting at least a little ornery, so he did put up a fight with Wayne’s assistant Millie, insisting that he couldn’t possibly be the oldest man here. :)
It’s a reasonably full hall this year, though the rest of the convention center isn’t quite as full as last year. Then again, I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect the same crowds from last year. (I can’t get up to the front for a picture so that crowd shot is only about half of the hall.)
NRA President Jim Porter is talking about the political landscape, noting that we haven’t won every battle, but we’ve certainly improved the gun law situation on many fronts. He also notes we’re not done fighting, and we need to do it come November. Jim is remembering his father, a former NRA president, and getting a bit choked up over it. He’s also mentioning the infamous “Cincinnati Revolt” and noting that it’s a great thing they got political instead of just being a form of national hunt club. He notes that the NRA didn’t even have a single lobbyist at the time, so not a single lawmaker was really reached about the problems of the law.
Porter comes back around to the people of the issue. He talks about the fastest growing segment of the organization and shooting community – women. He is also dedicating part of his speech to Otis McDonald, whose funeral he recently attended. He noted that even the Chicago media even had to take note of Otis McDonald’s fight for freedom and motivation:
In an interview with the Tribune after winning the suit, Mr. McDonald said the journey had been a lesson in history. He had come to understand more about his ancestors and the “slave codes” enacted in Southern states during the Civil War that prohibited slaves from owning guns. After slavery was abolished, states adopted “black codes” that kept guns out of the hands of freed blacks.
“There was a wrong done a long time ago that dates back to slavery time,” he said in the interview. “I could feel the spirit of those people running through me as I sat in the Supreme Court.”
Wayne’s speech is a bit more culture war, but not full on SoCo by any means. He is just noting a loss of community where we’re more disconnected, there’s less civility, and the notion that there’s a perception that average, decent Americans don’t have a fair shot even before the rule of law because power is so regularly abused by elites. If he can stay away from the “good guy with a gun” line, I think I might actually like this speech a bit better than most. However, the anti-media theme is getting really old. (Apparently, the anti-media rhetoric was really over the top yesterday, according to folks I followed on Twitter.) I know that many members of the MSM are hostile, but there’s only so much you can blame on other people. We need to turn that message into something more positive – encourage these average American NRA members to participate in the “horizontal interpretive communities,” as Prof. Brian Anse Patrick calls them, or self-created communication circles (online and offline) as we know them.
The Ack-Mac videos that Wayne has debuted are going over extremely well with the members. I’ll post them when I’m not working off of my cell phone data plan. :)
Okay, humor moment for me in Wayne’s speech. Whoever wrote his speech decided to try and paraphrase Dylan Thomas, but ended up putting in an exact quote from Independence Day’s president played by Bill Pullman, “We will not go quietly into the night!” I have to say, Pullman gave it more growl and feeling in his delivery.
Alan Cors is talking about the successes of ILA under Chris Cox’s leadership. He is noting that even with major court successes, those were possible with the election strategies to elect people who would appoint pro-Second Amendment justices and Senators who would confirm them.
Chris Cox is up and highlighting the obnoxious school cases like the pop tart case and the many t-shirt cases. Now, on to Bloomberg and his “heaven” quote. “I actually don’t know which is bigger, [Bloomberg’s] bank account, his arrogance, or his hypocrisy.” Chris’s speech is highlighting Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors. That’s messaging that came straight from the pro-gun blogosphere and grassroots.
More importantly, in my opinion, is highlighting the work of actual grassroots activists like Sarah Merkle and Shyanne Roberts, both of whom are here and received a long standing ovation. Then he started introducing many of the Colorado recall activists who received another long standing ovation. Those guys deserve to be stopped for a handshake by every NRA member on the floor.
One of the best lines from Chris’s speech is something that I think most of us want to identify with, “We’re Republican, Democrat, Independent, and most days, none of the above.” In fact, to be honest, the crowd responded more to Chris’s speech than Wayne’s. I hope that it means people here really are fired up to go home and do some traditional political activism to win some elections in November.
The report of the election committee is up, so I’ll do a quick summary here with a detailed post to follow. More than 1.8 million ballots were mailed out. The top vote getter is Tom Selleck, followed by Peter Printz who beat out R. Lee Emery. My quick calculations show that there are more than 145,000 MORE life members or have been members for 5 or more years consecutively over last year. However, participation in the NRA board election has dropped a bit with only 6.8% of voting members returning a ballot.
One resolution was introduced from a New Jersey benefactor member. It seems to be some kind of complaint about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s comments during hearings that are perceived to be anti-veteran, as well as anti-gun. I understand the feeling behind it, but there’s not really a point. I think that Feinstein knows well enough that we don’t like her. It’s something that makes him feel good. Since it makes folks feel good, it’s passing overwhelmingly. Peter Printz supported it at the mic, bringing a little humor the event.
There was a hiccup with last year’s resolution to recognize non-citizen members of the NRA who support the right to bear arms, and that was taken care of with a quick point of order at the end.
And that’s it for 2014.