2017 NRA Board Election Results

As requested by readers, here’s a complete list of the NRA Board of Directors results:

Tom Selleck – 110,812
Peter J Printz – 91,410
R Lee Ermey – 89,540
William H Allen – 87,059
Ted W Carter – 87,025
Leroy Sisco – 84,136
Howard J Walter – 83,785
Patricia A Clark – 83,256
Melanie Pepper – 82,817
Thomas P Arvas – 82,500
Linda Walker – 81,874
Charles L Cotton – 80,779
Curtis S Jenkins – 80,529
Carl Rowan, Jr. – 79,104
Allan D Cors – 79,021
Todd J Rathner – 78,516
Lance Olson – 75,978
J Kenneth Blackwell – 74750
Steven C Schreiner – 73,406
Sean Maloney – 72,924
Heidi E Washington – 72,600
Clel Baudler – 72,576
Dan Boren – 69,829
Graham Hill – 68,672
Robert E Mansell – 68,492
Willes K Lee – 68,299
Kim Rhode Harryman – 67,906

Those who didn’t win a seat:

James S Gilmore III – 67,760
N Stephanie Spika – 67,097
David Carruth – 67,066
John L Cushman – 66,949
Richard L Kussman – 63,251
Robert A Unkovic – 62,946
Adam Kraut – 62,400
Stephen D Stamboulieh – 57,897
Eric Wright – 48,454

They also reported that since Roy Innis passed away after ballots were printed, he did earn 77,340 votes. However, everyone below him moved up one. The last two winners are fulfilling unexpired terms of previously sitting board members.

I know there were concerns over bylaws changes impacting one’s ability to run as a petition candidate for the board, so those numbers are as follows. There were 135,118 ballots cast in the board election. However, 4,558 were invalid. So that leaves 130,560 valid ballots cast in the board election. With the members overwhelmingly supporting the bylaws changes (92%-8%), that means 653 signatures will be needed for new petition candidates to make the ballot. Honestly, it’s not hard in the age of the internet to connect with other NRA members, and with anyone who has made any connections through NRA’s many volunteer opportunities that mostly draw NRA members – competitions, elections, and/or Friends dinners.

UPDATE: I forgot to link earlier a stat earlier that showed of 5 new members of the Board, 3 are women. That makes 13 female members of the NRA Board of the Directors, which is about the same percentage as Congress.

NRA Carry Guard

I guess NRA got tired of everyone else making money off “carry insurance” and decided to create their own. They are promoting it very heavily at the convention. I expect at the price level they are charging, it’s going to be a decent source of revenue for NRA. Anything that brings in money and doesn’t require pestering members for donations is probably a good thing.

But I keep thinking “What if George Zimmerman had Carry Guard?” NRA would have gotten dragged into that hot mess. Would that kind of PR nightmare be worth it? I guess at some point that pot of potential money gets big enough it’s worth the risk.

We Protest What We Do Not Understand

Thanks to Miguel for bringing this ignorance to the public light:

Posted by Gail Pepin on Saturday, April 29, 2017

NRA Member Engagement with the Ballot

However many paid activists Shannon Watts flew in doesn’t even begin to compare to the number of NRA members who engage with their association by voting in our group elections.

It’s a reminder that we’re a real, authentic grassroots movement of gun owners who can hold our leaders accountable. “Members” of Bloomberg’s various groups can just unsubscribe from their emails at best.

I’ve already added this year’s numbers to my magic spreadsheet of voting data that goes back to 2006.

It’s not the lowest voting participation rate that I’ve ever documented, but it’s definitely close. However, it’s probably not a complete surprise since the number of ballots mailed in elections has increased 42% in that time. (And that even takes into account the year I think they cleaned up the mailing list since the number dropped to an oddly perfectly even number.)

That said, I do think it would be nice to get more members voting. However, if that comes at the expense of experienced activists who work with NRA members on the ground to more celebrity candidates, then I’d be more hesitant to endorse that idea. Even today, I saw people advocating on social media for people to go vote for 76th director hours after polls closed for the entire session, so clearly voter education is an issue.

The rate of errors that resulted in invalid ballots went up this year (3.4%) compared to last (2.8%), but it’s far below 2013’s error rate (8.7%). This year’s top mistake is the same as last year – too many votes. Count, people. After that, the biggest mistake that kept nearly 1,000 ballots from being counted is the lack of a signature on the envelope’s authentication portion. Were you one of those people? If so, pay attention to your envelope. And somehow 24 people managed to find a ballot from a previous year and vote. Who are you people?? It’s not just that you kept them, but you actually found them and managed to cast them during the right time period. That’s special effort right there.

Perhaps the most interesting stat of the 2017 election year is the fact that I’ve never recorded such a close vote tally between the “last winner” and “first loser” – just 146 votes between the two. That’s less than half the votes of the previous closest amount, 356 in 2012.

It’s no surprise that Tom Selleck is the top vote getter this year. About 85% of voters included him on their ballot. He was nearly 20,000 votes higher than the next one in line, Peter Printz who even beat out R. Lee Ermey. The “last winner” is my favorite Olympian, Kim Rhode Harryman. She’ll actually be on the ballot next year because she was elected to finish an unexpired term.

I am a bit PO’d that they ran out of “I Voted” buttons this year. I was trying to start a collection, NRA! Now you Atlanta conference planners have ruined my plans to express my grassroots-iness. Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows over my ruined conference in a glass of wine.

“Oh Say Can You 501(c)”

Massad Ayoob was the last presenter before the lunch break, and he’s a difficult guy to summarize. He’s a very good presenter, and I was more interested in listening than writing about it. So sorry about that. I can see why he’s sought after by defense attorneys.

The first post-lunch topic is relevant to running shooting clubs, and since I’m an officer at mine, it’s relevant. My club is a 501(c)(7), but she covers all the tax exempt options. I didn’t really know that gun clubs could be organized under 501(c)(3) using an educational mission. I’m not sure I’d want to organize under that, because it changes how you’d have to run a club. I think it would be difficult for most clubs to manage without getting themselves in trouble. 501(c)(4) seems a more realistic subsection to organize under, but even that has the issue that the purpose of the organization has to be a public one. That means the club would have to be very open to members of the public. Neither 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) allow an organization to have a private benefit.

If you’re a gun club, I think 501(c)(7) is the best non-profit structure around which to organize. I’m learning a whole lot about how to manage (c)(7)s.

Responsibility for Criminal Firearms Violence

The second panel is by James B. Vogts. He is the attorney defending Remington in the case in Connecticut where the plaintiffs argued that selling AR-15s to civilians amounted to negligent entrustment. His talk is almost exclusively on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).

I was not aware that PLCAA history goes back to Kelly v. R.G Industries, Inc. in Maryland in 1985. In this case R.G. industries made a cheap revolver, a so-called “Saturday Night Special.” R.G. industries was found strictly liable for a criminal’s use of the firearm. I didn’t become aware of this issue until cases in the 1990s, when Hamilton v. Beretta USA Corp before Judge Weinstein. Weinstein was the one federal judge willing to assign liability to manufacturers for criminal misuse of their product.

There’s some background on Soto v. Bushmaster, which was the beginning of the case after Sandy Hook arguing several things under the PLCAA exceptions, including that selling AR-15s to civilians is negligent entrustment, which is excepted from PLCAA. So far PLCAA has held, but the plaintiffs are appealing their loss to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Overall, PLCAA has generally worked effectively. There have been some disagreement between courts about whether PLCAA preempts ordinary negligence claims. These problematic courts have allowed all claims against a manufacturer to proceed if only one of the claims was not a “qualified civil liability action” that is preempted.

20th Annual Firearms Seminar

Here we are in Atlanta for the 20th Annual Firearms Seminar. As usual, we’ll be live blogging a summary of the panels. It’s taking me a bit to get used to the humidity. The last time my family was here, we burned the place to the ground.

Jim Porter is kicking things off this year. The first panel is Steve Halbrook and Nelson Lund. I’m always happy when they put Steve early. He’s one of the leading experts on this topic, but he has a very mellow, southern gentlemanly voice that is good when the coffee is working at its peak.

Second Amendment Litigation: Ongoing Challenges
Steven P. Halbrook

Steve Halbrook recounts how Heller came about. It’s been so long I had almost forgotten what it was like. Everyone believed the case would be 5-4, but no one was sure which way it would go. It was unknown which side Kennedy would come down on until he questioned the D.C. attorneys “Weren’t the founders pioneers, who needed guns to protect themselves from criminals, Indians and grizzly bears?,” which effectively took everyone off the edge of their seats. It looked like we had Kennedy. Heller was delivered the last day of the Court’s session. Everyone was on the edge of their seats again when it was announced Justice Stevens would read the summary of the Opinion of the Court. That would have meant a loss, but it turned out to be a different case. When it was announced Justice Scalia would be read the summary for the very last case, we all knew it was a win.

Interesting trivia about DC gun registration: DC argued in Court that their registration system was important because it allowed police officers to check to see if a gun was present on the scene if they were responding to a call. In fact, DC police never checked the registration system before calls. Why didn’t they? They were actually forbidden from accessing DC’s registry. The Court ended up upholding registration anyway, because of course they did. Though, they did throw out the need to re-register.

Halbrook reviews several other absurdities from the lower courts, such as “arguing that civilianized semi-automatic firearms that are used by no military in the world may be banned because they are weapons of war only suited to military use.”

Halbrook believes that cert will be sought in the case of Kolbe v. Hogan, where the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Maryland’s assault weapons ban via some absolutely atrocious reasoning. I know there have been more than a few people who have asked about that.

The Right to Bear Arms and the Philosophy of Freedom
Nelson Lund

I am a fan of Professor Lund, because he wrote a law review article about having to look at police use when making determinations about protected arms. His talk today is more broad. He is speaking critically of Scalia’s Heller opinion. I guess we can do this now that he’s dead :) His essential criticism is that while parts of Scalia’s opinion is generally regarded as a great work of originalism, on the core issues relevant to today’s debates it is a weak opinion.

The 5-4 decisions in Heller and McDonald could prove to be little more than abortive attempts to begin developing a robust Second Amendment jurisprudence. The Supreme Court has disinterred the Second Amendment, but it has yet to give it meaningful life.

Lund speaks about this being an issue of elites v. the common citizenry. This is a topic I planned to write more about soon:

When it comes to gun control, it is hard to see much personal benefit for our elites beyond the sheer joy of exercising the will to power over people they regard as intellectually and morally backward.

I wish I could say his outlook on the Second Amendment is optimistic, but it isn’t. I wish I could come up with reasons to disagree with this outlook.

There’s some spare time for Q&A on the first panel. As many of you know if you’ve been around this issue for a while, Q&A means “my chance to be heard before a captive audience.”

Firearms Preemption Update

Passed the Senate by a veto-proof margin. That’s not something that happens often in this state! If we can do that well in the House, we may be able to get this, despite the Dem governor. The GOP currently has a comfortable majority in the House, and pro-gun Dems are not yet extinct in this state. This might be doable!

Not a bad idea to call your senator and thank them. Shows we’re paying attention.

ARS Poll Finds NRA “Overrun by Lobbyists”

Gabby Giffords outfit conducted a poll of gun owners that shows people think NRA has been overrun by lobbyists. I, for one, want them to be overrun by lobbyists. That’s what I pay them for.

I’ve come to the conclusion that polls are very effective at telling you what people like to tell pollsters. For any other purpose, they are bullshit. I took a closer look at the poll here. What’s interesting is the same poll shows a plurality of those surveyed thought NRA represented their interests as gun owners. Also note Question 5:

Since the 1930s, silencers have been regulated the same way as machine guns and short barreled rifles: to purchase a silencer, the buyer must have a clean criminal record and register the silencer with law enforcement. Do you support the current law regarding silencers, or would you support changing the law to deregulate the sale of silencers?

See what they are doing? It’s all about how you ask the question. Not only is this an incomplete picture of the process, but they build up current policy, and then ask the person being polled whether they’d like to tear down what they previously established was good and wholesome. Let me ask the question another way, loading it in the other direction, while still being entirely factual and truthful:

Since the 1930s, silencers, which can reduce the noise of a gunshot to a safer level, have been regulated the same way as machine guns and short barreled rifles. Would you support changing the law to regulate silencers the same way rifles, handguns, and shotguns are regulated, requiring only an instant background check and ATF purchase form?

Do you think think they’d still get 73% opposed to deregulating silencers if the question were asked this way? Or would they perhaps see the numbers flip in the opposite direction?

They asked about constitutional carry in a better way than a lot of polls I’ve seen, but it’s still loaded in the same way:

Currently, most states require a permit to carry a concealed handgun in a public place. To get a permit, a person must complete a basic gun safety course, have a clean criminal record, and pay a processing fee. Some have proposed letting people carry a concealed gun without a permit. Do you think the requirement to have a permit to carry a concealed handgun in a public place should be continued, or do you think it should be removed?

First, they elevate the permit process in the mind of the person they are polling. It’s being sold as a very good thing (a sharp contrast from the demonization of the process years ago. This is a win for us. In order to fight constitutional carry, they have to implicitly agree that shall-issue is good. This is the same thing they have done and keep trying to do to us on background checks). After the permitting process is being sold as a good thing, they then asked the person if they’d like to tear it down. You’ll never see them ask this question like this:

Currently, most states require a person wishing to carry a concealed handgun in public to apply for a license to do so. Do you support allowing anyone who can legally possess a handgun to carry one in a public place without first having to obtain a license?

You’ll never see it asked that way, because it doesn’t load the question. There’s no attempt to build up the status quo and then ask whether you’d like to tear it down. In the case of the silencer question, I loaded to get the answer I’d like. In this case, I take the reader’s knowledge for what it is. I build nothing up. I state it only as it is. Do you think they’d still get 88% in favor of the status quo if it were asked my way? Hell, it dropped 8 points just asking more directly in Question 8, even after they already loaded the results with Question 7!

I also note in the poll that 35% are Democrats versus 39% Republican, with 26% being independent or other. Since we’re loving ourselves some polls here, Pew’s surveys (and I’d note with surveying rather than polling, that it’s harder to load “Do you own a gun?” and ‘What is your party affiliation?’ so take that for what you think it’s worth) show that 49% of self-identified gun owners are Republican, 22% are Democrat, and 37% are Independent. How did PPP and ARS end up with Democrats so much more represented in their poll and Independents and Republicans so much less represented, versus what Pew found in their survey with a sample roughly twice the size of this one?

Rumors Getting Stronger on Kennedy

The rumor mill is getting stronger that Justice Kennedy will hang it up this summer, but one has to wonder if the rumors are being floated by others to coax him, or the rumors represent true information based on private conversations that have been leaked. We’ll find out soon enough.

I’ve said before that I don’t think Kennedy is the weak link in the Heller majority. We know that Alito, Thomas, and Scalia are/were firmly on board. Given Justice Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy, we can assume he’s a likely solid vote. So it’s either Roberts or Kennedy who is the weak link, or possibly both. It’s quite possible that Kennedy is reluctant on the Second Amendment, and combined with Roberts’ tendencies toward minimalism, taking the Second Amendment further is an impossible proposition with the Court as it is now. Justice Kennedy retiring would definitely change things, unlike Justice Gorsuch’s ascention, which was about maintaining status quo.

Apparently NRA and CRPA are bringing suit against California’s latest assault weapons ban. It’s pretty clear they think something has changed, or will change soon enough, to warrant taking a risky case forward.