Horrible News

I met Bob Owens at an industry event, and usually saw him at the NRA Annual Meeting and exchanged pleasantries. I knew him, but not well. I was an admirer of his work as an amateur blogger, and also when he became a professional gun writer. I had no idea the demons he must have wrestled with. It seems like not many other people did either. Bob always seemed a jovial, outgoing person to me.

This is absolutely tragic, and a great loss to the community. It’s even more so to his family: he leaves behind a wife and two daughters, 10 and 17. I have to be honest, that’s very hard for me to understand and accept. I am fortunate that whatever demons I wrestle with have never driven me to thoughts of suicide. But I know that’s not the same for everyone.

If you’re out there struggling with life to that degree: please seek help. Talk with your friends and family. Even a stranger is better than the alternative. I have a standing order with my family that if for some reason I ever start getting squirrely, they should remove the firearms. There’s no shame in getting help and making arrangements to protect yourself and loved ones.

Someone has set up a Gofundme for his wife and kids. I will be donating. If you were a fan of Bob’s work, I think helping out his family is the least we can do.

Bloomberg’s $20 Million Mistake

This is a lovely harsh rebuke to the Bloomberg allies who are trying to convince their supporters that the evil Republicans are to blame for not having total background checks on every single firearms transfer. They point out that, no, the gun control groups pushing the initiative are 100% to blame for the “mistake.”

NRAAM Participation Trends

I really wish that the anti-gun groups would take an actual detailed account of how many participants they have their anti-NRA protests for annual meeting each year so we could compare. Somehow, I don’t think their graph would look like this one.

This is based on data I’ve been tracking since I attended my very first NRA Annual Meeting in 2004. (I just realized the error in the title with the years. I clearly forgot to update that, but the numbers include Atlanta in 2017, even though that also says 2016 at the bottom. Sorry! It’s fixed in the spreadsheet for next year…)

Other data points that I keep in the spreadsheet that aren’t in this chart is how much the NRA annual meeting has grown since that first one I attended way back when. It’s now 33.5% larger in terms of attendance compared to Pittsburgh 2004. Each time we revisit a city, the number of attendees has gone up between 14% and 44%.

It’s almost like the more that people learn about what NRA is really doing, the more they are on board.

NRA Legal Seminar Catches Press Attention

I suspect it’s a good thing when media that specifically serves the legal profession covers the NRA law seminar and the fact that it qualifies for CLE (continuing legal education) credit.

Even though many attendees were ready to open fire, if the need arose, the daylong event looked and sounded like most other CLEs.

I have to admit, it would be nice if they would have mentioned it’s an annual event that will be offered in Dallas next year. I’m sure there are plenty of pro-gun lawyers in Georgia who didn’t learn about it in time and would love to get out to the next one.

The Springfield & Rock River Arms Controversy

I’ve gotten a lot more circumspect since the height of our burning heretic days. After the decline in the national discourse, I’m flat out of enthusiasm for it unless it’s absolutely necessary. I did not wish to enter the debate early, without all the facts.

I do still believe we shouldn’t suffer traitors, and if an organization were to cross us, like I believe the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association did, the torches and pitchforks should rightly descend upon them. As it is, both Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms both claim they were not aware of IMFA’s actions, and essentially killed the group. Do I believe it? I’ll be honest, I’m skeptical that the two organizations that seem to be its primary funders didn’t have contact with their lobbyists on a critical bill. But I have no proof that their claim isn’t true. Additionally, they’ve put the heads of those directly responsible on a platter and have presumably learned their lesson. I don’t see any need to burn SA or RRA to the ground over this.

If the bill can be killed somewhere else, which I understand it probably can, I’m OK with snuffing the torches and giving them a chance to show they’ve learned.

A Funny Inside Joke, But …

When you go to a rally, put on their gear, and hold their signs, you’ve um… joined their rally. I don’t blame anyone for going to cover a Mom’s Demand Action rally, watch the inanity, or record it for public consumption, but I’m pretty sure adding to their numbers by putting on their t-shirts and posing for their photo ops is a bad idea. I’m not sure who the joke’s on here, but I have a feeling it’s not on Shannon Watts.


Thinking about this a bit more, if you really wanted to get a group of people together and screw with Shannon Watts — make sure everyone has a fake but not obviously fake e-mail. If you want to get bold, throw in a few that might not be obvious to an anti, but would be hilarious to anyone in the know. Sign up using the fake e-mail. Get their t-shirt and signs. Get a few more for the kids back home. Then leave the venue, find a trash can, take a picture of their signs and gear in the trash can, and then post the picture somewhere they are sure to see it. Effect?

  • They will know they were had.
  • They’ll upload a bunch of false e-mails to their list, which might raise suspicion with their list provider when they bounce.
  • They’ll get a second “We’ve been had” moment when they get the bounces.
  • They’ll probably be denied that tactic for subsequent years, since they won’t want to waste a bunch of money on t-shirts knowing gun folks might be around looking to trash them.

If they insist that you put the shirts on to be photographed, the gig is up. Don’t do it. But giving them a fake e-mail is still worth a hoot. I’m sure you guys can think up plenty of funny e-mails in the comments that wouldn’t look obviously fake.

My Good Deed Following NRA

My favorite section of the NRA convention is always the collector section. Each year, there’s always something new to see. In Houston, I was really excited to see a major display from Dallas Arms Collectors themed around the Revolutionary War. When I realized that several items were traced back to specific patriots, I tried to do a good gun deed and track down a few descendants who appreciated learning their ancestor’s firearm still exists. I know I would love to find out that my ancestor’s gun is still in someone’s collection and preserved somewhere.

This year, on the way back from Atlanta, we stopped at King’s Mountain, where they also have a display of weapons and related items actually used by soldiers who participated in the battle. You know what I had to do, right?

When I go down to DC in June to visit DAR headquarters, I’ll be looking up the descendants of William Smith & Jacob Beeler who have joined DAR. For all I know, they already know about their ancestor’s gun and gear on display. But, on the chance that they don’t know…well that would be amazing to share with them.

NRA Annual Meeting Attendance 2017

We have the figure, and it is the highest since Houston in 2013: 81,836. That beats Louisville last year which was 80,452. Houston will be a hard record to beat since it was the height of the post-Sandy Hook effort to attack the NRA.

Atlanta was a pretty good convention city. The only thing holding it back from being a great convention city being kind of pricy. But the food and drink were pretty good, and I don’t mind prices when you’re getting what you’re paying for. I don’t think I had one stingy pour when ordering a proper drink.

The convention center relies heavily on escalators, and I remembered what a shit show the escalator situation in Phoenix was. But the convention center people in Atlanta managed the situation much better than Phoenix did and everything went smoothly.

Also, Atlanta has a heaping amount of Southern Hospitality. Everyone is nice. Arriving at Hartsfield–Jackson, the airport had signage up welcoming NRA. You notice I didn’t do my traditional post about local media saying awful things about NRA and attendees? I didn’t notice anything. This is a sharp contrast to Charlotte, NC, which I use as the poster child for unwelcoming cities.

The last time my family were here, we burned the place to the ground. But I will happily leave Atlanta unmolested, and hope to return with NRA sometime in the future.

The Supreme Family Tree

In light of Trump’s victory, Gorsuch’s confirmation, and another 3 1/2 years of the term, it’s reasonable to discuss what’s next for SCOTUS. The topic becomes a bit morbid when you’re talking about non-retirement openings that could change the Court because one study found that “the justice’s death-in-office odds are about tripled” when the sitting president is from a different party than the that of the president who appointed the justice.

Sebastian & I were curious about the chances of an unplanned opening on the SCOTUS (aka not a retirement) and realized that family history can yield some important clues to the health of descendants. This post isn’t meant to indicate we’re wishing any negative health to sitting justices, it’s just an interesting intersection of law and genealogy. Here’s a look at the oldest Justices on the Court right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Much has been discussed about her health since she was diagnosed with one of the deadliest cancers a few years ago. However, it was caught early and things seem to be fine with her. Regardless, she is the oldest member of the SCOTUS at 84.

I actually can’t trace Ruth’s family back very far because her father was an immigrant and her mother was the daughter of immigrants. What makes it worse is that she’s from New York which is generally a nightmare for records. (There’s a reason that Reclaim the Records has had to sue them the most.) However, I have learned that Ruth may well have a fine collections of furs in her closet since her family was big in the fur business. I’d love if she’d flaunt them.

Regardless of the challenges, Ruth has far surpassed the average age I’ve been able to confirm with any confidence of her direct ancestors – 61.5. That number is largely so low because her mother died very young of cancer. Once you factor in collateral relatives such as aunts/uncles, the average age jumps up to 79.38.

Needless to say, it’s understandably why some on the left are upset that she didn’t retire under Obama. However, if she takes after a couple of uncles, then she’s got another ~3 years to meet their lifespan, and that’s enough to get into another administration should Trump not win another term should he run again. In fact, given better healthcare, it’s possible she could last through 2 terms of Trump if he can pull off a win in 2020.

Anthony Kennedy
As the next oldest member of the Court, Anthony Kennedy also has a strong recent immigrant background that makes it a little harder to trace his family tree. However, he’s the first one I found that has any line going back to the Revolution. (I don’t think that’s required or anything, but it’s just interesting.)

Anthony Kennedy is turning 81 years old this summer. The average lifespan of his direct ancestors is only 69.4 years. Factoring in those indirect relatives in reasonably close generations drops that average to 62.3 years.

It’s fair to consider that Kennedy may not want to pass on the bench. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he probably would want to retire soon. Based on his family history, he is rather lucky to have these extra years. (Granted, I don’t know the causes of death for his family, so it could well be that medical advances would have easily extended their lifetimes.)

Stephen Breyer
The third in line based on age is Stephen Breyer who will turn 79 this summer. What I can research of his tree doesn’t go back very far since his maternal grandparents were the immigrants on that branch and all great grandparents on the paternal side made the trek to America.

Direct ancestors and indirect lines come out to the same average – 73.1 years. In that regard, family history would indicate that maybe Obama’s term may have been a better time to retire if he wanted to confidently keep his seat in liberal hands.

I’ll do further research on the younger justices soon. And, based on suggestions at the bar this weekend, I may also expand this to study the family histories of any other potential nominees. (Watch, this will result in judges having to submit a family tree to be considered for SCOTUS!)