Using Castile Case to Hawk Carry Guard? Are You Kidding Me?

NRA breaks its silence on the Philando Castile case:

Do I believe that Philando Castile deserved to lose his life over his [traffic] stop? I absolutely do not. I also think that this is why we have things like NRA Carry Guard, not only to reach out to the citizens to go over what to do during stops like this, but also to work with law enforcement so that they understand what citizens are experiencing when they go through stops like this.

I guess all things are taking a back seat to what’s really important: signing people up for Carry Guard. Radley Balko has an article in the Washington Post: “How the NRA’s allegiance to cops undermines its credibility on gun rights.

A law-abiding gun owner was shot and killed by a cop after doing everything he was supposed to do. It then took more than a year for anyone from the nation’s largest gun rights organization to comment, and when she did, she offered a vague, heavily qualified, quasi-criticism of the cop while implying not only that Castile contributed to his death but also that he might be alive if only he were carrying an NRA Carry Guard card.

Actually, Castile did a number of things that you should never do in a stop, but in my opinion the officer did not handle the situation well either. More training on both sides of a stop is a valid answer, but I really don’t like using this to hawk Carry Guard.

Where I really part with Balko is that I don’t want the NRA taking sides on the militarization of police any more than I want them to be militantly pro-police for the sake of taking sides a culture war that has nothing to do with gun rights. NRA has fostered police involvement for years through it’s LE program, and I’m fine with that. That’s part of NRA’s mission.

But I’ll be bluntly honest, I’m not happy where NRA’s PR firm, and Dana Loesch in particular, seem to be taking the organization.

32 thoughts on “Using Castile Case to Hawk Carry Guard? Are You Kidding Me?”

  1. I agree. Years ago, Rand Paul proposed an amendment to the Patriot Act intended to protect the privacy of gun owners from NSA snooping into purchasing records. The NRA didn’t like the measure and gave some lame excuse for not supporting it. In my opinion this was to give cover to Republicans they were in bed with that didn’t want the amendment to pass. This was before I knew the NRA was miffed at Paul for his association with NAGR. When I expressed my displeasure over the NRA’s failure to support gun owner’s Fourth Amendment rights, I was told the NRA was a single issue lobby and their focus was and should only be on the right to keep and bear arms.
    Fair Enough. But now I see that a full blown culture war somehow doesn’t qualify as mission creep.

  2. “This was before I knew the NRA was miffed at Paul for his association with NAGR.”

    The dynamic you need to understand is that NAGR is nothing but a front for the so-called “Religious Right,” and that occurred at a time while the NRA was only in the late process of being infiltrated by the Religious Right.

    That was the path to Rand Paul’s tight association with NAGR. I know that at one time he had his own email address on NAGR’s servers.

    The Paul’s were past masters at fronting for the RR, while keeping that only marginally detectable. Ron was better at it than Rand, but both were good. (Google Ron’s staffer Gary North if you have never done so; he dandled Rand on his knee as a kid, so to speak, and last I knew was Ron’s partner in a home school curriculum sales business.)

    In any case, the conflict you observed probably had almost nothing to do with the issue, so much as competition for political positioning within the Religious Right.

    (One RR factional schism I was aware of, was when Dennis Fusaro was fired by GOA, and his faction abandoned GOA to later create the backbone of NAGR, C4L, etc., etc.)

    1. I should have left the NAGR comment out, but I included it as a possible explanation for lack of support for the amendment Paul proposed. I am not a member or affliated with NAGR but I am an NRA member for many years now and consider myself entitled to offer criticism when I think it’s needed. I just think that if the leadership believes it should focus solely on the Second Amendment where legislation is concerned, it also needs stay out of the general culture war and quit using that to hawk training and insurance.

      1. “I should have left the NAGR comment out, but I included it as a possible explanation…”

        No, using it was right, because it was a fair-enough explanation for your point. I merely said what I did to put forth the concept that there can be (are) other dimensions behind what may appear to be simple political/economic competitions.

      1. “Religious right? I thought NAGR existed to make Dudley money?”

        And what do you think Dudley is? Any idea who the other NAGR principals are?

        Far be it from me to question the authenticity of someone else’s faith, but you have perhaps observed that many of the loudest professions of faith come from people who have never let it stand in the way of making money. In fact, I seem to recall there are whole theologies pitching prosperity as a measure of God’s approval.

    2. I actually have some familiarity with Gary North. The man is what most accuse the religious right of being, but almost never is. He literally believes in the reinstating of Old Testament civic laws. As someone who travels in “Religious Right” circles, I can tell you that people with that belief are extremely rare. In fact, outside of of an enclave in Chicago, I’ve never personally met anyone who holds those views.

      However, I understand why he’d be on the staff of a Paul. He’s a brilliant Austrian School economist, and given his area of expertise, there would be very little overlap. (I’m sure North had a blood vessel in his brain burst when Ron Paul stated in a debate that he had a more nuanced view of sexuality, and morality.) Unfortunately, much of his brilliance is crippled by insane conspiracy theories of the John Birch variety. If not for that, he’d likely be mentioned in the same breath as Murray Rothbard.

      Sadly, the Pauls have always had the tendency to embrace their wackos in all their insane glory. It’s one of the main factors in RP being relegated to a footnote in American political history.

      1. “I can tell you that people with that belief are extremely rare.”

        For purposes of this forum, my message is that people with even a rough approximation of that belief (e.g., opportunistic theology to serve the exigencies of the moment) are not trustworthy political allies, as their agenda of implementing via state coercion whatever portion of “biblical law” they have chosen to believe, is always running in the background, and is always their primary agenda.

        If you look at what are perhaps the most famous (infamous?) Gary North quotes, he pretty much endorses lying to “enemies of God” until such time as his brand of “Godly” folk can come into their Kingdom. Now stack “Austrian School” True Belief, up against Old Testament True Belief, and which one do you think he and his fellow travelers will opt for?

        I just have no time at all for Liars for Jesus, as they have already wasted too much of my time and subverted too many of the issues they falsely represented to share my concerns about.

  3. At what point do we stop making excuses for the NRA, NRA-ILA and its sub-organizations and say that the NRA is wrong in their unwavering and unquestioning support of “law enforcement” and the professional LE lobby, and that they are no longer representing the interests of gun owners and the 2nd Amendment?

    I think this, is that point. Whether you are on foot or in a vehicle, you should not have to lick the boots of the police, nor fear for your life and your family’s lives just because you are exercising either a statutory right to carry or your constitution right to carry. If the law says you are ok to carry a firearm, the treatment should be no different for you as a result of that fact in any encounter with the State.

    My safety is more important. My family’s safety is more important. If that hurts someone’s feeling in LE, there are plenty of other employment opportunities available. The overwhelming, vast majority of traffic stops are unnecessary. These encounters are ‘forced” by stupid laws, enforced by a wide margin of people ranging from stupid bullies, to college educated really great folks, and every manner in between. Many are “fishing” expeditions, many more are “manufactured” stops based on infractions that have nothing to do with operator safety.

    This really needs to have a hard stop. Grassroots groups deal with this kind of stuff all the time. In gun friendly states, we get transplants from NY or NJ and they’ve never seen a non LEO with a gun before or they simply get exposed the first time and don’t know how to handle it. Or they decide they are going to “run the serial number” of the gun because it -might- be stolen – this is a great excuse to disarm your victim, fleece them, try to get a consent search, call in a drug dog and then return your gun in pieces and your ammo in a pile.

    I have numerous friends who happen to be LEOs, active and retired. so far their comments to me are not supportive of Yanez, and for good reason.
    I don’t know if money is the entire reason, but it seems like Post “Jack booted thugs” ad in the 90’s, they’ve been hesitant to tangle with the professional law enforcement lobby, and over the years as RTC has expanded, so have incidents with “bad apple” LEOs. This issue isn’t going away and this PR exercise by NRA is a very bad move.

    1. ^This. “mistakes were made on both sides.” Yeah, but somehow the civilian CCW holder who is being pulled over for the first time while carrying is held to a higher standard than, you know, the guy who conducts traffic stops every day as part of his job.

      1. Exactly. Cops need to be held to a HIGHER standard, not a lower one.

        And in the choice between a cop dying because he didn’t act soon enough vs a innocent dying because he acted to soon, it should always favor the former. Officer safety should never override civilian safety.

        The NRA doesn’t have to get into the entire militarization of police. But raising the issue of punishing cops who violate rights, or harm or kill gun owners exercising their rights is completely within their purview.

    2. “This issue isn’t going away and this PR exercise by NRA is a very bad move.”

      A weakness of all organizations, factions, and movements, is that they will become their own echo chambers, and thus get the impression that what they think is what everybody, everywhere thinks.

      Pretty soon they’re talking only to themselves, while being totally unaware of it.

      (And with that, I’m being kind.)

  4. I used to work for one of their PR agencies!! I was asked my feelings on guns during the interview. Never worked on that account, tho.

    1. “Never worked on that account, tho.”

      I’m interested: What was the level of security between accounts?

      The analogy I’m thinking of is, when I worked on high-level stuff in the defense industry, our projects were compartmentalized. At that level, I had no idea what the guys across the hall were working on, and I couldn’t even get into their area — or they into mine.

      I’m just thinking that wouldn’t be too bad an idea for PR work, even if not carried to those extremes. I would think there would be some incentives for “PR espionage” both in the commercial and political worlds.

      1. The only cases I’ve seen if that are when you have 2 clients in the same industry. Typically they’d be managed out of different offices with different teams. Never really an ideal situation.

        In a small firm like the one I was at, everyone knew everyone else’s shit (which is a good thing. You look for synergies)

        At times you would work on really sensitive stuff like m&a of public companies. Teams were sometimes sequestered off site for stuff like that.

  5. I get why they don’t want to talk about Castile. Heck, as an individual I have mixed responses to the facts of the case. The problem here, as you identified, is the wider change in some of the NRAs messaging. I want my NRA to be a single issue organization focused on Gun Rights. These ads that focus on other issues, particularly those that portray speech as violence, are way off the mark.

  6. I think Dana was trying to say the right things. The problem is the NRA official silence on the matter, while no one is going to shut up Dana and she was going to say something when asked about it. So everyone is reading too much into what Dana said as a proxy for the official NRA position.

    As much as I would like the NRA to do more pro-actively, and as much as I see the NRA as an organization which follows instead of leads, I have some sympathy here for the tough position the NRA has when it comes to cops. It’s a no-win situation for the NRA no matter which side they take.

    The anti-gunners still savage the NRA today for old “anti-cop” statements, and the anti-gunners alliance with police chiefs has always been their most valuable tool in pushing the gun-control agenda.

    In fact, when I dig back into the source for this supposed NRA mistake, I see it is a continuation of the attempt to smear the NRA for the video which Dana posted back in April. A video which is still being represented by the anti-NRA people as something new and therefore outrageous, ripping the April ad from it’s original context.

    1. I’ve been thinking about this lately, and how anti-gun organizations are critical of the NRA being silent on the issue…

      and I can’t help but have the impression that anti-gun organizations have been silent on the issue too. At least, I haven’t seen explanations from anti-gun organizations claiming that Castile deserved to be shot, because he was carrying a gun…or that the police officer should have had better training, and shouldn’t have fired at Castile, despite him carrying a gun.

      I have to confess, though, that I don’t seek out what anti-gun organizations have to say in general. Am I off the mark on this? What does the typical anti-gun organization think about this particular mess?

  7. Carry Guard is supposed to be about training so there is an obvious connection to the case. You (and I) have concerns about how good the training will actually be given the multiple missteps in the roll-out. It would seem that the solution is to fix the training rather than avoid the obvious connection. I would also like to see NRA LE training put strong emphasis on police interaction with legally armed citizens. I suspect this may especially be a problem with anti-gun jurisdictions. Don’t know about the MN burb where this case went down but an officer who has had no contact with legal gun carriers is going to be more prone to panic when one is encountered. Training could help.

  8. The NRA is the big gorilla in the room; they currently have the most political pull in 2A issues. This is fine if it’s directed toward constitutional 2A issues.

    But then I saw that USCCA ejected from the NRAAM this year. I think it was evident that they are looking into and maybe co-opting new markets already covered by voluntary private business.

    I fear the NRA might be opening discussion for mandatory carry insurance or any firearm ownership insurance mandate. This is completely unacceptable.

    1. Discussion around mandatory carry insurance certainly would pose a conflict of interest.

  9. NRA is acting like we won the battle for national carry and reciprocity. When in fact, we are not even close.

    I get it, Carry Guard is the latest gold to mine. But the reality is that those 8 red state Democrats we need for reciprocity and hearing protection are *firmly* in the grip of Feinstein and Schumer for now, with no release in sight.

    The even worse reality is that the way things are currently going, the GOP may lose the Senate in 2018. We could be one step forward with Gorsuch and two steps back if Kennedy and Thomas retire with a Democratic Senate.

    Remember back in the day when Trump favored an assault weapons ban? Those days could be closer than people think, in 2019. If the winds shift.

    The NRA needs to be acting as though Clinton won the election and the Senate is in danger of going Democrat in 2018, not out hawking carry guard.

  10. “But I’ll be bluntly honest, I’m not happy where NRA’s PR firm, and Dana Loesch in particular, seem to be taking the organization.”

    The name of the NRA’s RP firm is Ackerman-McQueen, or Ack-Mac as it’s commonly called. It’s one of the most important, but least known relationships in both marketing and politics. Ack-Mac is almost singularly responsible for the rise of the NRA in the public consciousness. I honestly wish someone would write something in-depth about it, but not much is out there except for a couple articles. “Richard Feldman writes a bit about it in his tell-all,”Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist” but he’s something of an unreliable narrator, and doesn’t spend enough time on the subject.

    These past few weeks, I’ve reflected on Ack-Mac and the NRA more than normal because they seem have been infiltrated by a Bloomberg operative intent on discrediting gun rights advocacy.

    1. For the record, that is not the one I worked for. They use several other PR agencies for specific projects.

      And they haven’t been infiltrated. That’s not how PR people think-and decisions are not made by one person.

      Recent actions, tho due reflect badly on the agency not understanding the audience.

  11. There seems to have been a large shift in priorities since the election.It’s like they assumed pro-gun work is a slam dunk (which it is not), so they are shifting resources to driving new revenue streams, and increasing membership by going after Billy Bob who has a shotty in the closet but boy, what really gets him angry is dem’ lefty socialists.

    Starting to think the anti-gunners are right in that ginning up fear is the only strategy the NRA has.

    1. “It’s like they assumed pro-gun work is a slam dunk (which it is not), so they are shifting resources to driving new revenue streams…”

      If they think that, they suck as strategists, but then, I’ve known that for quite awhile. (That of course is assuming pro-gun work has been their real agenda.)

      I think that Sun Tzu said something to the effect that a strategist needs to plan more for after a battle is won, than for winning the battle. Or maybe Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare is sufficiently to the point.

      The election of Trump may have been a great victory, the same way that the sinking of our Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was a great victory for the Japanese. As Admiral Yamamoto said, “I fear we have but awakened a slumbering giant, and filled him with a new resolve.”

      1. Very much this!

        I remember when the Freedom Caucus managed to oust John Boehner as the Speaker of the House…but they didn’t have any replacement prepared to step up to replace him.

        We ended up with Paul Ryan, who many people think is spineless, and is almost certainly not in line with Freedom Caucus goals…

    2. NRA is talking about non-gun social issues because they need to distract from the fact they are not working to deliver on the 2A issues we were promised during the election.

      NRA pushed us to give the GOP all of Congress and the White House. We gave it to them, and despite some very explicit promises all the way from Trump down, none of it has occurred. Not one single piece of pro-gun legislation has moved forward – heck, they are not even getting hearings in committee. No hearings mean they are openly ignoring the issue.

      And NRA has not said one word about the lack of motion. Not one. They are glad-handing and talking like they won something, but all they got is a lot of our dollars.

      So instead NRA puts a slick Dana up to talks shit about progressives, and get us to talk about anything other than the fact they are not pushing the GOP to deliver.

      Rest assured, if the GOP loses the House there will be all sorts of moaning about how they cannot help us unless we get Pelosi off her chair. Again. But hey, NRA gets more dollars from the rubes so it’s a win in their column either way.

      Sad thing is this shit works with low-information easy-to-distract voters. If we get distracted from our real goal by stupid entertainment, we deserve what we get.

  12. The solution to a lot of issues with policing: we need less police, doing a smaller range of activities.

    Less police, so we can afford to be more selective in recruitment and generous in benefits for retention.

    Smaller range of activities, less chances to interact uncontrollably, and less required training.

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