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From Russia With Love

Some of you have probably seen the story of a Russian National connected to an influence operation involving the NRA being arrested on charges of spying. I’ve read the actual criminal complaint against her and it’s hard for me to see how she’s not guilty as hell of what she’s being charged with just based on the evidence found in the complaint. Sounds to me like she even had an assistant in the US (US Person 1) and was also being helped along by (US Person 2), who it seems is connected to the National Prayer Breakfast. Popehat, who has experience as a federal prosecutor, suspects the complaint’s timing was because they got wind Butina was getting ready to flee the country.

While I generally roll my eyes at “based on my training and experience,” the complaint has a number of interesting details.

Your challenge in your “special project” will be to balance two opposing imperatives: Your desire to communicate that you speak for Russian interests that will be ascendant (still around) in a post-Putin world while simultaneously doing nothing to criticize the President or speed the arrival of his successor.

There’s a few references to relations after Putin is gone in the complaint. I’m thinking Torshin’s odds of contracting an acute case of polonium poisoning just went up. From the sounds of the complaint, the woman who said “No government official has EVER approached me about ‘fostering ties’ with any Americans,” was basically taking orders, albeit via Torshin, from Putin himself.

Never Underestimate “Something Must Be Done”

The gun control powers that be must have anticipated that the DOJ would settle with Defense Distributed, because I’m seeing a lot of articles like this.

“Criminals are making their own weapons because they cannot buy them legally … or they are paying other people to make those guns for them to get around the gun laws,” said Bill McMullan, special agent in charge of ATF’s L.A. Field Division. “This is a trend among Southern California gangs.”

I have no doubt. This is why gun control doesn’t work, and why technology is increasingly rendering it a fools errand. You and I know that restricting home manufacturing isn’t going to affect anyone but the people who have no criminal intent.

I’ve said it before: what Cody Wilson doesn’t realize is that most people give a crap that technology is rendering gun control obsolete. The overriding impetus behind things like gun control are “Something must be done! This is something, so therefore it must be done!” It’s just like the opioid crisis. Are any of those laws going to affect junkies? No. They are going to affect people who have legitimate pain and are low risk for addiction.

How do these things pass? Because you have hysterical, and frankly ignorant people pushing for solutions.

“This is a crisis!”

They get joined by people who are grieving someone who they lost and amplifying the hysteria. Sometimes these people carry guilt they need to deflect onto others. “Johnny was a junkie, and I didn’t raise no junky. I was a good parent. So it must be the fault of the doctors and drug companies prescribing and making this stuff. Something must be done!”

Politicians naturally cater to these types of people, because no one wants to tell a grieving parent, “Well, maybe you’re just a shitty parent,” least of all a politician looking for votes.

Then you have the majority of the population who isn’t in pain, doesn’t own a gun, and has no dog in the fight, and is willing to nominally join calls for doing something, and isn’t willing to invest the mental energy in seriously evaluating solutions.

So don’t think because limiting home gun making and gun smithing is a fools errand means it won’t happen. It’s something not many people do, even most serious shooters. It’s better off flying under the radar.

Lessons from the Annals of Club Management

My parents were both heavily involved in civic culture. My mother was in three or four civic groups. My father was a volunteer firefighter pretty much my entire life, which for those not familiar with how those run in Pennsylvania, are effectively social clubs that fight fires. They are not unlike gun clubs, except they shoot water rather than lead. And their shoot houses are a bit…. hotter. As a kid I always got dragged to those meeting and hated it. But the end result is that kind of organization was never something foreign to me, so when I joined my local gun club, my first instinct was to start attending meetings. Then matches. One thing leads to another and then somehow I agree to serve as an officer. Thanks mom and dad. See what you did? It’s been a learning experience, though. For those of you involved with clubs, here are some things I’ve learned:

  • If your Board takes an action you know will be controversial, it will probably be twice as controversial as you think. Prepare for that. During a period of controversy, everything the Board does, even things that shouldn’t necessarily be controversial will become controversial.
  • I am not a rules person. I hate rules and procedure. One reason I stay at the job I have is we have a very unstructured workplace, and I like that. I work best in that. While Henry Martyn Robert can still kiss my ass, for now, having some basic ground rules for meetings is beneficial for making sure everyone gets a say and meetings don’t descend into chaos.
  • Having professional advice is important. Any shooting club should have an attorney they can consult with regularly. Seek professional advice on your ranges. NRA provides range consulting that is practically free. They are very up on current practices, and while they can’t set you up all the professionals you need, since they don’t make recommendations, they can tell you at least what kind of professionals you need. I’m a computer engineer. That’s my area of expertise. Running a firing range is not. Stay in your lane, and use professionals for what you’re not an expert on.
  • Don’t push too fast. Don’t become a slave to imagined timelines: “We have to get X done, and then Y. Because X and Y need to be done before Z starts.” Plan things out. Think about your timeline of events as a whole in the entire context of what you’re doing. Tasks that might not seem connected, you may suddenly find they will become connected.
  • Communicate. My role is secretary, which puts me in charge of most of the communications, even to communicate decisions I might not agree with personally. If I had to pick the one area to work on the most it’s that. There’s no workplace I’ve ever worked that had a really solid communication culture. Communication is much harder in deliberative organizations, where you have to get a group of people to agree on a plan.
  • Don’t bring problems to a deliberative body, bring solutions. It’s much easier to get a deliberative body to agree on solutions than it is to get a deliberative body to solve a problem. The latter is difficult. Even if the body can arrive at a solution, it will often be very suboptimal. I’ve had members get indignant when asked to submit a proposal for something they want to do. Seriously, if a board member at a club ever asks you this, there’s a reason: you don’t want a deliberative body trying to implement your idea. It doesn’t work well that way. Bring solutions, not problems.
  • Don’t assume your membership knows how the club operates. There’s a handful of members at any club that are always around. These are the people you will get to know and have the most communication with. These people generally know what the Board is doing, what’s going on at the club, and how the club generally works. It’s very easy to forget that most members are not all that engaged. This goes back to communication: you might have to explain how things work. I’m surprised that a number of people I’ve encountered that believe the Board at my club is a professional, paid Board. We have no paid employees. We’re all volunteers.
  • Speaking of volunteers, you can’t be too picky with volunteers. They aren’t your employees and you can’t and shouldn’t direct them like they were employees. This can be particularly tricky if a lot of your Board are used to running businesses. Volunteers are a different beast. You appreciate what they do, and tell them that, even if you’re not happy with the actual work. Volunteer driven organizations are very much “If you aren’t happy with how someone else is doing the work, do it yourself.”

There are definitely times, and a lot more recently, when I think the for-profit Guntry Club Model of providing shooting facilities is far better than the Social Club Model. But I think civil society is important, because it teaches people to cooperate, fosters stronger community, and is better, overall, for the health of the gun rights movement. The religious right is successful because they have the church as a locus of organization. Clubs are much like churches, in that regard.

DOJ Settles Defense Distributed Case

They essentially gave up, agreed to pay attorneys’ fees to DD, and agree that going forward, small arms that aren’t machine guns or destructive devices won’t be considered munitions. If you recall, Defense Distributed was forced, under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to remove plans for firearms, arguing that posting the plans online constituted exporting munitions.

This is a promising development.

Kavanaugh Has a Record on Guns

He was the dissenter in Heller II.

In my judgment, both D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional under Heller.

In Heller, the Supreme Court held that handguns – the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic – are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens. There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi- automatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses. Moreover, semi- automatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are. It follows from Heller’s protection of semi-automatic handguns that semi-automatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that D.C.’s ban on them is unconstitutional. (By contrast, fully automatic weapons, also known as machine guns, have traditionally been banned and may continue to be banned afterHeller.)1

Getting protections on semi-automatic rifles would be just what the doctor ordered for states like New Jersey, California and New York. Semi-auto bans are culture killers. No state has ever passed one and come back from it.

Kavanaugh’s approach to the Second Amendment is far better than what we’ve typically seen in lower courts. Several years ago I even suggested that there should be some scholarship published around his approach to help refine it.

There was a lot of speculation that Trump was going to pick Amy Barrett, who would have greatly pleased the SoCo culture warriors, but she would have been an unknown quantity on the Second Amendment. From my point of view, he couldn’t have done much better than Brett Kavanaugh. I know what I’m getting: a judge who’s willing to toss assault weapons bans and gun registration.

What More Do They Want?

New Jersey is already, arguably, number one or two for states with the strictest gun control, and most unfriendly to gun ownership. But that’s not stopping people from asking for more. Note the typical argument: reducing our interests in preserving the 2nd Amendment down to an economic one, pushed by corporations seeking profit, rather than millions of other citizens who value the right and wish to preserve it. It’s also replete with over the top stuff like this: “How could it be that those who represent us in Congress can stand by while our children and grandchildren are sacrificed to the gun lobby?” Give me a break. You know who did something? New Jersey’s legislature. It went farther than Congress in this guy’s wildest dreams. Yet the author admits:

New Jersey averages 280 gun-related homicides, 184 gun-related suicides, 764 nonfatal interpersonal shootings and 599 unintended shootings per year.

Good thing they have all that gun control, or someone might get hurt.

4th of July Falling Plates

I had the plates turned around for the practice portion leading up to the match. Then the big reveal:

Falling Plates Pre-1801 Union Jack

I think we can all agree that King George was thoroughly trounced:

Falling Plates Shot Up

I think I may be wanted in the UK for a hate crime now.

Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th. I’m off this week, and enjoying not doing much of anything. Sometimes the best vacation is the staycation. I decided to run a 4th of July falling plate match at the club. Trying to decide whether to paint the plates with patriotic patterns, or paint them with the Union Jack. Shoot all the plates down, for America! For Independence!

Fireworks

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