A Discomforting Thought

I think a lot of folks are deeply uncomfortable with the notion that a handful of rich guys can essentially buy their preferred policy. Perhaps so uncomfortable that they don’t want to admit it’s the case. But they can. In our type of democratic system, they at least have to convince voters. But unfortunately that’s not all that hard.

Caleb has a great article about the future gun control fight. Also see what Miguel had in reference to my comments from yesterday. I don’t mean to come off as a pessimist. Bloomberg has picked a hell of a fight with us. That money of his would have steamrollered over other issues. But we do have our own advantages. What I would say to our people:

  • The time for division is not now. We need a strong NRA. If you quit NRA over bump stocks or red flag laws, you aren’t helping. I’m not saying we can’t have disagreement, but we all need to be rowing in the same direction and understanding what’s important. Miguel notes that activists in Florida are concentrating on Open Carry. I would advise concentrating on stopping the ballot measure Bloomberg is going to foist on you in 2020. NRA has to have money to fight that. We cannot write off the third most populous state. We will never be able to outspend Bloomberg, but we sure as hell can out-organize him. We have a blueprint, and last I heard the dude who pulled off defeating the Massachusetts handgun ban is still alive. The odds were stacked against him too.
  • Forget about the fucking bump stocks. It’s not where the fight is. That’s over. The fight is preserving the right to own semi-automatic firearms. That’s ultimately what they want, because they are well aware no state’s gun culture has ever come back from an assault weapons ban. Gun bans are a death blow to the culture. If you want to get the hard-core activists worked up over saving an impractical range toy, or in some misguided effort to (badly) get around the machine gun restrictions, you’re not paying attention to where the actual fight is.
  • Be prepared to go to your capitol in protest. Start organizing that with local resources now. It will be needed.
  • Set up communication channels that can’t be shut down or censored by Facebook and Google. The achilleas heel of blogs is that they depend on search traffic, and search traffic can be manipulated. The elite basically have the ability to completely screw us if they decide to start shutting down pro-2A groups and pages on social media, and manipulate the search results so that no one ever finds our arguments. As a community, we need to get more sophisticated about manipulating search results. But good old fashioned e-mail lists will end up being valuable. These monstrosities are powerful, but they are still big systems that no human could possibly look after. So we have to get good at getting around the barriers they can throw up.
  • Recruit young people. If you’re worried about this issue, you’ve already lost. I’m not as worried we’ve lost the youth, because there are cultural indicators that are quite positive there. We’re becoming the new counter-culture, and I wonder if we should start marketing ourselves that way.

22 thoughts on “A Discomforting Thought”

  1. This is pretty spot on – politics is a team sport. And we need some unity badly. We’ve got to prioritize because we know Bloomberg, Giffords, et al have unity, priorities, money and a strategy. It’s not doom & gloom to point out reality.

    I’m in Florida and the post-Parkland gun control was hurriedly pushed through literally days after the shooting before the end of the legislative session. It seems like there was no damage control or hurry-up game plan in place; so now we’re on the defensive. At least with the 2020 ballot initiative, we have plenty of warning. Having said that priorities for me would be…
    1) damage control (short term) – defeat the 2020 ballot initiative in Florida, and work against gun bans anywhere else. Don’t waste your time advocating for bumpstocks, except to advocate against the administrative jiggery-pokery going on at the ATF/DOJ to justify it. Pray we get a positive outcome from the NYSRPA v. NYC – strict scrutiny and a nice slap down to NYC & lower courts would be good. Keep putting Trump’s judges on the federal bench. Educate & promote shooting to people who don’t.
    2) go on the offensive (medium term) – win back the House of Representatives, keep the Senate and get Trump reelected. Remind politicians that gun control is a loser for them professionally. The NRA, GOA and other pro-2A groups and voters need to let the Congress know that National Reciprocity and SHARE (or whatever pro-2A bills are in the Congress) are legislative priorities – period. We can’t keep getting put off to the back burner. NRA needs to score on these kinds of laws as well as judges. Use and take advantage of Congressional power when we have it. Get good cases to the Supreme Court to destroy both federal and state-level gun bans and other gun restrictions. Keep on educating & promoting shooting to people who don’t.
    3) getting our rights back, strengthening & securing them (long term) – Regain ground for pro-2A voices and politicians in the Democrat party. Gain greater prestige for shooting and pro-2A voices in the media and culture.

  2. Don’t just play defense with Googlebook. Hit them where they live. Leftists hate billionaires and this can be used. Ironically most billionaires are leftists but the Democrat base doesn’t seem to care. So go after their business model by making them pay for data use and/or applying common carrier rules, support leftist confiscatory taxes as long as the thresholds are high enough, encourage (shudder) the EU. In an existential struggle you use what weapons come to hand and damn the long-term consequences. Lose the fight and there won’t be any long-term.

  3. Though I’ve been an NRA Life Member for 40+ years I’ve become quite disappointed in them and YES I think their strategy on bump stocks was REALLY BAD. Perhaps the worst thing they’ve ever done (and I don’t care about bump stocks – but I do care about the RULE OF LAW, ie not of men).

    But, if there 20 MILLION members instead of 5 the gun control landscape would be a lot different.

    We “got here” because an awful lot of gun owners can’t be bothered, or are too cheap, or “don’t want to be on a list” to spend $30 bucks a year be a member.

    1. Yes that’s fine, and I’m an NRA Benefactor member too (don’t like spending $30 a year so I just went for life membership early on) but our rights don’t begin and end with 5 million. They begin and end with every gun owner and shooter, even the ones who haven’t joined the NRA because reasons. Getting them armed and mobilized to confront is our battle. Five million is just a number printed on paper or Tweeted out.

      It’s about 100 million+ arms in circulation, and the owners of those arms. All 100 million of those need to be loaded and ready to be put to good use.

      1. Yes. Mobilizing the unmobilized is a big part of the game. My big problem with NRA is I don’t think you can do that with YouTube videos.

  4. I think a lot of the social media anti-NRA because of bump stocks weren’t gun owners during the AWB and have no idea what we are really up against. Simply, the motto needs to be “JOIN, OR DIE.” Franklin’s sentiment directly applies now.

    Those of that are butthurt because of bump stocks need to get over it and actually join the fight. GOA and NAGR are never going to have the clout. SAF has it’s niche, but NRA is the power.

  5. Bump stocks? No, I quit NRA over Philando Castile, when NRA proved itself to be more pro-cop than pro-gun. Don’t publish glowing articles about increasing gun sales among minorities until you’re willing to push back, HARD, against authorities who deprive ALL OF US of our Constitutional rights.

    1. Counter productive. And an example of what I mention above.

      I don’t like the NRA’s slobbering over cops either, but if the NRA had 20 Million members, ESPECIALLY life members, would any gun control be able to pass Congress?

      1. Depends on whether Dems could take for granted those votes were baked into the GOP numbers already. What has worked for NRA in the past is the gun vote being able to swing close elections.

        I’m sympathetic to people angry at NRA for the Castile death, because it didn’t need to happen. But NRA would have been reluctant to make a statement about it off the bat no matter who was involved, and they definitely would not get involved when the person turns out (because the tox screen was positive for pot) to be illegally in possession of the gun.

        Not that I agree with the law that says pot users can’t possess firearms. But it is the law. Did Castile have to die because of all this? No. But the NRA isn’t going to publicly get behind a prohibited possessor against a cop.

        1. The NRA was able to make the original AWB sunset with 4M members.

          What would 20M have gotten us in 1992? Today?

          If you are serious enough to be a dues paying member then it is more likely you are also serious enough to write letters etc. More members likely would mean more results in Congress.

          re: Castile, I understand fully NRA’s dilemma there, cops are a big constituency for them.

          But really? Back the Blue?

          I almost threw up when NRA went that far.

          Only time I’ve ever wanted to quit the NRA.

          Instead, a couple of months ago I bought a Life Membership for a nephew.

  6. “I don’t mean to come off as a pessimist. Bloomberg has picked a hell of a fight with us”.

    Bloomberg picked a fight with us in Maine in 2016 with his Universal Background Check referendum. We beat him through early, sustained, and dogged grassroots activism / voter education.

    To defeat him, everyone must get active MONTHS before the actual vote — this is a marathon, not a sprint.

    Expect to have to address a DAILY barrage of letters to the editor and propaganda disguised as news. This can be done inexpensively through newspaper reader comments — but it takes time and sustained DAILY effort.

    Good luck, don’t wait to be told what to do, and start getting busy informing your fellow voters on the issue.

  7. The problem with the NRA is that I don’t think they can be trusted not to screw this up deliberately. I’m sure those idiots are thinking ” hmm, if we let the Dems pass this AWB, we can make a ton of money soliciting panicked gun owners to fix the problem we caused. Yeah, baby!”

    This IS their history. Why expect them to change their spots? They are in it for the money, and they have a corporate character that is anti-gun to some extent. They have played footsie with the gun-grabbers since their inception, pretty much.

    I would not trust anyone that is supported by the upper management to replace them. The place needs a clean sweep, to avoid replicating the original DNA of the early management.

  8. “Forget about bumpstocks, right now is the time to protect semi-auto rifles….”

    Bumpfire stocks are fucking stupid, but if we don’t fight the arbitrary, capricious, and wholly unconstitutional twisting of the statutory definition of MG, then we won’t have a leg to stand on when they try to do the same thing with semi-auto rifles in a few years:

    If a bumpfire stock can be a machinegun, anything can. If we don’t fight this, they won’t need to pass another AWB in order to ban semi-auto rifles: they’ll just need to wait a few years until they control the whitehouse and then put anti-gun radicals in charge of DOJ/BATFE, make some more changes in the CFR, and publish some new rulings. If we don’t prevail in the fight against ATF attempt to administratively ban bumpfire stocks today, the government will have the weight of precedent and jurisprudence behind it the next time they try to crank the ratchet tighter.

    As for legislative actions, I think we need to take the stance that we won’t tolerate any language that isn’t properly narrowly tailored (i.e. if they say they want bumpfire stocks, the definition should not be able to be twisted to cover anything else), AND we need the other side to give up something to (e.g. national reciprocity). If they’re not willing to do the first, then it’s an AWB another name and through a back door, which proves that they’re not acting in good faith, and that we should oppose them. If they’re not willing to do the second, then it isn’t a true compromise, and they’re not acting in good faith, so we should oppose them.

    1. Yep, endorsing rule by administrative fiat is I believe the absolute worst thing to do regards the bump stock dilemma.

      And the rule they’ve written right now can be construed to do more than just make bump stocks illegal.

    2. I’d like to say that the place to fight the bump-stock ban is in the courts. I’m not 100% confident in saying that, though. The courts have too often supported the Bureaucracy; indeed, it could be argued that 90% of the Bureaucracy is unConstitutional, but the Courts have nonetheless upheld it.

      Defending semi-autos via courts will theoretically be easier to protect than bump-stocks, though, in no small part because of Heller and McDonald.

      Trump’s and McConnell’s work in judicial appointments have been *very* helpful in this regard, at least….

      1. the thinking here seems to be that throwing bump stocks on the fire was preferable (and NECESSARY) to the Congress attempts to regulate them turning into a ban on semi-autos’.

        Well, I don’t know how likely that was but even if so I’m not sure that facing that now rather than later wouldn’t be better.

        And maybe the NRA figured it wouldn’t hold up in court and so we would win both ways. Maybe, I’m not sure they are any better at 3D chess than Trump.

        Defending semi-autos? Well, the SC has passed up at least 2 challenges to state bans on AR’s so? Maybe Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will fix that.

        Unfortunately we can’t depend on anyone at this point, not congress, not the courts, and not Trump.

        2 years ago I though Trump’s election was a repudiation of the left’s gun-control effort.

        It seems that nightmare never goes aways.

        1. “The Nightmare Never Goes Away” might be a good motto for NRI-ILA to adopt (and for the gun community in general, as well).

  9. (1) Don’t criticize the NRA leadership for their stupid actions, because it makes the NRA as an organization look bad. Don’t ask for accountability either!

    (2) Forget the past betrayals. (There will be more in the future anyway.)

    (3) Be prepared to protest. The NRA will not help you in organizing it though.

    (4) Set up communication channels, because the NRA is simply incapable of doing that. A member-only forum seems to be too costly and technically impossible.

    (5) Recruit young people, because the NRA is also pretty bad at that one. The young people are quitting the NRA.

    (6) Forget about the fucking semi-autos. That’s not where the fight is. We need to make sure we are not losing revolvers and shotguns. Oh, wait, I am a little bit too early on that. Wait 5 years and it will be accurate.

    Did I sum this up correctly?

    My recommendation is to ignore the NRA and not rely on the NRA to do anything other than asking for money and taking credit for any wins. The fight can be won without the NRA. In fact, the fight MUST be won without the NRA as the NRA leadership has its own personal interests in mind.

    Get organized! Set up communication channels! Be prepared to protest in person at rallies and via communication with your Representative/Senators! Bring in new people! All of this can be done without the NRA.

    This is not about the fucking NRA! Forget about the fucking NRA!

    1. I agree with most of what you’ve said here, with one exception: I think this fight would be MUCH easier if the NRA was actually the pro-rights behemoth that it purports to be.

      Since the issue is with the executive leadership, and the executive leadership serves at the pleasure of the board, and the board is elected, it’s pretty clear that the only way to fix the problems with the NRA is from the inside.

      Treat board members like legislators: Lobby them like you lobby legislators. On top of that, cast an informed ballot in the NRA Board election.

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