NRA Range Development and Operations Conference

I had the opportunity to attend NRA’s Range Development and Operations Conference in Pittsburgh. If you’ve ever been to NRA’s Law Seminar, it’s a similar format, except a smaller crowd. If you’re a Director or Officer at a gun club, I highly recommend you get your club to send you, or even go yourself if you can swing it. It was an eye opener for me. It’s three days. It can be rough to sit in a conference room for three days and hear presentations if you’re not the classroom type.

Takeaways for me:

  • First takeaway is that if you don’t do this for a living, in other words, if you’re not presenting at the conference, you don’t know everything. This conference will just explore the tip of the iceberg of things you don’t know.
  • The worst thing you can do as a club is stick your head in the sand and pretend everything is right, and everything is fine. Seek expert advise. NRA will come evaluate your range for free. The results are kept confidential. If you’re really worried, coordinate through your lawyers so any results are privileged. Ranges that stick their head in the sand likely do not have an extended future. When those ranges inevitably go under, we won’t replace them.
  • There’s lots of expertise and technology available to help ranges get on the right track. My club send people to the RDOC about 15 years ago, and we had a few Board members who figured it would just be the same. It was not. Range technology is evolving fast. One presentation on the economics of the industry mentioned that while there is definitely a “Trump Slump,” the baseline of shooters is still much higher than it was a decade ago, and there’s investment. Shooting ranges actually do less business when people aren’t buying as many guns.
  • At some point, the firearms industry will need to replace lead styphnate and lead azide priming with something non-toxic. That’s proven illusive, but it’ll have to be done. Lead bullets are a far more manageable problem than the lead emitted from primers, which have to be cleaned up and disposed as hazardous waste.
  • Does your range have an environmental stewardship plan? If not, you need one. This is becoming standard industry practice. We’ve long been big on recycling in our sport, but a plan will help ensure people know all the best practices. There are people who will help you write one who are experts in this stuff, know environmental engineering, and who are not tree huggers looking to shut you down. NRA’s Range Services and the professionals who work with them are trying to keep ranges open, not help them get shut down.

Now, some things I didn’t like about the conference:

  • The classroom format is a bit rough for some people. Not sure there’s so much you can do about this. I found the Vendor room, and networking with the pros, to be just as useful as the conference itself. Maybe more here.
  • Get presenters to hold questions off until the end. Letting an audience of people interrupt speakers with (often stupid) questions is a recipe for a presenter having to skip over material at the end or rush through. I wanted to see some of that material! It’s better to be able to cut off questions at the end. We had a few “class clowns” and various other people who liked to hear the sound of their own voice monopolizing or interrupting the speakers.
  • Asking people to introduce themselves at the beginning individually is a nice touch, but it does signal to a certain kind of individual that the world gives a shit, and primes them to believe the world wants to hear their wisdom.

And the biggest takeaway for me?

Shamelessly stolen from Tam.

Connecticut Supreme Court Allows Bushmaster Suit to Go Forward

It should come as no surprise that a Dan Malloy packed court decided that PLCAA be damned, the Sandy Hook families suit against Bushmaster could go forward. Malloy has appointed all but two justices on the Supreme Court. One of those joined the dissent. I’d note that the Chief Justice, appointed by Malloy, joined the dissent as well. I’ve only skimmed over the opinion at this point, but based on that, it looks like the following:

  1. The Court upheld the decision by the lower courts that suggested the negligent entrustment claim does not fall under the safe harbor provisions in the PLCAA. That’s good, because that was the most potentially damaging had it succeeded.
  2. The Court ruled they had standing to sue. The argument was that because they did not have any consumer relationship with Bushmaster, the plaintiffs had no standing to file suit. The Court dismissed this and ruled they had standing, since they alleged they were harmed by Bushmaster’s marketing.
  3. The Court applied the Statute of Limitation for wrongful death claims to the plaintiffs, dismissing the argument that the suit fell outside the statute of limitations for the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).
  4. The defendants claimed it was a product liability claim, which would mean the plaintiffs forfeit any right of action under CUTPA. The Court disagreed.
  5. The Court ruled the PLCAA did not bar a suit against Bushmaster for violating CUTPA, arguing that Bushmaster violated state law by marketing the AR-15 “to civilians for criminal purposes.” The claim is because Bushmaster used military imagery in their advertising, they were essentially marketing to mass killers.

To those of you who think Bloomberg doesn’t matter: I’ve been following the legal arguments of anti-gun attorneys for some time. The negligent entrustment issue is something they would have come up with years ago, and I think I remember this attempt. It failed even here. This new theory is brilliant. If it’s allowed, a handful of anti-gun states will effectively be able to control the marketing of firearms, just like with tobacco. Remington Outdoors has the option to appeal this to the Supreme Court of the United States. That is, in fact, the next step after losing at the Connecticut Supreme Court.

For those of you driving through Connecticut: be aware that most auto manufacturers use racing teams to help market their products. Formula 1, NASCAR, Rally racing, etc. If you are hit and injured by anyone driving a car marketed by one of these manufacturers where the driver is speeding, by the logic of the Connecticut Supreme Court using CUTPA in this manner, you have a cause of action against the auto manufacturer for negligent advertising. If I were Tesla, I’d think about renaming “Insane Mode” too. I won’t even get into how accountable video game manufacturers will be under this novel legal reasoning. But I suspect we got this ruling because like the Orange Man is Very Bad, Guns are Very Icky, just like the people who like them.

I’m So Sad

Dick’s is removing guns from 125 stores. Same store sales are down. I’m so sad. I don’t call for boycotts anymore, but I won’t shop there. Amazon sells all the things Dick’s does, and while Bezos isn’t a big gun guy, these days he’s too busy talking to divorce attorneys to even be half as woke as Ed Stack. Dick’s stock is up, because Wall Street is also woke AF these days.

Armed Resistance in Venezuela

Miguel, who is an expat from Venezuela, notes that one civilian armed with a pistol stopped a National Guard advance. Remember, the people who spew all this bullshit about the government having tanks, jets and nuclear weapons don’t really get what armies are for. The purpose of an army is the imposition of political will. It’s not just to kill people and destroy things. Armies do those things, of course, but the overriding goal in using an army is to impose your political will on other people. That becomes much harder and more complicated when the people you’re looking to do that to are universally armed and willing to resist. The problem in Venezuela is there’s not enough of either.

Attention Paranoid Nutcases

When will you dumb flyover rubes get that there’s no one out there who wants to take your guns.

WHEREAS, under this “individual right theory”, the United States Constitution restricts legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession, or at the very least, the Second Amendment renders prohibitory and restrictive regulation presumptively unconstitutional; and

Don’t you get it? You’re all paranoid and delusional. Just crazy. Sure, there are a few nuts who want to ban guns. But it’s not a mainstream viewpoint. Certainly no legislature of any US state would ever endorse such an idea. Get with reality. We just want a few common sense gun laws.

Gun Control is a Proxy for Class Struggle

Americans have never historically liked to admit we have class struggles. I guess it sounds a bit too Marxist, even though now we love ourselves some socialism now. Well, at least we love it to the extent the kids these days even know what socialism is. I don’t really hear too many young people singing the praises of Marx. Socialism has come to mean Scandinavian-style welfare states (which are not very socialist anymore). Do young people who dig “socialism” even know who Marx is? I’ve never had a young person tell me they are socialist and want to discuss Marxist theory. Anyway, I digress.

We don’t historically like Marxist-sounding class struggles, so we use proxy issues. Gun control is one of those fights. For the most part, the monied elite of Silicon Valley and New York City don’t like the idea of ordinary people being armed, and don’t much like the kind of people who insist on it. When I started blogging, we were enjoying a lot of cultural success. What were the elements at work then? In no particular order:

  • We developed shooting sports that didn’t require large amounts of open space.
  • We had found new ways to self-organize on the Internet.
  • We were introducing a lot of people to shooting and promoting an evangelistic gun culture.
  • Gun control forces were disorganized and out of money.
  • The Supreme Court blessed our long-held viewpoint of the 2nd Amendment being an individual right. This worked! Even the reinvigorated gun control movement isn’t talking handgun bans. They want to ban semi-auto rifles now.

The question that I’ve been mulling around in my head is whether our current predicament is a backlash to our earlier success. Back then we were making a lot of noises about bringing our culture to New York City and preaching to the heathen there. We were optimistic. Then the Supreme Court toppled Chicago’s handgun ban, and further guidance from the 7th Circuit forced the establishment of a shall-issue regime. I think there’s a good argument for the idea that our success put people like Bloomberg, and a lot of his very rich friends, into an utter panic about the idea that they might end up living near those kinds of people. The idea that the courts might start letting the wrong kind of people exercise some semblance of personal dignity and autonomy, why, they might start getting the idea that their opinions ought to matter. We might have to endure *gasp* gun talk in our social circles. Wouldn’t that just be the worst?

I understand that Mike Bloomberg is an aviation enthusiast, and I’ve never understood how enthusiasts in anything don’t instinctively get other enthusiasts, because it’s all the same. But aviation is a good way to signal status, I suppose. Not guns. I know plumbers who have collections that put mine to shame. Can’t use that. In this day in age, there isn’t much to signal status for the wealthy. You basically have what? Houses, cars, yachts, and aircraft? I guess if you’re really wealthy, you can signal with your own space program, but I’d say that’s a subset of aircraft. I don’t think jewelry and furs do it much anymore. The rich have stopped signaling with dress in the 21st century, and signaling being very important, they have to make some distinction, right?

The difficult part for us is a small handful of wealthy people deciding to fund a backlash can accomplish quite a lot. Because there’s a lot of people who want to be upwardly, socially mobile, and will imitate the attitudes and behaviors of the Right Kind of People. The rise of the twin evils of the Google search monopoly and social media has had a powerful effect at amplifying elite opinion. Google has been a search monopoly for a while, but I think only recently they’ve started to understand they can use that monopoly to shape public opinion and started using it to that effect. I would argue the elite have never had such an effective toolbox for manipulating public opinion. William Randolph Hearst could have never dreamed about having the kind of power the Silicon Valley elite now wield.

Glenn Reynolds says about gun control, and I think he’s completely right about this: “It’s meant to humiliate the flyover rubies and show them who’s boss.” We don’t like class struggle in American politics so we couch it in other issues. A lot of people I know have gotten more strident about gun control because they are getting a lot of reinforcing signals on Social Media and the Internet that the Right Kind of People support gun control, and the Wrong Kind of People, a Bad Kind of People who want dead children, oppose it. Also, the Orange Man, who is Very Bad, sides with these warped gun people.

So what do we do? One thing is for sure, we can’t just shut up. We have to keep doing what we were doing that built on our initial success. But I have to admit, I don’t really engage in open political discussion on Facebook, and I deleted my Twitter presence a while ago. I have taken a course of disengagement with Social Media, except for a handful of communities that are carefully cultivated. It’s not that I shy from debate, or want to live in a bubble. I miss intelligent disagreement. I’m happy to advocate for things I believe in. But I can’t tolerate the mindless conformity, self-importance, and virtue signaling social media promotes. I’m always willing to discuss an issue. But I’m not willing to subject myself to being called a monster for disagreeing, or to waste my time watching other people preen for their peers. Social Media is full of that. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by disengaging? What is a winning strategy in today’s world? Is there one? These are things I wrestle with.