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Why I Scaled Down Blogging

There’s a lot of reasons you don’t see my old posting volume, and overall it just comes down to the fact that I believe my energy is better spent on other endeavors these days. To some degree we are beyond talk: beyond hearts and minds. This current political environment is a struggle of zealots, and I’ve never been very good at being a zealot. I’m not in the mood as much to talk 2A politics because I feel that issue is now adrift, and its fortunes tied to the greater realignment that’s happening. 2A rights are a component of that, but won’t decide the whole thing. Plus, whether the righties here want to acknowledge it, there’s a decent amount of support for gun rights on the far left. The gun control movement is almost entirely funded and lead by our modern nobility, with some support from what in Marxist theory would be Bourgeoisie.

Anyways, back to one of my reasons for scaling back. I know our political opposition read gun blogs, especially back in the day when we had more influence. One day I was speaking with someone on the front lines, who did the difficult work of influencing lawmakers and opposing these people on a regular basis. He told me something that went like: “You know, you bloggers are too smart for your own good. We’ve had a great asset that the people I go up against don’t really understand our issue very well. But they are getting a lot better, and I think it’s because you guys are telling them everything they need to know.”

That really hit me when the shit started to hit the fan with Tish James.

While I was always careful not to air inside baseball publicly, I can’t help but think a lot of useful information about the gun rights movement emanated from this blog that was quite useful to our political opposition. I honestly never worried about it when blogs were a bigger thing: the Brady team were honestly over a rope and couldn’t do much. And they knew that. CSGV was a clown show. They were zealots who let their own zealotry get in the way of learning and winning.

Bloomberg’s people were entirely different. Bloomberg’s people are very interested in learning and winning. I’m not talking about the front people like Shannon Watts. She’s more in line with what you see coming out of the gun control movement traditionally. I would not be surprised to find they view her as a liability, but sometimes in any movement you’re stuck with troublesome allies.

Bloomberg’s behind the scenes people weren’t and aren’t fucking around. And it’s hard to have public discussions about our movement, and correcting our movement, that won’t be useful to the opposition. I keep going back to that lobbyist’s statement in my head, over and over, because I know it was true. We helped them get better. And there’s no equivalent of that kind of intel source on our side because the gun control movement is organized very differently.

That’s why I’m thinking we need to go back to basics, and figure out effective ways to communicate that aren’t necessarily broadcasting to everyone who cares to look. Not that I don’t think blogs and their place, or have no place now, but we need to figure out that balance between what we share publicly, and what we keep in our circles. That’s what I need to figure out.

65 Responses to “Why I Scaled Down Blogging”

  1. Dan McMonigle says:

    Whoever shared that tidbit of info was correct. We are our own worse enemies, as we supply them all the secrets to their stupidity. We have folks who can’t keep their mouth shout and have to be the smartest person in the room.
    I guess we will soon know our fate.
    Keyboard commandos will be missing in this battle of wits.

  2. Andy B. says:

    Just rambling:

    I was “blogging” before the term was coined or the current technology existed. I had early, DOS-based “desktop publishing” software, and every day for 100 days (it was a self-challenge) I produced a column of maybe 1200 words, printed on an Epson 24-pin dot-matrix printer and faxed to a list of a couple dozen recipients. After 100 days I changed its name from “Daily” to “Dispatch” and then produced it only once every several days, or when something was on my mind. At first I did the faxing manually, then later acquired “automated” faxing software.

    Maybe that “got it out of my system”, or maybe I was lured away by the interactive arguments and flamewars of the early email listserve days, but I was never really tempted to go back to blogging when it became more practical on the internet. But also, along the way I developed an aversion to leaving opinions laying around on the internet where they would live, connected to me, forever. In particular, there were people I had thought were golden, and said so, who I came to realize were despicable.

    All that said, blogging may still be alright if you stick to “this is what’s on my mind today, tell me where my thoughts are off-base.” Certainly don’t report any “inside baseball” stuff just because you have an inside line to it, and want to polish your credentials as an “insider.” Of course, there may be times when what’s on your mind may give the opposition hints about the chinks in our collective armor, so that should be kept in mind.

    Just first thoughts on an evolving phenomenon.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’ve always been careful about sensitive information, which is why people would talk to me. But even talking about factions within the gun movement is good information to opponents. Even mocking the ridiculousness of their position, which I often did, I think helped them make better arguments.

    • Bitter says:

      “I was ‘blogging’ before the term was coined or the current technology existed.”

      Babbling at people in the pre-weblog days is not blogging. You could not have possibly been blogging before the format even existed. You might have done something else that involved words you hoped putting in front of people were read, but you were not blogging.

      • Andy B. says:

        Thanks so much for explaining that. You should have been an attorney.

        • Alpheus says:

          To be fair, there is merit in pointing that out. By putting out words for anyone to stumble upon and see, to easily share them, and to have somewhat dynamic comment sections, blogging has a different dynamic that is quite different from creating and sending out paper newsletters.

          That isn’t to say that paper newsletters weren’t important — nor are they necessarily useless today — but the dynamics of newsletters vs blogs vs social media are different enough that they certainly merit a lot of thought in how each of them can, and cannot, be used to both further and harm our cause.

          For what it’s worth, I’ve sometimes wondered if there is merit in starting a paper newsletter to share with those who are interested. I haven’t yet decided it would be, and I’m probably more likely to attempt blogging again before starting a paper newsletter ….

  3. Alpheus says:

    This is a double-edged sword.

    Some potential allies need a taste of the “inside baseball” stuff and tactics, so that they could get interested in the fight, and know what they need to do … but this info can be used by potential enemies as well, to knife potential allies. It’s a pity that it can take some time to realize when we finally have an enemy that actually has a clue — the lag time gives us a window where we get burned before we realize what’s going on.

    I would have to agree that discussing this when we have clueless enemies, but holding back when we have enemies with a clue, provides the right about of balance for this.

    Having said that, I can’t help but wonder: what are we to do, if we want to get involved? I suspect that attending the meetings of local gun clubs will go a long way towards this.

    Additionally, we need to keep an eye on the “smart enemies” — after all, this isn’t just a double-edged sword for our side! Depending on how much effort it takes to ferret out, this may even be a good source for the occasional blog post ….

    • Andy B. says:

      “Some potential allies need a taste of the “inside baseball” stuff and tactics, so that they could get interested in the fight, and know what they need to do … but this info can be used by potential enemies as well, to knife potential allies.”

      My apologies, but that reminded me of something my dad always said to me; “Never waste your time telling an SOB [or pick your pejorative] he is one, because he has been told by experts, compared to whom you are a rank novice.”

      It’s that last part I’m thinking of; never delude yourself that tactically, you are anything but a rank novice, or that there is any tactic your opponents haven’t already thought of, if there are big doings afoot.

      I’d submit that what gun owners have going for us is that no heavy-hitters really care about our issue, and it is too useful, pro or con, as a perennial campaign issue for stoking the rank-and-file. So, somewhat like the Forever Wars between Orwell’s Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, no one ever scores a decisive victory. But that could change now that armed insurrection has appeared on the horizon.

    • Sebastian says:

      Having said that, I can’t help but wonder: what are we to do, if we want to get involved? I suspect that attending the meetings of local gun clubs will go a long way towards this.

      The more everything gets out of hand the less I think talking about it on the internet matters worth a damn. The Internet is a means, not an end. In the end we need real organizations with real people who are motivated to act in meatspace. Could be a gun club. Could be something else. And that doesn’t mean you can’t use the Internet. But I think it has limits.

      • Abigail says:

        Yes.

        But then we need other ways of reaching people in a more localized fashion.

  4. FightinBluHen51 says:

    Sebastian, you should check out this article…

    https://graymirror.substack.com/p/tech-solutions-to-the-tech-problem

    • Andy B. says:

      Here’s a summary of the author. And some of his quotes. Value/credit them as you will.

      “Techno-corporate cameralism?” And “Cannot we marvel at what the Third Reich achieved…?” Hmm.

      • Alpheus says:

        The quote you gave is curiously incomplete: “Cannot we marvel at what the Third Reich achieved, with the knowledge that it was run by a maniac? In the hands of a non-maniac, what might it have done? In the hands of an Augustus, for instance? Well, somewhere in Germany in 1933, there might have been an Augustus or two. Or even three. But Germany in 1933 was a democracy. And that democracy elected not Augustus, not Frederick the Great, not even Kaiser Bill. It elected — Wait. Who did it elect? Gee. I’ve forgotten already. I hate these migraines. An Austrian, I think. A sergeant? A private first-class? Someone like that. A man of the people, that’s for sure. History is so confusing.”

        While it’s clear that the author is crazy — indeed, he’s a libertarian monarchist who has a blind spot where he doesn’t offer any explanation of how to ensure that only “Augustuses” come to power, he’s bound to be — he nonetheless can raise some interesting points that deserve pondering, discussion, and refutation (when he’s wrong).

        I don’t particularly like “unpersoning” people, even, or perhaps especially, when they have weird views, particularly when they are quoted out of context to justify that unpersoning.

        • Andy B. says:

          “The quote you gave is curiously incomplete…”

          Not “curious” at all. What more needed to be said than that he implied fascism would be great stuff if it only had a better Public Relations Department?

          Did you check any of his quotes at the Wikiquote site? They might lead someone to ask who is doing the out-of-contexting here. The complete spectrum of the guy is his context, not one slightly weasel-worded quote.

          His slap at “democracy” was worthy of a Goebbels, too.

          • Alpheus says:

            The quote you gave didn’t imply that he was merely a fascist who thinks that, if only he had power, he’d do good with it — the quote you gave implied he was a Nazi, and that’s what I took umbrage of.

            Yes, this guy doesn’t particularly like “democracy” — I don’t, either, and neither did the Founding Fathers — but just because someone thinks that we’d be better off with a weird pseudo-fascist-libertarian government, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t produce ideas worth thinking about. His ideas should both stand and fall on their merits alone.

            I found the essay linked to rather thought-provoking, even though I don’t buy his premises. I’m going to have to think through them — in particular, I’m not entirely convinced that “deep neutrality” would work, nor do I think that “engaging against doctrine” is poisonous to the soul — but while I can’t put my finger on why it wouldn’t work, it’s nonetheless something to think about.

            I also think there’s merit to the idea of exposing closed APIs so that platforms and apps can be decoupled. I’m not sure how feasible that would be, though.

        • ad-lib says:

          It’s not “unpersoning” someone to say “I’m going to disregard the opinion of someone who seems to have too much regard for the Third Reich.”

          • Alpheus says:

            It is when you refuse to let them talk at a conference that has nothing to do with government whatsoever, particularly when you have to dox the person to do it.

            Incidentally, I would also have to point out the double standard of kicking out people who admire the Third Reich but have absolutely no problem with people who have celebrated Stalin, Mao and Castro — people who have proven just as disastrous as Hitler when it comes to crimes against humanity.

            • Andy B. says:

              “I would also have to point out the double standard of kicking out people who admire the Third Reich but have absolutely no problem with people who have celebrated Stalin, Mao and Castro”

              I think you are overstating things when you invent people who would have “absolutely no problem with people who have celebrated Stalin, Mao, or Castro.” Those people are few, and by their attitudes give themselves away as pro-authoritarians, (like Curtis Yarwin) and seekers of power, more so than any sorts of “ideologue.”

              I will not deny there are people who engage in a pre-Trumpian version of invoking “fake news”, and who engage in a sort of “Holocaust denial” regarding whatever authoritarian dictator they are apologizing for. But then the important question becomes, whether they believe their own bullshit, and actually believe the massacres never happened, or are they as scummy as you imply, and are just willing to lie in their process of concealment — on what they hope will be their road to power? Or are they like Curtis Yarwin, arguing that the ends would justify the means, if only the bodies could be concealed better?

              • Alpheus says:

                Perhaps I am overstating things, but consider this: would you be able to wear a t-shirt with Hitler’s face on it? Yet Che t-shirts are easy to come by and wear. When Castro finally died, was there a shortage of people who were mourning his passing?

                And while it’s a good idea to keep Yarwin from the levers of power, who am I supposed to fear more? Someone who blogged under a pseudonym in circles few people have heard of, or a congressperson calling for purges of her political opponents?

                And, above all, what does any of this have to do with talks to discuss technical things, at technical conferences?

                If Yarwin’s ideas really are as bad as they are (and certainly many of them are), how hard is it to merely explain why he’s wrong?

                Perhaps you’re right — the best thing to do with people like Yarwin is to ignore him completely — but I would have to disagree with both you and Yarwin that some ideas are so bad, they shouldn’t be engaged at all. Yarwin called this “deep neutrality”, but I can’t help but think that this will enable the bad ideas to spread without opposition — and what’s worse, you put yourself in a position where you can’t intellectually resist the ideas when they pop up in other contexts.

              • Alpheus says:

                Come to think of it, what does any of this have to do with Yarwin’s attempt to evaluate how we can continue to communicate with each other when social media and even DNS servers are under attack by the people who have power to censor us?

                Considering that the Censors have no love for the right to keep and bear arms (as demonstrated by GoDaddy’s shutting down of DNS for AR15.com), this is a very pertinent question that would be nice for people interested in gun rights to have good answers to.

                • Andy B. says:

                  Something that troubles me constantly is the fact that whether you want to look at the Bolsheviks or the Nazis (or, name it) there were plenty of times in history when good ideas did not successfully overpower bad ideas just by talking/communicating — especially when the bad ideas are backed by people with bad intentions. Sometimes (usually?) the people with bad ideas lied about their intentions until they commanded the power of the state to suppress their opposition. (I’ll refer to that quote by Goebbels that said approximately “Of course we Nazis used the rights granted us by democracy to achieve power; that in no way obligates us to return the favor to our opposition.”)

                  What do you do when you know you’re facing opposition like that? You know what has happened to discernible truth in recent years.

                  • Alpheus says:

                    But then we run headlong into another problem: who gets to decide? Indeed, this is the exact same problem that Yarwin has when he wants an “Augustus” to run the Third Reich. Who gets to pick the Augustus?

                    And what do you do when the wrong people exercise their power to censor? Or do you think it’s perfectly fine for Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and GoDaddy be the arbiters of who can have their voices heard, relying on “fact-checkers” like Vox, SPLC, CNN, MSNBC, NewsWeek, et al, people who have decades of demonstrating that they are willing to lie to advance an agenda?

                    Yes, it would be nice to rely only on truthful sources of information — but there is no algorithm for truth. The best we can do is to let everyone put their ideas out there, and then argue over them. And while it’s been proven that a corrupt regime can lie their way into power, it’s still an open question as to whether a good censorship regime can keep corrupt liars out of power.

                  • Andy B. says:

                    “…Or do you think it’s perfectly fine for Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and GoDaddy be the arbiters of who can have their voices heard…”

                    Your listed corporations are not the centralized state, and in theory, if there is an effective “marketplace of ideas”, the marketplace will do the sorting. Someone will fill any market niches for speech.

                    Please note that if you don’t believe that, then you can’t believe that the “marketplace of ideas” is really a sufficiently effective filter of Good vs. Bad.

                    I will suggest that an exception to what I said can exist when the corporations themselves become the centralized state. For example, our current “polarization” is fed by competing corporations creating different realities for different markets.

                    • Alpheus says:

                      I believe we need an effective “marketplace of ideas”. We live in such regulated times, though, that it’s silly to believe we have an effective marketplace of anything.

                      Which brings us back to: how much does regulation help us, and how much do we blame market failure for things that are actually a failure of government regulation tying the hands of the market?

                      If there’s one thing that the Soviets demonstrated, though, is that no matter how hard you try, there will always be a “free market”, even if it has to hide in the shadows. If we end up in an authoritarian State, it would be a good idea to figure out how to live in those shadows.

                    • Andy B. says:

                      “Which brings us back to: how much does regulation help us, and how much do we blame market failure for things that are actually a failure of government regulation tying the hands of the market?”

                      You can still find doctrinaire Communists who believe the Soviet Union failed because it wasn’t communist enough, and that “Real communism has never been tried.”

                      That’s the same argument, only applied to a different ideology.

                    • Alpheus says:

                      “That’s the same argument, only applied to a different ideology.”

                      There’s a major difference in my argument, though:

                      I can point to places where the free market worked, and how government efforts to make it even better have merely made it worse — and for some odd (cough insufficent-opportunities-for-graft cough) reason politicians seldom propose the rolling back of regulations to a freer market.

                      Whereas while “real” communism has never been tried (and I would suggest it’s false — real communism has been tried, they just never seem to get to that “final communist stage” that the theory promises), I can point to all sorts of examples where the free market has thrived. It’s merely a question of how much regulation, if any, do we really need?

                    • Andy B. says:

                      “I can point to places where the free market worked…”

                      Just as hard-leftists can point to places where “real” communism worked — as long as you are careful in selecting the starting and ending times for your example.

                      My theme is always going to be the essential identity of “ideologies”, as used to manipulate their useful idiots to grease the ways for their “leaders” to obtain power.

                      I’m recalling how in my Libertarian days, there was an “anarchist caucus” that held that “privatization” was the path to the “final stage” of “the State withering away”, via “anarcho-capitalism”, when everyone learned that they didn’t need government to do stuff for them.

                      The effect, I would submit, was quite the opposite; to make corporations ever more the silent partners of The State, to use economic coercion rather than violent coercion. But my real point is that extreme communism or extreme capitalism, the delusions foisted upon their useful idiots are as identical as mirror-images can be.

                    • Alpheus says:

                      “Just as hard-leftists can point to places where “real” communism worked — as long as you are careful in selecting the starting and ending times for your example.”

                      I find that hard to believe, especially considering how many of them say that “real Communism has never been tried”.

                    • Andy B. says:

                      “I find that hard to believe, especially considering how many of them say that ‘real Communism has never been tried’ “.

                      The October (1917) Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the subsequent Russian Civil War may be the best examples of all. You can find scads of hard-left people who can isolate examples of “soviets” (workers’ communally-run industries) functioning beautifully (so they say) until the Bolsheviks screwed everything up with their insistence on authoritarianism and imposing it.

                      Anarchist Emma Goldman was certainly a “collectivist”, rubbed shoulders with Lenin and Trotsky, et al, after she was deported to Russia, but was among the first to denounce the Bolsheviks as polluting “true communism” (I’m not sure she ever used that term, though.) Her book “My Disillusionment in Russia” (published in 1922) may be one of the best examples of someone calling bullshit on the Bolsheviks, who started out on their side. By doing so she lost most of her friends and her “base”.

                      Any similarities to contemporary American political scenarios are not coincidental.

                    • Andy B. says:

                      “‘true communism” (I’m not sure she ever used that term…)”

                      As a matter of fact, she did — once that I could find. It was in her book “My Disillusionment in Russia.”

                      True Communism was never attempted in Russia, unless one considers thirty-three categories of pay, different food rations, privileges to some and indifference to the great mass as Communism.

                      Please don’t pay attention to any apparent parallels in that quote to a “free market” economy, that subsidizes some industries while hampering others; or that either appeals to the human desire for “freedom” or “liberty”, while actually seeking raw power for a small political elite.

  5. Overthetop says:

    Calguns discovered this concept many years ago and seems to have worked very hard at reducing the problem.

    • Sebastian says:

      Yeah, this is not a new thing. It just became apparent enough to make me wary of writing anything at all. Especially when the news of the day was NRA’s troubles, which are severe. I also realized I no longer had the contacts to really know what was going on, and while I remain convinced there were no good guys in that mess, I was more reluctant to oppose WLP than I should have been.

      • Richard says:

        Whatever is the truth of the internal problems of the NRA, which I have no knowledge of, when things get this screwed up, the CEO needs to resign. It appears that WLP is going to ride the bomb down to the determent of the 2A.

  6. Archer says:

    Plus, whether the righties here want to acknowledge it, there’s a decent amount of support for gun rights on the far left.

    Oh, there’s no question about whether there are people on the Left who support gun rights.

    The question is, do they support gun rights enough to vote against “gun control” candidates?

    And the answer, overwhelmingly, is No.

    I get that very few people are “single-issue voters”, and even on the Right, for many-if-not-most gun rights supporters it’s not the most important issue. Fortunately for us, the Venn diagram of who supports our chosen issues and who supports gun rights usually overlaps; often it’s one solid circle.

    Not so much on the Left. Politicians who support policies the Left likes almost universally oppose gun rights, often vehemently. That Venn diagram almost never overlaps; often the circles don’t even touch.

    Maybe it’s a distinction without a difference, but… if “gun rights supporters on the Left” consistently vote for “gun control” candidates — and therefore, vote against gun rights — can we honestly count them as “gun rights supporters” when and where it matters?

    (Lest anyone think I’m picking on the Left, I acknowledge the door swings both ways, and there are plenty of “gun control” supporters on the Right who vote for the gun rights candidate because guns aren’t their “single issue”. I could ask the same question about them: If they claim to support “gun control” but consistently vote for the gun rights candidate, do they really support “gun control”?)

    • Andy B. says:

      Recognizing that the “gun issue” has been “bundled” with a lot of other bullshit, on both the left and the right, is a great start. Hold that thought!

      • Alpheus says:

        One of the biggest problems we have today is how pretty much everything is bundled. And I have yet to see a good way to break that bundling, even for issues that aren’t particularly linked together.

        (For example, it’s easy to see how two issues, such as taxes and social programs, are almost necessarily bundled — eg “cut taxes and spending” vs “tax the rich and spend more” — but it’s also easy to see a lot of other issues, such as views on regulation, gun rights, abortion, LGBT issues, and so forth, all get bundled together, even though there’s no reason why any of them should be.)

        • Andy B. says:

          I’m wondering if the “Two Party System” isn’t the chicken that laid the egg of “bundling”, making it almost necessary, to translate issues into votes.

          The Republican Party in its 19th century “birth” manifestation could be created because slavery versus abolitionism became the overarching issue, overpowering other issues that were hot-button enough that people fought in the streets over them. Those could not be very successfully bundled with either the pro- or anti- slavery position, which were the positions people (and regions) would actually got to war about.

          • Alpheus says:

            I’m not entirely convinced it’s much better in places where there are many Parties. Ultimately, coalitions will need to be made; in the United States, for better and for worse, those coalitions are somewhat difficult to see, while in places like Canada and Great Britain, when the coalitions are more closely examined, the country has more of a two-party system than they realize.

            I think the biggest problem can be summed up in one little sentence, as was done in “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”: “People are a problem.” Ultimately, there’s not much that can be done to get around that ….

            • Andy B. says:

              “Ultimately, coalitions will need to be made…”

              Maybe we’re saying things that are essentially similar; I would point out that the formation of coalitions is what characterizes the bundling, that may not be permanent, while our two-party system demands there be only two bundles, and that they be more or less permanent. When the Democrats and Republicans opportunistically swapped seats over the Civil Rights issue(s) back in the 1960s, was arguably the last time any major rebundling occurred.

              I will not say there is any foreign system that functions much better, though as you obliquely pointed out, coalitions effectively consolidate multiple parties into only two parties, so there is really no way for them to become “better.”

              (It’s been more than 25 years since I walked away from the Libertarian Party, and I don’t plan to associate myself in any way with any political party ever again; nevertheless the inability of Americans to think in terms of more than two parties has perplexed me ever since. And yes I still remember all the rap about how the system is rigged against emergent parties, but I know there is something else about the American psyche.)

              • Alpheus says:

                Even that swap wasn’t a swap that really happened. The year that Nixon’s alleged “Southern Strategy” was executed included a third-party candidate that split the Democratic vote, and even won Electoral College votes in some Southern States, and it was a couple of decades after that before Republicans started making any legislature inroads in those States.

    • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

      Bingo.

      I know we are all crowing over the fact that gun sales are up and we have all these new shooters, especially from the left. But they are not in our culture yet. So they will vote against their interests because they don’t realize what they are voting for specifically. And when Uncle Sam comes and says “Mr. and Mrs. America turn in your guns” they will dutifully comply because the government said so.

      • Andy B. says:

        “they will vote against their interests because they don’t realize what they are voting for specifically.”

        Been a lot of that goin’ ’round.

  7. dwb says:

    meh. The information is all out there. I doubt self censorship, or any censorship, actually works.

    Censorship is only a useful tool when ones arguments are weak. Let the gun prohibitionists read the blog. At the end of the day they still don’t have any rational basis for gun prohibition.

    There are millions of new shooters minted in the last 9 months. There is nothing greater than the personal conviction that comes from considering ideas and then rejecting them. Is Shannon Watts going to tell them to call the police now? lmao.

    As far as Bloomberg, he blew over 2 billion and lost. He did horribly in the House elections too. The emperor now has no clothes. Bring it.

    • Andy B. says:

      “There are millions of new shooters minted in the last 9 months.”

      Minor (but important) quibble: There were millions of new gun owners minted; not necessarily new shooters or gun hobbyists. Not necessarily members of a “gun culture.”

      At that, not all of those gun owners are “new.” I can think of several examples of people who were already long-time gun owners, who went out and purpose-bought a new gun within the past couple years. One guy I’ve known since elementary school — going on 70 years — and we went shooting and hunting together when we were kids. He asked me to go with him a couple years ago when he went to buy his first purpose-bought carry handgun. I offered to take him to my club, when he got around to shooting it. That never happened.

      I have recently read some things by “gun rights advocates” on the left. There attitude seemed to be summarized by a T-shirt I used to have, with a picture of a revolver captioned “This is Only a Tool.” They saw guns as necessary tools, but had no more love for them than I have for my hammer and handsaw. There was no “gun culture” to be found there.

      My final thought is, the “gun culture” evolves. It is not the same culture today, that I knew as a gun-crazy kid in the 1950s and 1960s. People are “aging out” of the contemporary gun culture all the time. I was recently shocked at a statistic regarding how much hunting has declined in just the last 20 years. That is only an analogy, but the hunting culture is what fed into the gun culture, when I was a kid, and it appears the hunting culture is on the verge of disappearing.

      • RAH says:

        I agree that the destruction of hunting culture does lead to a decline in new people into the shooting sports. In the 1990’s we had an increase in the carry aspect. That was due to the increase in the idea of personal defense. Many here did that. Yet most people never plan on shooting someone for defense so they do not feel the need to practice.

        Hunting on the other hand has a purpose to learn to hunt for food and has it own reward for competence. Hence the need many hunters to practice their skills.

        • Andy B. says:

          Coincidentally, only yesterday I received my copy of a publication by a sport-shooting organization of which I am an honorary life member. The cover photo was from their second big rifle match more than 42 years ago, and the first that I attended. I wasn’t in the photo, but it included people who would soon be my friends, including two NRA Tech Staff members.

          It nearly brought tears to my eyes because it was a “gun culture” that is now practically gone. All but one of the four people in the picture are now gone. But to our current point, while the activity was a competitive rifle match, the “crossover activity” we all shared, was that we got into pursuing the perfection of the technology we were applying to competition, via hunting.

          That’s not a pitch for hunting, per se, just an observation regarding the evolution of the “gun culture.”
          ————
          To correct something I said: Actually the sales of hunting licenses have soared in the last year, since the pandemic. I think the consensus for why is, it is a safe activity that got people out of the house and into the fresh air, with plenty of “social distance.” But still, in comparison to my “over 40 years” baseline, far fewer people are hunting these days.

    • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

      Agreed. No reason for us not to share our thoughts publicly, even with the risk of them reading it. We all need to understand and debate the issues.

      Bloomberg is a boogieman – he’s spent billions of dollars and has gotten very little out of it that wouldn’t have already happened without him. I’m not worried about him at all. I am worried about the country in general.

  8. Richard says:

    Spending some time trying to figure out how to communicate without access to the web. It’s classified so I am not going to talk about it here. John has a long mustache.

    • Andy B. says:

      As recently as 20 years ago I remember sitting in an office stuffing envelopes. An awful lot of history was made that way. Consider the “Committees of Correspondence” before the Revolution. We just got lazy and cheap.

      There is a lot to be said for the internet if the object is to turn out a mob right now, but if the object is to communicate things that need not be known by everyone on God’s Green Earth, a lot was accomplished before the internet was even thought of.

  9. RAH says:

    Do we make arguments that explain our reasoning why gun rights are important? Yes, we do. Does that help gun banners hone their arguments? Yes. It also helps us argue our points successfully when we get into discussions with gun banners. It is the cost of doing business.

    Bloomberg is smart and competent. He decided to put his money and help elect various politicians that would advance his cause. He did that in Virginia and that was very effective.

    I believe that the destruction of the culture of shooting sports either target and hunting damages our ability to maintain our gun rights. Those of you that are members of gun clubs I suggest that you start a program and then market it in local schools to entice a new generation into the fun of shooting. Same for hunters.

  10. Antibubba says:

    Gun clubs and ranges are disappearing, especially rifle ranges. How do we access these new gun owners? How do we draw in the unaligned?

    • Sebastian says:

      In my experience so far, they are coming to us. We just have to be receptive. But that’s hard when there’s an active pandemic going on. Once we can, we’re going to get an education committee together, hopefully of people who are either non-traditional shooters, or who know not to blather on with right-wing ideology, and at least get those people some training and headed in the right direction.

      • Andy B. says:

        “…know not to blather on with right-wing ideology, and at least get those people some training and headed in the right direction…”

        Sounds like you’re reinventing “Stealth.”

        • Sebastian says:

          More like a soft sell. Look, I don’t care whether the conclusion they come to is that the proles need guns to protect themselves against bourgeois predations. As long as they get the concept at some level. Or whether they are just a single mom scared by the social unrest, and don’t want to hear about how the “libturds are ruining America”

          • Andy B. says:

            I take your point, but would warn that people (especially young people) are sometimes uncannily perceptive about sensing “undercurrents” in what is going on around them. E.g., unfairly or not, if the NRA has become stereotyped as representing one end of our polarized political spectrum, people from the other end of the political spectrum are going to be turned off if they see a lot of NRA paraphernalia laying around. By the same token, they would probably smell a rat if they were being wooed by the Socialist Rifle Association, unless they were starting out as socialist sympathizers.

            That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of lamenting over the “bundling” of the gun rights issue with other issues that are not related in any way — except partisan politics. Again playing the Old Guy card, I can remember when guys who had been adamant FDR supporters were shooting right alongside rock-ribbed, genetic Republicans. But slowly other issues encroached such that we started to see people expounding on how you “couldn’t be a real gun rights advocate unless you also opposed abortion”, followed by tortured philosophical arguments or explanations of the necessity of “building coalitions.” Now all we can do is argue about which faction was at fault for that evolving. Meanwhile, that it has evolved, makes it seem unlikely we will ever be able to get back to a non-polarized gun culture.

          • Nazarra says:

            Honestly? Recent events really help with selling gun rights. “But what if there is civil unrest and the police won’t come out to protect you?” no longer sounds like some fringe survivalist horror story.

      • Richard says:

        While shooting is fun, it really is a means, not an end. Some parts of the culture like target shooting is perhaps, as a hobby, an end unto itself, but certainly self-defense and hunting are ends enabled by shooting and gun ownership. So the question is how do we get the new owners to see the light about who is trying to take the guns away which is almost exclusively a leftist priority. I don’t think we can completely ignore ideology. I would suggest that we stay away from the obviously crazy stuff like InfoWars and Q (As an aside, I don’t know how to wean people from conspiracy theories when there are real conspiracies out there and yesterday’s paranoid fantasy becomes today’s reality. Conspiracy theories seem to be almost genetic. There are live conspiracy theories about Louis XIV originally promulgated by the likes of Dumas and Voltaire.). Instead, talk about the Founders, Jim Crow, how well disarmament and the welfare state worked for the Indians and the like, with the message tailored to the demographics of the new shooter. If the new shooter is black, talk about Jim Crow, if they are Jewish talk about the Israeli War of Independence and the Warsaw ghetto, if they are Mexican, talk about the drug lords. It takes discipline, not just following today’s headlines.

        • Andy B. says:

          “…talk about the Founders, Jim Crow, how well disarmament and the welfare state worked for the Indians…”

          I wish I could write this quieter, and maybe I shouldn’t write it in public at all, but the trouble with that is that using your examples of Jim Crow and the Indians, for every example we like to amplify of blacks successfully using guns in self-defense, there are more examples of them attempting it and being massacred by better-armed white mobs. For only one example, the Rosewood Massacre, which began with an armed black man attempting to defend a black family, and wound up with an entire black community being annihilated and erased. I could list at least a dozen more, like the Tulsa Massacre, though possibly with some quibbles about the extent to which armed black self-defense played a role. They all ended as massacres of blacks.

          Indians probably already understand the role guns served in driving them into badlands ghettos — which, BTW, I think they would be insulted by any implication that those are part of the welfare state, rather than storehouses for undesirables. (I’ll forebear from an Old Story, but say that I met Russell Means of the American Indian Movement back in the day, so I have a superficial handle on indigenous attitudes; Means was wounded by shrapnel from a Contra mortar round while he was with the Moskito Indians in Central America.) I like that picture of the Indian with the AK-47 at Pine Ridge back in 1973, but I suspect they’d kick your ass if you tried that “welfare state” stuff on them today. They know what happened at Standing Rock in 2017. But, “disarmament” they would probably agree with you about.

          Not that you raised the issue, but most of the early massacres of the labor movement in the 19th century were perpetrated by “citizen militias” that were on the payrolls of local economic interests. By the turn of the 20th century many of those militias had been formalized as “state militias” but were still on the same payrolls, though private militias (like the Pinkertons in the Homestead Strike, or the Citizens Alliance in the 1913 Massacre) still often played a role. The Battle of Blair Mountain was significant, but ultimately 10,000 armed coal miners were defeated by the U.S. Army and the deployment of armed aircraft. But, those examples may no longer be relevant since the labor movement has been compromised to political irrelevance.

          I guess my bottom line is, spin (aka “bullshit”) has a half-life. If it has efficacy at any point in time, after N units of time it will have half the efficacy, after 2N units a quarter of the efficacy, and so on. It will always work with a few people, but its efficacy will eventually become vanishingly small. Whether you or I believe the spin will become unimportant, because we just won’t be able to make it work the way we want it to, the way it once worked on us. Some spin has just been stretched too far, for too long.

  11. Andy B. says:

    “How do we draw in the unaligned?”

    My pessimistic guess is, if what you are talking about is creating or sustaining a “gun culture”, we don’t. I think what we may be looking at is, the gun culture becoming something like say, the “bowling culture.” A big deal for those who participate in it, but not a significant factor in the overall culture of the country. (Doesn’t everyone have at least one bowling ball in their attic?) Perhaps a better analogy these days is the “gaming culture”, and I’ll wait for some gamers to tell us how important and significant they are — which I shouldn’t minimize — but I suspect all the non-gamers hearing it will be surprised to learn it.

    In the 1950s we actually hunted and trapped to eat at times — to supplement a working-poor income. Guns were part of the fabric of the life. That is not likely to be replicated, for a variety of reasons.

    • RAH says:

      Gun culture is vibrant when many Americans are part of it . Since few of us actually hunt for food that has diminished Hence introduce hunting to new generations. How many of us brought up children to hunt and shoot?

    • Andy B. says:

      “How many of us brought up children to hunt and shoot?”

      You are touching on something that really is a mystery to me, based on family history spanning four generations.

      Both of my sons were exposed to shooting and the “gun culture” a lot more than the average suburban kid. My older son shot next to me in rifle matches a time or two. My younger son went to big matches with me, to work in the stat office. Both were exposed to the “gun culture” as it was 35 – 40 years ago. Both went through Pennsylvania’s mandatory Hunter Safety Education and went hunting with me a few times. In the long term, it didn’t “take” with either of them, in the sense that neither are gun hobbyists, though both have positive attitudes towards guns.

      The jury may still be out with my grandson. He did two seasons with my club’s Junior Program, and (you can dismiss this as a Proud Grandpa talking) is the closest thing to a “natural” I have ever seen, though I had already given him some background with a .22 rifle. He went to a PA State Police “Junior” Camp and was high firer with a .38 revolver — something he had no background in. Yet I have seen him make choices where he chose other activities over shooting, despite having initial high success as a shooter.

      By contrast: My father and his brother both grew up as city kids in South Philadelphia, and with no adult guidance whatsoever got into guns and hunting at early ages — back when a young kid could take a shotgun under one arm and a hounddog under the other and ride his bicycle “Down the Neck”, the swampy fields south of the city. (My uncle actually did that.) My uncle got shot in the thigh by a random .22 bullet at the age of seven, but he and my father both considered that a “funny” story until the days they died. My uncle remained an active hunter and hunting-gun-owner his whole life, as did my father, but my father moved on to become a gun “hobbyist”, i.e., a reloader and pursuer of technical matters involving guns.

      My parents moved to Bucks County when I was a baby, in part so my father could pursue his hunting interests right outside his back door, and I more than inherited his interests. In time we had our own 200 yard rifle range with solid bench and backstops.

      So my question is, how did the generation before me become “gun people”, when pursuing the sport took bending-over-backward, while the generation after me could have it handed to them, and it failed to take? While trying to avoid psycho-babble, the best I can suggest it that my kids’ generation sensed something about the changes already occurring in the “gun culture” they just couldn’t relate to; at a time when I was so engaged with it that I couldn’t detect any changes.

      Again straining for a “bottom line”, I’d suggest that exposing people or kids to the sport may be worthwhile for creating citizens with positive attitudes toward guns, and maybe that’s enough. But don’t expect it to create a new generation of gun fanatics, or to refresh the “gun culture”, whatever you think that may be.

    • Andy B. says:

      “How many of us brought up children to hunt and shoot?”

      Just an additional thought, maybe for the “How Not to Do It” file:

      More than once I’ve watched shooting-fanatic fathers get on their kids so hard at the range the kids cried. The issues were always of “style” or “form”, not of safety, which might deserve it.

      I don’t know, but I’d bet those kids aren’t shooters, today. I do know their surnames never turned up on our club membership rolls, in the years that followed.

  12. Jim W says:

    Bloomberg has thrown a lot of money and talent at this issue and besides a few state level initiatives that resulted in massive non-compliance, I don’t see that we’ve sustained any really big losses recently. I would not be surprised if we got a decent sized win on assault weapons or magazine restrictions at SCOTUS in the next couple of years. We have the votes and the cases are already inbound.

    I think what has become increasingly clear lately is that:
    * the country is being divided into two increasingly separate groups- wall street, big tech, big media, fedgov on one side with pretty much everyone else on the other side.
    * I don’t see that the dominance of the “ruling class” is stable. I don’t think they’ll manage to keep the levers of government stolen for very long and I don’t think their rule enriches enough people to be sustainable in a democracy
    * The main problem is that the republican party has been slow to catch on to the fact that they no longer represent the ruling class but in fact represent the working class. Why they are pissing away 70 percent of the voting public to get sloppy seconds from the billionaire class is beyond me.
    * pretty much everyone outside the ruling class has become pro gun while the ruling class has made being anti-gun one of the markers of elite identity. I think gun control will go the way of the elites sooner or later.
    * I think trust in media has gone completely south and their ability to win over people to the gun control side after 2020 is pretty much gone.

  13. Andy B. says:

    “Why they are pissing away 70 percent of the voting public to get sloppy seconds from the billionaire class is beyond me.”

    I’d submit you don’t get the purpose of the Great Charade. It’s purpose is to use that voting public to further consolidate the position of the power elite. Bullshit “ideologies” are only tools for doing that. We’ve proven for a half-century now we’ll vote for “ideas” without action, and sacrifice our own self-interests in the process.

    • Andy B. says:

      “We’ve proven for a half-century now we’ll vote for ‘ideas’ without action, and sacrifice our own self-interests in the process.”

      For an example:

      In a short amount of time I couldn’t find a direct classification of American “think tanks”, but I did find that about a decade ago media citations of think tanks were, 37% “conservative”, 47% “centrist”, and 16% “liberal”. Assuming that the frequency of media mentions is proportional to the “ideologies” of the think tanks cited; and acknowledging that the boundaries between either extreme and “centrist” are likely subjective; that would suggest there are roughly twice as many “conservative” think tanks as “liberal” think tanks.

      That is consistent with my memories of the ’70s, when a new conservative think tank was being born every ten minutes, and I thought it was all great stuff. For a few months in 1989 and 1990, I would hang out at the “Commonwealth Foundation” in Harrisburg, if I had time to kill before or after our meetings of the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference.

      Who do you think funds “think tanks”? Cab drivers and fast food workers? You’ll actually find that the universe of billionaires funding “conservative” thought-leaders is as big or bigger than that on the left. I’m sure you can think of a “usual suspect” or two. Do you really believe they are spending millions a year for altruistic reasons, and that their interests are the same as yours and mine?

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