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What’s in the Water in California?

It seems the Democrats in California just keep saying the part they are supposed to keep quiet out loud.

Is it because they are too comfortable in a cultural and local politics majority? If that was the case, you’d expect to hear more statements like that from NYC leaders, too. The reason I say it’s a California thing – or maybe a “guys name Eric” thing – is because I had the same thought as Stephen Gutowski when he posted about it:

Hated to Do It

I have disabled comments until I can figure out a better solution. I’ve honestly been thinking about this for a while, but I’ve just decided to pull the trigger on it. These days I don’t really even have time to read all the comments, so I’m slow to react if I do at all.

Generally my policy has been one of tolerance provided everyone was being respectful. I’ve only nuked racist shit, and people who just couldn’t control themselves when warned.

I don’t want to get into moderation and picking and choosing which views get aired, so for now it’s just off.

More Hassle. Less Opportunity. More Licenses?

Like many government offices, and especially those in Pennsylvania, in person access to the offices that process applications & renewals for licenses to carry were either completely cut off or significantly reduced for much of 2020. In order to keep demand reduced, Pennsylvania’s Governor extended renewals of many government documents and licenses that normally expire. For example, no one whose license to carry (LTC) a firearm “expired” last year from March 20 on has an expired license yet. They are good through the end of June for now. And, if the concern remains about having people flood into offices, then they may be extended yet again.

Regardless, the Bucks County numbers for licenses to carry issued in 2020 (both new and renewals that didn’t even need to happen) were up by just over 65% compared to the 2019 numbers! If you could the total of LTC holders over the previous 5 years (period they are valid), that means the number of residents 21 and over who could carry firearms concealed was up 13% by the end of last year.

According to State Police statistics, 15,324 licenses to carry firearms were issued in Bucks County in 2020. In 2019, that was only 9,280. And that isn’t just people getting licenses renewed since, in addition to the fact that people didn’t even have to renew for most of 2020, the office only issued 8,833 licenses 5 years prior. So that means that even if every single person from 5 years prior definitely renewed, we were still adding about 74% more concealed carry licenses in the county over that period.

One of the things that the Sheriff instituted is online application and renewals with in person pickup so that they could get more people reviewed safely and only deal with interactions for pick up which doesn’t require as much time face-to-face (or, more of concern, breathing the same air). That does probably account for some of the increase, though the requirements to obtain one didn’t change at all. And the price definitely didn’t drop – it actually increased slightly for those opting for online payments.

If any of that demand on renewals was deferred until 2021, then we could be in for some epic numbers for 2021.

If you assume that all of the LTCs issued in the last 5 years are still valid, then that means 56,514 Bucks County residents were licensed to carry at the end of 2020. The county-level census data isn’t available, so the best I have is the 2019 estimate that doesn’t allow me to sort by under 21, just under 18. So the total includes some 18-20 year olds who aren’t qualified. Regardless, that number is just over 501,000, so that means about 11% adults are licensed to carry here. Every 9 or so people you see at the grocery store? One of them is likely to have a license to carry.

That’s not too shabby. Of course, it means we really need to step it up with more local opportunities for all of those people to shoot, connect with a community of gun owners, and hopefully get them some ammunition to go into those little-used guns.

The Californication of Colorado is Complete

All that fleeing from California isn’t going to help things. We want them packed and stacked in one very democratic state. Witness Colorado nuking preemption as an example of what happens when Californians flee their state in large numbers and settle elsewhere. This would have been inconceivable when this blog started in 2007. But it’s reality now: we have an anti-gun mountain state.

Journey’s Effort to “Save” the NRA

It seems that more of the various groups that have splintered off into pushing some kind of reform at NRA have ultimately come to back Judge Phillip Journey’s efforts to challenge NRA’s legal moves.

I’m not 100% sure that I think his approach is ideal, but I’m also looking at the fact that there don’t appear to any petition candidates at all.

In fact, via voting the best options I can see other than writing someone in (which won’t likely be enough, but it won’t likely hurt) is to bullet vote from the list of candidates for Owen Buz Mills as the only one on the list to drive him to the top of the results. Because even though others might win seats, they care desperately about how “popular” they are and where they come into the rankings. Rank the dissenting board members high and you are still sending a message.

Back to the legal issues at hand, I don’t have any great insight there. On one hand, I tend to believe the bankruptcy legal experts who were watching this case closely not for anything to do with NRA, but the unique circumstances around it. They are pretty pessimistic. On the other hand, I also see that Judge Hale specifically addressed what NRA should expect – a not so subtle nod to stripping leadership & possibly Bill Brewer of power – if they try to refile, which opens the door to refiling. I do think there’s truth that the trial resulted in disclosures that make it more likely the NY AG can push for dissolution. I also think the fact that the federal court did weigh James’s attacks on NRA as a political foe into account when trying to decide if they deserved bankruptcy protection from her office signals to other courts that going in this direction is going to set a very bad precedent.

Either way, it’s about which court you think would give NRA the fairest shake. Neither one makes me comfortable which is why I’m more open to a legal strategy that is simply summed up as: “Whatever Wayne LaPierre, Carolyn ‘Burn the Records’ Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee oppose is what I probably support.”

I went ahead and threw a few bucks at the effort. I’m not going to press the readers to do so since I don’t know if there are good answers in any of this, but I think it’s important to share it’s out there.

Ultimately, one reason I’m on board with the effort to try and save the NRA from people like Wayne is because we have a huge resource in our community that NRA has moved away from both tapping as a resource and supporting – gun clubs. Not commercial gun ranges, but non-profit, volunteer-run gun clubs. NRA’s support of clubs has gone downhill in the last 20 years. Part of that is because they were really behind the times in the shift to newer shooting sports that were taking off which reduced the amount that rising club leaders needed to build connections there or learn about resources. But they didn’t manage to connect with these people on any other level when it comes to club support.

As much as NRA has dropped the ball on this, they still have the institutional knowledge (within the volunteer organization as a whole, even if not always on staff) and name recognition to rebuild this resource and start offering more things that are relevant to clubs in need. As much good as I do think some groups are doing on the legal fights, no other group has tried to step into this space. Yet, if no one does, once these ranges are gone, they are gone for good. And that’s forever a loss of a Second Amendment habitat for growing new shooters.

NRA Elections – The Reality

I tried to leave a comment, but it seems WordPress.com is acting up and wouldn’t accept it. Therefore, NRAinDanger writer, I’m responding here and may be able to generate some additional feedback.

“…getting on the ballot by petition is impossible…”

I agree with much of the post, but I very much disagree with this. The reality of it is that if a candidate can’t find the needed signatures of people who can vote, then they can’t make it on the board.

I saw that Frank Tait fell short on signatures largely due to people who said they could vote, but really could not. This isn’t surprising if you know how many people think they are NRA members who really aren’t, and a huge percentage of NRA members probably believe they are entitled to a vote when they really aren’t. And that’s a really important measure for getting actual votes cast, too. It’s a hurdle everyone must overcome, so I don’t really consider it a true roadblock to reform.

This year’s class of board members up is interesting statistically. They have had both the biggest difference between “last winner” and “first loser” in a decade plus of records (3,024 vote difference in 2018) and the 2nd and 3rd smallest differences (just 356 in 2012; only 417 in 2015). Based on my records of tracking organization voter participation, this class is also among the lowest of valid votes cast in the cycles. There aren’t really any Baby Boomer celebrities on the ballot to drive turnout.

Realistically, to get on the board, a petition candidate needs to find new votes. Chatting online largely doesn’t reach the thousands you need to find to convince to bullet vote. If they are already on a forum talking about reforming NRA, chances are they were already voting that way. Because it’s not just about getting reformers on, but also about getting problem people off.

I know it won’t happen, but could you imagine if Carolyn Meadows wasn’t elected by the membership? She’s up this year. Or David Coy or Joel Friedman, named to this committee to move NRA away from its most important functions? Also up this year.

While there is a system to replace all of those people, can you imagine the headache of trying to conduct business where they have to find the replacements and then get them caught up to speed on what is likely a very, very secretive process largely withheld from the Board & members? Hell, I know that the elected members get updates during the election period and fret very much like junior high girls in a popularity contest about how they are placing compared to others. Just make them sweat by boosting – radically – the number of votes just for Owen Buz Mills as the only nominee who joined Journey’s case and you can make a statement even without a petition candidate.

Is it tough to get on the board if not blessed by Wayne? Yes. But someone who can’t get 500-600 signatures of valid voters definitely isn’t going to get the 70,935+ votes that the last winner received in the last election for this board class. Definitely not impossible, though.

UPDATE: I just had an additional thought based on the links auto generated to be most related to this post. Coy and Friedman have, in the last decade, been among those incumbent Nominating Committee board members to lose. Honestly, even getting them out and replacing them with no show board members who would turn down committee assignments and such work might be a help to cause headaches and slow this march to dissolution or irrelevancy that Wayne is setting up. Although, given that 2 of the 5 votes on this committee are board members who are a) up for election, and b) past losers in their election races, I think it’s safe to say that Cotton & Lee are the only votes that matter on that committee. Regardless, more people eventually appointed and it does slow them down.

Quote of the Day

From NRAInDanger:

When a bankruptcy judge who has been on the bench many years, and “seen them all,” says conduct shocks him, you’re hearing it from an expert.

Go read the whole thing.

NRA’s Response to Bankruptcy Ruling

First, NRA had no response.

I think all stories have been updated at this point, but every single initial article out there had quotes from the gun control groups who – wisely – wrote their planned responses in advance. Or, perhaps had the benefit of not being litigants so they could speak off of the cuff. All of those same articles initially said that NRA had no comment.

There were only a few ways that this would likely go:

  • NRA wins on its terms
  • NRA is allowed to proceed with bankruptcy, but would have some kind of outside oversight
  • Dismissal

From a mix of legal/PR perspective, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to say too much if the second result had come out of the case. It would have been pretty complex, so some kind of platitude about looking forward to options and working with the court would be possible.

But there isn’t a reason in the world there wasn’t a statement ready to go for dismissal. It was obvious from the judge’s question to the parties before closing that this was a very likely outcome! There was plenty of time to have a few sentences ready that also acknowledge you needed more time to fully review the ruling. But, no. NRA wasn’t ready to acknowledge the reality of their situation.

In fact, this seems to be a trend. The main NRA account on a platform used to follow my account, even as I became increasingly publicly vocal about my opposition to things they were doing. However, when I put up a request asking for recommendations for a non-NRA postal match that could make a fun, short range activity for National Shooting Sports Month since I heard from people they were not open to potentially sending money to NRA for anything that could end up seized by the NY Attorney General and given to Mike Bloomberg in the next year before the postal match even closed. Acknowledgement that NRA might not win? That’s an unfollow! Anything that isn’t 100% “Wayne’s gonna lead us to freedom!” is not allowed to be seen or discussed it seems.

Back to the court case, NRA after some time had a quote from Wayne as its only response. It makes clear they are remaining in New York and there will be no changes to anything involving members.

(more…)

Well, NRA is Screwed Now

Still want to go down with the SS Wayne, NRA Board? The ship is a-seriously listing now mateys. Look at what the judge said! That filing literally accomplished nothing for them, except to give James more ammunition for her dissolution attempt.

It is time for Wayne to go. I deeply regret to my readers that I ever endorsed any of these fucking cult followers who are keeping their leader in power despite all sound judgement. It is pathetic. The sad thing is, many Board members are frankly too foolish to even know what the right thing is. For nearly all of the people I once endorsed, that is not the case. You know better. Yet you are letting him take the ship down. Throw him overboard and put someone competent at the helm before it is too late.

Human Factors in NRA Troubles

Over at NRA in Danger, here and here. Go read. We always knew things were bad, but holy shit were they bad.

The board has a problem that is similar to LaPierre’s. It, too, is overwhelmed. It is a mass of 76 directors, almost none of which (other than a few retired military) have any experience in administering anything, let alone a $350 million corporation. Most are elected based on their skill at activism or in shooting. For most, it is the highest achievement of their life, their greatest boast, and so it is something to be protected at all cost. In its time, Ackerman McQueen pushed the idea that board membership was something like an award, rather than a responsibility. You receive the award, and show up for meetings where the leadership pats itself on the back and you give applause when the speaker pauses.

Yep. A lot of readers used to ask why I didn’t run for the board. What was the point? Those people individually had no power, and their collective power was only theoretical. No thank you. I have a reasonably good paying career and at the time felt I had more sway as a blogger than I would as an NRA board member.

There was also the sense that the culture of the Board would not agree with my nature. I am not impressed by celebrity or interested in hobnobbing with insiders. I did a lot of that as a blogger, but that’s how you understand an organization. I am not interested in it for its own sake. I don’t need the participation trophy, and I was not going to kiss anyone’s ring to get nominated. Though running by petition isn’t a difficult hill to climb, even now.

One thing I do feel bad about is that I got the Indianapolis meeting very wrong, because I didn’t really know what was going on, since by then I had already largely semi-retired from blogging. We haven’t been to an NRA Annual Meeting for some time, and weren’t talking to people who would know.

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