Favorite Friends of NRA Merchandise

This morning, Friends of NRA posted on their Facebook page that they wanted submissions from supporters to talk about their favorite Friends of NRA product and how they use it.


You have no idea how tempted I was to jest about the tobacco walking stick that Sebastian won a couple of years ago. I mean, it is a walking stick. No one knew what to think of it, and that’s why Sebastian won it since pretty much no one entered the raffle for it.

But then, I started thinking it could be more fun to come up with creative claimed uses for the branding iron set we won this year. I’m sure that I could make up some stories there that would have the poor staffer choking on their coffee. I can’t tell you how many people picked up the NRA branding iron at gun shows and pretended to brand their significant others, particularly on the backside.*

Who Needs to Panic Buy When You Have Friends of NRA?

My mother recently took the first steps to get involved in her (new) local Friends of NRA committee. As any regular reader knows, this is the side of NRA that focuses on training and safety programs that introduce new shooters to our sports. In other words, it’s about the culture of gun ownership and making sure new gun owners panic buying right now have resources available to learn how to safely use those firearms.

If you’re in or south of the Nashville area, you can support these programs and have a chance at picking up some new firearms without the panic buying markup. In fact, you can get a chance at them for just $20. What guns?

  • DPMS AP4 Carbine .223/5.56mm Nato
  • Diamond Back 9mm Pistol
  • Mossberg 500 12 Gauge Shotgun

They will only sell 200 tickets, and the winner gets all three guns according to a flyer that was sent to me. If anyone is in the area, they can pick up tickets at Lock, Stock & Barrel, 105 E. Parkway #106, Franklin, TN or this weekend’s gun show at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center. I don’t know if the FNRA committee will have a table at the show or if they will be at a table for Lock, Stock & Barrel, but the email sent to my mom said that tickets will be available at the event.

Before anyone asks, I know nothing about the committee’s willingness to arrange any kind of ticket sales online, so that’s why I addressed this to local folks. However, raffles and contests similar to this will likely be happening with committees across the country. Find your local Friends committee and inquire about any they might have going on this year. If your local committee isn’t doing a raffle, then check in with the regional field rep who will know if any other committees near your area are selling tickets to win guns. If you want tickets to a local Friends dinner, they should have a nice line up of firearms to win at each one.

Yeti Coolers Caves

From Marion Hammer:

DATE: April 20, 2018
TO: USF & NRA Member and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President

For years YETI Coolers have been a hot item for sportsmen at the Friends of NRA Foundation Banquet and Auction events around the country.

These Foundation events raise money to support youth programs and educational programs nationwide. The youth of America who benefit from these programs are the future hunters, hikers, fishermen/women, bikers, campers, wildlife photographers, mountain climbers, sportsmen/women and conservationists who will protect our natural resources and recreational lands.

Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI has declined to do business with The NRA Foundation saying they no longer wish to be an NRA vendor, and refused to say why. They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation. That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed. They have declined to continue helping America’s young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities. These activities enable them to appreciate America and enjoy our natural resources with wholesome and healthy
outdoor recreational and educational programs.

The NRA Foundation is 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization.

In this day and age, information is power. We thought you needed this information.


7601 Southwest Parkway
Austin, TX 78735

Seems pretty foolish of them. Not quite as foolish as a gun or accessories maker turning, but foolish for an outdoor product used by a lot of hunters. Oh well. Get woke, go broke.

Dear NRA

It’s time to sit down and have a little talk. There’s a few things that are becoming apparent as I’ve watched the reaction to Parkland. One is that Bloomberg’s game has been much better organized and more focused than it was after Sandy Hook. My impression then was that the gun control movement was poorly prepared and organized. Bloomberg was still mucking about with Illegal Mayors, and the Brady organization was flat broke and not really ready. The White House hadn’t yet spent much time on gun control, and Sandy Hook was the pretext that got them started. That has not been the case this time. They’ve learned a lot, they were much better prepared, and they executed on their strategy very effectively.

NRA used to be an organization that was good at grass roots organizing. I have participated in some of those efforts as a volunteer coordinator over several campaigns. I stopped in frustration, because we could never recruit any volunteers to coordinate. It was always just Bitter and me. Back then, I thought they were my deficiencies; maybe I didn’t have the touch. There were some volunteer coordinators who are pretty successful. But since then, I’ve learned I can be an effective organizer of volunteers. The chief problem was that I didn’t have enough local connections to be effective. The other thing I learned is that people did not recognize NRA as an organization that they are or should be directly involved with. We might like to say “I’m the NRA,” but I’m not sure that’s really ringing true for a lot of people these days. NRA is an organization that sends them a magazine and asks them for money. A lot of members might agree that NRA is important, and that why they maintain their memberships, but they are more in the role of passive consumers of what NRA is offering.

That has to change. We must turn them into active participants. NRA will not accomplish that by continuing to encourage members to passively consume more Ack-Mac-generated Angry Dana videos. I worry that in another few years of planning and learning from prior mistakes, when Bloomberg et al get their next pretext, the dam is going to break. It may have broken already; this is all still playing out. We can lament that Bloomberg has been more effective this time because he’s hiring professional organizers who know how to work with a small number of dedicated activists, or we can beat him at this game by upping our game.

This past weekend, I organized a mailing of more than 200 letters to local lawmakers from members of my club. We came up with templates people could start with. We were ready to look up lawmakers for members, and had a bunch of envelopes, pre-printed address labels, and stamps. I offered work time (which applies against dues) to members who participated. The response was pretty good. We are an NRA Gold Star club. How many other clubs out there would like to do something, but don’t quite know what to do? How many other clubs or shooting outfits view NRA as some far off organization they don’t really know or interact with?

Grassroots activism is hard. It’s a lot harder than paying Ack-Mac to make another series of angry videos. But effective organizing takes more than feeding people’s anger. You have to effectively turn that anger into something useful and positive. For that, there is no substitute for face-to-face local contact. NRA doesn’t seem to do a whole hell of a lot of that outside the Friends of NRA program.

I would strongly encourage NRA to focus on a few areas:

  1. More outreach to NRA affiliated organizations, specifically for the purpose of training people how to be effective. But less specifically to get face time with members. Doesn’t have to be top people. Could be Board members. Could be local volunteers.
  2. A lot of clubs and shooting organizations need help with technology. NRA could be a lot of help with this. Technology facilitates communication. I could never have organized the letter writing campaign with the technology we had even two years ago. I was only able to do that because I put a framework in place to facilitate it. It was a lot of work, but paid off. What I’m lacking is the ability to communicate with other area clubs. I’m slowly building that, but that’s a harder problem. Again, NRA could do a lot to be a facilitator to get local organizations talking to each other. Sometimes being an outside organization can be an advantage, and this is one of those times.
  3. People need to have politics explained to them. Most people don’t understand the political process. They need to see and understand how their action fits in. I was recently reminded of a passage from a leftist organizer: “Power tends to appear magical to those who have less of it, and mechanical to those who are accustomed to wielding it instrumentally.” The article continues: “It’s not magical kids, and it’s not George Soros sprinkling money around. It’s hard work by people who’ve trained to do it.” When the balloon goes up, our people have to know what to expect, and be able to spring into action. We’re very good at self-organizing, but some people will need it spelled out a bit more than others. You don’t want to lose because you’re only depending on self-starters. In my experience, self-starters are rare, and they are getting rarer in the younger generations.

We have a lot more people at our disposal, and unlike their people, ours have a lot to lose. They will have to pay people to organize their small cadre. We should require far fewer paid professionals. But the work nevertheless has to be done, and it’s something that can’t be accomplished with a membership accustomed to passively consuming content. NRA needs to spend more time getting out there among the people, and most importantly educating them, and offering the tools they need to be successful.

Been Busy Raising Money for the NRA Foundation

Last night was our annual Bucks County Friends of NRA banquet. Our last dinner was in 2014, because of burnout with the committee, we didn’t have a dinner in 2015. We were happy to have 150 people show up, most of whom were new. We turned out more people than Shannon Watts did at her last protest! One thing I noticed is that the number of women attending is way up, and this year we had a number of younger couples, like 20s and 30s younger. We’re not just attracting the OFWG demographic anymore. The community is definitely changing, or at least the people engaged with the issue enough to attend a fundraiser is changing.

Our rough estimate is that we raised $13000 for NRA Foundation programs. We’ve done better, and we’ve done worse. Overall, I think it was a good dinner for having skipped a year. Half that money stays in Eastern Pennsylvania, the other half goes into the Foundation’s fund to fund shooting programs generally. Every year the Eastern PA committees meet to go over grant requests and decide who gets the money raised through these dinners. Youth shooting programs come first. You can read more about the Friends program here, or find a dinner near you.

NRA DecanterAbout a year ago I got tired of trying to win guns and losing, so I started putting all my tickets in to the cheesiest item on the table that no one else was bidding on. One year I got the NRA fan, which is actually a decent desk fan. This year I got the hand blown NRA wine decanter. Doesn’t everyone need a hand blown NRA-branded wine decanter? Once you have one, you’ll never know how you ever lived without it.

Disappointing this year was the NRA toaster. A few years ago NRA had a toaster that would toast “NRA” onto your toast. It was a two slice model, and it went for $400 dollars at the live auction. This year they decided to introduce the same toaster in a four-slice high-capacity assault configuration, and it only went for $110. Disappointing really.

Weekly Gun News – Edition 24

Gun news is actually getting kind of scarce out there. I do not wish that to change. I have learned my lesson in regards to “careful what you wish for.” I do have enough to do a good tab clearing.

One Guam lawmaker is trying to ease the island’s gun laws to bring them into compliance with the Second Amendment.

Ted Strickland, former NRA A-rated Democratic governor of Ohio has flipped 180 on the gun issue. Doesn’t look like it’s working out too well for him.

I blame Trump: Jenn Jacques at Bearing Arms says the piggish male is back at SHOT.

Uncle takes a look at the scariest product at SHOT.

Three pro-gun bills in Colorado. I don’t know if they have a chance, but it’s important to keep trying.

Is open carry backfiring in Texas? You guys need to get rid of that 30.06 and 30.07 stuff and just let trespassing law take care of things.

One town in Massachusetts is now demanding applicants for Class A LTCs write an essay. Heller and McDonald are effectively dead in the First Circuit, having been effectively overturned by the lower courts, with SCOTUS refusing to do anything about it.

Chris Christie is still proud of his “law and order” record of denying people fundamental rights based on someone’s presence on a secret government list. Well, then I’ll be proud not to vote for him.

Tam opines on the gun business in the way only Tam can.

Mike Rowe may not be an NRA member, but he seems to know the issue pretty well.

Looks like a new venue for the Lancaster Friends of NRA dinner, the largest in the state, I believe, decided to jerk the committee around on open carry.

Happy 161st birthday to John Moses Browning.

They say that like it’s a good thing: “Michael Bloomberg is more than just the billionaire former mayor of New York — he’s a leading voice on gun control.” His money, plus Obama’s bully pulpit, is pretty much the only reason the gun control movement still exists.

We’re not doing too well in Florida this session.

Of course she doesn’t: “Clinton Doesn’t List Self-Defense As Valid Reason to Own a Gun.”

Yeah, whatever Baghdad Bob: “Gun fantatics’ refusal to bend ensures they will be toppled.

Brilliant: A lawmaker in South Carolina proposed a bill to register journalists, which met with the expected reaction. Now you boneheads know what it feels like to be a gun owner.

It probably makes me a bad person, but articles like this just make me smile. They need to go back to their safe space and stay there.


Harrisburg & The Great American Outdoor Show’s Showdown

Merriam-Webster defines extortion as “the act or practice of extorting especially money or other property; especially: the offense committed by an official engaging in such practice.”

The mayor of Harrisburg who has made clear that he hates NRA and its members went to the press whining that NRA isn’t engaging in pay-for-play for hosting the Great American Outdoor Show in his town.

As part of the deal with the county to host the show, NRA did agree to support regional grants in accordance with the typical rules of the NRA Foundation’s policies and by-laws. Just like your local Friends of NRA banquet gives at least 50% of the money to regional grant requests, the Great American Outdoor Show program is following the same model.

Harrisburg’s mayor is fuming that NRA is holding true to the agreement and his city isn’t the automatic, pre-determined grant winner every year. Apparently, NRA did make the offer to fund a smaller grant this year, but the Mayor threw a hissy fit when he learned they wouldn’t agree to make that a set fund for him annually in direct violation of the NRA Foundation’s by-laws. So, he seems to have rejected their grant offer.

The city officials are fuming since they thought the cash would pad their budgets each year, and now they learn that other worthy area entities in need will benefit. This will not stand for Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter who believed they would be the exclusive beneficiaries of the grant request process. As it is, NRA already pays somewhere around $200,000 in amusement taxes to the city and school district. Plus, the city gets the tax revenue from the millions brought in by vendors, hotels, eateries, and other sales associated with the event. But that’s not good enough.

So, when the Mayor and Police Chief were angered to learn that the rules and by-laws wouldn’t be bent to hand the cash to them, they demanded a bigger payoff in other forms. They wanted to increase the rate that NRA would have to pay for off-duty police officers to assist with the event. Since the rate was apparently agreed to be on the low side, NRA offered to pay more, working up to a 33% increase over the next three years. This was not acceptable to the City, and the mayor demanded an immediate 67% increase. Since the rate the Mayor wanted apparently wasn’t remotely market rate compared to even larger cities, NRA has now turned to the county and departments from other cities who will likely gladly take the money. Harrisburg now loses $10,000 in fees associated with that deal.

However, that wouldn’t stop officers from taking vacation time to work the NRA show, something that has apparently been done with the support of the department for nearly 30 years. Since Harrisburg has now declared war on the Great American Outdoor Show, the Police Chief is banning his officers from taking vacation during that period so they can’t earn extra money from the huge event. He’s also going to mandate overtime to more patrolling to try and keep them away.

While the behavior may not meet a legal criminal definition of extortion, it sure does seem to me like the quotes in the article by the mayor and police chief fit the spirit of the dictionary definition of the term.

NRA Youth Day at Annual Meeting

Because my entire family in the area came out on Sunday of the NRA annual meeting, I managed to check out a few things I normally wouldn’t check out and see things through a fresh perspective. Like any event of this size, there was good and bad with it. Even with the bad, I think there’s great potential, but it’s just a matter of finding the right people who can pull it off.

NRA specifically hosts an NRA Youth Day on the last day of the convention. I’ll be honest, with as many kids as I saw on Saturday, I think they should consider doing at least something kid-focused on both weekend days in the future. The number of families keep growing at every convention, and they have such a great opportunity to offer something special that stands out for the kids.

Even if they never grow up to be gun owners, my niece and nephew will grow up remembering that they attended an NRA meeting and that everything seemed nice, normal, and fun. Even if they don’t grow up to be activists, there’s a good chance they won’t ever be voters for the other side of the issue since they realize that good, normal folks own firearms without incident because of their trip to the annual meeting.

When we arrived about half an hour after the Youth Day area opened, the room was still a little sparse. A few activities weren’t really going, the prize table was just a big empty spot, and there weren’t a ton of kids. However, this did make it easier to talk to some of adults doing demo stuff. For example, I talked to Bob who was dressed up as a frontiersman and manning a display of various antique arms. While my 6-year-old niece may not have been thrilled, I was certainly enthralled when he mentioned a colonial-era gunsmith family I’d never heard of before – a name that just happened to be a line in Sebastian’s family tree and, according to this guy, from a few counties over… More research is now needed. (Related bleg: Who knows about the Honaker family of gunsmiths, reportedly connected to Pennsylvania at some point?)

One of the best features, in my opinion, was the exhibit floor scavenger hunt. They printed a sheet of sponsors and told the kids to go get signatures from each of the sponsors with booths. When all were marked, the sheets would be returned to the Youth Day area and exchanged for raffle tickets. I loved the idea since it gives parents an excuse to see the floor while their kids get something fun in return.

Some of the people signing the programs were really sweet to my niece, and she got a kick out of the trucker hat Winchester gave out to the kids. I would actually love to see this expanded a bit. Inviting groups with consistently interesting booths to participate might be a fun idea. For example, even though they aren’t sponsors, why not reach out to a collector group with a cool display to see if they would be willing to offer some kind of little hand out to kids? It gets families across more of the exhibit hall and checking out more sections to cover every interest. As it was, the area covered by the sponsors on the list spread across less than half of the hall.


Polling & Results

With Washington ready for a ballot initiative fight this November and the accompanying debate over who is and isn’t showing up, I thought it would be important to look at a couple of historical votes relevant to the subject of ballot initiatives.

One is recent history. Very recent. As in, yesterday. There were were many polls showing that the Yes and No votes on Scottish Independence were in a dead heat, and even some showing that Yes was taking the lead in the days prior to the vote. The real result was a 10 point vote against independence with massive turnout.

Another, more relevant example, is from Massachusetts in 1976. I’ve posted about how important it is for gun owners to read about and learn from this example before. It shows why we keep fighting, even in sometimes clearly uphill fights. From Dave Kopel’s article on the ballot initiative fight:

Early polling suggested that a handgun ban would pass handily. Further, in the 1974 election, voters in several state legislative districts had overwhelmingly supported measures instructing their state legislators to vote for strict anti-gun legislation. …

The final poll, a few days before, had showed Question 5 with a 10-point lead. Everyone anticipated a long night waiting for the election results. Everyone was wrong.

Handgun confiscation was crushed by a vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. Of the approximately 500 towns in Massachusetts, only about a dozen (including Cambridge, Brookline, Newton and Amherst) voted for the ban. Even Boston rejected the ban by a wide margin.

There are notable differences in that it was certainly a far more extreme policy than Washington. However, it still shows that what people feel they “should” tell a pollster may not match how they vote in a closed voting booth. That’s the kind of tendency that Washington activists need to appeal to there.

Now, NRA cannot, even if they empty their entire campaign war chest into Washington State and completely ignore the rest of the country, outspend Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They can’t. Just accept it right now that you cannot look at this situation strictly through the lens of campaign finance reports. I’m not in Washington, but I do see some evidence of NRA work. There’s a Facebook page they’ve created that partially documents some of their work, and I can also say that from the moment I met our new EVC coordinator back in March, she’s been aware of this and trying to work with local activists to make sure they have what they need and help them out. Even in our Friends of NRA program that isn’t political, we saw record turnout for people showing up to participate, even though they couldn’t quite open their wallets as much as last year. Fights like this aren’t accurately portrayed in financial reports.

These issues are complex, and there’s a chance that we may lose. However, if gun owners study their history on ballot initiatives, they’ll know these things are won with volunteers on the ground and that sometimes polls on policy efforts to support more gun control are very, very wrong when you actually stick a ballot with that issue in front of someone’s face.

Gun Raffle

It’s past that time of year again! Our local Friends of NRA committee has a three gun raffle going on, and you have the chance to win since we have lots of tickets available.


Tickets are $20, and we’re drawing three times, once for each gun. That’s a 1 in 67 chance to win one of these guns for each ticket – assuming we even sell out. (We have in the past, but raffle tickets aren’t the hot ticket item this year, oddly. It’s been our banquet tickets.)

If you’d like to purchase a ticket, email me (address on the upper right) ASAP and I’ll send you the details and where to send a check. If you’d like to pay by credit card, email me and let me know so I can make sure a trusted committee member can take your call to get the information. (I know. I wish we had online ordering, too. It’s not something I can fix beyond airing my complaint which I know goes in one ear and out of the other with our Field Rep rather than getting passed on to HQ.)

I will say that for each of the past two years we have promoted raffle tickets on the blog, readers have won. In fact, last year saw two blog reader winners. That doesn’t mean the same will happen this year, but I just say it to show that we really do give away the guns. :)

The fine print, so to speak: Winners will be responsible for picking up the guns from the local FFL or arranging transfer to their own FFL. Winners must pass appropriate background checks and will be responsible for any fees regarding the transfer.

All money raised goes to support the NRA Foundation programs – the shooting stuff, not the political stuff. So if you want to help us reach more junior shooters, train more women, or help out clubs that need some help with improvements for shooters, then take a chance and buy a ticket.

« Previous Entries