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Wayne LaPierre a Bigger Risk Than Fire and Brimstone

According to The Reload, Lloyd’s of London is dropping all coverage for the NRA’s Board of Directors through their officers and directors insurance plan. As Phillip Journey, NRA Board Member, told the outlet, “I mean, if Lloyd’s won’t insure you, who the hell will?”

Well, here’s another way to look at it: What does Lloyd’s of London consider less risky than the leadership of Wayne LaPierre, Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee based on the fact that they will offer policies to these alternative risks?

Pele, the Volcano Goddess of Hawaiian mythical culture.

That’s right, Lloyd’s was willing to sell insurance to the residents of Leilani Estates who lived on top of an active volcano with a habit of making the earth open up and spew red hot lava at people and property. The decisions by the current NRA leadership are more risky than your front lawn turning into the fire above every few decades.

Intelsat 1 – A 1965 Satellite

The work to even get something ready to launch in 1965 was a massive risk. Not that it’s risk free today, but there are decidedly fewer exploding videos of space-related matter these days compared to those years. Yet Lloyd’s thought, yes, this is a risk we will insure! The current NRA leadership? Nope, too risky!

But to NRA, this is all just fine. They’ve just set aside just $5 million to cover all 76 directors. That doesn’t seem like nearly enough to me, but that’s just my opinion. People willing to speak off of the record to The Reload admit there isn’t much hope in finding coverage so this is likely the only solution moving forward.

What the LTC Data Can Tell Us

I just wrote about the trends in my own county’s license to carry a firearm issuance and noted that year-over-year, the numbers were up more than 65%. So you’d think that I’d be cheering this piece at The Reload for covering the statewide numbers and looking at how Philadelphia County was out of whack with the rest.

But I’m not.

Why? Because while I did look at year-over-year data in my post, it was presented with very important contextual information – like the closure of offices, shifting demand, and where we stood compared to 5 years ago which matters for looking at trends. Now that still isn’t the entire picture, but it puts the 65% increase into an important context that takes into account those with expiring licenses from 5 years earlier. (If everyone renewed exactly when they needed to do so, that is responsible for 42% of the issuances in 2020.) And the introduction of an online application may have shifted more early 2021 renewals into 2020 – all data we won’t be able to see in trends until next spring.

Are license issuances up? Without question. The questions are on how much.

And here’s why The Reload’s piece leaving out information about the shifts in demand bothers me. Because how you present data can change the picture of things quite a bit.

Take the graph below. In red, I used Stephen Gutowski’s model of strictly looking at year-over-year data to plot change in demand on my county since 2004. (I have my county’s historical numbers saved for easy calculations, but not the statewide data.) According to his method, our county’s issuance rates have gone on a wild ride of a low of -26.1% decline (2014) to the high of 65.1% growth (2020) with repeated declines in 2019, 2017, 2014, 2010, 2008, and 2004.

But that steadier blue line? That’s the rate of change on issuances for rolling 5 year periods – the period that licenses are valid in Pennsylvania. That shows a much steadier rate of change from a low of -4.8% (2004) to a high of 16.8% (2013) with small declines only in 2018, 2006, and 2004.

And, if you want raw numbers, here are the rates of currently valid licenses for the same county over the same period (total of previous 5 years of issued licenses). This trend line looks very different than the rates of change in issuance…

Why does this look so different than even my tamer rolling 5 year numbers above? Because of the way it accounts for surge years. The end of 2012 and 2013 were incredibly high due to the political fallout and threats following Sandy Hook in late 2012, so we saw a license issuance drop in 2014 because all of those new licenses issued 1-2 years prior were still valid. That doesn’t mean that all of those newly licensed people disappeared. They should be part of the numbers through at least 2018 when those 2013 LTCs expired. (We did actually see a very small drop between 2017 and 2018 – not all of those people who got their licenses opted to renew them, clearly.)

So while year-over-year data has a place in analysis of where we stand with the right to bear arms movement and possible sympathetic voters in Pennsylvania, it’s not the whole picture and no one should get too excited by extreme swings up because they are usually followed by slight drops later on.

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:

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.

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.

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…)

Need More Coffee…

Today’s starting out with a bang. A little too much bang before coffee was made, in my opinion.

Google has shut down John Richardson’s blog for the time being, claiming that he sells a regulated product. He doesn’t. He simply offers commentary on political issues that Google doesn’t support. Here’s his Twitter account for those interested in keeping up while he’s down.

More drama comes out of the NRA & AckMac lawsuits with accusations about Wayne supposedly wanting a $6 million mansion in the Dallas area funded by AckMac who would then bill NRA, according to WaPo. NRA says it was all AckMac’s idea. Honestly, I don’t trust either one and can easily see either party (or both!) being responsible for proposing for this kind of crap when the organization was already struggling financially.

I’m seriously considering offering some very sarcastic commentary on the house they were considering for Wayne & Susan. I really can’t stand fake old houses – those done in the style of older homes, but that are brand new and ridiculously furnished so far removed from what they were supposed to be inspired by. (There’s seating for 6-8 people surrounding the master bathtub. Questions, I have them.) Between my efforts to focus on positive things and lack of time, I’m going to resist for now. For now; I have screenshots in case I change my mind.

And then there’s the news that NRA and its Foundation are being sued by one of their big donors today. And that gets more interesting coming not long after the rumor that the board and other leaders lost their insurance to cover such situations. They are still indemnified, so NRA is picking up the tab no matter what the insurance situation is today. But since the Board has decided to fight indemnification for Oliver North, it’s pretty easy to understand why the best move for some was to resign since chances are good with that the board would make the same moves against anyone outside of the inner circle.

So, yeah, I think it’s time for more coffee. Or just maybe move straight to whiskey today. Either way, it’s a better way to get through the afternoon.

Attempts at Gun Voter Suppression in North Dakota

The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party created a Facebook page on Halloween to stir up some election tricks.

They created a “Hunter Alerts” page to use as a platform for buying Facebook ads to target at hunters and gun owners. As you can see in this image from NRA created from screenshots of the page details and ads they are running, they are trying to convince any hunter who might hunt out-of-state that they will lose those licenses if they show up to vote.

If these tactics show any sign of working at all – if there is any drop in gun owner participation in the North Dakota election whatsoever – this will be copied around the country to try and keep gun owners from turning out to vote. They know that we turn out in very high numbers to protect our rights, so now they are trying to use our rights and lawful activities against our voters to convince them not to vote.

Also, if you see any paid ads like this at all in your social media feeds, make sure to get screenshots and drop a message to the NRA page. They can take a look to investigate further. Getting the word out to the voters they are lying to can hopefully give NRA & local gun rights leaders the chance to respond so that the goal of keeping these voters home doesn’t work.

Cody Wilson Caught

At this point, there is nothing that looks remotely defensible about Cody Wilson’s actions after he (reportedly) paid a minor for sex if the details in this story are correct.

At home, police say that he got on a plane to Taiwan at some point after he was tipped off by a friend of the minor that she was cooperating with a police investigation into the incident. Even if the trip was pre-planned, this seems like an unwise choice to make the trip if you’ve got any chance at defending yourself.

But now we learn that he checked in to one hotel and promptly left, decided to rent a studio for 6 months, but then didn’t show to get the keys when he realized that he was wanted in Taiwan, too. (We may not have an extradition treaty with them, but that doesn’t mean they are under obligation to let you roam free. A country with no treaty can still arrest you and turn you over to the US, it’s just a matter of whether they want to do so or not.) They eventually found him in a totally different hotel.

The report indicates that his passport was cancelled, so Taiwan could pick him up on immigration charges once he was found. He can now be deported to the U.S.

None of this will look good during a trial. Depending on the details of the encounter with the girl he is accused of soliciting, he could have potentially mounted somewhat of a defense that she lied about her age repeatedly. If he could prove it or raise a reasonable doubt that he actually knew her age, then there’d be a chance at a plea bargain or maybe an easier sentence. But fleeing to a foreign country with no extradition treaty and going so far as to rent an apartment? Yeah, that’s not going to go over well and will probably kill his chances at being released in advance of the trial since he’s now a demonstrated flight risk.

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