search
top
Currently Browsing: Guns

What’s Going on at NRA?

I should preface this by noting that over the past two years, I’ve focused on things other than keeping up with internal NRA gossip and goings on. We still know people there, and still can give some Board members a call to find out what’s going on, but for the most part, I’ve been focused on other things. So people who ask me what’s going on in Fairfax, I don’t likely know more than you do at this point.

That said, I’ve noticed a few things going on at NRA over the past several months. One is that The Trace is actually doing some quality reporting on NRA’s internal issues. Granted, you have to understand the lens through which they want to present things, which is to make NRA look bad generally, but they are doing interesting work if you read it with a critical eye.

Second, whatever is going on at NRA, there are people willing to leak to The Trace either because they are that disgruntled, or to gain the upper hand in internal battles by outing their internal opponents dirty laundry in a way that will cause embarrassment. Either way, it tells me the internal quibbles are bad enough that there are people who think airing dirty laundry to the enemy is better for the organization than letting their internal opposition win. That’s not a good situation to be in.

I know there are reformers out there trying to make a difference, and I’m open to reformers. But I’m not seeing anything out there I feel like I could get behind. So I offer the following advice for reformers, which you can take or leave. I don’t really care either way:

  • If you’re going to come in hard and strong, openly claiming to represent an upending of the status quo, and challenging the Board’s powerful members (I’m talking to you, Adam Kraut), you better be coming with an army behind you. NRA has 76 Board members. One, two, or three people aren’t going to change the Board, and you can absolutely expect any organization to circle the wagons against an avowed revolutionary.
  • Even if you can get one, two, or three reformers on the Board, you’re better off learning the Board’s politics and working with it. At this stage it’s important to not be seen as having personally antagonized people. Otherwise the body is going to do everything they can to keep your reformers out of the loop and keep them as powerless as they can manage.
  • Every organization I’ve ever been involved with has a handful of practices that are culturally destructive. You won’t be able to fix all of them. Take them on one at a time. Your allies for each will probably be different. You may not even be able to get the worst practices. Stick to what’s doable, and what’s doable is going to depend on what you can find allies for.
  • Even people who agree NRA needs reform need to understand the political situation and know what limitations we face. There are times when retreat is necessary. Generals who don’t understand when they need to retreat in battles lose armies and lose wars. You have to know when a position is untenable, and the best option is to fall back and regroup. Here’s an unpleasant truth: bump stocks are not a tenable position. Machine guns or anything that shoots like a machine gun is not a tenable position. Saving semi-automatic rifles is a tenable position, and they are under severe threat in a number of states, such as Washington, Oregon, and probably soon to be Nevada and Colorado. Machine guns were lost in 1934. That was the time to fight, and our grandparents and great-grandparents blew it. We’re in a “save what we can, where we can” situation with respect to machine guns, and the bump stock issue threatens to upend that whole applecart. I just use this issue as an example. But fighting everything, everywhere, all the time, 100% is a recipe for losing. “No compromise” is a recipe for losing. We do not have the numbers to always get our way.

I’m not saying revolution is bad, necessarily. In 1977 it was necessary. Maybe it’s necessary again. But the NRA of today is very different than the NRA of 1977. For one, it’s about 5x larger. Over the years it’s also put mechanisms in place to thwart revolutions. It would be very difficult if not impossible to pull off another Cincinnati Revolt. If there’s NRA is to reform, it’s probably going to come incrementally.

Pick one or two issues. They can be big issues. Even issues that is likely going to make some staffers cringe. But be realistic about what you can achieve. Be very careful about attacking people personally. If you do so, you better be sure doing so will gain you more allies than it’ll cost you. If you’re going to aim for the king, you had better not miss.

Couldn’t Have Happened to a Bigger Bunch of …

Dicks Sporting Goods says it may have to close its Field and Stream stores because of poor sales. Still, they say they don’t regret their choices and would make the same choices again if they were given a do-over. It’s not many companies that will deliberately and knowingly piss away significant business while telling investors they are happy to have cost them money. I notice they are rated a sell currently.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc holds several negative signals and is within a wide and falling trend, so we believe it will still perform weakly in the next couple of days or weeks. We therefore hold a negative evaluation of this stock. Due to some small weaknesses in the technical picture we have downgraded our recommendation for this stock since last evaluation from a Hold/Accumulate to a Sell Candidate.

Sounds about right to me!

There’s No Possibility Getting National Reciprocity During Lame Duck

Why does everyone in the gun issue think a Lame Duck passing of National Reciprocity is possible? It’s not. Not happening. Wasn’t going to happen in any known universe of possibilities.

Lame duck sessions are when you might get an outgoing party to do something for an important constituency they didn’t want to otherwise do if having to face re-election. It’s not a magical time where you can get anything you want. First, the Lame Duck House has already passed National Reciprocity. They weren’t the problem.

The problem is getting 60 votes for cloture in the Senate. The votes for that aren’t there, whether it’s a lame duck session or not. The only option would be to eliminate the filibuster, and while I do think the filibuster should be taken back to what it used to be prior to the 1970s, I have a bad bad feeling if we did that now, we’d very much come to regret it in the not too distant future.

The only way we’re likely making progress is to have the courts firm up the 2nd Amendment a bit, and make Bloomberg reel some. Strategically, I think the number one goal should be to get gun bans off the table. You cannot ban handguns, rifles, and shotguns, no matter what they look like, and what ergonomic features they have. Semi-automatic firearms are categorically protected. We also need some kind of protection for common accessories, like magazines. If those are off the table, we’re on much better ground for moving carry forward. I’ve never agreed with putting carry first on the priority list. We need bans off the table, first and foremost.

Kennedy May Have Been the Weak Link

Dave Hardy noticed something in John Paul Stevens’ piece on writing his memoirs:

He said he had taken an extraordinary step in trying to head off the decision. Five weeks before Justice Antonin Scalia circulated his draft opinion for the majority, Justice Stevens sent around a draft of what he called his probable dissent. He said he could not recall ever having done anything like that.

“I thought I should give it every effort to switch the case before it was too late,” he said.

The effort failed. But Justice Stevens wrote that he helped persuade Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in the majority, to ask for “some important changes” to Justice Scalia’s opinion. A passage in the opinion, which Justice Scalia had plainly added to secure a fifth vote, said the decision “should not be taken to cast doubt” on many kinds of gun control laws.

As Dave notes, this is pretty strong evidence that Kennedy was the weak member of the coalition, and his replacement by Justice Kavanaugh may tip the balance. Of course, that assumes there was only one weak link, not two. But this is very encouraging. It’s clear that Stevens targeted Kennedy to flip, and when he wouldn’t he at least convinced him to water down the ruling. Indeed, those passages have been latched on by lower courts and gun control advocates to render Heller and McDonald largely meaningless.

This is very good news, because at some point the Republicans will be out and the Dems in, and Dems are still competitive in dozens of states with currently reasonable gun laws. We really do need strong court protections for the Second Amendment, and we’re not going to get them through Congress.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Looking to Exit Guns

They’ve been taking a beating, and are looking to exit the business. How stupid is Dick’s CEO? Let’s say you’re in a business where part of your business is regulated in such a way that emerging players like Amazon can’t easily compete with you. Lets also say you have some good economies of scale over mom and pop businesses that are your other main competition in that area, and can move product more efficiently and offer lower prices. Do you:

  1. Make every effort to stay in the regulated space and keep those customers happy with your brand, so give your brick and mortar business a business line Amazon can’t touch?
  2. Decide, in the same of Social Justice, to anger your customers in your regulated business and piss it away, leaving you to compete directly against Bezos, who eats brick and mortar stores for breakfast, in markets he finds much more favorable.

If you went with two, you’re about as stupid as Dick’s CEO. Angering gun owners and pissing away that business was about the dumbest things Dick’s could have done. You had a strong presence in a protected industry. Are you nuts?

New Shiny Thing: Mk.262

At my club, 200 yards is the max I can reach out to, so the regular old 55 grain FMJ-BT is my bullet of choice. These days what powder I use depends on where I can get some for a very low price or free. Since I’m still going through powder I have scrounged from various sources, I’m not all that familiar with the wide array of choices. I generally have been sticking to Varget, H322, IMR4895 and I just came across a few pounds of Varmint and IMR4198.

I know a couple of guys who occasionally head to a 600-yard range near Atglen to do some long-range silhouette shooting. I haven’t really shot Silhouette in years, because it’s honestly about as much fun as watching paint dry if you’re not getting better. I don’t have the time, patience, or desire to master the sport. Those Silhouette guys helped improve my shooting a lot, but there came a point where it had done everything it was going to do for me without devoting more time to the game than I was willing to give.

But turn it into a precision rifle event with half-scale animals at ridiculous distances? You once again have my attention. That’ll be fun even if I’m missing a lot, and it gives me an excuse to tinker, which never gets old.

However, the most precisionist rifle I have is my AR, which isn’t anything to write home about. I bought it during the height of the ban almost 20 years ago by this point and it’s 100% stock, save the bayonet lug and birdcage flash suppressor I put on after the ban. It has regular old A2 furniture. A few weeks ago I uncased at the club and had some young guy say, “Wow. That’s old school!” It seems like just yesterday it was me saying shit like that to grey haired shooters. I resisted the urge to come back with, “You know, back in my day, we didn’t have any of these free-floatin’ barrels and fancy-dancy ACOGs with illuminated reticles.”

Old school or not, I’m thinking of slapping a halfway decent optic on it, and taking it out to see how I do at that distance with so-so equipment. But no way I’m taking my regular 55 grain load. I’m interested in the capabilities of the Mk. 262 round for reaching out to 600 yards. For those of you who may not be familiar, the Mk.262 is a 5.56x45mm round developed by SOCOM for longer range work. It uses a 77-grain Sierra Match King bullet. It is about as decent a round as you can get and still be able to stuff them into a magazine. I want to work with a practical round and not with loadings that have to be single-loaded into the rifle.

The trouble is, I’m not used to working with bullets that heavy in this chambering, and I’m paranoid about overpressure. A few months ago, I ran into a supply of 75gr HPBT bullets, and I am starting with those. That bullet with 22gr of H322 driving it isn’t yet a compressed load at 2.26″ OAL. Hodgdon says that’ll push out at about 2785ft/sec with 48,100 CUP from a 24″ test barrel. For a 77gr bullet, 21.8grs of H322 pushes 2,721ft/sec a 50,900 CUP. Black Hills seems to get close to 2900ft/sec out of a 20″ Colt AR barrel, so I’m guessing they have to be loading over the SAAMI spec and closer to the NATO spec on chamber pressure, which is about 10,000CUP higher. Anyone have any experience trying to replicate this load to get the same performance as the factory Black Hills load?

Turn ‘Em In Or We’ll Nuke Ya

I don’t much concern myself with what clowns say, and make no mistake: Eric Swalwell is a clown. But this should serve as notice that confiscation is no longer a fringe issue. It never has been. Don’t think just because the Senate is in Republican hands we’re safe from this. Be worried about deals on larger bills and be ready to start flooding phone banks.

One thing they want to go after is home gun smithing. This is a smart move for them. I would do this if I were them. You want to separate out and extinguish the true believers and evangelists from the casual gun owners who don’t do things like home build ARs. You’d be looking for issues where you can get the strongest believers without much protest from the average believer.

If your goal was to extinguish a religion or culture, you wouldn’t want to go after all the adherents. You go after the people who most strongly identify with and spread it. After you get them, you work on the casual people. Because you’ve gotten rid of their leaders, you have the option to either wait them out, assimilate them with your preferred culture or religion.

In any other context this would be considered a monstrous evil by the left. But not this one. Hating on gun culture gets a pass from the same people who would cry foul if we were colonizing Lebanon, and trying to convert everyone there to Christianity and American culture. But if you’re from New York City and decide to engage in a little cultural imperialism on Lebanon, Pennsylvania, well, that’s just fine.

UPDATE: He’s still digging:

Heller and McDonald largely put handgun bans out of the realm of legitimate discourse. Even though Heller wasn’t as strong as it could be, the Courts largely took handgun bans off the table. What we need is a strong ruling protecting rifles and accessories too.

Challenging Doctors Was a Smart Move

Whoever thought to do this at NRA deserves some credit for smart populism, getting people talking about the issue, and forcing their opponents to engage in a never-ending stream of elitism:

I think the controversy that has ensued sums up the debate nicely. I like things that work on many levels. As Glenn Reynolds notes: “The thing is, doctor’s ‘special insight’ into the gun issue is the not-exactly-genius-level observation that being shot is bad for you.

Key Elements of Fitz’s Victory

I’m seeing a lot of articles pointing to our Congressional race as the rare GOP hold in a district that went for Hillary.

By contrast, look at the few districts where House Democrats fell short of expectations. Despite Democratic domination in the Philadelphia suburbs, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was one of the few Clinton-district Republicans to prevail. He was running against Scott Wallace, a wealthy self-funder with tenuous ties to the district who held out-of-the-mainstream views on law enforcement and foreign policy.

The other suburban districts all fell to the Dems. This is mostly due to the Dem-controlled PA Supreme Court gerrymandering those districts to favor Democrats. But it’s worth taking a look at Fitz, and understanding the key elements of his win.

  • The PA Supreme Court decided to preserve the tradition that Bucks County must be contained within a single Congressional district. To make the numbers work, we’ve always had a small part of another county added to us. Once it was part of Philadelphia. Then they remove part of Philly and added a few Montco exurbs to make it a little safer for Republicans. The PA Supreme Court, to make the district lean more Democratic, moved the part of Montco that completes our district in closer to the city to make it more Dem leaning. But Bucks County is now the most red of the ring counties, so they didn’t have the free hand to completely rewrite the political map that they had with other congressional districts. It went from slight GOP lean to slight Dem lean.
  • His opponent was a loon, and he wasn’t. The Bucks County Dems have usually made the mistake of running loons against the incumbent. All they had to do this time was not be crazy, and they couldn’t even manage that. Fitzpatrick might be a squishy RINO, but he’s not crazy.
  • Fitz embraced more traditional Democratic positions than may Republicans in the area. He won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO. I probably don’t want to know what he had to promise to get that, but it was a smart move on his part to woo the unions.

Understand that in the ring counties (and I include Chester County in this even though it’s not technically a ring county), the upper to upper middle class hoity toity were the loyal base of the Republican Party. That loyalty has flipped, and the GOP isn’t getting them back. But too many of the GOP candidates and leadership around here don’t get that: they stick to the old messaging and act as if the coalition hasn’t changed. They want to blame Trump for their losses, but aren’t looking at the coalition that brought Trump to power and how different it looks than the one they think is still viable.

For the foreseeable future, the GOP has lost the hoity toity, and they need to find voters to replace them with. There’s no path forward for the GOP here that doesn’t involve seducing the working class vote, which you aren’t going to do by embracing hoity toity issues like gun control. I only have two NRA endorsed candidates left in the area, and both did better than the candidates that did not carry endorsements. My state rep won with a comfortable margin. Tomlinson, my State Senator is holding on to a razor thin margin, and he’s probably going to a recount. It’s a squeaker, but he’s in the lead as of now. He had a strong challenger.

I’ll be honest, as long as Nancy Pelosi is taking the gavel, I couldn’t have cared less of Fitz lost his seat to a nutty Dem. We might have a chance at unseating a nutty Dem in a better year for Republicans, but I don’t see things getting better for Republicans around here with the current crop of dopes and dinosaurs that are running the party.

Lame Duck Session

Seeing a meme go around social media about passing National Reciprocity or SHARE in lame duck, just like Obamacare. Facts:

  • National reciprocity already passed the House. The House was never our problem. The Senate is our problem. The Senate is now less of a problem because we flipped at least one “no” vote (McCaskill) to a “yes” vote, but we don’t get that Senate until Nancy Pelosi takes back the gavel.
  • Obamacare did not pass in lame duck session. It became law in March of 2010, well before the midterms where Dems took a “shellacking.”
  • SHARE could pass the House in lame duck, but the problem is still the Senate.

For the foreseeable future, our agenda at the federal level isn’t going anywhere. Bloomberg has successfully halted our momentum and pushed us back to a defensive position. What we have to hope for are judicial confirmation, lots of them. I also have to say, I wish RGB a full recovery, but maybe it’s time for her to retire and look after her health. I know I wouldn’t still want to be working at 85.

« Previous Entries

top