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Currently Browsing: Gun Rights Organizations

The Liberal Gun Club

Gets a profile piece over at Bloomberg funded gun control site “The Trace”. This bit stuck out at me:

Despite the group’s name, politics are mostly absent from its discussion boards. Members instead use the forum to discuss reliability, accuracy, and cost of firearms, and to get advice.

Then what good are you? Those kinds of gun owners are a dime a dozen. I can find them everywhere. I’m actually rather sympathetic to the idea of a pro-gun insurgency on the left, and in the Democratic Party in particular. But you’re not going to be any kind of insurgency if all you do is talk about guns and look the other way while your members vote for gun banners. So I ask again, as someone who has never been entirely comfortable in the “conservative” movement (whatever that means these days), what good are you? Providing puff pieces for Bloomberg?

Using Castile Case to Hawk Carry Guard? Are You Kidding Me?

NRA breaks its silence on the Philando Castile case:

Do I believe that Philando Castile deserved to lose his life over his [traffic] stop? I absolutely do not. I also think that this is why we have things like NRA Carry Guard, not only to reach out to the citizens to go over what to do during stops like this, but also to work with law enforcement so that they understand what citizens are experiencing when they go through stops like this.

I guess all things are taking a back seat to what’s really important: signing people up for Carry Guard. Radley Balko has an article in the Washington Post: “How the NRA’s allegiance to cops undermines its credibility on gun rights.

A law-abiding gun owner was shot and killed by a cop after doing everything he was supposed to do. It then took more than a year for anyone from the nation’s largest gun rights organization to comment, and when she did, she offered a vague, heavily qualified, quasi-criticism of the cop while implying not only that Castile contributed to his death but also that he might be alive if only he were carrying an NRA Carry Guard card.

Actually, Castile did a number of things that you should never do in a stop, but in my opinion the officer did not handle the situation well either. More training on both sides of a stop is a valid answer, but I really don’t like using this to hawk Carry Guard.

Where I really part with Balko is that I don’t want the NRA taking sides on the militarization of police any more than I want them to be militantly pro-police for the sake of taking sides a culture war that has nothing to do with gun rights. NRA has fostered police involvement for years through it’s LE program, and I’m fine with that. That’s part of NRA’s mission.

But I’ll be bluntly honest, I’m not happy where NRA’s PR firm, and Dana Loesch in particular, seem to be taking the organization.

Pete Brownell in the News

Pete Brownell is now NRA President, replacing Allan Cors. President of NRA follows a predictable pattern, so it was known that this was the order of things. The only time the order has ever been interrupted was for Charlton Heston back in the 1990s. Being a native Iowan, Pete Brownell did an interview with Radio Iowa.

I’m sure there will be those who will try to make hay of the fact that Brownells is “the evil gun industry,” but reality is if you shoot, it’s practically impossible to have never bought something from them.

Brownell is the youngest President of NRA, at age 48. I do not know him personally, but I have talked to him briefly, and was impressed. Every Brownell employee I’ve ever met has had the down to earth, working for a family business attitude you’d expect from Iowans. I think Pete Brownell will be a great NRA President.

NRAAM Participation Trends

I really wish that the anti-gun groups would take an actual detailed account of how many participants they have their anti-NRA protests for annual meeting each year so we could compare. Somehow, I don’t think their graph would look like this one.

This is based on data I’ve been tracking since I attended my very first NRA Annual Meeting in 2004. (I just realized the error in the title with the years. I clearly forgot to update that, but the numbers include Atlanta in 2017, even though that also says 2016 at the bottom. Sorry! It’s fixed in the spreadsheet for next year…)

Other data points that I keep in the spreadsheet that aren’t in this chart is how much the NRA annual meeting has grown since that first one I attended way back when. It’s now 33.5% larger in terms of attendance compared to Pittsburgh 2004. Each time we revisit a city, the number of attendees has gone up between 14% and 44%.

It’s almost like the more that people learn about what NRA is really doing, the more they are on board.

2017 NRA Board Election Results

As requested by readers, here’s a complete list of the NRA Board of Directors results:

Tom Selleck – 110,812
Peter J Printz – 91,410
R Lee Ermey – 89,540
William H Allen – 87,059
Ted W Carter – 87,025
Leroy Sisco – 84,136
Howard J Walter – 83,785
Patricia A Clark – 83,256
Melanie Pepper – 82,817
Thomas P Arvas – 82,500
Linda Walker – 81,874
Charles L Cotton – 80,779
Curtis S Jenkins – 80,529
Carl Rowan, Jr. – 79,104
Allan D Cors – 79,021
Todd J Rathner – 78,516
Lance Olson – 75,978
J Kenneth Blackwell – 74750
Steven C Schreiner – 73,406
Sean Maloney – 72,924
Heidi E Washington – 72,600
Clel Baudler – 72,576
Dan Boren – 69,829
Graham Hill – 68,672
Robert E Mansell – 68,492
Willes K Lee – 68,299
Kim Rhode Harryman – 67,906

Those who didn’t win a seat:

James S Gilmore III – 67,760
N Stephanie Spika – 67,097
David Carruth – 67,066
John L Cushman – 66,949
Richard L Kussman – 63,251
Robert A Unkovic – 62,946
Adam Kraut – 62,400
Stephen D Stamboulieh – 57,897
Eric Wright – 48,454

They also reported that since Roy Innis passed away after ballots were printed, he did earn 77,340 votes. However, everyone below him moved up one. The last two winners are fulfilling unexpired terms of previously sitting board members.

I know there were concerns over bylaws changes impacting one’s ability to run as a petition candidate for the board, so those numbers are as follows. There were 135,118 ballots cast in the board election. However, 4,558 were invalid. So that leaves 130,560 valid ballots cast in the board election. With the members overwhelmingly supporting the bylaws changes (92%-8%), that means 653 signatures will be needed for new petition candidates to make the ballot. Honestly, it’s not hard in the age of the internet to connect with other NRA members, and with anyone who has made any connections through NRA’s many volunteer opportunities that mostly draw NRA members – competitions, elections, and/or Friends dinners.

UPDATE: I forgot to link earlier a stat earlier that showed of 5 new members of the Board, 3 are women. That makes 13 female members of the NRA Board of the Directors, which is about the same percentage as Congress.

NRA Carry Guard

I guess NRA got tired of everyone else making money off “carry insurance” and decided to create their own. They are promoting it very heavily at the convention. I expect at the price level they are charging, it’s going to be a decent source of revenue for NRA. Anything that brings in money and doesn’t require pestering members for donations is probably a good thing.

But I keep thinking “What if George Zimmerman had Carry Guard?” NRA would have gotten dragged into that hot mess. Would that kind of PR nightmare be worth it? I guess at some point that pot of potential money gets big enough it’s worth the risk.

NRA Member Engagement with the Ballot

However many paid activists Shannon Watts flew in doesn’t even begin to compare to the number of NRA members who engage with their association by voting in our group elections.

It’s a reminder that we’re a real, authentic grassroots movement of gun owners who can hold our leaders accountable. “Members” of Bloomberg’s various groups can just unsubscribe from their emails at best.

I’ve already added this year’s numbers to my magic spreadsheet of voting data that goes back to 2006.

It’s not the lowest voting participation rate that I’ve ever documented, but it’s definitely close. However, it’s probably not a complete surprise since the number of ballots mailed in elections has increased 42% in that time. (And that even takes into account the year I think they cleaned up the mailing list since the number dropped to an oddly perfectly even number.)

That said, I do think it would be nice to get more members voting. However, if that comes at the expense of experienced activists who work with NRA members on the ground to more celebrity candidates, then I’d be more hesitant to endorse that idea. Even today, I saw people advocating on social media for people to go vote for 76th director hours after polls closed for the entire session, so clearly voter education is an issue.

The rate of errors that resulted in invalid ballots went up this year (3.4%) compared to last (2.8%), but it’s far below 2013’s error rate (8.7%). This year’s top mistake is the same as last year – too many votes. Count, people. After that, the biggest mistake that kept nearly 1,000 ballots from being counted is the lack of a signature on the envelope’s authentication portion. Were you one of those people? If so, pay attention to your envelope. And somehow 24 people managed to find a ballot from a previous year and vote. Who are you people?? It’s not just that you kept them, but you actually found them and managed to cast them during the right time period. That’s special effort right there.

Perhaps the most interesting stat of the 2017 election year is the fact that I’ve never recorded such a close vote tally between the “last winner” and “first loser” – just 146 votes between the two. That’s less than half the votes of the previous closest amount, 356 in 2012.

It’s no surprise that Tom Selleck is the top vote getter this year. About 85% of voters included him on their ballot. He was nearly 20,000 votes higher than the next one in line, Peter Printz who even beat out R. Lee Ermey. The “last winner” is my favorite Olympian, Kim Rhode Harryman. She’ll actually be on the ballot next year because she was elected to finish an unexpired term.

I am a bit PO’d that they ran out of “I Voted” buttons this year. I was trying to start a collection, NRA! Now you Atlanta conference planners have ruined my plans to express my grassroots-iness. Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows over my ruined conference in a glass of wine.

NRA Part of Russia Conspiracy Now

I’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop. Russia has a RKBA movement that NRA has been involved with for several years. I met and spoke briefly with a representative from their organization at the NRA convention in St. Louis before Trump was even a thing. Somewhere I have her business card but I can’t seem to find it. Am I part of the conspiracy too now?

Now, this Russian RKBA group is not an opposition group. That’s not allowed in Russia. This group has the blessing of the Kremlin. This is not a new thing. NRA has been working with this group for years. NRA has always been willing to work with foreign RKBA movements and to help promote the shooting sports in other countries.

The common interests do go farther than that. Russia is an opponent of the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and when it comes to ATT, allies are scarce. It’s basically the Russians and Chinese who don’t want it. The sanctions placed on Russia are also indirectly an RKBA issue, since a lot of our cheap surplus comes from Russia. Now, I am fine with the sanctions as long as their true purpose is to act as a legitimate instrument of US foreign policy and not just a back handed way to screw American gun owners. I never got the impression that Obama’s sanctions were targeting us directly. I would not like to see NRA take a position on the sanctions, even if they interfere with imports of firearms and ammunition. To me that’s a foreign policy issue and a legitimate prerogative of the President and Congress. In other words, not a gun issue, even if we’re indirectly affected.

There’s a lot of smoke here, but I’m not sure there’s fire. I might feel differently if I haven’t been seeing Russian nationals at NRA long before Trump came along, and before Putin started getting frisky in Ukraine and the Middle East.

NRA Board Slate & Bylaw Changes for 2017

Tis the season of NRA voting, and while we have generally done endorsements in the past, these days I don’t quite go so far. You see, endorsing depended on us going to board meetings to talk with people and see them in action. I no longer have the time or the money to hang out in DC quite so much. But I will tell you some of the people I’m voting for.

If you want to vote for them too, knock yourself out, but know that while I see a lot of these folks at Annual Meeting, I’m not sitting in on Board or committee meetings anymore.

First, the bylaw changes: I’m voting yes. NRA has grown a lot, and requirements for recall and petition candidates ought to change with the size of the voting membership. After Glenn Beck started promoting the recall against Norquist, I realized there was a lot of room for someone willing to burn some money to cause very serious mischief within NRA. Most of these changes are aimed on closing the door on that.

As for Board members, I never vote for any celebrities. I think some of them are valuable to NRA, but they just don’t need my vote. They will win handily based on their celebrity status. So who will we vote for? There may be others, but I’d highlight these folks:

Dan Boren. Even now, I still think it’s important to keep Democrats involved in the issue. The shame is that pro-gun Dems have become an endangered species.

Graham Hill. Graham has a lot of experience at getting things done in Washington. He’s on the Board of Directors for the American Suppressor Association so knows that issue well. This fits with one of our chief legislative priorities.

Todd Rathner. Gets shit done. He’s been very active with advancing Knife Right’s agenda. He’s also going to be useful in the suppressor fight.

Kim Rhode Harryman. We need people on the Board who understand the shooting sports. Kim is a record setting multi-olympic Gold Medalist. I’d like to give her a chance and see what she can contribute.

Patricia A. Clark. Again, she’s more shooting sports oriented. She’s also from an embattled state, and I think we need to keep representation from those states.

Allan D. Cors. Current NRA President. Overall has a lot of experience with many facets of the Association.

Linda Walker. She has a record of getting shit done in her home state of Ohio. Look at Ohio now versus a decade ago. She was a key driver in a lot of that.

Again, I keep my list pretty small to help people I think might be able to use some help. There are other worthy candidates that haven’t made my list that are decent. John Richardson has a round up of other people’s thoughts here.

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.

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