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It’s Going to Take More Than Just Taking Kids Shooting

Kevin has a good article that I think is spot on:

I’ve been arguing gun rights online for almost 20 years now, long before there was such a thing as a gunblog, and in that time, I’ve managed to convince absolutely no one that disarming the law-abiding will somehow affect criminal behavior.

However, I’ve also seen friends who were anti-gun get into guns because of their experience at a range: Shooting guns is fun, and once we get people to try it, we usually win.

I think what we’ve been seeing this past year are the consequences of the destruction of civil society. Recently, a friend posted a picture on social media of a tween sleepover where every single kid had their nose buried in their smartphones. I can remember when I was a kid having friends sleep over, and we’d spend serious effort trying to side tune the Playboy channel. You remember doing that? Adjust the tuning just right and “Hey, is that a tit? Yeah. I think that’s a tit! Turn it the other way.” I don’t know, maybe kids these days will have fond memories of gathering together to stare into smartphones, and interact on whatever social media app the kids are using these days. But today’s kids have almost no opportunity for unstructured and unsupervised play that most of us grew up with.

Snow day from school? Yeah, I was out, and didn’t come back until dark. No parents. Mom would say, “Stay off the lake. You’ll fall through and drown. And don’t stay out so long your limbs freeze off.” Of course some of the best sledding was the slope heading onto the lake, and you could catch decent air off the bank. Most of the lake was a few feet deep. I fell through the ice plenty of times only to find myself up to my knees. I wasn’t dumb enough to go on the part of the lake that was deep enough you could go completely through. We (and when I saw we, I’m talking Xers born in the 1970s) are probably the last generation to have been raised the old way. We are now beginning to reap the whirlwind of a decades long experiment in raising children that is an abject failure. If you read nothing else this week, read this:

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.

That’s right. You’re not going to like it because it’s going to require you to do something personally, as opposed to shouting for the government, or anyone to “do something!”

You ready? Here it is:

“Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them.”

Read the whole thing. My parents were both heavily involved in civil society. My dad became a volunteer firefighter in the early 1970s. Even though he’s now pushing 70, he’s still doing it, and probably will keep doing that in some form until he drops dead. As he’ll tell you, his days of running into burning buildings are over, but he can still drive a truck and direct traffic as fire police. My mother was involved in probably half a dozen groups. I was dragged to meetings as a kid when their schedules overlapped. If I had had a smartphone at the time, I almost certainly would have buried my nose in it. But we didn’t have smart phones then, so I had to watch, and whether I realized it or not at the time, I had to learn.

Take this passage from De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”:

The political associations that exist in the United States are only a single feature in the midst of the immense assemblage of associations in that country. Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society. Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.

We are not passing this onto our children, and it’s going to be an absolute disaster for our Republic. Because civic life is the antidote to both isolation and totalitarianism. It exists in the community and outside the government. Civic life was not something that was foreign to me when I encountered it as an adult. I understood a thing or two about it from my parents, who may have not explicitly taught this to me, but did through example. When I came into the gun issue, which is largely organized as civic organizations, it was something familiar. When I look around my club I see a lot of old guys. I do not see young people, even though I know they are out there. We can’t be satisfied to simply pass a love of shooting along to the future generation. We also must bequeath to them the civic institutions that go along with it. It is those institutions that have protected us for so long. It’s not the NRA: the NRA is ultimately a part and a product of those institutions. If the NRA did not exist, we would have to invent it. So take your kids to the range. But also take them to meetings, like my parents did. Teach them how all this works, and make sure when they are adults, they are ready and able to inherit what has protected and promoted this issue for so long.

Russians! In the NRA!

This story in Newsweek, which these days has about as much credibility as the Weekly World News, is following up on this story from McClatchy There’s nothing illegal or unethical about a foreign national being a member of the NRA, or NRA taking money from a foreign national provided the law is being complied with. This is a case of put up or shut up. Alexander Torshin, a Russian oligarch, cannot legally donate to NRA-PVF. If any of these journalists have evidence that Torshin donated to PVF and NRA took the money, by all means, proffer your evidence. Otherwise, there’s nothing to see here. If Russian oligarchs want to give money to promote and protect the shooting sports and the right to keep and bear arms in America, I don’t see any reason not to take their money, provided they are donating to efforts that it’s legal for foreign nationals to donate to. NRA has plenty of non-political funds that would qualify. Until Russian nationals try to get on the NRA Board, or use their power as donors to get Russians flunkies into key staff positions, this isn’t something I’m going to worry about.

Enemies Within?

I’ve hardly seen anything more over the top than Adam Kraut’s campaign for the NRA Board, and some Board members response to it. Marion isn’t the only one I’ve seen making comments that range from “good point” to “Oh sweet Jesus that’s nuts.” This is one of those cases where I’m probably just going to piss everyone off, so I might as well get on with it. Lately I’ve liked bullet pointing issues, so I’ll go with that:

  • The idea that Adam Kraut is some kind of Bloomberg plant or is financially motivated seems fantastical to me, so I’m inclined to not believe it if it’s not presented with evidence as equally convincing as the charge is nuts.
  • I’m skeptical of anyone who wants to be on the Board that bad. Seriously: you’re one of 76 people if you win. You’re ability to influence things is pretty limited. This is doubly true if you got on the Board by essentially running against it.
  • Let me turn that last point around to those attacking him: Adam Kraut would be one of 76 directors if he won. Why the flamethrowers? You do realize by attacking him like this, you raise the profile of his campaign? This backlash is making you all look petty and out of touch. You’re playing right into the hands of those who oppose many on the board right now.
  • You can say a lot of things about Marion Hammer, but Marion Hammer is the reason we have concealed carry. I would not advise anyone who wants to get on the NRA Board to do so by antagonizing her. I’m not saying she’s beyond criticism. No one is. But she’s the one who got the ball rolling legislatively by getting the Florida Legislature to take a bite of the apple. Concealed carry was a social movement, so I do not wish to go so far as to say that Marion single handedly did it. We all did it. But getting Florida to jump first was a huge accomplishment that got the boxcar over the hump.

I’ve always thought the best way to get on the NRA Board is to first, put in your time on the issue and the organization’s many activities. There’s a lot of ways to do that. Second, hang around Board meetings, get to know Board members, see if you might be able to get someone to help score you a committee assignment. Third, do a good job on that committee. Finally, try to get nominated. That to me is the path of least resistance. But I suppose it’s hard to change the good ol’ boys club by playing by its rules. But you know what else is hard? Trying to change the boys club by antagonizing it.

I’ll be the first to admit I’d make a poor revolutionary, but I’ve found it’s better wait patiently, to recognize opportunity, and be ready to exploit it when the time comes, than to try to force it.

NRA Burns Florida Carry

I told people at NRA for a while they should do more to fight back against other gun groups who sabotage some of our best efforts when we try to argue not to let perfection be the enemy of good. It seems they are finally starting to do that:

Moms Demand Action should put Florida Carry’s representatives in red t-shirts and give them an award, because in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 12/5/2017 Florida Carry sided with Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action – NOT Florida gun owners.

Ouch! I have to say, that’s brutal even by my standards. I can feel that burn all the way up here.

Interview with Chris Cox

I know James Yeager can be a loose cannon, but it’s a good interview:

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.

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