The threat of OSHA is already here

Sebastian wonders if a firearms-unfriendly OSHA could be used to attack firearms rights. But it’s not a crackdown on firearms-friendly employers that worries me so much as a crackdown on ranges for lead poisoning. Gun ranges are the cradle of gun culture, and we’ve already seen that our most dangerous enemies are attacking our ability to transfer that culture to new people (via “transfer restrictions.”) Most ranges are small-business (or equivalent) operations, which are hard to regulate easily, but easy to stifle by regulation. And the real hard truth is, yes, a lot of ranges are not doing enough to mitigate lead exposure because it’s hard and expensive. The Seattle Times article is a hit piece, but it’s an effective one. And the owners of the ranges highlighted for multiple severe violations are not doing themselves or the cause any good by not addressing the issues.

This is something NSSF and NRA ought to be educating the range owners about, a strong voluntary industry initiative before the smothering hand of government regulation and enforcement descends. (Which they may have started to do. I originally saw the Seattle Times article when Tam went to work at a gun store/range, when someone asked her if her employer was aware of an educational lead abatement program.) We’ve managed to instill the 4 Rules of Firearms Safety as a core value of Gun Culture 2.0; now we need to instill something similar for where to shoot, along with how to shoot. The problem is that a lot of range owner/operators predate Gun Culture 2.0, and it may not be possible to edit this part of the culture until they age out.

Of course, in the end this is another case of “enforce the existing laws.” According to the linked article, some of the highlighted ranges could have been taken down hard for knowing and continuing egregious violations, but they were cut slack and let slide. I have to wonder if nailing a couple of the really egregious examples “pour encourager les autres” would be beneficial in the long run.

Lessons Not Learned

You’d think after the death of Christopher Bizilj in Massachusetts that everyone in the NFA community would realize that micro-uzis weren’t good weapons to train people on, especially for kids. But there’s always someone who doesn’t get the memo. That’s right, it happened again. The article doesn’t specifically say it was a micro-uzi or mini-uzi, but I’d put money on that being the case. The standard submachine gun Uzi is harder to lose control of in that manner, because it’s heavier and has a slower rate of fire (600 rpm) but it is still possible if the shooter is very inexperienced.

Either way, machine pistols are manifestly inappropriate for training newbies on, and that goes double if the person you’re training is a 9 year old. You’d think folks that have the money to play with NFA stuff would have more common sense.

UPDATE: Video here. They cut it just before it would get very ugly, but you can see what happened. As I suspected, it looks to me like a mini-uzi.

I’ve fired a machine pistol similar to the mini-uzi before. I was taught how to shoot it as an adult. It was more than just one shot on semi-auto. Start with doing a few strings on semi, to get a feel. Then put two in the magazine and shoot on full auto. Then work up to three. Then five. At each step, evaluate how well the person is exercising control. Then work up to ten. Full magazines don’t come until the person being instructed shows they can maintain authoritative control over the firearm.

If we in the firearms community want to keep being able to play with NFA toys, we’re going to have to get the message out that people need to exercise a tremendous amount of care in instructing people how to shoot them. Nine is way too young to have the experience and physical strength to control a machine pistol on full auto. The antis are already running with this story, and you can bet they will bring up this is the second time this has happened. God help save us from ourselves.

Moms, Maids, & Lies

Dave Kopel wrote a wonderful article in the September issue of America’s First Freedom about the fake narrative of just being a stay-at-home mom that Shannon Watts created for herself. He highlights her political work as the Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan’s Public Affairs Officer during the same period that the governor was doing public events and public calls for gun control in the media, and yet Shannon claims she’s never ever worked on gun control before. Sure.

Shannon isn’t too happy about the fact that it uncovers her previous political career and work for a company hated by many of her followers – Monsanto – so she’s fighting back, but not because she can actually refute anything in the article. She’s getting women to argue with #MomsNotMaids because of the NRA publications department depiction of her.


This is one of those times when neither party is right. (Except Dave and his excellent article, which will be sadly overlooked – exactly what Watts wants.)

Watts is wrong because she’s effectively arguing that real moms don’t clean their family homes. Um, hate to tell you Little Miss Priss Spoiled Girl, but the vast majority of moms do clean their own homes and know many of these little tools quite well. (Well, except for the rotary phone – that was a relic even when I was a child.) Making sure their kids live in a home that’s safe and that they are fed is a very typical role for a mother, obviously not something that a woman as wealthy as Watts does because that’s work for the maids.

Watt’s vehement reaction against being portrayed as a woman who cleans a home is also inherently demeaning. What is wrong with being a maid? I know plenty of women – mothers, even – who clean buildings and houses for a living. Why does Watts consider a perfectly legitimate and honorable profession to be an insult? Again, this is illustrative of her stuck-up elitist out-of-touch Twitter rants.

On the other hand, whoever designed this little illustration for NRA is also in the wrong, too. Stay-at-home moms are a hell of a lot more than just cleaning supplies, rotary telephones, and nearly archaic coffee makers. I’m not even a stay-at-home mother, and I am insulted by this attempt to sum up their days like this. The stay-at-home moms I know today are frequently home-schooling their kids, getting the kids involved in many hobbies and activities, or are active in non-profit groups. Even the sit-com stereotypes of how stay-at-home moms get their entertainment (through the phone, in the illustration) isn’t accurate for today if they were trying for a failed version of tongue-in-cheek.

The concept of a paper doll playing dress up for a part isn’t inherently a bad illustration for Shannon Watts and her little effort to pretend she’s not a paid professional with years of experience in Democratic politics and PR circles, but they didn’t even do a good job of trying to creating a visual image of how one would dress up and fake being a stay-at-home mom today.

This comes on the heels of some really great media coverage of pro-gun women lately, and I suspect that’s another reason why Watts is trying to make the NRA look anti-woman. Unfortunately, they gave her the bait to do it.

Gun Safety Issues with OCT Events

Noticing a picture displayed by OCT at Smashburger, Lagniappe’s Lair notes:

Now aside from the fact that about half of those unattended long guns appear to be “leaning with intent to fall”, A zoom on the AR to the far left, closest to the bald bozo in the Cabela’s shirt, reveals that the safety selector is vertical to the rifle, meaning that it’s set to FIRE. Two of the other ARs have their safeties obstructed by slings or camera angle, but I’m willing to bet that at least one of them has it’s safety disengaged, too; that’s just the sort of half-assed idiots that these half-assed idiots are.

Go have a look for the close up shot. A reader mentioned today that if OCT didn’t exist, Bloomberg would have to invent them. This is truth, so God help us. I can’t imagine what an ND would do to the movement if it happened in one of these “educational” events. These folks have demonstrated they are fundamentally without good judgement. My concern is that poor judgement will be exercised in more areas than just public relations. Just look at the photo from Lagniappe’s Lair; if you were intent on making off with a gun, how much would you bet you’d be out the door with one of those ARs before the people not paying attention to what’s going on behind them even notices?

Bob Ownes of Bearing Arms also looks at the safety violations committed by this group. He correctly notes that muzzle down on a concrete floor is NOT a safe direction. If a firearm discharges, the bullet will likely ricochet off the floor, while also simultaneously sending fragments of concrete out in random directions with enough force to seriously injure people nearby. The safe direction is up in this circumstance.

All this has me thinking I need to start a new category “Clown Show.” I hate putting this stuff in Gun Rights, or even Gun Rights Organizations. That gives them too much credit. Even “How not to Win” is generous.

Is Home Depot Next?

For those of you who haven’t been following at home, both Chili’s and Sonic caved under pressure from Mom’s Demand Action. This weekend, Open Carry Texas held a rally outside of a local Home Depot. It would seem from the story that they were allowed, by Home Depot, to hold the rally outside on their property. Well, of course Shannon Watts jumps into action. I don’t blame anyone who suggests that these people have to be getting big fat checks from Bloomberg. It’s really hard to believe that even a small group of people like this could be as dense as these people are.

At this point even NRA, who I would normally not expect to comment on a matter like this, has issued a pretty strongly worded statement on OCT’s activities. I’m rather torn about how to continue covering this issue. On the one hand, it’s gun news, and we all have a stake in the outcome of these various skirmishes over guns in businesses. On the other hand, I think these people feed on attention, any attention. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good attention or bad attention; they are doing this for a reaction, and a reaction they are getting. So I’ve been wondering if we’re all only helping to feed the beast, if you will.

I am sincerely hoping that very shortly Shannon Watts will come across a business who will not be cajoled and bullied. That might take the wind out of her sails. We already have an example with Staples, and I’d be willing to bet that Staples is a lot more worried about losing business to Jeff Bezos than they are about losing business from Shannon Watts and her demanding moms.

UPDATE: Looks like it wasn’t just outside. Attention whores gonna whore.

Moms Demand Pressures Chipotle Mexican Grill

After some open carry protesters in Texas organized an open carry walk in Victory Park, near American Airlines Stadium in Dallas, Moms Demand took notice. From the organizers of the walk:

For those who want to eat after the walk, there is a Chipotle and an Italian place just down the road that are fine with Open Carry.

Accompanied by a picture, Shannon Watts immediately zeroed in to Chipotle with the hash tag #BurritosNotBullets, and began bullying the company into following in the steps of Jack in the Box and Starbucks, presumably meaning, “Please make some vague statement about guns being icky, and not wanting them in your stores, so we can declare victory.”

But, to their credit, Chipotle isn’t budging so far. I say so far because the rifle OCers are doing their level best offer Shannon Watts another victory. This is exactly how OC activists “gave thanks” to Starbucks, and burned us. It wasn’t just in their stores, but all over social media as well. These companies don’t want their brands associated with open carry, gun rights, anti-gun hysteria, or gun control. Chipotle just wants to sell burritos and not be inserted into a contentious debate, just like Jack-in-the-Box wanted to sell burgers, and just like Starbucks just wanted to sell coffee. The problem is, many on “our side” don’t leave well enough alone, and keep taking actions that ignorantly draw the company further into a debate they want no part of.

Bitter and I went today and were sure to float a tweet that corporate would notice. I wore an NRA polo with a nice pair of khakis, but not AR-15. My pistol was concealed. The way to show Chipotle appreciation is to spend money there, and quietly let corporate know you did and why. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sending them a tweet or two either (given that Chipotle markets organic, local food, to the kind of people who like that sort of thing, I couldn’t resist this tweet). But that’s going to be about the extent of our activism on this. I think we need to be very wary of attaching their brand to our cause.

Any reasonably high-profile company is well-acquainted with astroturf activist groups like Watts’s. That’s why they usually have the right instincts out of the gate in terms of telling them to get lost. Let us hope that Chipotle continues to stay out of the debate, but if they are to succeed in doing that, we have to let them out. If we show our “appreciation” by taking ARs and shotguns into their establishments, I think they will likely cave into Moms Demand, not because they really want to, but because they just want their branding nightmare to end.

Opposition to Range Improvements

I can’t help but laugh at this story that promotes all sorts of negative political stereotypes, and all because neither the writer nor the interviewees appears to have done any homework on the issue.

So a Colorado shooting range is having problems maintaining & improving their facilities on membership dues. Becoming a 100% NRA club will make them more likely to qualify for grants from NRA that can pay for some of these improvements. Not to mention, NRA sanctions many shooting competitions, they provide firearm safety training programs, club insurance, and they are a pretty helpful resource for information for gun ranges looking to expand or improve. All of this falls into the category of General Operations and/or the NRA Foundation. None of it is the territory of NRA-ILA, a separate political entity with its own funding and another separate political action committee in NRA PVF.

Yet, Democratic members are complaining to the media that with a new requirement to join NRA as part of your membership to the shooting range that they are being forced to join “a fringe right-wing political organization” without actually making any effort to learn about the apolitical side of the organization that the club is turning to for help. But the advocates of the membership requirement aren’t exactly working to educate people when they are touting that they agree with NRA on politics, so it’s all okay.

A little education on both sides would go a very long way in minimizing hard feelings on the decision…

Gun Advertising in Tennessee

I find it funny that you can’t drive 10 miles in the Nashville area without passing a billboard for some kind of gun shop or seeing a gun shop from the road.

Even if many of them are very simple with their graphics and their messages, it’s entertaining. It certainly reflects that the gun culture is healthy even in an urban area.

However, there’s one that drives me up the wall in all of the years I’ve been driving through from the East Coast to Nashville area. It’s Outdoor Junction at exit 290 off I-40. In all of the years they have been advertising on billboards along I-40, they have only catered to men. They bill themselves as a place to buy “Men’s Toys” with a picture of a handgun. It would be one thing if, somewhere in their advertising corridor, they included a billboard catering to women. They don’t. They have multiple billboards to promote how they appear to only sell things to men. I can tell you right now that I would never be willing to walk in because their advertising sends a message that they simply don’t even acknowledge women as customers shopping for themselves as opposed to shopping for their men.

When I see some stores so obviously go out of their way to embrace the shooting culture as being only meant for men, it makes me wonder how long places like this will manage to hang on and stay alive in the evolving community. I’d be curious to know if those of you in other parts of the country see these kinds of gun shops that go out of their way to frame their products as only appropriate for men sticking around. Do they manage to pull of a bustling business in spite of ignoring outreach to the largest growing portion of the gun owning community?

How to Lose Friends and Make Enemies

There is a modest goal of legalizing open carry in Texas. Maybe I’m crazy, or just don’t have a true appreciation for all the subtleties of the use profanity for making one’s point, but I’m going to suggest outbursts like this are doing nothing except helping move more sensible activists farther away from the goal of legal open carry in Texas:

What is the goal of this? The dispute seems to be over the fact that the officers are arresting people for carrying antique firearms openly, which as far as I know is allowed in Texas. But this is a reason we have civil rights lawsuits. The purpose of civil disobedience is to act in a manner that draws attention to your plight and gains public sympathy for it. Its purpose is also to rouse people to action, by showing there are others out there who not only believe in the cause, but are willing to risk prison for it. This is not going to rouse anyone to action. It’s likely going to just alienate people, discourage them from joining our cause because they don’t want to be associated with things like this, nor antagonize law enforcement unnecessarily. None of these things are a winning formula.

Had this been New York, I think a carefully arranged act of civil disobedience would be admirable and appropriate. But even for civil disobedience, this isn’t the way to do it. This is also Texas, and not New York.

Folks need to look at where this issue really is. One quarter of Americans are still perfectly fine with banning handguns, and we still have a plurality that would like “more strict” gun laws, with only 13% wanting fewer laws. We don’t need to be fighting our fellow citizens, and certainly not law enforcement, every step of the way when it comes to moving the ball forward. There is a time and place for civil disobedience, but that place isn’t Texas, and the time isn’t over trying to get open carry legalized.

Another One From the Bad Idea Files

I think politicizing the anniversary of the Newtown massacre is a mistake. Yes, I know the other side will do it too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart tactic for us. Whether it feels emotionally satisfying or not, there are things the other side can do that we can’t get away with, and this is one of them. This is the same impulse that made the Republicans go over the cliff with the government shutdown. That the Administration would play theater and make people suffer was predictable, and that the media would do everything humanly possible to blame the GOP was a fore-drawn conclusion.

I don’t like fighting on ground that’s favorable to my opponents, and that’s exactly what this is. Whether it’s right or wrong, waving the bloody shirt is always going to be a stronger tactic for them than it is for us. Our best counter-tactic is to argue this represents shady billionaires and DC-insiders preying on people’s grief and vulnerability for political gain. The best counter-tactic is not to snatch the bloody shirt from those very people, and start waving it ourselves.