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NRA Election Participation

Once again, I’ve got the data on member participation in NRA elections. Unlike attendance, these stats aren’t record breaking – not the lowest, not the highest. Just about average.

In terms of total votes cast, 5.67% of eligible voters who received ballots returned them. That’s on par with previous years, as you can see in the chart. The lowest vote participation I’ve ever documented in 2006 was 5.12%, and the highest was the 2016 regular board election at 7.76%.

Of course, there’s also the context to consider of how many ballots went out. As we add more voting members to NRA’s member roster, it becomes harder for any one board member to reach individual voters who may feel inspired to vote after meeting with them or learning more about them. This is the record number of ballots mailed based on my data – 199,245 more than last year. That means more life members and members who have stuck with the organization for at least 5 consecutive years.

Of course, these charts just look at ballots returned. Of the ballots mailed back, 3.98% were invalid for a variety of reasons. This is up a bit from the last few years, but down substantially from 2013. Unfortunately, they stopped separating out my favorite invalid statistic – ballots from previous years. Who has these and remembers to send them in during the exact voting period the next year?? Last year, it was 24 people.

At first glance, I thought that people may be voting for fewer than 25 candidates, as the top vote getter this year (Ronnie Barrett) was only on 71.7% of valid ballots. That’s the lowest percentage I’ve recorded. The previous low was 2015 at 76.52%, so the same cycle of candidates. Most of the other lows I’ve recorded have also been during this same cycle of 3 year terms, so I think it’s just the lack of a really huge celebrity that spreads out votes more. (That’s not a bad thing!)

For the “last winner,” the lowest vote getter to still get a seat on the board, there were some interesting observations. The last winner was on just over half of the ballots – 54.46%. That’s not the lowest percentage I’ve seen, but the 2nd lowest and definitely close. What is more interesting is that those who did not win seats were much farther behind the pack than I’ve ever documented before. In my years of data, the top person who still lost is usually just under 1,000 votes away from the person above. This year, that gap was huge at a difference of more than 3,000 votes. So those who didn’t make it on the board this year were much farther behind as a group than they have been in at least a decade.

NRA Meeting Attendance – 2018

Attack gun rights, inspire more people to fight for gun rights. This is an equation you think that gun control supporters would have figured out. Once again, we see this play out in the NRA Annual Meeting numbers with a new record-setting attendance.

A total of 87,154 members attended the NRA convention in Dallas this year.

From the time I started attending in 2004, the event has grown by just over 42% in terms of attendance. It was about 7% larger than Atlanta for members who came out.

Russians! Everywhere!

Tul Ammo is exhibiting on the exhibit floor at NRA’s Dallas Annual Meeting! Anything to keep the NRA/Russia narrative alive, I guess. But this is stretching. Yes, Russian Ammo manufacturers US distributors will exhibit where they can find shooters. Stunning, I know.

Whether an individual shooter feels OK about funding Tsar Vladimir’s military adventures I’ll leave up to individual shooters and the State Department, which even ABC has to admit has not slapped any sanctions on Tul.

I’ve seen other stories talking about how Torshin and his assistant have been seen at high-end events:

The pair has popped up at the Golden Ring of Freedom Dinner, an exclusive event for donors who have given $1 million or more, and hospitality suites for lifetime members. Butina has also attended the women’s luncheon hosted by the wife of Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president. Tickets start at $250 a head, according to sources familiar with the event.

You don’t necessarily have to donate a million or more to the NRA to get into these events. I’ve been to high-dollar events just through contacts who could get me in, and I’ve never donated anywhere close to that kind of money. I am not a big money donor to the NRA. To be a big money donor to the NRA requires having big money in the first place, which I don’t.

I suspect that NRA was interested in cultivating that relationship based on the fact that NRA and the Putin Administration have something in common: opposition to the UN Arms Trade Treaty. That was a significant issue when they started attending. It would not shock me if that was the common interest that made that relationship useful to both sides. I should note that this is rank speculation on my part. I have no direct information one way or another, because it’s not like people were running around screaming “The Russians are here! The Russians are here!” or were even talking about it. NRA has a handful of foreign attendees every Annual Meeting, and it’s not unusual.

We Go Through This Every Friggin’ Year

NRA bans guns at it’s convention, they say. For crying out loud, even Snopes, who often gets gun issues wrong or fails to grasp some nuance, has called this as the bullshit it was as far back as the Nashville convention. I don’t know if the Parkland kids are aware of this, because to be honest, they seem pretty ignorant, and the people handling them are unabashed liars when it comes to this kind of thing.

But for the benefit of those kids who probably don’t know better: The President and Vice President travel with heavy contingent of armed security. Their armed security, in the form of the Secret Service, insist on creating a security perimeter around the people under their protection. Within this perimeter, the Secret Service are the only people permitted to possess weapons. This is not NRA’s doing: when the President or Vice President come to speak to us, this is part of the deal. The Secret Service will insist on it. You can carry everywhere at the NRA Annual Meetings except where the Secret Service, State Law, or venue rules disallow it. I won’t attend events in venues that ban guns where the security is bullshit. Secret Service security isn’t bullshit. Is it perfect? No. But it’s reasonable given technological and sociological constraints.

Sadly, I can’t be at NRA Annual Meeting this year. But I have been in this security perimeter in past conventions. Since by default, they also protect me, I am somewhat OK with putting my personal security in the hands of the Secret Service when I have attended these kinds of events. I have noticed agents with bulges in their jackets that would indicate they are probably carrying a submachine gun. I can’t typically carry that kind of hardware, so I feel relatively sure these folks are capable of acting in my stead should the balloon go up in the vicinity. Also, everyone who enters the perimeter is screened. The venue is screened. Everything is screened. They meet two of my three S’s necessary for a hypothetical temporary constitutional disarm.

I don’t travel within a security perimeter everywhere I go, in ordinary life. Almost none of us who aren’t Important People do. Security is a luxury good. The richer and more powerful you are, the more of it you can afford.

Most of us live in the realm of no security, or security theater. There is a difference between this and real security. Mike Bloomberg might be able to afford armed security, and is probably even providing it for the Parkland Kids, but I and most other people I know can’t afford that kind of thing. Most security you see on a day to day basis is total bullshit and might as well not exist. I’ve been in situations where “security” went through Bitter’s purse, but missed the guy that was with her that walked in with a loaded gun. I don’t apologize. Your security is bullshit if that’s what the policy is. In fact, I’ve gotten so used to that bit of security theater I hardly sweat it when I realize that’s the situation. If you want to exclude weapons you need to work harder, because none of that is going to stop someone intent on hurting people. You know that. I know that. It might make people who don’t think feel better about the situation, but that doesn’t change it: your security is bullshit.

Thinking back, the last venue I can remember that banned guns was Charlotte, and NRA hasn’t been back there since. That was State Law at the time, and since then North Carolina has improved a great deal. I can’t remember the last time I was on the convention floor unarmed. So can we dispense with this piece of bullshit? No. I know we can’t. The lie is too useful. But it is a lie.

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.

NRA Legal Seminar Catches Press Attention

I suspect it’s a good thing when media that specifically serves the legal profession covers the NRA law seminar and the fact that it qualifies for CLE (continuing legal education) credit.

Even though many attendees were ready to open fire, if the need arose, the daylong event looked and sounded like most other CLEs.

I have to admit, it would be nice if they would have mentioned it’s an annual event that will be offered in Dallas next year. I’m sure there are plenty of pro-gun lawyers in Georgia who didn’t learn about it in time and would love to get out to the next one.

NRA Annual Meeting Attendance 2017

We have the figure, and it is the highest since Houston in 2013: 81,836. That beats Louisville last year which was 80,452. Houston will be a hard record to beat since it was the height of the post-Sandy Hook effort to attack the NRA.

Atlanta was a pretty good convention city. The only thing holding it back from being a great convention city being kind of pricy. But the food and drink were pretty good, and I don’t mind prices when you’re getting what you’re paying for. I don’t think I had one stingy pour when ordering a proper drink.

The convention center relies heavily on escalators, and I remembered what a shit show the escalator situation in Phoenix was. But the convention center people in Atlanta managed the situation much better than Phoenix did and everything went smoothly.

Also, Atlanta has a heaping amount of Southern Hospitality. Everyone is nice. Arriving at Hartsfield–Jackson, the airport had signage up welcoming NRA. You notice I didn’t do my traditional post about local media saying awful things about NRA and attendees? I didn’t notice anything. This is a sharp contrast to Charlotte, NC, which I use as the poster child for unwelcoming cities.

The last time my family were here, we burned the place to the ground. But I will happily leave Atlanta unmolested, and hope to return with NRA sometime in the future.

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.

We Protest What We Do Not Understand

Thanks to Miguel for bringing this ignorance to the public light:

Posted by Gail Pepin on Saturday, April 29, 2017

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.

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