I’m at the NRA members meeting.Â Â Thank God for WiFi at the convention center.Â Â It’s basically just a pep rally for gun nuts, but there are some good videos they showed that I’m hoping they’ll put on Youtube.Â I might have to find someone to talk to about that.
So last night, after dinner and the brewery tour, we headed out for some drinks with Cam Edwards, host of Cam & Company at NRA News, Dave Kopel, Research director for the Independence Institute, and Robert Cottrol, Professor of Law, History and Sociology at George Washingon Law School.
Pretty cool company.Â I like interacting with academic types, which is good because I work with those types of people on a daily basis.
Speaking of Dave Kopel, everyone should check out his paper on Gun Control in Belgium (PDF):
After the shooting incident, the Government decided to vote a complete new gun legislation. In only a couple of days, this new gun legislation was discussed and approved by the Parliament.
Several observers stated already at that time that the Parliament did not give itself enough time to be able to realize a good and workable gun legislation …
The changes in the new legislation are very drastic : Only officially licensed sporting shooters and hunters can still possess arms, all the other owners of legal weapons will have to hand-in the weapons they already possess without financial compensation.
No other democratic country, except for Jamaica, imposed a complete Gun Ban for all its citizens (except for a limited number of officially licensed sporting shooters and hunters)
Amazing.Â They will be confiscating millions of firearms, ordinary firearms, without any compensation to the owners.Â Also of note are his statistics on suicide:
In Japan there is no firearm ownership, but Japan has the highest number of suicides of the whole world (28 per 100.000). People commit suicide by hanging, jumping from buildings or moving objects, drowning, …
In the USA there are 4 times more weapons than in Belgium, but only 41% of the number of suicides. In the UK and Australia (both countries have a gun ban) there are more suicides than in the USA. And after the introduction of the Gun Ban there has been a sharp increase in the suicide numbers.
Switzerland has twice as many firearms than Belgium, but lower suicide rates.
Germany has 1,8 times more weapons than Belgium, but only 60 % of the suicides.
Read the whole thing.
We’ll be on the floor of the convention most of the day today. If anyone is at the convention and wants to say hi, I’ll be wearing my T-shirt with “Peace Through Superior Firepower” blazed on the back. I’m about six feet three inches tall, and 235lbs, so I’m tough to miss.Â Also, you too can be one of the rare people that knows what Bitter looks like! I just hope you know the secret hand shake.
I’ll have more stuff coming up from yesterday shortly. I wish I could have kept this in chronological order, but it’s tough. I only have limited times to blog.
Bitter and I attended an meeting at the convention today, after running into Scott Bach, a member of the Board of Directors and the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. Sandra Froman started off the meeting, and introduced former UN Ambassador John Bolton, followed by Wayne LaPeirre, Chris Cox, CEO of S&W Mike Golden, and a marketing guy from Gander Mountain. I can’t remember his name unfortunately.
Let me say, it was pretty neat to be in a small conference room with so many interesting people. And yes, Sandy really does know Bitter and gave her a hug. John Bolton gave a brief talk about the importance of fighting for gun rights as an international issue. Something you might have recently read about here. Then followed the meat of the meeting.
The main purpose was to help bring the industry together to support NRA membership, a project I wholeheartedly support. Despite the fact that the anti-gun rights groups like to talk about the NRA as being shill for the gun industry, the gun industry has in the past been pretty ambivalent about the NRA. Some of the industry leaders are trying to change that, and recruit more gun owners into the group through their industry connections.
I have to say that I’m very impressed with the new CEO of Smith & Wesson. They have come a long long way since they took a beating from shooters after colluding with the Clinton Administration to screw us. Smith & Wesson appears to be taking a leadership position on the issue of the industry helping to reach out to new potential members.
One thing I should also mention is that Chris Cox reiterated that membership numbers drive everything his organization does (for those of you who don’t know, Chris Cox is head of NRA-ILA, who handles lobbying all the Congress Critters and state legislators). Without membership, they can accomplish nothing. If they even had half of the people who actively hunt and shoot, they could accomplish anything they wanted. I know a lot of people have gotten pissed off at various things the NRA has done or hasn’t done, but that’s no excuse for not joining.
Politicians only listen to lobbying groups that can bring money and votes to the table, and if the NRA can’t deliver on either of those if it has no members, and no one in Washington or the various state houses has anywhere near the clout, or is as effective as the NRA.
So join and support other organizations if you wish, I’m also a member of the SAF, but membership in the NRA is critical, even if they piss you off sometimes. I’m sure if the Brady Campaign folks, that I know sometimes stop by, were to have an honest talk with you, they’d tell you they’d love for gun owners to abandon the NRA and join a lot of other smaller groups.
We hit the floor of the NRA convention this morning. Bitter had some business to take care of with Cam Edwards, and I headed off to talk to the guy at the Wolf booth about why it was so hard to find 5.45×39 for my AK-74. Interestingly also, the FBI has a NICS booth set up with an interesting brochure with statistics in it. I’ll go through it later and see if there’s anything to blog. We ran into Evan Nappen and Dave Hardy on the floor so far.
Dave had media credentials, and told us the NRA is giving them out to bloggers. All it takes is a business card. Maybe next year.
Later when I get a chance I’ll blog about the membership drive meeting we just went to with Sandy Froman, John “The Stache” Bolton, Wayne LaPierre, Chris Cox, and several industry CEOs, including Mike Golden, CEO of Smith & Wesson. Good stuff there to relay, but for now we have to get to the Budweiser plant for a VIP tour.
BTW, rumor has it that Mayor Dickhead himself will be coming down from New York City to speak at the AHSA press conference. I was hoping to see if we could hire those AHSA guys to go hold up NRA signs at their conference, but they were gone by the time we got back. I guess the AHSA only paid up until morning.
UPDATE: Turns out that Bloomberg was in New York today.Â So the rumor was just that it seems. Â I’ll see if I hear anything more about the AHSA press conference.
The American Hunters and Shooters Association has paid people to stand outside the NRA convention with signs. I’ll try to get pictures later. This following up on the announcement that they will support Bloomberg’s coalition of anti-gun mayors. You might notice AHSA has bought ad space on that article as well, though it doesn’t come up every time. Keep reloading.
Apparently AHSA is also running an invitation only press conference. One wonders what it takes to get an invitation, but I’m guessing only sympathetic media are allowed in.
UPDATE: The Ten Ring has a pic of the AHSA protesters, who were gone by the time I got back down there with a camera.
Tomorrow the convention actually starts. All six acres of guns. In the morning, we’ll be making a short trip to the St. Louis Arch, then to the convention. We stopped off at the Renaissance to see if there were any cool people there, and sadly there were not, except for Steven Halbrook, who was busy being cool with other people.
Now we’re back at the hotel, and I think are done for the night.Â Bitter is pretty horribly ill, actually, and needs to get some rest.
A lot of gun control groups always try to portray the gun industry as deep pocketed, evil, large corporations.Â The truth is that gun makers tend to be small time operations, often even cottage industries.
Here at the NRA convention, we have a live example of that.Â I just saw Tom Knapp checking into our Holiday Inn Express downtown.Â Â I guess Benelli can’t afford, or is too cheap, to put him up in the Renaissance across the street :)
I made it to St. Louis, and so did my Glock. The check in process was painless. They didn’t even ask to inspect it. I’m guessing the x-ray machine they use can see whether a round is in the chamber, but there was a big cable lock through the magazine well and slide. I thought I heard one TSA agent mention it was a Glock. Another actually came over, saw my NRA shirt, and asked me if I was a member, when I affirmed, he started asking me about good pistols to get started with handgun shooting on. I told him I was a Glock man, but that some people don’t like them, and SIGs are also pretty good.Â Either way, I was happy it was such a painless process. Â I will not hesitate to travel with a firearm again.