Hey Rand – Time To Stop Scamming Gun Owners

Last week NRA members, myself included, received a letter from Senator Rand Paul, asking us to donate to The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), an organization which, according to its website, is the fastest-growing gun rights organization in the United States. Senator Paul’s letter, which is the second I have received soliciting funds for the lobbying efforts of the NAGR, led off with a quote from President Obama stating that he would use “whatever power this office holds” to ban guns. The fundraising appeal then goes on to list the usual scare-mongering attacks on Biden, Feinstein and the rest of the liberal, anti-gun crowd.

There’s only one little problem. The President never said what Rand Paul claims he said. He didn’t even come close. What he said, right after Sandy Hook, was that he would use the powers of his office to “engage my fellow citizens in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.” Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to paint Barack Obama as a friend of the gun lobby. He’s not. But it seems to me that a United States senator, particularly one who is evidently running to succeed Obama in the White House, needs to be a little more careful with the words he uses.

paulOn the other hand, Rand Paul’s fundraising appeal struck me as a bit more strange than just the fact that he misquoted the president because the letter had Paul’s return address as being in Virginia, and I thought he was from Kentucky. But it turns out that the letter wasn’t sent from Paul at all; it was actually produced by a political PR firm called Saber Communications, whose address is the same town in Virginia which is the headquarters of the NAGR.

So here we have a very interesting three-way connection between a putative presidential candidate, a PR firm that does work for the candidate and a so-called advocacy group that claims to represent the interests of gun owners nationwide. What exactly is this advocacy group known as NAGR? Turns out it was founded in 2001 by a conservative political operative in Colorado named Dudley Brown, who used to claim that he graduated from Colorado State University when, in fact, henever graduated from Colorado State or anywhere else. Brown operated primarily at the state level until he was able to piggy-back onto Glenn Beck, the Tea Party and any other right-wing group to which he could attach his organization’s name.

In addition to tirelessly sending out fundraising appeals, the NAGR also has an affiliated PAC which ostensibly lobbies in Washington on issues involving gun rights. In a press release of October, 2013, Brown claimed that his group spent more than $1 million and “led the effort against gun control” on Capitol Hill. But I’m not sure if the money spent by NAGR went into political campaigns, or lobbying efforts, or is being spent primarily on phony and misleading fundraising appeals like the one I recently received. I took a look at NAGR’s tax return for 2010, and of the $1.6 million in revenue for that year, direct lobbying was $118,000 but nearly $1 million went for internet marketing and direct mail. And I’ll bet that most of that dough was paid to Saber Communications whose owner, Michael Rothfield, sits on the NAGR Board.

The attempt to generate income for a for-profit PR operation by chasing gun owners for donations hasn’t escaped the attention of gun folks, many of whom consider NAGR to be nothing more than a fundraising scam. Gun owners tend to be careful with their money, so comments made about NAGR on such gun blogs as AR-15.com,Smith & Wesson Forum and Gun Broker Forum. Com should alert Senator Paul to the fact that a population he considers to be solidly in his corner won’t be there much longer if he doesn’t polish up his act and stop allowing the NAGR to use his name just to enlarge the revenues of a privately-held PR firm.

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He’s At It Again: Rand Paul Protects Gun Owners From Nothing

In February I wrote a post about Rand Paul’s effort to block the nomination of Vivek Murthy to be Surgeon General because of Murthy’s comments about guns.  Paul’s early efforts to inject himself into the 2016 Presidential race is being run on a shoestring, all the more reason why he needs to pander to groups like the NRA. But now Paul has taken several more steps to the Right and is sending out fundraising appeals for a lobbying organization – The National Association of Gun Rights – which calls itself the “conservative alternative” to the NRA.

paulThis time around Paul is taking aim at an old enemy, the United Nations Small Arms Treaty and its outgrowth, a UN-sponsored project known as the International Small Arms Control Standards, a.k.a. ISACS.   The task of the ISACS is to create the actual methods and mechanisms to be used by treaty signatories on a voluntary basis to monitor and control illicit manufacture and shipments of small arms.  Despite the howling and yowling about the treaty by pro-gun groups, including the NRA, virtually all of the standards being developed to identify and track illicit movements of small arms are already in place for anyone who wants to bring guns into, or ship guns out of, the United States.

But even if the U.N. Small Arms Treaty never gets passed by a two-thirds Senate vote, the U.N. (and of course Obama) are already “plotting” the next step, namely the imposition of the following “radical anti-gun initiatives” on every nation that signs the treaty including: (1). National “screening’ for everyone who wants to own a gun; (2). licenses required for all sales of guns and ammunition; (3). restrictions on the number and amount of guns and ammunition that anyone could own; (4). bans on magazines with capacities of more than ten rounds; (5). bans on concealed-carry licenses for self defense.

According to Senator Paul, this treaty and the Control Standards being implemented behind it amount to a complete loss of national sovereignty and an end to gun ownership in the United States.  Incidentally, the Senator not only knows what the treaty and the standards document contain, he also knows that the United Nations is “plotting” to put it all into effect. The only person I know who sees more plots going on around him than Rand Paul is Glenn Beck.  In the case of the U.N. Small Arms Treaty and ISACS, however,  it’s simply not true.

There is not a single word in either the treaty or the standards that have been drafted to date that mandates or even talks about anything having to do with legal, private ownership of small arms. The whole point of the U.N.’s small arms effort is to help countries, particularly in underdeveloped areas, control the shipment of small arms because so much of the anti-government violence and instability in these countries is fueled by underground or black-market supplies of ammunition and guns.  Many third-world governments (e.g., Somalia) simply do not have the resources to either monitor their own borders or maintain stability because it’s so easy to transport and distribute small arms.  Recall that our troops paid a heavy price because even we couldn’t control shipments of illicit small arms into Afghanistan and Iraq.

I have no objection to Rand Paul seeking aid and comfort from political allies like the NRA or the NAGR.  I donate money to the candidates of my choice, so why should I be upset when a politician whom I don’t particularly respect hits up people who might be aligned with his point of view?  But going after the gun vote is one thing, inventing reasons for my support out of whole cloth is something else.  There is not a grain of truth to what Rand Paul is saying about the U.N. Small Arms Treaty, and he’s insulting me and every other NRA member by sending out a fundraising appeal loaded with statements that are just wide of the mark.