Now That The NRA Is Dead, Who’s Going To Be The Enemy?

              Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s that time of year, all I know is that there seems to be a definite lack of interest and activity within the ranks of the gun-control gang. Judging from the frequency of posts on various Facebook pages and the number of emails that I usually receive from Gun-control Nation every day, I don’t recall such a period of calm in the ranks of my gun-control friends at least from before Parkland, or maybe before Trump embraced the NRA at the start of his 2016 campaign.

              According to Google Search Trends, the highest number of searches for the words ‘gun control’ since July, 2018 was the week of November 4 – 11, 2018 which was the week of the mid-term elections when guns played a significant role in how some Congressional races turned out. Last week, this same search term received almost 90 percent fewer hits. The exact same trend shows up when we change the search to the ‘gun violence’ term. When we look at the trend over the past five years, again we don’t find any weekly period where the search numbers are as low as they are right now.

              What’s interesting about these numbers is that they don’t align at all with the actual gun violence trends. According to our friends at the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), the number of total shooting incidents has risen steadily from 2014 until the mid-point of this year.  In fact, if we assume that by dividing the numbers for a previous total year in half would give us more or less a valid comparison to shootings so far in 2019, there would have been roughly 26,000 events by mid-2015; right now for 2019 we stand at more than 30,000 reports. Of course the GVA is in no position to estimate total gun violence accurately because open-source data rarely covers non-fatal shootings or fatal shootings where someone picks up a gun and points it at himself. Nevertheless, assuming that GVA tracks its data using the same sources every year, their numbers make it quite clear that the overall gun violence trend is up, not down.

              How do we explain this apparent disconnect between the continued increase in gun violence versus what appears to be a lessening of interest in the problem by the gun-control advocates who should be the folks who are most motivated and involved? And you can’t put this down to any lack of gun violence events themselves. After all, just six weeks ago a disgruntled city employee killed 13 people (including himself) and wounded 4 others in a rampage at the municipal building in Virginia Beach.

              Here’s my theory and although I could be wrong, I suspect I’m actually right. When most gun-control activists think about gun violence, the first thing that pops into their minds is not the number of people killed or wounded with gunfire but the existence and the activities of ‘America’s first civil rights organization,’ a.k.a. the NRA. Every one of the 2020 Presidential wannabees from the blue team has explicitly mentioned the NRA in one campaign speech or another; beating up on the boys from Fairfax is a constant theme in virtually every gun-control fundraising email I receive.

              Right now, the problem for Gun-control Nation is that the boys from Fairfax seem to be doing a pretty good job of bashing themselves. There have been numerous public defections from the NRA Board, resignations of key senior staff, and our friends at The Trace claim that the number of government investigations has hit ten.

              In my first gun book (Volume 10 will shortly appear) I make the point that if the NRA didn’t exist, the gun-control movement would have to invent them. For that matter, if Mike Bloomberg and Shannon Watts didn’t exist, the NRA would have to invent them, too. To all intents and purposes, right now the NRA doesn’t exist. Can my gun-control friends come up with a new bogey-man to take the place of the NRA?

Advertisements

In Virginia The Gun Guys Won With Or Without The NRA.

              If I had a nickel for everyone who has predicted the demise of the NRA since the national meeting back in April, I wouldn’t have to go out today and watch a bunch of cops try to hit the broad side of the barn with the guns they haven’t cleaned since the last time they tried to punch some holes through the broad side of the barn. And until last week, between closing down their video network and stumbling through a lawsuit against their own advertising agency, there was every good reason to believe that Wayne-o and the boys from Fairfax were just hanging onto the ropes, if not down for the count.

That was then, this is now. And now happens to be what took place at the State House in Richmond, VA where America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ demonstrated that any thoughts about their impending demise might be a bit immature.

              Let’s not forget that in June there was a really bad mass shooting at Virginia Beach. And let’s also not forget that it wasn’t all that hard for gun-control groups to show up at Richmond in force because Virginia’s capitol city is less than 100 miles from Washington, D.C. But what we also shouldn’t forget is that once you leave the affluent, liberal-minded DC suburbs of Virginia and travel through the hinterland, you’re in the old South, and the old South still has folks who own lots of guns.

              The gun-control proposals promoted by a Democratic Governor who is up for re-election, included the usual comprehensive background checks and regulating assault rifles and hi-cap mags, along with a law that would have re-instated a 30-day waiting period between the purchase of handguns. And while the Democrats control the Executive Mansion at the moment, the legislature is still in GOP hands. Which means that Governor Northam’s proposals went nowhere fast.  Zilch. Finished.

            The NRA‘s strategy to defeat the gun bill was the group’s usual concoction of anti-crime rhetoric combined with support for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Here was their post-session statement: “We commend the House and Senate Republican leadership for renewing the focus on putting violent criminals behind bars and a much needed refocus on mental health initiatives.  The discussion before the Virginia Crime Commission should focus on solutions that provide strong due process and put a stop to the continued politicization of law-abiding individual’s constitutional rights.”

In other words, gun violence is caused by criminals and nuts, not by lawful gun owners exercising their Constitutional ‘rights.’ And this happens to be a very powerful argument, given the fact that a majority of Americans not only believe that violent crime is always and has always been on the rise, but that having access to a gun is a foolproof solution to the problem of crime.

Yesterday I was up in New Hampshire and drove through Swanzey, which is one of those old, red-brick factory towns which saw its best years sometime before World War II. The local propane dealer had a sign offering a starting salary of $55,000 for someone to make home deliveries – you can rent a nice, one-bedroom in the next town for $700 a month.

These are the kind of guys who can and do walk into a gun shop any time they want, plunk down five or six hundred bucks and walk out with another gun. And while they may have heard something about problems at the NRA with Wayne-o outfitting himself at Zegna or Chris Cox opening his own lobbying firm, it’s my friends in Gun-control Nation who pay attention to such headlines; those gun guys couldn’t care less.

On the other hand, those gun guys vote and they have actually met their local government reps at the annual Knights of Columbus bar-b-que or at the gun show held up the road every few months. Until and unless my friends in Gun-control Nation figure out how to communicate with those guys, what happened in Richmond last week will continue to happen in other places as well.

Why Do People Like Guns? Because They Like Guns.

              Earlier this week one of my readers sent me a link to the video of a debate I had at Northern Michigan University with John Lott.  The event was held in a large auditorium on campus and the place was filled with students, faculty and nearby residents, many of whom were gun nuts.  How do I know they were gun nuts?  Because at the beginning of my remarks I asked all the gun nuts in the audience to identify themselves by holding up their hands, and then I asked some of them to prove their gun-nuttiness by telling me and the audience how many guns they actually owned.

              As I recall, the guys who were willing to ‘fess up about the size of their gun collections said they owned somewhere between 10 and 30 guns.  I laughed in response to every single answer and then told the audience that I currently owned around 60 guns, give or take a few, and that at the moment my private collection was kind of ‘light.’

              I speak to pro-gun groups all the time. I’m something of a contrarian and I enjoy telling people what they don’t expect to hear. And when someone tells a group of gun guys that he owns 60 guns but would like to see a more serious effort made to reduce the 125,000 gun injuries we suffer every year, I can say without fear of exaggeration that this is an argument that Gun-nut Nation doesn’t often hear. I make it clear that I don’t buy into the nonsense about how all those ‘good guys’ with guns can protect us from all those ‘bad guys’ with guns. I also say that just because someone sits in a room for a couple of hours and falls asleep while someone else reads through some boring text about gun ‘safety,’ that this experience doesn’t meet even a minimal qualification for using a gun.

              What I don’t do in my public appearances is talk about the research on gun violence which has been published on both sides, for the simple reason that I don’t believe that the average person makes up his mind or even thinks about making up his mind based on data or facts. At least not the average person who owns a gun.  Why do I say this? Because I happen to have sold guns to more than 10,000 residents of Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont over the past 17 years; I have also taught the required gun-safety course to more than 7,000 residents in Connecticut and Mass., and I earn my living now by doing lethal-force certifications for local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies. So I know a heckuva lot more about how gun owners think about guns than anyone else in either Gun-control Nation or Gun-nut Nation, that’s for sure. And here’s what I know.

              People who buy and own guns do it for one, simple reason. They want to buy and own a gun. They may tell you that they need a gun to defend themselves, or they need a gun because it’s their 2nd-Amendment ‘right,’ or maybe they need a gun because pretty soon they won’t be able to buy a gun. I had a female customer, an educated business executive, come into my gun shop two weeks before the 2016 Presidential election who told me she ‘knew’ that if Hillary was elected, that she wouldn’t be able to own a gun.  How did such a crazy idea get into her head?  By the same token, I love how some gun-control advocates tell me about the ‘debunked’ research published by John Lott. As if they’ve ever read his research. Yea, right.

              I’m going to continue talking to pro-gun audiences and gun owners as often as I can. I wish that some of my dear friends in Gun-control Nation would spend a little less time talking to each other and try talking to the other side. Who knows? They might actually learn why people like their guns.  

The Supreme Court Just Shattered A Favorite Pro-Gun Belief.

              Talking about adding insult to injury. Last week the Supreme Court jumped on the ‘let’s get rid of the NRA’ bandwagon with a decision which undermined one of the basic tenets of the pro-gun movement; namely, the idea that the best way to reduce gun violence is to lock ’em up and throw away the key. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ never talks about gun owners without referring to this population as ‘law abiding,’ the idea being that as long as ‘good guys’ own guns, they will protect us from the ‘bad guys’ who own guns.

              Congress went along with this marketing scheme for selling more guns by passing a law in 1986 which gave federal judges undefined authority to increase penalties if someone was convicted of a crime in which they used a gun. So if a guy robbed a mini-mart by brandishing a knife he might be sentenced to prison for so-many years, but if he pulled out a gun, his time in jail could be many more years. 

              Giving judges arbitrary authority to impose stiffer sentences for gun crimes is not the same thing as mandatory sentences for using a gun during a criminal event.  The latter legal strategy exists in many states, but these statutes usually spell out exactly how much additional jail time will be tacked onto the sentence pronounced by the court.  In the case of the 1986 federal law, the statute is silent regarding the specific additional penalty that a criminal earns by using a gun, and these arbitrary punishments can be tacked onto the harsher penalties stuck into the federal criminal statutes by Clinton in 1995.

              There has been a lot of back and forth over the years about whether criminal charges for violating gun laws make any real difference when it comes to how we try to deal with violent crime. For the most part, tacking an additional criminal charge onto a case of armed robbery doesn’t change the fact that the offender invaded someone’s convenience store and tried to take away money or goods with force. In fact, the studies on whether longer sentences for gun crimes reduces violence shows little, if any connection between sentencing and crime rates at all.

              Studies aside, there’s always been some kind of nostalgia for the idea that at some point in the distant past, we were tougher on crime and criminals than we are today. And much of this nonsense is peddled by the same hot-air balloons who are quick to remind us that everything has gone down the drain since we let the ‘element’ move into our neighborhoods, get more welfare and food stamps and vote multiple times so that a guy born in Kenya could end up living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for eight long, miserable years.

              That’s right. The bottom line on all this talk about getting ‘tough’ on crime and particularly gun crime, is the issue of race. Because when Dana Loesch goes on NRA-TV and loudly proclaims that she uses her gun to protect herself and her family from ‘street thugs,’ she’s not talking about guys who happen to be White. The good news is that even though Dana blocked me yesterday from her Facebook page, a small legal issue between the boys in Fairfax and the PR mavens at Ackerman-McQueen, has now blocked her from appearing on NRA-TV.

              Know why my friends in Gun-control Nation didn’t mention or even notice the SCOTUS decision to redress what has been a hallowed argument by Gun-nut Nation for reducing violence caused by guns? Because the 5-4 decision found the 4 liberal justices joined by none other than one of Trump’s main guys, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. Remember when he was confirmed that all the gun-control noisemakers were saying that he would tip the balance of the Court towards a more aggressive protection of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Yea, right.

              This decision is exactly in line with what Gun-control Nation has been arguing for years. The silence is remarkable in this respect.

Want To End Gun Violence? Figure Out Why People Own Guns.

              In  1960, the Gallup organization ran a national survey in which they asked respondents whether they would support a ban on handguns. Not stricter licensing, not PTP, an absolute ban. By a margin of 60 percent, the respondents said ‘yes.’ Had we passed a gun-control law which had reflected this national survey, we would not be dealing with a public health issue known as gun violence today. And the reason that we are the only advanced country which suffers from this public health problem is that we are the only advanced country which gives law-abiding citizens the right to own handguns.

              In 1975, two years before the ‘revolution’ at the NRA meeting in Cincinnati, when a more aggressive leadership began to shift away from supporting sports shooting to pushing armed, self-defense, this same survey found that the percentage of respondents who favored a ban on private handgun ownership had dropped to 41 percent. In 2002, the number was down to 32 percent and in 2016 it hit its lowest point – 23 percent.

              Since I signed a non-disclosure agreement I am enjoined from identifying the gun company involved in this episode; let’s just say it was one of the biggest and certainly best-known gun companies in the United States – then and now.  In 1985, I was part of a team which began putting together an incentive program for gun dealers who carried this company’s products, a strategy that was a response to the ‘invasion’ of European handguns; i.e., Beretta, Glock and Sig.

              Before we designed the program, the company engaged a consulting firm to conduct a survey of potential customers, the first such survey the company had ever done. It turned out that roughly two-thirds of everyone who participated in the survey believed that law-abiding Americans should have the right to own a handgun.  This response cut across every demographic (gender, race, income,) category, every geographic area, every other way in which the respondent population was sliced and diced. And non-gun owners were just as willing to support the idea of law-abiding gun ownership as were the respondents who said they owned guns.

              Anyone who thinks that John Lott created a national ‘movement’ for armed, self-defense with the publication in 1998 of More Guns, Less Crime, needs to spend a little time thinking about the Gallup surveys mentioned above as the results of a national, marketing survey conducted in 1985.  The purpose of this column is not to validate John Lot’s work; in fact, I have published a very clear critique of his argument which can be downloaded here.

              The issue isn’t whether John Lott is a stalking horse for the gun industry’s desire to sell more guns. The issue is whether my friends in the gun-control community really understand or even want to discuss how to deal with the fact that, like it or not, America is truly a gun culture. Our belief in using a gun to commit ‘virtuous violence’ wasn’t invented by the NRA or by John Lott, and sad to say, the idea that guns are more of a benefit than a risk isn’t just a fantasy confined to the lunatic fringe.

              I keep seeing survey after survey which shows that most people now own guns is for self-defense. Are they afraid of being victims of a violent crime when the crime rate has dropped by more than half over the last twenty years? Are they afraid they might be sitting in a hi-rise office building when a 727 controlled by a terrorist slams into the 50th floor? Are they afraid they won’t be able to own a gun?

              I have yet to see a single, gun-control group try to create a narrative that acknowledges these fears. After all, it’s much easier to demonize John Lott and the NRA than to sit down and figure out feelings that are not necessarily based on reality, but are nevertheless strongly resistant to change. This task remains to be done.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Guns.

              Back in February, representatives of more than 40 medical groups got together in Chicago, spent a weekend gabbing and chowing down, and then put together a list of strategies to deal with gun violence: research, safe-storage, universal background checks, more licensing, blah, blah, blah and blah. Then in April,  group of well-meaning gun-control activists got together in Denver, spent a weekend chowing down and gabbing and then basically produced the same list. This week, the Democrats held their first debate for some of the 2020 hopefuls, and taken together, they also said more or less the same thing about gun violence.

              I may be missing something, or maybe I’m just an old, dumb gun nut, but I really don’t understand how one discussion about ending gun violence follows on another without any of them mentioning what really needs to be done. And what really needs to be done, which happens to be what has worked whenever we have regulated any consumer product to reduce injuries suffered from when it is used, is to regulate the industry which makes and sells the product. But somehow, when it comes to dealing with injuries caused by a particular consumer product called a gun, the gun industry always seems to escape any regulation at all.

              You say – wait a minute! We can’t regulate the gun industry; they’re protected by the infamous PLCAA law which keeps gun makers from being sued.  Wrong. The PLCAA law protects gun makers from being sued based on the behavior of people who use their products, which isn’t the same thing as how the products are made and sold. Want to get rid of gun violence? Do what Bill Clinton tried to do back in 1999, come up with a plan that gets rid of the guns.

              I am referring to the plan that was put together by then-HEW Secretary Andy Cuomo which imposed regulations on the industry to monitor and regulate itself at the initial point of sale. Had a few votes not disappeared in Palm Beach County, had Al Gore gone to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue instead of George Bush, this plan would probably have been imposed on every gun maker (it was briefly adopted by Smith & Wesson, resulting in the company’s temporary collapse) and the gun industry would have quickly followed the dodo bird into extinction, just like that.

              This plan required every gun maker to impose and monitor specific sales practices on every retailer who sold just one gun bearing that company’s name. Such dealers would be required to conduct fitness interviews with prospective customers before selling them a gun; install better security equipment, hire more qualified sales personnel, attend classes on gun laws, on and on and on. The gun companies would have to visit every, single dealer selling their products, fill out compliance reports which would then be submitted to some government agency to be reviewed and approved.

              There is not a single gun company which could ever come up with the resources to monitor the more than 5,000 licensed dealers who sell their guns. What the industry would be forced to do is consolidate supply to a few big-box store chains like Cabela’s and Bass Pro, with the result that most of the friendly, local gun shops which sell 90 percent of all guns would disappear.

              The gun industry fought and prevailed against this plan because they knew that if it had been implemented industry-wide, the gun business would come to an end. No gun business, no guns. No guns, no gun violence.  The problem with the plans to reduce gun violence produced by all the gun-control groups, medical associations and Presidential wannabees, is they don’t understand the gun business at all. What they do understand are the emotions and feelings of the people who want an end to gun violence but that’s not the same thing.

              I keep saying it again and again but repetition is the key to good learning so I’ll say it again: Want to get rid of gun violence? Get rid of the guns.  

How Did NRA-TV Get Undone?

              Poor Dana Loesch. America’s home school queen and one of the country’s foremost practitioners of the art of armed, self-defense, all of a sudden finds herself unemployed. For that matter, she’ll be lining up for unemployment benefits with all the other media luminaries who have spent the last few years gracing the digital portals of NRA-TV, because NRA-TV is finished and dead.

              Of course you can watch some reruns any time you want and see Colion Noir prancing around some shooting range or Grant Stinchfield bemoaning the continued downward slide of America into a socialist mess. You can even find some old videos starring Oliver North pretending to kn ow something about guns. Remember him?

              Until all the sturm und drang broke out between the boys in Fairfax and their advertising agency, Ackerman-McQueen, I didn’t know that Dana wasn’t employed by the NRA.  The press release that came from Wayne LaPierre defined her role like this: “Dana Loesch, the conservative leader, online pioneer and nationally syndicated radio host, will serve as a major national spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre named Loesch as a Special Assistant to his office for Public Communication, with direct attributable authority on NRA matters.”

              Now this statement doesn’t actually say that her salary was being paid by the NRA. But it was obviously written to give that impression, okay?  And this impression, it turns out, was a lie. Because Dana and all the other talking heads on NRA-TV were employees of Ackerman-McQueen, which happens to be suing the NRA to recover the monies they need to compensate these employees for acting jobs which will now not get done.

              All of this raises an interesting question about the past relationship between the NRA and Ackerman-McQueen, namely, which organization was the dog and which was the tail. Did the video messaging reflect what the NRA leadership wanted its members to see and hear, or was the content of NRA-TV determined by what the folks at Ackerman-McQueen thought was the best way to sell the NRA?  The answer to this question isn’t just an issue of nuance because either the membership belongs to an organization which controls its own affairs, or the organization itself has become a subsidiary to an advertising agency who viewed America’s ‘first civil-rights organization’ as just another product to be marketed and sold.

              Either way, some of the information coming out from this imbroglio makes me begin to think that maybe, just maybe the boys in Fairfax may be hanging onto the ropes.  Last week I mentioned that monthly visits to the NRA-TV website had dropped from 370,000 in February to 210,000 in May, a decline in viewership of nearly 50 percent. But an even more ominous statistic is that the number of unique visitors to the video channel in January was only 49,000; in other words, NRA-TV hasn’t even been attracting one percent of the organization’s membership – a pretty pathetic state of affairs.

              The NRA has always presented itself as the only group out there which stands between law-abiding gun owners and the anti-gun hordes. And whenever the hordes put one of their own into the White House, the NRA ramps up its messaging to underscore the ‘threat’ to our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But that’s a pretty tough sell when, to everyone’s astonishment, the tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue turned out to be a guy who basically ran an entire national campaign on his love of guns. And when this guy turns around and invites Wayne-o to the White House for the Easter Egg hunt, it gets pretty hard to convince anyone that their guns are about to be taken away.

              It’s been more than forty years since the NRA stopped promoting sports shooting and  began pushing a more extreme messaging which became the staple content for NRA-TV. But maybe this  reflected the degree to which the NRA had become the tail wagged by a dog named Ackerman-McQueen. To quote Queen Elizabeth and Tony Montana: “Every dog has his day.”

Will The NRA Survive?

              I have been reluctant to join my many friends in Gun-control Nation who have been exulting in the possible demise of the NRA because as a long-time member (I joined America’s ‘first civil rights-organization’ in 1955) I see the gun group from two very different perspectives. On the one hand, it has become a major political and PR force, using its money and influence to maintain a very public presence in and out of the government-lobbying ‘swamp’ in Washington, D.C.  On the other hand, it continues to be an important social and cultural grass-roots circle for gun owners and gun enthusiasts (read: hobbyists) in hundreds of local communities throughout the fifty states.

              On the political front, I always thought the NRA‘s decision to get into bed with Sleazy Don was a mistake. By cozying up to him so early in the 2016 campaign, the NRA was hitching its wagon to someone who was going to force them not only to support a very radical messaging narrative, but also require a complete and abrupt messaging turnaround from the previous eight years. The NRA was always comfortable demonizing liberals like Obama, but how do you maintain even a shred of credibility when you try to justify the AR-15’s that the dopes were carrying at Charlottesville, particularly the dopes representing the Nazis and the KKK?

              Of course the NRA was going to endorse Trump, they always endorse the Republican candidate, but the endorsement has usually been near the end of the Presidential campaign when it doesn’t really count for all that much. This time around, it was almost as if the NRA‘s ad agency, Ackerman-McQueen, was actually working for the Trump campaign, given the extreme messaging of noisemakers like Dana Loesch who, it turns out, was an employee of the ad agency and not, as it was claimed, working for the NRA.

              Meanwhile, the attempt by NRA to become a media presence through its video channel, NRA-TV, appears to be collapsing alongside the crumbling of the organization itself. Since February, monthly visits to the website have dropped from 370,000 to 200,000, with the decline since the April meeting a startling 35 percent! There is simply no way that this trend can continue much longer without severe repercussions for both Ackerman-McQueen and the NRA.

              On the other hand, the less-noticed but more fundamental activity of the NRA continues to grow and expand. I am referring to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any lessening of interest and activity on the weekend gun show circuit, with estimates for yearly shows running between 2,000 and 5,000 events, each of which usually attracts at least 5,000 gun nuts who will stroll past the NRA booth which is present at just about every show. Between now and mid-October, Friends of the NRA will be holding 8 social events just within 70 miles of where I live. If I lived in Baltimore, MD I could easily get to 10 weekend NRA events over the same three months. In Georgia, I can go to five events just in July and August alone. At every event there’s some good bar-b-que to eat, a gun raffle, you sit around and shoot the you-know-what with your gun nut friends.

              When it comes to this kind of activity, Gun-control Nation can’t begin to compete with the NRA. And this isn’t just a function of a long-time organizing effort, it also reflects the degree to which many gun owners define their social behavior around their ownership of guns.

              What seems to have happened over the last several years is a clear disconnect between the behavior of the NRA as defined by the leadership of the home office, as opposed to the way the organization relates to its membership in the field. Not to worry, because If the current fight between the NRA and its ad agency results in the collapse of the Fairfax operation, somebody will figure out how to capture and maintain the enthusiasm of all us nuts who really love our guns.    

Is It Time To Start A New Gun-Rights Organization?

Our friends at Media Matters have posted a pretty good summary of the financial/management problems at the NRA, even though the situation could change tomorrow and what we thought yesterday no longer holds. But the bottom line is that some of the recent disclosures on Wayne-o’s spending habits in Beverly Hills could not only cost him his job, but result in the loss of the organizations’ tax-exempt status as well.  And if it turns out that there was a conscious effort to disguise personal expenditures as business expenses, and if this effort resulted in a conscious mis-statement of IRA filings by either the NRA or its PR firm, Ackerman-McQueen, someone could be going to jail.

So let’s pretend that Wayne-o copied Paul Manafort and spent thousands of dollars on various baubles at the Zegna boutique on Rodeo Drive. And let’s further pretend that the NRA covered these purchases, and others, by billing the receipts to Ackerman-McQueen. And then let’s take the next step and pretend that Ackerman-McQueen billed these costs to the NRA as a business expense and the NRA paid the bills out of tax-exempt funds. And let’s not forget that NRA President, Carolyn Meadows, has gone on record as denying that anything untoward has happened at all. If all of this flim-flam turns out to be true, and you can read a good summary in a column on Rolling Stone, America’s gun owners may be forced to look for a new organizational home to call their own.

Well you say, that’s no problem. After all, according to our friends at the Hopkins-Bloomberg school, overwhelming majorities of gun owners support some gun restrictions, including universal background checks, higher standards for concealed-carry licensing, red flag laws and stricter controls over dealer operations. So why not form a new organization that will continue to support 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ while at the same time, advancing ‘reasonable’ restrictions on guns?

And just to keep Gun-nut Nation happy, the new NRA will continue to hold its annual jamboree as well as sponsor even more grass-roots events.  Right now there are 31 NRA events scheduled in Florida between now and October 1st. South Carolina has 10 events coming up, California has 38!

Just imagine if all these events were sponsored by a new gun-owners organization which would give you a full rack of ribs, two corn-on-the-cob and cherry pie for free, because Mike Bloomberg is happy to pay for the dinner of any gun owner who signs a pledge that he’s in favor of comprehensive background checks?

There’s only one little problem with this fantasy. It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen because advocacy movements that make a real difference have to be led by the people who will be affected most by the laws that are going to be changed.  The civil rights movement was successful because it was led by African-Americans beginning with Martin Luther King. The gay rights movement became a potent force for gender equality when gay men and gay women felt strong enough to stand up and declare their true sexual orientation for all to see.

The problem with the movement which seeks to reduce gun violence is that new gun regulations, no matter how ‘reasonable,’ won’t really make a dime’s worth of difference to the lives of most gun-control advocates, for the simple fact that they don’t own guns. So why would they care if I want to give one of my guns to my son but he and I have to drive 30 miles to a gun shop to do a background check?

But wait a minute. I thought most gun owners also favor comprehensive background checks. That’s true. But you know what other ‘reasonable’ law gets the approval of most gun owners? A law that would let them carry a handgun in all 50 states. And I guarantee you that no gun owner will join any gun ‘rights’ organization whose agenda is determined only by folks who don’t own guns.

Think The NRA Will Change Direction? Think Again.

              Poor Wayne-o.  Here’s a guy who has spent his entire lifetime working tirelessly and endlessly for America’s gun owners and what does he get for all his efforts? He gets a drop-dead piece in Rolling Stone which has to signal the beginning of the end. My advice, incidentally, to my friends in Gun-control Nation who want to kiss LaPierre bye-bye, is that they quiet down. The last thing the boys in Fairfax would consider doing is making a management change which appears to be in response to demands from what I’ll politely call the ‘other side.’ 

              But let’s assume that Wayne-o’s tenure comes to an end. Let’s assume that the NRA Board cleans house, gets its financial affairs in order (not that any government agency has yet to charge the NRA with any illegal activity at all) comes up with a new leadership team, issues the usual ‘we can and will do better’ encomiums and goes about its way. Would any or all of those measures really change the nature or the outcome of the gun debate?  In other words, would Wayne-o’s disappearance result in a kindler and gentler NRA?

              By the way, as far as I’m concerned, the dirt being shoveled in Wayne-o’s face is nothing more than payback, given how the NRA has insulted, demonized and threatened folks who have been leading the campaign for reducing violence caused by guns. When Colorado voted to repeal comprehensive background checks in 2015, you would have thought the issue was whether Mike Bloomberg was coming to live in the Centennial State, with PSA‘s making it clear that this Jewboy needed to stay away. Shannon Watts continues to attract her share of insulting and threatening comments from NRA noisemakers like those jerk-offs Grant Stinchfield and Dana Loesch.

              On the other hand, the fact that the NRA has been trying to posture itself as a self-appointed public voice for the alt-right doesn’t mean that anything would change for the better if Wayne-o took his $5-million retirement package and disappeared. If anything, the defense of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ could become even more belligerent and more extreme.

              The NRA likes to describe itself as America’s first line of 2nd-Amendment defense, but in reality the organization is primarily focused on the South because that’s where the guns happen to be. The current Board leadership (Meadows, Childress) are both Southerners, of the 76 total Board members, 32 are from Confederate states. Visit the next annual NRA meeting and you’ll quickly realize that you may walking theough a large convention center, but you’re actually inside a big revival tent.

              The NRA counts on support from three groups. One group are gun owners who aren’t actually members, but consider gun ownership to be some kind of necessary ‘right.’ Then there are NRA members whose membership is force of habit but nothing much more. Finally and most important are the hard-core members, the folks who go to local gun events, talk up the 2nd Amendment until someone tells them to shut up, send an email to a public official or a nasty comment to me. That’s the organization’s base – that’s the core..

              Whatever happens in Fairfax, the NRA can’t afford to alienate its hard core. If anything, they need to bind their most rabid supporters as close as they can. Because what the NRA may start to lose in numbers can perhaps be made up with more noise. Which is why I don’t see the NRA becoming more ‘reasonable’ if they jettison Wayne-o, tear up their agreement with the PR firm that produces those lunatic messages for NRA-TV, and goes back to being primarily concerned with hunting and outdoor sports.

              If anything, I see the NRA becoming even more extreme, more intolerant, more unwilling to admit that maybe, just maybe, the notion that we should become a nation of gun-carrying patriots is a relic of the past. It’s a lot easier to change direction when you have enough support that it doesn’t matter if a few folks drop off here or there. But if, all of a sudden, every dime counts, you’re not about to do anything that would jeopardize the mother lode.