When It Comes To Gun Laws, The NRA Isn’t The Last Word.

              All of a sudden the boys down at Fairfax have become very concerned about doing everything with guns in a very legal way. The NRA website no longer contains those obnoxious, crazy videos from Dana, ‘home-school Queen’ Loesch, or the dance-and-prance shooting lessons from Colion Noir. Instead, now we get a whole menu of tips and tricks about how to make sure that everything you do with a gun stays completely within the law.

              Except there’s only one little problem with the NRA‘s new-found concern for making sure that all gun laws are properly observed.  And the problem happens to be the fact that the way the NRA chooses to describe certain gun laws may not be the way some of those laws actually work. Take, for example, their advice on how to purchase a gun as a gift for someone else.

              The comment starts off like this: “Giving someone a firearm carries a certain level of legal responsibility that does not come with gifting iPads or socks. You should know the laws that apply to buying firearms as gifts for another person.” Fair enough. I have no problem with the NRA‘s advice up until now.

              But then things get a little sticky, because the text then goes on to mention the fact that if you purchase a gun from a dealer, you must undergo a background check which involves declaring that you are buying the gun for yourself. But what if you knew that after buying the gun you were going to walk out of the store, wrap the gun up as a gift and give it to someone else? And let’s say further that you live in a state where giving that gun to someone else doesn’t require another background check? Which still happens to be the law in 29 of the 50 states.

              Here is what the NRA has to say about that: “Even if you are not keeping the gun, you are the owner of that firearm until you legally transfer it to the intended recipient.” Sorry,  but that’s not how the background check law works at all. Because what the law says is that you have committed a felony if you knew you were going to transfer the gun to someone else at the time you first purchased the gun and claimed on the 4473 background-check form that you were buying it for yourself.

              This issue was decided by the Supreme Court in Abramski v. United States, which was argued and decided in 2014. Bruce Abramski was a part-time cop who walked into a gun shop in Virginia and bought a Glock. He then took the gun to Pennsylvania and gave it to his uncle who had earlier sent him the money to purchase the gun. But to take the gun out of the shop in Virginia, Abramski had to undergo a background check, and even though he was buying the gun for his uncle, he certified that he would be the legal owner of the gun.

              Had Abramski paid for the gun in Virginia but let the dealer ship it to another dealer in the uncle’s hometown, he would have been following the law. But by walking out of the Virginia gun shop with a gun which he knew was going to be given to someone else, he had committed what we call a ‘straw sale.’

              Abramski didn’t lie on the 4473 because he was going to sell the gun to a ‘street thug.’ He lied to save himself the cost of shipping the gun to a dealer in another state.

              The real problem with gun laws, and this is probably true of the legal system in general, is that you can’t write a law that compensates for stupidity, and there’s plenty of stupidity floating around the NRA.

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Bloomberg-Watts Vs. LaPierre Isn’t A Fair Fight.

              I went to my first NRA show in 1980. It was held in Philadelphia (of all places) and featured an appearance by a Presidential candidate named Ronald Reagan. I don’t recall his speech attracting much attention, I also don’t recall that there were any vendors promoting ‘tactical’ products or any of the other crap which currently provides the gun industry with its marketing mantra about how and why guns are needed for personal defense.

              That was then, this is now. The last time I went to the NRA, which was the 2014 Indianapolis gathering, you would have thought we were one step away from having to defend ourselves from an ISIS invasion or from a complete and total disarming of the American population, or both. No matter where you looked, there was endless signage exhorting everyone to prove their patriotism by making sure that liberals, gun-grabbers and all sorts of other left-wing radicals (including the African-born occupant of the White House) would never get a chance to take away ‘our’ guns.

              At some point during the Indianapolis hoopla I wandered into the business meeting where the now-deposed head of the NRA-ILA, Chris Cox, was giving a speech. And here was the sentence that I remember most of all: “The 5 million members of the NRA will not allow Michael Bloomberg to lie his way, buy his way, or bully his way into taking away our Second Amendment rights!” The reason I remember this line was because the week prior to the show, the New York Times carried an article which claimed that Mayor Mike had decided to ante up $50 million to promote gun-control programs, chiefly through investing in the growth of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, founded by Shannon Watts.

              Yesterday the Washington Post took some time out from celebrating the doomed Presidency of Schmuck-o Trump to interview Shannon Watts, the headline reading: “The NRA is weaker than they’ve ever been.” Which, if anything, is something of an understatement given what has happened to the boys in Fairfax over the last couple of years. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has gone from getting the red-carpet treatment at the White House to shutting down its media channel, losing Board members and spending what little dough it has in the  bank account to defend itself from legal threats all over the place. You think the investigation into the NRA‘s non-profit status being conducted by the state whose Governor wrote the infamous Clinton plan to regulate the gun industry isn’t a serious threat?  Think again.

              In the olden days, the only reason the NRA was considered such a powerful force was that the other side, the gun-control side, didn’t have any kind of financial or organizational clout. But once Mayor Mike decided to move into the business of growing a gun-control movement, I knew that the NRA‘s dominance in the public discussion about guns would quickly come to an end. And I didn’t have to be any kind of self-appointed genius to figure that one out. I simply made a quick comparison between the achievements and experiences of Mike Bloomberg versus Wayne LaPierre.

              Mike Bloomberg took a $10 million partnership payment from Salomon Brothers in 1981 and created an international media company which today has locations worldwide, employs more than 20,000 and may have annual revenues in excess of $10 billion bucks. He’s probably worth more than $50 billion, which makes Wayne-o’s alleged financial excesses look like chump change.

On the other hand, Wayne LaPierre has never worked in the private sector and his experience in building any kind of organization adds up to zilch.  When he took over the NRA in 1991, he pushed the membership from 2.5 to 3.5 million; in the process he entirely used up the organization’s financial reserves. So much for Wayne-o’s business acumen.

If the NRA stops trying to lead the alt-right and goes back to representing the legitimate needs of hunters and sport shooters, this would be a very good thing. Going up against Shannon and Mike is something they better avoid.

Think The NRA Throws So Much Money Around? Think Again.

              The mail today included a new and interesting messaging resource for the gun debate, namely, a printed newsletter, The Brady Report, published by our friends at the Brady Campaign. It’s a glossy, four-page document containing brief stories about how the Brady organization is coming down hard on Gun-nut Nation as we gear up for next year’s national campaign. 

              I get almost daily mailings from the NRA, along with a clothing catalog and requests for money from Wayne-o who seems to think that the stink which came out of the stories about his financial flim-flams are a thing of the past. But this is the first time I have ever received a printed communication from the good guys on the other side.

              What caught my eye about the Brady newsletter, however, was a comment from Kris Brown, the President of Brady, who said this: “the gun industry has been making massive donations to their political defenders, making it nearly impossible to pass sensible, lifesaving measures or even to hold manufacturers accountable and put unscrupulous dealers out of business.”

              I’ve been hearing about these ‘massive donations’ made by the gun industry to their political friends for lo, these many years. With all due respect to our friends at Brady and in particular to a dedicated and committed activist like Kris Brown, I’m just not sure this so-called ‘massive’ financial support for pro-gun members of Congress is really all that massive or makes all that much difference at all.

              In 2018, the average cost of a Congressional campaign was $1.5 million for a House seat, more than $5 million for a statewide race. According to Open Secrets, the NRA gave a total of just under $700,000  to all GOP Congressional candidates, which means that, on average, each member of the red team got $2,500 bucks. That’s less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the money needed to run a Congressional campaign. Some of the key GOP leadership in both houses got more – Cruz (R-TX) gets $9,900, Scalise (R-LA) gets $5,450, but most of the spear-carriers are given a whole, big two grand for their campaigns.

              As for the gun manufacturers themselves, companies like Smith & Wesson, Glock and Sig don’t have a PAC.  In fact, even though they benefit from the lobbying done on their behalf by the NRA, in the greater scheme of things they don’t give zilch. The NRA‘s lobbying arm, NRA-ILA, gets its money from the same nickel-and-dime donations the NRA receives from its four million or five million or whatever number of members the organization claims to have.

              Let me make one point very clear, okay?  If the NRA were to close down tomorrow it would make no difference to me.  In fact, they would probably first try to sell off all their nice embossed polo shirts and I’d jump at the opportunity to buy a couple of their shirts at half price. But the argument they make about being the ‘first line of defense’ for the 2nd Amendment has about as much reality behind it as the argument made by Brady and other gun-control groups who claim they are the ‘last line of defense’ against the all-powerful NRA.

              The reason most red-state politicians vote pro-gun is because they represent constituents for whom owning a gun is no different than owning any other basic consumer item found around the house. The average gun owner who walks into my gun shop to buy another gun puts about as much psychic concern into that decision as he puts into deciding which lottery ticket to buy when he stops at the mini-mart for coffee on his way to work.

              Until and unless the gun-control movement confronts the fact that gun nuts don’t think of their guns as ‘weapons of war,’ or ‘threats to public health’ or any other fearsome sobriquet used to describe what is, to them,  just another adult toy, there won’t be the slightest chance that the gun industry will actually have to start putting its money where its mouth is to continue keeping America awash in gun.

Is Concealed-Carry Good Or Bad?

              Last week when I was at the gun show, I overheard a conversation between three gents standing in line at the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk, which was the most popular booth at the show. The topic being discussed in very serious tones was this: If you could only keep one handgun to carry around for self-defense, which gun would it be?

              Now readers of this column may find such a discussion ridiculous, stupid, or worse, but what do you want three guys on Social Security to talk about – the national debt? I mean, what could be more important to the future of American civilization than whether I should be walking around with a Sig, a Springfield or a Glock?

              The truth is that most, if not nearly all the 15 to 20 million Americans who go to the trouble of getting a concealed-carry (CCW) permit rarely, if ever actually carry a gun. First of all, you don’t need to carry a gun because it’s not as if you will ever find yourself in a situation where the gun would make the difference between getting or not getting hurt. Second, the gun is heavy and unless it’s kept concealed you’re going to wind up in the back of the patrol car with your gun comfortably resting on the front seat. Third and most important, sooner or later you’ll put the gun on the floor so that you’re more comfortable while you take a dump, and the gun will somehow not go back into the holster while you hitch up your pants.

              There isn’t a single boy in the United States who by the age of twelve hasn’t seen hundreds of bad guys being shot in video games, movies or TV.  If anything makes America exceptional, it’s how we have created a culture which celebrates ‘virtuous violence’ with the use of a gun. How many states now have stand-your ground laws?  Try thirty-three.

              Notwithstanding the sanctimonious and holier-than-thou preaching of so-called gun experts like David Hemenway and John Donahue, the fact is that gun owners with concealed-carry licenses are not only extremely law-abiding, but rarely, if ever, engage in unlawful or dangerous behavior with their guns. The last time I checked, the Violence Policy Center has still been unable to identify more than 600 CCW-licensed individuals who committed a fatal gun assault over the last 12 years.  Fifteen million people have CCW, less than 50 commit a fatal gun assault every year and that makes CCW-holders a threat to community safety?  Give me a break.

              On the other hand, anyone who thinks that these law-abiding armed citizens constitute the frontline of defense against all those street ‘thugs’ is also just blowing smoke.  Sure, every once in a while someone pulls a gun out from underneath the counter and plans to rob the mini-mart go awry. But the NRA has never been able to validate such acts of civilian bravery more than 50 times a year.  The bottom line is that the notion that we are becoming a nation of armed citizens basically gets down to the old guys who were amusing themselves talking about their favorite handgun while standing on the Dunkin’ Donuts line.

              What motivated me to write this column was an exchange between Corey Booker and Meghan McCain on The View, in which Meghan claimed that her brother would never give up his guns if Booker became President in 2021 and instituted a gun buyback plan. If the government repurchased all AR rifles there would be plenty of black guns that wouldn’t get turned in. But such a buyback would also result in no more new assault rifles being made or sold.

              Now if someone would finally be honest enough to admit that by repurchasing all guns which really cause gun violence (i.e., handguns) then maybe, just maybe we could end gun violence once and for all.  But if we did that, what would those guys waiting for their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee have to talk about?  The national debt?

The NRA Might Be Down, But They’re Not Out.

              There was a surprise for me in my mailbox yesterday, namely, the November issue of American Rifleman, which happens to be the premier publication of the NRA.  The reason I was surprised was that back in April, a detailed story by Mike Spies that was carried in The New Yorker and The Trace provoked an avalanche of criticism about America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ which made it appear that the pro-gun group was headed for a quick demise.

              Not only did the NRA find itself being attacked for shabby bookkeeping, sweetheart business dealings and all kinds of other nefarious deeds, but for the first time in more than 40 years, an attempt was made to jettison the leadership and bring in an entirely new management group. The effort collapsed when it turned out that the chief promoter of this coup d’etat, Oliver North, was himself profiting from an inside deal with the NRA‘s advertising agency which led to the NRA giving the boot both to North and to the advertising agency as well.

              Despite this reprieve, the news for the NRA kept getting worse and worse, with simultaneous investigations being carried out by the New York State Attorney General (the NRA is incorporated in New York as a not-for-profit corporation) along with an investigation by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) about the alleged connections between the NRA and Maria Butina, the so-called Russian ‘spy.’ The latter effort resulted Wyden’s report which didn’t show any unlawful NRA activity at all; the former investigation will shlep on until even the cows in all those upstate New York counties come home.

              What really got things going, however, was that more than 80 people were killed and injured in two mass shootings which occurred in just two days. The shooting in El Paso on August 3 took 22 lives and injured 24 more; the next day a shooting in Dayton resulted in another 10 killed and 27 injured. That’s quite a score.

              Whenever there is a mass shooting two things occur: 1). There is an immediate spike in media coverage and public concern about the event; 2). The gun-control narrative to define these shootings invariably finds some way or another to blame the NRA. Either the NRA is guilty of preventing laws that would curb the violence, or the NRA promotes armed, self-defense which is just another way to spread the idea that guns are good, gun-grabbers are bad.

              After all the sturm und drang about guns after those mass shootings, the whole issue of gun control has once again gone back to where it always sits; namely, nobody really cares about it at all. The keywords ‘gun violence’ spiked to four times the usual level of Google searches during the week of August 4 -10; it’s now back to just about the lowest level recorded this year. As for the Presidential candidates, they went through their usual talking-points about guns during their last debate, but the fact that gun control is no longer a toxic issue for Democrats is old news.

              On the other hand, getting back to my beloved American Rifleman, the issue contains the usual mélange of reviews of new guns and shooting products and a great article on the M1903-A1 Springfield that was our sniper rifle in World War II. But the issue also contains a lengthy op-ed by Wayne-o, which can be seen on the NRA website, a commentary about the ‘future of the NRA.”

              Compared to the NRA’s messaging over the last few years, Wayne-o’s commentary is actually pretty tame stuff. Gone is the bombast of video performers like Colion Noir, gone is the racially-tinged stupidities of Dana Loesch, gone is the attempt to make the NRA a leading voice for the alt-right. If anything, the tone and content of Wayne-o’s spiel reminds me of what I heard when I went to NRA shows in 1980 and 1981.

              This change in NRA communication strategy actually seems to be working quite well. From April through June the NRA website registered around 500,000 visits each month. The total for September was 1,750,000 – that’s right, more than three times as many visits as when things were going to Hell.

              To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the NRA‘s death may be greatly exaggerated.

Want Another Quid Pro Quo About Arms? Try Trump And The NRA.

Last week the White House announced that it was going to release details of a new gun bill ‘very soon.’ Instead, we now learn that Trump had a meeting with Wayne-o and asked him for support against a possible impeachment in return for not pushing any new legislation about guns. Isn’t this kind of quid-pro-quo exactly what Trump did with the President of Ukraine? After all, Trump tried to extort a promise from Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden in exchange for a shipment of guns.

The White House, of course, denied that any such discussion between Trump and the NRA took place. But this report was filed by Maggie Haberman and she has never been accused of writing a story which turned out not to be true.

It’s one thing, however, to try and enlist the head of another nation-state to help your political campaign. It’s another to ask a tin-horn nobody like Wayne Lapierre to save the ship of state. After all, if the NRA is keeping itself afloat by borrowing against the life-insurance policies of its executive staff, how much clout does America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ wield these days?

Which brings us to the report just issued by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on the NRA and the Russian ‘spy’ affair. I am still convinced, and I have seen nothing to convince me otherwise, that the Russian ‘spy’ in this case, Maria Butina, was just a dopey kid running around on behalf of the Russian company, Izhmash, which makes the original AK-47 and has been trying to get a toe-hold into the American gun market for the last ten years. The American gun market is worth millions because the gun is the non plus ultra assault rifle of all time.

Wyden’s report, however, covers new territory and contains information which, if true, could really put the final ka-bosh on Wayne-o and the NRA. The 77-page report goes into great detail about a 2015 trip to Russia by several NRA Board members, including Pete Brownell, whose company makes and sells all kinds of accessories for small-arms, although the outfit does not, as has been alleged at various times, actually manufacture guns. Nevertheless, where there’s a civilian gun market, there’s a demand for gun parts, accessories and all kinds of other gun-related junk, and during the Russian trip Brownell evidently had meetings with various Russian businessmen to discuss possible commercial relationships between Russia and the USA.

Here’s what the Wyden report is all about: “The minority staff investigation confirms that members of the NRA delegation participated in the Moscow trip primarily or solely for the purpose of advancing personal business interests, rather than advancing the NRA’s tax-exempt purpose.” The whole point of holding a tax-exempt status requires the tax-exempt organization (read: NRA) to refrain from engaging in the sort of business activities which might result in personal gain for a company owned or operated by a member of the tax-exempt organization’s Board. Brownell was Vice President of the NRA when he went to Russia in 2015 (he has subsequently resigned.) Several other NRA members were specifically designated as representing the NRA on this trip, and they also met with Russian business counterparts involved in the manufacture and sale of small arms.

I think the Wyden report is much ado about nothing and is only getting some traction because it’s easy right now to dump on the NRA. Many non-profit organizations have business big-shots on their Boards and many of these big shots find it convenient, from a business perspective, to promote their own business interests while, at the same time, helping the non-profit achieve its organizational goals. The report could not cite a single instance in which any blabbing between NRA officials and anyone in Russia resulted in an exchange of money, goods or anything else.

But we’re not talking about just any non-profit, we’re talking about the organization whose support of Donald Trump is considered by many to have been what allowed El Shlump-o to grab the 2016 brass ring. Now that it’s pay-back time in DC, what otherwise might have simply been seen as ‘boys being boys’ could turn into the issue which brings the NRA curtain down.

Thanks to Tom Johnson for tipping us off about the Wyden report.

What Are You Doing on September 25th?

Even if you have something else to do, you might think of coming to DC next week to participate in a national demonstration aimed at getting Congress to pass some rather obvious laws that will reduce gun violence. The laws are such draconian measures as expanding background checks, banning assault rifles, you know, all those terrible infringements on our beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Except the only ‘right’ protected by the 2nd Amendment in its current (2008) iteration is to keep a handgun in your home.

That being said, I guarantee you that in the morning’s Judiciary Committee hearing on banning assault rifles, virtually every member of the NRA – oops! – I mean the GOP, will make an impassioned plea to forestall any and all attempts to regulate anything having to do with guns. And what they will all say, because they’ve all said it so many times that they know the script by heart, is that they simply cannot allow a bunch liberal, do-goods from around the country to pressure them into backing down from their sacred duty to protect Constitutional guarantees.

And these do-gooders, incidentally, will represent various organizations from all over the place, and they will get together on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building at 1 P.M. This is hardly the first time that folks have come together in DC to ask Congress to do something, anything about gun violence and it won’t be the last. The simple fact is that most GOP politicians still feel they can respond to gun violence by voicing their thoughts and prayers whenever a particularly nasty shooting takes place. As my grandfather used to say, they’re basically a bunch of “dem fools.”

Incidentally, one of the largest contingents is coming to DC from the Windy City led by Father Pfleger and his Saint Sabina group. The buses they are renting for this trip don’t come cheap, and if you want to help them out you can make a donation right here. You know the old line: Money Talks, Bulls**t Walks.” We’ll hear enough bulls**t from the minority members of the House Judiciary Committee next week, okay?

Let’s get it on, folks. Let’s keep Congress on their toes. Let’s show up in DC next week and get this thing done!

Maybe The NRA Isn’t So Crazy After All.

Along with fundraising appeals from Kamala, Bernie and the Wilderness Fund, yesterday’s mail also included a lovely letter from Wayne-o asking me to join a very exclusive NRA club – the Golden Eagles.  In fact, I have been pre-selected for membership by the NRA Honors Committee, and all I have to do is send back my acceptance form and I’m in. It’s really a great honor and I can’t turn them down.

Oh, I forgot. I also have to send a check or credit card payment for $250.

Now considering the fact that yesterday I walked into Dick’s and Titleist has the nerve to want almost $500 for a new driver which won’t get my tee shot any further down the fairway than the driver I have been using for the last ten years, I can hardly be upset that the boys from Fairfax want half that much to induct me into the Golden Eagles club.

But what I found most interesting about this appeal was how it seems to me that the Fairfax bunch may have actually decided to go back to being what they have always been before a combination of phony Trump flattery, candy-ass video personalities and cockamamie marketing schemes got them to briefly lose their minds.

Let’s start with Trump. No other Presidential candidate had ever made gun ‘rights’ the centerpiece of a national campaign. Schmuck-o Trump never made a speech without reminding everyone that he was infatuated with guns. Now the fact that he never even owned a gun or used a gun – so what?

As for NRA-TV, it was one thing to have bores like Grant Stinchfield droning on and on about the Socialist threat to gun ‘rights,’ but spicing up the video airwaves with Colion Noir prancing around or Dana Loesch giving us the tough, ‘f-me’ look? If that was the best idea cooked up by Ackerman-McQueen to promote gun sales, the agency should have been canned long before they got into a fight with the NRA Home Office over who was going to pay Wayne-o’s clothing bills.

The dumbest move made in Fairfax was when they tried to replace their traditional training approach (and the 100,000+ certified instructors) with an online training and insurance program which went nowhere fast. The trainers (I having been one of them) were the organization’s shock troops. Most trainers engaged in little actual training activities, but they were always the roots which held the grass together and could be counted on to show up in large and noisy numbers every time gun ‘rights’ faced any kind of threat.

Here’s where things stand now. Trump has stopped pushing the 2nd Amendment at his Nuremburg rallies; NRA-TV is temporarily shut down (although you can watch reruns which are even more boring than the original shows) and last month Wayne-o sent out a letter to all the trainers telling them that he was grateful for their continued support.  This was the very first communication I ever received from the NRA which didn’t ask me to respond by enclosing a credit card number or a check.

When the annual meeting turned into an exercise in the veritable sh*t hitting the veritable fan, I assumed the NRA would respond by ramping up the volume, becoming even more extreme and using the bad news about its management practices as proof that the anti-gun campaign had reached a new and dangerous pitch. But it’s pretty tough to accuse someone like Ollie North of being opposed to private ownership of guns.

On the other hand, North and his supporters may have done the NRA a great service because perhaps without realizing it, their attacks have forced Wayne-o and the remaining leadership to stop pretending that every anti-NRA message is somehow the handiwork of Mike Blomberg, George Soros and their Socialist pals. Nothing would make me happier than to see the NRA get back to its traditional role as a supporter of using guns the way they should be used.

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?

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.