A New Tell-All Book About The NRA Which Misses The Point.

Josh Powell is a gun guy who spent November 14, 2012, talking to the management of Cerberus, the equity group that owns a bunch of gun companies, including Bushmaster and Remington Arms. The next day he woke up and learned that a loony 21-year old in Newtown, CT had walked into an elementary school and killed 26 adults and kids using a Bushmaster gun.

              Four years later, Powell found himself working as the right-hand guy for Wayne LaPierre, and three years later he found himself unemployed. He claims he is now putting together a group “from both sides of the political aisle to research gun violence without bias, using the best available tools and approaches.” In the meantime he’s just written a book, Inside The NRA, which is supposed to tell us how and why America’s ‘most powerful political group in America’ has become undone.

              Unfortunately, Powell spent so much of his NRA time sweeping out the detritus from under Wayne-o’s desk that even though he relates all kinds of juicy gossip about the battles between the NRA and its enemies as well as some of its friends, the book suffers from being too focused on all the trees in the forest but the forest itself remains somehow out of sight.

              When it came to the political pro-and-con about guns, the NRA and its pro-gun allies had the field to themselves until Sandy Hook. Clinton did get a background-check bill through Congress, but everyone acknowledged that it was, at best, a marginal response to gun violence. Ditto the assault weapons ban which disappeared after ten years.

              What changed after Sandy Hook was the beginning of the first, real grass-roots gun-control organization thanks to Shannon Watts and her gals, with another thanks to Mike Bloomberg and his dough. There is no question that Wayne-o’s angry, almost apoplectic defense of guns a week after the Sandy Hook massacre was the event which began to tun the tide.

               Powell claims that the increasingly alt-right rantings and polemic delivered by Loesch and other NRA-TV actors upset some members of the NRA Board, but what evidently brought about the split between McQ-A and the NRA was the pathetically-low number of viewers who watched a video channel with production costs running into the millions every month.

              What neither Powell nor anyone else either at the NRA or at their PR agency seemed to grasp was that moving the NRA’s messaging towards hysterical liberal-bashing and away from the folksy, good-ol’-boy image of family, hunting, friends and guns was not going to draw more supporters into the NRA fold. The biggest problem with NRA’s video effort was that the video productions that pushed the political messaging were just so boring, never mind dumb.

              Here’s a one-minute video spot by Dana Loesch. Watch it once, fine. Watch it a second time? Give me a break. Now here’s an ad for NRA’s hunting division. You may have absolutely no interest in hunting, but who wouldn’t want to watch this ad and send it around to friends?

              Given the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency, the NRA’s decision to endorse Trump and stoke his campaign with a huge cash infusion was not such a bad idea, . But the organization’s decision to compete in the media circus dominated by Breitbart and Alex Jones couldn’t have been any worse.

              I have been going to the NRA annual show since 1980, and at that show a Republican Presidential candidate named Ronald Reagan showed up and gave a brief speech. Everyone at the how knew that at some point Reagan would be endorsed by the NRA and frankly, nobody cared. For most NRA members the whole point of their membership isn’t about politics, it’s about guns.

              What Powell seems to miss is that the NRA is ultimately a social, not a political entity. If he’s hoping to develop a new gun organization in the wake of the NRA’s demise, it’s not going to attract gun owners by supporting ‘unbiased’ research. Gun nuts don’t like research. They like guns.

Think We’ll Reduce Gun Violence By Getting Rid Of The NRA? Think Again.

              I took a sabbatical earlier this year because I wanted to focus my thoughts and work on more general political issue, in particular the 2020 Presidential campaign. But many of the stories which have shaped the campaign happen to revolve around guns. Think about all the pictures of anti-lockdown demonstrators running around legislative buildings with their AR’s, or the couple in St. Louis brandishing guns to protect their home from a BLM rampage, or the near-daily stories about the sudden increase in shootings here and there – you get the point.

              But the incident which made me decide to begin again contributing my fifty cents to the gun debate was what happened yesterday when New York State’s Attorney General, Letitia James, announced that she was going to try to get rid of America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ a.k.a, the NRA.

              Now I happen to have been a member of the NRA since 1955, and I am currently a Patriot Life Member Benefactor member, which means I give them enough money each year so they can’t throw me out, no matter what I say. I recently renewed my Golden Eagle membership, and received a lovely, little pen-knife with the NRA logo. I also just chipped in some more money to the Joe Biden Victory Fund for which I received a picture of Joe. . Anyway, back to the NRA.

              I knew the boys in Fairfax made a big mistake when they endorsed Trump at their annual meeting in May, 2016. The NRA had never previously endorsed a candidate until October, and they always endorsed the GOP nominee anyway. The gun group then donated $30 million to the Trump campaign, more than twice what they gave Romney in 2012.

              I never understood these actions because what was Trump going to do? Come out against gun ‘rights?’ If anything, he used the 2nd Amendment as a leitmotif for his campaign, which only ended up putting the NRA in the cross-hairs of the other side. Prior to the election, the NRA had also done something really stupid by sending a delegation to a gun ‘rights’ conference in Russia, a country that has almost no civilian gun ‘rights’ at all. This stupid trip was the handiwork of a Russian, Maria Butina, who was ultimately arrested in 2018 and convicted of being a Russian ‘spy.’

              Butina was a spy like I’m a spy. She didn’t register as a ‘foreign agent’ because she was just young, stupid, and dumb. But the way the law reads, if you’re paid by a foreign government to do anything political in the United States, you have to register with the DOJ. Because Butina went palling around in DC with this lobbyist and that government official, she was engaged in political work and was, therefore, a spy.

              What was going on in D.C. during 2018? The Mueller investigation was going on. So the alleged Russian infiltration into American politics was everybody’s media headline every day. What a perfect time for the NRA to appear as yet another handmaiden for the Putin-Trump gang.

              There’s a lot more to how and why the NRA ended up facing the New York State AG’s firing squad, not the least of it having to do with the stupid insurance scam the NRA tried to peddle to its membership, the bizarre decision to hire Oliver North as organizational President when he was already on the payroll of the NRA’s advertising agency, the public battle with the ad agency, Ackerman-McQueen, which brought all kids of sleazy behavior into view; there’s plenty more and you can read it right here.

              That being said, I don’t think that the response of the gun-control community is necessarily the right way to go. Because putting up statements on the internet supporting a shut-down of Wayne-o and his gang doesn’t deal with the fundamental problem that confronts us in trying to reduce the violence that causes 125,000 deaths and injuries every year.

              And that fundamental problem is that a majority of Americans, including non-gun owners, happen to believe that having a gun around the house is more of a benefit than a risk. And this viewpoint won’t go away even if the NRA goes away.

New York State Goes After The NRA.

When I was a kid living in Washington, D.C., my two favorite places to visit was the FBI Building and the gun museum at the headquarters of the NRA. I loved going on the FBI tour because at the end of the tour you went into the firing range and watched one of the agents shoot off a fully-automatic machine gun. And then they would ask if anyone wanted to take home the spent shells! I had boxes of empty 45-caliber brass in my bedroom for years (my mother bless her soul, threw all that crap out.)

What I didn’t know back then was that even though the NRA’s home office was situated in Washington, D.C., in fact the organization was still registered as a non-profit in New York State. That’s because the NRA had been founded in New York State and operated a firing range out on the border of Queens and Nassau Counties, where a state mental hospital named Creedmore now stands.

The NRA moved down to D.C. sometime shortly before or after World War II. The home office was then relocated in a D.C. suburb, Fairfax, VA, sometime later on. When the sh*t started to hit the fan a couple of years ago with stories about financial mismanagement by Wayne-o and the gang, for the life of me I never understood why the organization didn’t move its non-profit registration to another state.

I ran several non-profit organizations in New York back in the 1980’s, and I can tell you that New York State even back then did a regulatory job on non-profits like no other place. They not only required every non-profit to file a state tax return, they also had rules on the percentage of money you collected which could be spent for anything other than the express purpose of the charity itself. I don’t think there was any other state that has ever imposed requirements on non-profit expenditures which are in any way as comprehensive as what exists in New York.

Not only does New York State tell every charity how much they can and cannot spend on salaries, travel, perks and so forth, the state also has a separate agency which watches the behavior of all charities to make sure that they operate on the up-and-up. Again, this is very much unlike other states.

You would think that at some point in the last 20 years as the argument over gun control grew more heated all the time, that the NRA would have simply filed its non-profit registration in another, less regulatory-minded state. Didn’t those guys in Fairfax remember that the current Governor of New York, Andy Cuomo, is the same Andy Cuomo who wrote and brokered the gun-control deal between he Clinton Administration and Smith & Wesson which almost put the gunmaker out of business and scared the sh*t out of the rest of the gun industry back in 1990-1991?

The NRA didn’t bring this suit on just because Wayne-o and a couple of his cronies allegedly couldn’t keep their hands out of the till. They brought it on by turning a blind eye to the fact that they are still operating in a state whose governor has compiled the strongest, anti-gun record of any state-level politician in recent years.

Want more proof? Just take a look at the New York SAFE Act that Andy pushed through the legislature one night after Sandy Hook.

Will COVID-19 Kill The NRA? Maybe.

So here I was, getting’ all ready to drive down to Nashville next month for the NRA show, and America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ cancels the show.  I went to my first NRA jamboree in 1980 – it was held (believe it or not) in Philadelphia and a Presidential candidate named Ronald Reagan showed up to give a speech. I don’t remember anyone actually walking away from the exhibition area to listen to the speech. After all, how can you compare the joys of eating a nice, greasy corn dog to some political pandering about a ‘welfare queen?’

That was then – this is now. What I find so impressive and even somewhat quaint about the NRA show is how little things change from year to year. The guns are the same, the appeals to liberty, freedom and all the other patriotic co-branding is the same, the food is the same (nothing that could remotely be considered ‘health food’ is sold at the show) and the t-shirts are the same.

Most of all, the people are the same, and if there is one concession I would love to have at an NRA show, it’s the renting of those little, electric carts which allow people to ride around who otherwise can’t walk. Oh, you say, it’s too bad that so many gun owners have been crippled by some kind of accident or disease. Wrong. They can’t walk because they are too fat. You’ll never see so many huge people in one public space at the same time.

Thanks to the ‘Chinese’ virus (Trump’s use of that word is the single, most disgusting thing that any American President has ever said) I’ll have to wait until 2021 to visit with all my friends at the NRA. But my visit to next year’s show assumes there will be a show. And the way things are going for the organization of which I happen to be a Hall of Fame, Defender of Freedom, Benefactor Member, I’m not sure there will be a 2021 show that I can attend.

I was even hoping to wear the NRA Patriot’s Medal I received after I sent Wayne-o some extra cash. But from reports that have recently surfaced in the media about all kinds of cash-flow problems in the Fairfax home office, even the organization’s top leadership is feeling the crunch. Staff have been laid off, some temporarily, some permanently. Local meetings and get-togethers have been cancelled as well. Until last week, you couldn’t go to a gun show anywhere in the United States without seeing a big Welcome! Banner from the NRA. Now there are no gun shows.

What caught my eye in the NRA’s shut-down announcement, however, was not the fact that their remaining staff is going to be working from home. Rather, it was a comment in Wayne-o’s letter sent to the entire organization which told employees to “contact any germane state or federal agency to determine eligibility for any additional aid.”

Hey, wait a minute! Just wait one gol dern minute! I thought the only people who ever go to the government for ‘aid’ are the welfare cheats, the illegals scamming the food stamp system, all those good-for-nothings who steal hard-earned money grabbed by the government from honest, decent, law-abiding folks like you and me. The NRA is now saying that the same government whose jack-booted thugs assaulted legal gun owners is the same government that can be trusted to hand out financial aid? What?

If the Covid-19 virus had stayed in China like it was supposed to, the NRA would have held its annual meeting in Nashville and welcomed another visit by our ‘wartime President’ who would have reminded his adoring audience that he could always be counted on to defend their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ He would have trashed all those ‘Socialists’ on the other side, probably thrown in a few curse words as well, and then run off to hold one of his Nuremberg rallies in another friendly, red-blooded state.

No wonder Trump is considering lifting the ban on stay-at-home orders. He’s the last person who ever stays home.

Look Out Wayne-o. Here Comes Rob Pincus and Dan Gross.

Watch out everybody!  There’s a new gun-control organization in town.  It’s called the Center for Gun Rights and Responsibility, and it allegedly made its first appearance at last week’s SHOT show, which I didn’t attend. But for those who did show up, they had an opportunity to meet the guy who’s going to be running this operation, who just happens to be a long-time gun-control advocate named Dan Gross. 

Is that the same Dan Gross who used to run the Brady Campaign?  Sure is. And if you want to get a little taste of what his group is going to be doing, you can watch a brief YouTube video of Dan giving a spiel about his new organization right here.  He appeared at a 2nd-Amendment rally in DC back in November, which was one of a number of events leading up to the big rally held in Richmond, VA last month. 

Now here’s the really funny part. Gross was introduced to the crowd by Rob Pincus, a self-promoting gun trainer who used his social media presence last year to publicly attack the NRA’s continued support of Wayne LaPierre. Once it looked like the boys from Fairfax might be going into free-fall, Pincus went out and started a new organization, Save the Second Amendment, whose raison d’etre is to reform the NRA and bring the gun-rights discussion back to where it belongs.

Except the real agenda of Pincus and his friends is to pick up financial support from enough pissed-off NRA members to get things moving their way. And their way is to replace the NRA with an organization that will promote gun ‘rights’ while keeping the discussion fair and balanced at the same time.

Sooner or later, someone would try to take advantage of the mess at Fairfax and try to attract disaffected NRA members to a version of NRA-lite. The terrain to the Right of the NRA has been owned for a few years by Larry Pratt and his money machine, a.k.a., the Gun Owners of America scam. So, the only direction that a ‘new’ NRA can move is slightly to the Left, which is where all these allegedly ‘reasonable’ gun owners can be found.

Pincus already has his own organization called Save the Second Amendment, which is basically a blog that promotes the idea of a smaller, more focused and more open NRA. If anyone believes that by joining forces with Dan Gross, these two airheads can even remotely begin to make their presence known in the gun-control debate, you should also be willing to defend the proposition that Martians have landed at Area 51.

Here’s what we know for sure about Gun-nut Nation: When it comes to anything having to do with protecting gun ‘rights,’ or the God-given ‘right’ to self-defense, or any other marketing slogan which connects ‘guns’ to ‘rights,’ the members of this brigade are ready, willing and able to piss away fifty bucks just about every time they are asked. Know why Rand Paul is such an ardent promoter of gun ‘rights?’ Because he’s up to his ears in promoting and directing conservative, direct mail campaigns.

The first person to truly understand and take advantage of the desire of gun owners to part with cash was Tim Schmidt, who used an internet marketing strategy known as ‘tribal marketing’ to build a very successful product called the United States Concealed Carry Association, which basically pushed the NRA out of the concealed-carry training game. The idea is you sell products to people who will buy your crap because they want to belong to a special family or group who share certain common ideas and beliefs. And what stronger belief is out there than the idea of protecting yourself with a gun?

The problem with what Pincus and Gross are trying to do is they don’t have anything to sell. And if you think the NRA has in any way lost the ability to attract gun-owning bucks, I suggest you download their recent store catalog from which I just ordered a beautiful polo shirt for only $49.95.

Is The NRA Finished? Don’t Be So Sure.

              Last week the Wall Street Journal ran a story about NRA finances based on the publication of the organization’s 2018 tax return. If this story had appeared before the impeachment thing heated up, it would have been big news. But right now media click-bait is based overwhelmingly on the contest between Schiff and Trump, with an occasional aside about how yet another member of the MAGA team can’t keep his you-know-what in his pants. Anyway, back to the fiscal and financial doings at the home office in Fairfax, VA.

              The headline of the story was what has become the standard gotcha’ narrative employed by Gun-control Nation to throw a little dirt on America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ namely, that while everything the NRA touches these days seems to  be going to Hell in a handbasket, Wayne LaPierre’s salary and benefits keep going up. Putting together his salary and some other financial perks, Wayne-o’s compensation package increased by 55%. Not bad for a guy who looked like he was going to be jettisoned from the top position earlier this year.

              The WSJ article went on at length about how Wayne-o continues to draw support from the group’s major donors, but the reporter who did the story happened to miss the most important news of all; namely, that revenue from membership dues also went up by more than 30% last year. In 2017 the revenue from dues was $128 million, last year the annual members kicked  in $170 million. Remember when everyone was predicting that the NRA was going down the tubes? Yea, right.

              I have been involved with various advocacy organizations for years, including the usual conservation, wilderness and outdoor groups. All of these organizations play an important role in promoting what I believe to be a public narrative which needs to be heard. Lately I have become invested in supporting the Boone & Crockett Club because they are becoming a strong voice in conservation and the protection of wildlife.

              That being said, most not-for-profit advocacy organizations tend to spend much of the money they receive from donations on themselves. Between salaries, perks and other staff benefits, the average dollar received by these organizations is usually split about 50-50 between the costs of getting their message out to the general public and the costs of standing around the water cooler comparing who got the best Black Friday deal.

              In that regard, the NRA’s balance sheet doesn’t look all that bad. Given the fact that next year’s financials will not contain the hefty $30 million they were spending every year on NRA-TV, if anything, they will probably be back to operating in the black. Where they are still legally vulnerable is the continuing New York State investigation concerning how Wayne, Ollie and a couple of others were double-dipping by drawing paychecks from both the NRA and Ackerman-McQueen. Know what will happen if it turns out that this behavior violated New York State not-for-profit rules?  The NRA will be assessed a financial penalty, the lawyers will negotiate over the amount for a couple of years, and then  they will pay a fine. As my grandfather would say, “det’s det.”

              I was never impressed by the NRA‘s attempt to become yet another alt-right media presence via NRA-TV. Never mind the attempt to promote a political line right out of Breitbart and Alex Jones, the one-minute spiels by Dana Loesch and Grant Stinchfield, along with Colion Noir’s prancing around were just boring to the extreme.

              People join the AAA because it’s something which just goes with owning a car, and it’s not like the annual dues make such a dent out of the household budget each year. I have renewed my AAA membership at least 20 times, I have used their emergency towing service exactly twice.

              It’s not protecting the 2nd Amendment or the fear of losing their guns which keeps NRA members in the fold. If you’re a gun owner, it’s simply something you do. Think this habit can be broken by digging up some dirt on Wayne LaPierre? Think again.

High Five to Margaret Ayers for sending me the WSJ article.

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.

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?