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A New NRA Book That Everyone Should Read.

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              Want to read a clever, interesting, and unusually original book about guns? Try Firepower, How the NRA turned Gun Owners into a Political Force in American Politics, by Matthew Lacombe, who teaches political science at Barnard College. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because the author teaches at an Ivy League school, that he’s just another tree-hugging liberal out to explain why guns are no good.

              In fact, at no point during the entire text does Lacombe make any value judgements about guns or the people who own guns at all. What he’s bitten off to chew is the role played by the NRA, organizationally speaking, in the contours of the American political scene. And this is a significant topic at the moment, given the possibility that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ may shortly be forced to fold up its tent and disappear.

              Lacombe’s book is an examination of how the NRA turned its membership into an organized, political force that ultimately made common ground with the GOP. He divides this gradual evolution into three, distinct periods: (1). The ‘quasi-governmental’ period which ran from the 1930’s through 1968 when the NRA resisted federal gun laws but didn’t choose political sides; (2). The ‘party-group’ alignment period from the late 1960’s until the 1980’s when the NRA found itself increasingly aligned with the GOP; and (3). The ‘partisan’ period beginning with Reagan and going through Trump when the NRA’s messaging was more about politics and often never even mentioned guns or gun ‘rights.’

              Lacombe analyzes the messaging for each period by comparing editorials published each month in the NRA’s flagship magazine, The American Rifleman, and comparing with Letters to the Editor in four major newspapers, one published on the East Coast, one published on the West Coast, and two newspapers published in between. What Lacombe find is that the topics and the wording which appear in NRA editorials is usually similar to the topics and wording found in letters about guns published in the daily press.

              This content consonance between what the NRA says and what gun-owners then repeating allows Lacombe to posit the idea that the NRA has been especially successful in creating a gun-owning ideology which can motivate the members to respond whenever the politics of gun control rears its ugly head.

              The book is written in a jaunty, relaxed but academically-rigorous style. The reader will have no trouble following the detailed ins and outs of how various national gun bills were developed, introduced, debated, amended and ultimately either voted into law or ended up on the Congressional floor.

              This book should be required reading for gun-control advocates and Lacombe’s findings should be used to craft a narrative about gun violence that might convince at least some gun owners to come over to the other side.

              On the other hand, the book’s attempt to explain how the NRA has created and promoted an ideology which links gun ownership to a wider world view and then propelled NRA members into taking active roles on the political stage, is lacking in one, important respect.

              In addition to my membership in the NRA, I am also e member of Brady, Everytown, The National Parks Conservancy, Audubon, and The Wilderness Fund. I get contacted by voice, mail, or email by all those organizations put together about as often in an entire year as I hear from the NRA every, single month.

Even in the midst of the organization’s current problems with New York State, its former PR firm and a stupidly-contrived bankruptcy effort filed and now withdrawn, when it comes to the care and feeding of its members, the NRA does a job simply second to none.

As long as the NRA has enough money to publish the monthly magazine, put together their great clothing catalog and start taking reservations for the annual meeting and show, they will have no trouble getting their members to overwhelm politicians who would like to see gun ‘rights’ disappear.

Want To Get Rid Of The NRA?

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              I just received my annual request from Wayne LaPierre to renew my membership in the Golden Eagles program, which means I’m expected to send him a nice, big check. I’m already a Patriot Life Member – Benefactor Level and a Defender of Freedom, two other accolades which demonstrate that I send them big bucks.

              Why do I keep shelling out dough for my friends in Fairfax to piss away on various pro-gun schemes? Because I’m a gun nut, remember?  That’s what gun nuts do. They go to gun shows. They hang out with other gun nuts. They get letters from Wayne-o asking for more dough.

              I also give the Brady Campaign and Everytown $1,200 a year each and donate that much or more to the Wilderness Fund, the National Parks Conservancy and a couple of other tree-hugging outfits as well. I like to be inside the tent pissing out – on both sides. Anyway, back to Wayne-o and the NRA.

              So, Wayne’s put up a statement on the NRA website to let all the members know that he’s not going away or backing down – at least as of today. It’s a typical effort to remind the faithful that ol’ Wayne-o’s out there doing everything he can to protect our ‘rights’ to own and even walk around with our guns.

              There’s only one little problem with what he says, namely, it’s what he didn’t say which is more important than what he actually said. Because although Judge Hale gave the NRA another shot at bringing a Chapter 11 filing into his courtroom, contrary to what Wayne-o says, the judge threatened to appoint a court trustee to manage the filing. And Wayne-o needs a court-appointed trustee to take over his organization like he needs a hole in his head.

              Want to read a remarkable document about this case?  Try the 700 paragraph-long complaint filed by New York State’s Attorney General which found that Wayne-o and other NRA executives engaged in what is referred to as ‘pass-through’ financial transactions, which is a polite way of accusing the Fairfax bunch of money laundering, which is a not-so-polite way of saying that organizational money (e.g., member dues) were used in ways it shouldn’t have been used.

              How did this little scheme work? Wayne-o and other NRA managers would go out to dinner, sometimes also taking along the wives. And sometimes these fancy dinners, which could roll up a thousand-dollar tab or more, took place at fancy hotels where they were all staying for the night, or maybe a couple of nights.

              When the bill had to be paid, someone pulled out a corporate credit card issued to them by the NRA’s public-relations firm, Ackerman-McQueen. So, an NRA employee paid for a non-business activity with a credit card issued not by his employer, but by a vendor to the NRA who would then include this charge in the monthly invoice submitted to the NRA. Cute, isn’t it?

              Here’s what Wayne-o says about the New York AG’s suit: “Her subsequent pursuit of the NRA has been characterized by many legal experts and constitutional scholars as a gross weaponization of legal and regulatory power.” These must be the same ‘legal experts’ whose attempts to overturn the 2020 election results were thrown out by more than 60 courts. 

              Notwithstanding what I have just said, in my book about the NRA I actually conclude that the organization needs to remain in business and that Wayne-o should also be kept on board. Why do I say this?  Because if you think the NRA is some kind of crazy, misinformed, and extreme gun-rights organization, you haven’t met the competition, okay?

              For example, check out the Virginia Citizens Defense League. They don’t believe in any kind of background checks because they can’t find the phrase ‘background checks’ in the Constitution, so obviously background checks shouldn’t exist. Then there’s Larry Pratt, who runs Gun Owners of America, and believes that we need to be armed until Jesus Christ returns because “until Christ comes again, people will be sinful.”

              Want to deal with those schmucks? Like many of my Gun-control Nation friends, they’re just waiting and hoping the NRA will disappear.

Welcome To The NRA – Kindle edition by Weisser, Michael. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Why Can’t We Reduce Gun Violence?

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Before I get too deep into today’s column, I would like all my friends in Gun-control Nation to click this link and see where it does. In fact, it takes you to a private Facebook group, the 45/70 Club, whose members trade information about the rifles which are chambered for the 45/70 ammunition round.

The 45-70 cartridge was originally developed as a military round and started being manufactured and loaded into rifles and even some Gatling guns beginning in 1873.  The diameter and weight of the bullet, as well as its speed when it leaves the barrel, makes it a very good choice for bagging big game like hogs, deer, and elk.

There are at least five gun makers currently offering rifle models in this venerable, old round, with Marlin and Winchester leading the pack, with Henry, Thompson Center and Connecticut Valley Arms not far behind.

Because the 45-70 is loaded in a long case which holds lots of powder, the bullet zips out to long range, often at speeds above 1,300 feet per second and still hits with a real – smack!

The size of the bullet and the length of the case also makes the 45/70 a favored round to be reloaded and/or shot from a bench rest.

This particular Facebook group, which I joined a number of years ago, has over 32,000 members. I happen to be a member of a bunch of Facebook groups like the 45/70 group, all devoted to a particular type of gun, or a specific round of ammunition, or some other technical or historical subject involving guns.

I would be willing to bet there are at least 25 such Facebook groups, maybe more. Together, I suspect that these Facebook gun groups have a total membership of somewhere around a million subscribers or more. These groups don’t let anyone advertise the sale of guns; they aren’t doubling down as space where the MAGA contingent can rant. They are exactly what they claim to be – internet zones where people trade information about a hobby or an interest which appeals to them.

I promote my daily column on my website, three Facebook pages, a twitter feed and two gun-control Facebook groups. I also send out a link to my column on a very private email list containing the names of leaders and activists from the national and statewide gun-control groups, journalists who write about guns for the mainstream media, bloggers and researchers connected to at least a dozen universities and other research initiatives as well.

Dollars to doughnuts, I’ll bet there isn’t a single person of the more than 7,000 subscribes to my website, my Facebook pages or is on my email list who has ever joined or even scanned any of these gun groups. By the same token, I suspect there isn’t a single member of any of these Facebook gun groups who has ever taken the trouble to read or think about any of the content on the websites run by Giffords, Brady or MOMS.  The disconnect between the two sides who have been arguing about guns in America for more than twenty-five years is total and complete.

Which is why, when all is said and done, nothing has really changed.  Know what the gun-violence rate was in 1981?  13.73.  Know what it was in 2019?  11.57.  That’s a whole, big decline in the death-rate from all gun violence of 15 percent.  In raw numbers, 7,500 more were shot and killed in 2019 than in 1981.

Yesterday I was watching a news report from Gaza. It occurred to me that Hamas and Israel have been going at it since Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978. Forty-four years of killing, maiming, and brutalizing two populations and there’s no end in sight. I could say exactly the same thing about gun violence in the U.S.A.

 Being a member of the 45/70 Facebook gun group has absolutely nothing to do with gun violence. Being a tree-hugging liberal is not any kind of threat to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights. How do we move beyond such nonsense and get something done?

The print edition: Welcome To The NRA: Weisser, Michael R.: 9798505387108: Amazon.com: Books.

A New Book On The NRA – By Me!

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              This morning I am pleased to announce the publication of the tenth book I have written about guns since I published the first volume in 2013. All my gun books are contributions to the ongoing argument about guns in American society, and I hope they contribute some reality to both sides of the debate.

              The latest volume deals with a topic which has probably been the most contentious of all topics in that debate, namely, the role and activities of America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ a.k.a, the NRA.

              I have been a member of the NRA since 1955 when I joined the NRA-sponsored rifle team which practiced in the shooting range in McFarland Junior High School in – ready? – Washington, D.C. The NRA was then located in downtown DC, and I spent many an afternoon wandering around the gun displays on the group’s first floor of its headquarters building.

              My book, like all my books, is not designed to promote one or the other side of the gun debate. I’ll leave advocacy about guns and gun violence to the advocates. All I’m trying to do in this hundred-page account is explain how and why the NRA found itself in its current legal and financial state, how and why it may not be able to dig itself out of its current hole, and how and why it might try to survive the current storm.

              Why should the NRA try to survive? Because if you think the NRA is extreme, you haven’t met up with the competition that wants to lead the gun ‘rights’ fight. Take the pro-gun group in Virginia, for example, which is pushing a ‘sanctuary city’ movement to prevent the state’s new gun-control rules from taking effect. The group has found a willing ally in Sheriff Scott Jenkins of Culpeper County, who says he will ‘deputize’ any County resident who wants to be exempt from having to obey all state gun laws.

              What if the Proud Boys or the Boogaloo bunch were to start promoting gun ‘rights’ because, after all, the country is on the verge of another civil war? Want to try and sit down with those morons and have an open and honest discussion about guns? Go right ahead.

              I’m not saying that the NRA’s malfeasance should be excused or exonerated in any way. Much of the Trumpian rhetoric about ‘fake news’ and ‘deep state’ conspiracies was first broadcast and spread around by media hucksters like Dana Loesch and Grant Stinchfield on NRA-TV. For that matter, the NRA is certainly not blameless for how the GOP continues to foster the racism, stupidity, and hate-filled rhetoric of people like Majorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz.

              Until the Pandemic shut down public gatherings, the fairgrounds across the Connecticut River from Springfield, MA was the site of a gun show every three months. The show, like most gun shows, is sponsored by the NRA which always has a booth near the entrance so that new people can join.  If I walked up to somebody who had just paid NRA dues, tapped them on the shoulder and asked them if they realized that their newly-joined organization was responsible for a level of gun violence across the river which exceeded gun violence rates in Honduras or South Africa, they would stare at me in disbelief.

              And well they should. The fact that incontrovertible research proves that a gun in the home is much more of a risk than a benefit is all fine and well if you develop or firm up your beliefs about public health by reading the latest evidence-based, scientific research. How many American adults still haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19?

              The NRA, like the industry it represents, develops its messaging through a very conservative lens. What the organization says about guns is what it believes a majority of Americans also believe. It follows public opinion, not the other way around.

              Too bad that when it came to Trump, the boys from Fairfax got it all wrong.

Kindle Edition: Welcome To The NRA – Kindle edition by Weisser, Michael. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Print edition coming shortly.

The NRA Goes Bankrupt – For A Few Months.

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              In January, the NRA decided that enough was enough, and that they would stop letting themselves being Letitia James’ favorite whipping-boy and get out of town. Letitia James happens to be the New York State Attorney General, and she happens to work for Andy Cuomo, who happens to be the most anti-gun Governor in lo, these 50 states.

              Don’t get me wrong. I like Andy. I think he’s been a good Governor even though he seems to have some staff around him who can’t keep track of anything involving Covid-19, but if he wants to run for Senate or even President, that’s fine with me.

              But when Andy was Secretary of HUD under Clinton, he wrote the deal which Clinton foisted on Smith & Wesson and which S&W stupidly agreed to follow – a deal that almost put the second-oldest, continually-operating manufacturing company in America out of business and would have put the entire gun industry in the dustbin if other gun companies had followed suit. By the way, the oldest continually operating manufacturing concern in the United States is an outfit located down in Hartford with the name of Colt.

              Back in 2019, after our friend Mike Spies published his superb reportage on the financial flim-flam engaged in by Wayne-o and some of the other boys at the NRA, Attorney General James announced that her office was conducting an investigation into how the NRA was managing, or to put it bluntly, mis-managing its financial affairs. In fact, this investigation had been going on since at least 2017 under the auspices of Letitia’s predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, but the reaction to the Spies article pushed things forward a bit.

              At some point the NRA boys decided it was time to get the hell outta Dodge. So, on January 20 of this year, they announced they were leaving New York where they had originally been founded in 1871 and moving down to the Lone Star State. This move was part of a reorganization plan which was part of a Chapter 11 filing – in other words, America’s ‘oldest civil-rights organization’ was broke and was declaring itself to be bankrupt.

              There was only one little problem, a problem named Letitia James. Because why should the New York State Attorney General have to drop her attempt to bulldoze the NRA out of existence just because the subjects of her investigation believed they had done nothing wrong? So, Ms. James countersued and the whole issue wound up in a Texas bankruptcy court where a three-week trial ended last week.

              Going in to the trial, I suspect that the NRA gang believed that they were going to plead their case because they had found the perfect judge. The case had been assigned to a federal judge named Harlin Hale who prefers to go by his nickname – ready? – ‘Cooter’ Hale. Ol’ boy Cooter is the son of a Louisiana cotton farmer, his son is a security officer for the Air Force, and he is a member of the Elder Board of his church where he has taught Sunday School for the past 25 years.

              Now how could a group which has been maligned and unfairly attacked by all those New York liberals for defending 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ come up with a better judge than Harlin DeWayne ‘Cooter’ Hale? No wonder that when Wayne-o testified, he sometimes sounded like he was either unconscious or asleep. On several occasions he even had to be reminded by the Court that a long-winded response to a question hadn’t been a response to the question at all.

              What finally happened when the trial came to an end? The judge wasted no time in issuing a ruling which shut down the bankruptcy filing and sent the NRA packing back to New York. He said: “The Court finds there is cause to dismiss this bankruptcy case as not having been filed in good faith both because it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid a state regulatory scheme.”

              Talk about a kick in the ass.

Guns for Good Guys, Guns for Bad Guys (Guns in America Book 1) – Kindle edition by Weisser, Michael R.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Maybe The Game Is Really Up For the NRA.

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              Our friends at The Trace have just published a second article on the doings of Wayne LaPierre which may be the final straw that will break America’s ‘first civil rights’ organization’s back. It’s actually a video of Wayne-o and his wife bagging two elephants in a Botswana preserve during an African safari they took back in 2013.

              The video was produced but never released for a segment of a TV series called ‘Under Wild Skies,’ which was being peddled to various video channels by the same company, Ackerman-McQueen, who did all the PR work for the NRA

              The video is disturbing because here’s this poor elephant who walks up to about 50 yards from Wayne-o and after he’s gunned down by a single round, the animal’s still alive because the great white hunter then stands right next to the poor creature and misses several more shots.

              I’m not sure if this video demonstrates anything at all about the issues that are being argued in a Texas bankruptcy court. You can follow the daily proceedings on a website that has been posted courtesy of our friends at Everytown, but I’m not even sure that the testimony being given by various NRA operatives, including Wayne-o himself, changes things all that much.

              What has changed is the degree to which the NRA can count on its membership to continue supporting gun ‘rights’ with their wallets and their bank checks.  In 2018, which was before the veritable sh*t hit the veritable fan, the NRA collected $170,391,374 in membership dues. In 2019, this number dropped to $112,969,564.  How do you stay in business when you are a membership organization, and the members decide to stop sending you money by as much as one-third? Duhhh, you don’t.

              The NRA wouldn’t be having a problem in bankruptcy court if it was financially on the ropes because revenues showed such a big drop. Companies go bankrupt all the time when they lose customers and hence, lose sales. The 45Th President of the United States is an expert at starting ventures which don’t maintain initial revenues and then go bust.

              The NRA’s bankruptcy, on the other hand, is not so much a function of diminishing revenue as it’s the result of all kinds of questionable expenditures, in particular, annual compensation for the organization’s top dogs. The last year that the NRA operated in the black was 2015. Since then, from 2016 through 2019, they have lost nearly 80 million bucks.

              Meanwhile, in 2016, the total compensation for what the IRS refers to as: “current officers, directors, trustees and key employees” was $10.3 million, in 2019 after losing 80 million over the previous four years, total payments made to the top dogs was $15 million, an increase of 50 percent!

              Over that same four-year period, Wayne-o’s cash compensations went up from $1,422,339 to $1,884,707. So, membership revenues dropped by one-third over the same period that Wayne-o’s salary increased by the same amount. That’s how you compensate a CEO? The more the company loses, the more he gets paid?

              I’m not sure, by the way, how much of this entire mess at the NRA is or isn’t due to the superb reportage by The Trace’s Mike Spies, whose initial article on all the financial goings-on and flimflams appeared the exact, same week that Oliver North announced he was stepping down as NRA President, having only served for one year.

              What evidently caused this shakeup was a conflict between Wayne-o and the PR firm that produced the African safari video, a conflict which has resulted in not one, but two messy lawsuits between the NRA and Ackerman-McQueen.

              I’m not saying that the reportage by Mike Spies is what brought the issues of financial management and all kinds of crazy expenditures (like Wayne-o’s $40,000 Zegna wardrobe) to a head. I’m saying that Mike’s 2019 story was so well done that it was co-published in The New Yorker Magazine.

              Remember Frances Fitzgerald’s ‘Fire in the Lake’ New Yorker article which set off the national debate about Viet Nam? Maybe the work by Mike Spies on the NRA will set off the national debate about guns.

Want To Make Your Guns Safe? You Can’t.

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Guess which civic-minded organization has become enamored of gun safety? It’s America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ a.k.a., the NRA.   I just received an email from their training division which says: “Whether you’re a new gun owner looking for a concealed carry course or an experienced marksman who wants to take their training to the next level, NRA Certified Instructors have a course for you.”

And here are the courses now being offered:

  • Pistol Training.
  • Rifle Training.
  • Shotgun Training.
  • Self-Defense Training.
  • Home Firearm Safety.

Here’s how the NRA describes the home safety course: “Non-shooting course and teaches students the basic knowledge, skills, and to explain the attitude necessary for the safe handling and storage of firearms and ammunition in the home.” It’s a four-hour course, no shooting involved, you can even take the course online in the ‘privacy’ of your home.

In the privacy of your home. That’s a good one. This is the same ‘privacy’ that you need to own a gun in order to protect it. This is the same ‘privacy’ which is being threatened by those gangs that are roving around Lindsey Graham’s home in Seneca, SC. Which is why ol’ Lindsey needs to keep an AR-15 in the privacy of his home.

But not to worry. Go out today, buy yourself a nice, new AR-15 and then sign up for the NRA course which teaches you how to keep and use that gun safely in the ‘privacy’ of your home. Nothing like privacy when it comes to owning a gun.

Want the best news of all about this NRA safety course?  It’s not only designed and delivered by America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ it’s also a strategy and an approach to good health. Virtually every medical organization also recommends that you follow the same gun-safety rules and practices promoted by the NRA if you want to keep a gun in your home.

And not only do the medical groups believe that you can learn how to practice gun safety in the privacy of your home, they’ll even give you a nice, simple, easy-to-read brochure which explains how to own, store, and use guns in a safe way. 

Here’s the gun safety brochure that was developed by the Massachusetts Medical Society. Anyone can read through this pamphlet in a couple of days. But if you want to save yourself the trouble, in April the NRA’s gun-safety course is being offered more than 80 times just in Massachusetts alone. What could be safer than that?

I’ll tell you what could be safer. Don’t bring the gun into your house. Or if you have one of those guns in your home right now, just take it down to the little gun shop on the corner and sell it back. That’s the only way to be safe around guns. Get rid of the guns.

Now I’m not about to take any of the 60-odd guns I have lying around and sell them to Joe the Gun-shop Owner.  I’m a gun nut and I like my guns. But I’m not going to kid myself into thinking that those guns can be made to be ‘safe.’ They can’t. That’s not what guns are all about.

Of course, there are degrees of risk from different kinds of guns. My Glock 17 and my Ruger Mini-14 are a lot more dangerous to have around than Grandpa’s old shotgun that we found in the basement after he died, and Grammy was carted off to the lovely rest home. That old Sears-Roebuck shotgun probably doesn’t even work, so it’s a pretty safe gun.

But my pistol and my assault rifle weren’t designed to be safe. They also weren’t designed to protect me from all those ANTIFA and BLM gangsters prowling around outside my home. These guns were designed to do one thing and one thing only – to inflict fatal injuries on human beings every time they are used.

What physicians and everyone else who are concerned about 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries that we suffer every year should be saying is this: Get rid of the guns.

You can say it today by joining the more than the more than 3,300 folks who have signed our petition right here: https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now

Two New Gun Laws And What They Really Mean.

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              As much fun as I’m having writing about the disappearance of Donald Trump, every once in a while, something happens in the gun world which makes me return to my written roots, so to speak. And this past week what happened is that the House once again passed a bill that would require universal background checks on guns.

              This is the second time that the House has passed this bill, but this time there’s a Democratic majority in the Senate, so the odds that universal background checks will be required in every state have gone up. If we have learned one thing from the Covid-19 relief bill, it’s that the Democrats don’t need to make any deals with the GOP if they want to get something done.

              The standard argument for making every gun transfer subject to a background check is that this process keeps guns out of the wrong hands. The assumption here is that if someone can’t pass a background check, he or she is the kind of person who will use a gun to commit a crime. Sounds kind of obvious, right? Right.

              I happen to think that what the whole background check system accomplishes, more than anything else, is to give a useless bunch of government bureaucrats something to do, this useless bunch being the people who work for the compliance-inspection division of the ATF.

              These are the self-important bumpkins who wander into gun shops and make sure that all the federal laws on guns transfers are being observed. What this means is they sit there and read through the various forms that a dealer and his customers fill out in order to buy a gun. The dealer has to fill out something called the Acquisition and Disposition book (A&D) which contains information on who sent guns in to the shop and who took guns out; the buyer has to fill out the 4473 form which is then used to conduct the background check.

              The ATF inspectors like to think they are law-enforcement agents but they’re not. They are clerks who get paid $80,000 a year to go around and make sure that every piece of paperwork connected to gun commerce is filled out properly and stored in the gun shop. The last time they inspected my shop they examined over 1,200 transactions and I couldn’t find all the paperwork on exactly four guns. Boy – talk about a threat to public safety. Yea, right.

              Meanwhile, I notice that for all the sturm und drang about gun violence during the pandemic, all of a sudden nobody cares. Gun sales are still much higher than they were before the Chinese virus began to spread, every weekend there seems to be a mass shooting somewhere or other. But the passage of those the gun bills in the House made the media for 24 hours and then disappeared. What’s going on?

              I’ll tell you what’s going on. The NRA has gone back to being what it was before the advent of Donald Trump – a quiet, self-contained organization which nobody pays attention to unless they own a gun. Frankly, if it weren’t for the NRA’s loud promotion of Trump’s 2016 campaign, my friends in Gun-control Nation would have had nothing to talk about for the last four years. For that matter, the NRA also ramped up its noise machine by endlessly attacking Mike Bloomberg and his big bucks.

              Remember NRA-TV which featured appearances by Dana Loesch who told American women that they would be able to protect their families if they went out and bought a gun or the prancing around by Colion Noir as he explained why you should protect yourself with an AR-15?

              That’s all gone now. The NRA’s back to selling cigars and clothing on its website. They still claim to have 5 million members even though member dues dropped by one-third from 2018 to 2019.

              If the NRA didn’t exist, Gun-control Nation would have to invent it. That’s what these two new gun laws are all about.

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

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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.

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              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.

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