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Students Demand Action – Now!

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Yesterday I received what I thought was going to be a Seasons Greetings card from our friend Shannon Watts and the Everytown/Moms Demand Action gang. But when I opened the envelope, what came out was a card from an organization called Students Demand Action, with a great pic of ten girls and one guy standing underneath what looks like the Santa Monica pier.

The group is nicely masked up, by the way, which pleases me no end. Everyone is also smiling and obviously enjoying standing in the surf.  But most of all, what impresses me about the picture is that everyone is wearing the ‘uniform,’ the red t-shirt which has become the most recognizable and identifiable symbol in the gun-violence advocacy movement since Shannon founded MOMS back in 2013.

Shannon did more than start a group to raise awareness about violence connected to guns. She actually began what has become a national movement for gun reform that has become as strong as the leading group on the other side, a.k.a., the NRA.

She’s had some help along the way, some of it coming from Mike Bloomberg, who merged his own gun group, Everytown, with the MOMS in 2014. But for everyone who thinks that Shannon and her girls couldn’t fail because they had access to Bloomberg’s bucks, let me break it to you gently, okay?

Money lets you do lots of things, organizationally speaking, that are much harder, if not impossible to do without dough. But for every organization which figures out how to spend its money wisely, there’s another organization out there which just pisses money away.

I have been donating money to various liberal and left-wing groups and causes since, hmmm, maybe 1968, maybe before. And no group that I have supported over the years does as good or as effective a job as Shannon does with her girls.  Or ladies, Or whomever they are.

To keep things even-steven, I should also tell you that I’m a member of the NRA. Not just a member, but a Lifetime Benefactor member, which means I hear from the boys in Fairfax all the time. I also get invited to lots of NRA events, and if weren’t for the goddamn Covid I could show up at a gun show or a pot-luck dinner from time to time.

Know what?  I can also go to meetings and activities run by MOMS.  They have a nice search function on their website which lets me register for various events, and to my great surprise, MOMS isn’t just active in the usual, blue-liberal states.  They have an event coming up on January 10th in – ready? Idaho! How in God’s name does a gun-control group hold an event in the state which is where the whole militia movement got its start? 

But that’s exactly why I support Shannon and, by the way, you can and should support them too, Because it’s no big deal to find some folks interested in working to reduce gun violence in Washington, D.C.  But Idaho? Or Indiana, where the gals are holding three lunch meetings next month?

If it wasn’t for the goddamn Covid, I would probably be giving some kind of spiel about guns to some group at least once a month.  But I’ve stopped appearing before gun-control groups because they know what I’m going to say.

People like me need to appear before the gun-owning groups because those are the folks who don’t hear what people like me have to say. And know what? Every time I talk to a bunch of gun owners, someone will come up at the end of my talk and tell me that he doesn’t agree with me, but I’ve given him something to think about. And that’s what it’s all about.

When Shannon first started MOMS, she told me that she wanted to get her messaging in front of people who needed to understand the risks of guns. And who better to aim such messaging at than the people who are usually most concerned about safety in the home? 

But thanks to the card I got yesterday, it’s clear that Shannon has widened her net and now wants to get her messaging in front of not just parents, but in front of the kids as well. Take a look at the 16 high school students who represent the next generation of advocacy leadership and you’ll see what I mean.

And while you’re at it, go to the MOMS store and spend a few bucks. And don’t give me some nonsense about how you’re too broke to chip in. 

Trump Disappears And The NRA Stops Being Crazy. Gee, What A Surprise.

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              To show you how far from reality the National Rifle Association used to be, and how much closer to reality they have become in the post-Trump age, you might want to take a look at a recent rant by Grant Stinchfield, who used to headline NRA-TV.

              Stinchfield now does a show on Newsmax, which is one of the alt-right media venues that began popping up on the internet a decade or so ago.  Their website draws a whole, big million visits a day, which in a country whose population now is more than 325 million, that number is what Grandpa would call ‘kasha mit varnishkes’ (read: a disgusting dish made of oatmeal and boiled pasta) which is what he called everything that had no real value at all.

              Stinchfield used this episode to advise the Republicans how to deal with the debt issue before they ‘caved in.’ And his advice was to shut down four federal agencies which eat up a lot of government spending and aren’t doing anything worthwhile at all. First on his list, of course, was the Department of Education, because everyone knows that only fools and liberals want to learn how to read and write.

              The other three agencies which aren’t any more important than the Department of Education are Commerce, EPA and Energy.  After all, we don’t need to know how much the economy is growing or sometimes not growing. We certainly don’t need to worry about clean water or clean air. And if we don’t need to worry about clean air then we certainly don’t need to be concerned about how much energy we are using, so to hell with the Department of Energy as well.

              Obviously, Stinchfield is just reading from a script that his producer knows is what the Newsmax audience wants to hear. Whether he actually believes any of this nonsense is beyond the point. What isn’t beyond the point is that when he did a daily rant for NRA-TV, his comments were just as stupid, just as loony, and just as focused on the most extreme, far-right idiots who happen to own guns.

              The NRA always promoted some degree of political messaging because, after all, the organization needed to speak out publicly to support gun owner’s rights, which meant the usual patriotic stuff about the 2nd Amendment versus the idea that liberals and Democrats didn’t like guns. 

              Every year at the NRA national show, a few Republican politicians would show up and say he same thing about talking to a group of ‘real Americans,’ but the year that Gaston Glock appeared and signed autographs at the Glock booth, he outdrew all the political luminaries by maybe ten to one.

              NRA’s descent into crazy political messaging really started in 2016 when they endorsed Donald Trump at their annual meeting. At the time, I wasn’t surprised that they broke with their tradition of endorsing the GOP Presidential candidate in October and endorsed Trump in April because Hillary was a fearsome candidate who was talking about guns in a rather unpleasant and confrontational way.

              In fact, I am convinced that had Hillary become President with a blue Congress behind her, she would have re-introduced the gun-control measure that Andy Cuomo, then head of HUD, had written for Bill Clinton, a plan which would have effectively ended the retail gun business in the United States.

              I also wasn’t particularly bothered by the $30 million that the NRA anted up for the 2016 Clinton campaign.  It was more money than the NRA had ever given to any, single Presidential campaign, but when you’re talking about a political campaign which runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, thirty million is still chump change. Would that money get Wayne-o into the White House from time to time?  Of course it would. But the NRA was always on the VIP list whenever a Republican sat behind the Resolute desk.

              What bothered me was that the NRA turned itself into a video production company featuring some of the worst, most inflammatory and stupidly alt-right messaging that I had ever seen.  You had that other idiot, the home-school queen Dana Loesch talking about how everyone needed a gun to protect themselves against cities being burned to the ground by radical hordes, and you had Stinchfield ranting on and on about how liberals would not only take away all the guns but were in the process of building a Fascist-style state, using illegal immigrants to take apart what good, law-abiding Americans had built over the years.

              The whole NRA-TV deal collapsed when it turned out that NRA’s then-PR company, Ackermn-McQueen, was lying about the number of people who watched NRA-TV video shows. The legal wrangle between the NRA and Ack-Ack is still going on, but NRA-TV closed down in June 2019.

              Go to the NRA website today and it’s business as usual once again. The lead stories are about next year’s annual meeting, a new banking relationship with a real bank, a chance to win a Ford truck and, by the way, the re-election of Wayne-o as the outfit’s Executive VP.

              In other words, maybe the NRA has learned something from the 2020 election, which is that the country, including both gun owners and non-gun owners, have a few more important things to be worried about than the predations of the Deep State.

Think The NRA Is Finished? Think Again.

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              Hey!  Look what I just got!  A beautiful, new hat from my good friend Wayne-o at the NRA.  And when I get done writing and posting this column, I’ll send him back a little cash. Because, after all, what’s more important these days than protecting my freedom by protecting my guns?

              Now you would think after all the sturm und drang surrounding the NRA over the past several years, that the last thing the boys in Fairfax would have time to worry about was sending me a hat. After all, between a bankruptcy filing that they couldn’t get straight, an investigation by the New York State AG which is still going on, the resignations by more Board members and the cancellation of the annual meeting due to Covid-19 concerns, isn’t that enough for any organization to have on its plate?

              I’ll tell you what the NRA has on its plate. It has a lot of dough on its plate. And even though member dues and program fees dropped more than 30% from 2018 to 2019, in the latter year member revenues still went over $135 million and contributions at $108 million stayed the same. That’s total revenue of nearly $250 million in 2019, which ain’t chump change even in my little book.

              Want to know what’s really going on with America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization?’ Take a look at their website where social events hosted by the NRA are found.  Between now and year’s end, there will be ten banquets and get-togethers in Pennsylvania, five gatherings in Ohio, Maryland’s got a couple, Virginia lists four. 

              Know what else Gun-nut Nation is doing with the NRA? Going to gun shows, of which there were more than 100 shows this past weekend, with a bunch of shows in Florida, Colorado, five shows in Texas and a couple of gun shows in PA. And at every one of those shows, the first thing you’ll see when you walk in is a welcome banner from the NRA

              The best thing that ever happened to the NRA was Joe and Kamala’s election last year, believe it or not. How can Mile the Gun Guy™ say something that stupid? Say something that dumb? I’ll tell you why.

              Because on the one hand, the NRA had no choice in 2016 but to hitch its wagon to the MAGA brand, because if Hillary had won the election and the Congress gone blue, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have seen a gun-control bill that would have been a copy of the bill that then-HUD Secretary Andy Cuomo wrote for Bill Clinton back in 1999 which would have left the gun industry, as Grandpa would say, ‘gestorben und fartig’ (read: good and dead.) 

              But glad-handing MAGA ended up costing the NRA more than the $30 million or so that it pumped into Trump’s Presidential campaign. It also cost the organization a loss of vision, a loss of identify and a loss of credibility with the average American, gun owner or not.

              I couldn’t believe how stupid, reckless, and downright inflammatory the NRA messaging became when the group got into video and launched NRA-TV. I don’t know what was worse – Colion Noir prancing around his backyard with an AR-15, or Dana Loesch advising women to arm themselves and protect their families from the radical hordes.

              This wasn’t the NRA that I joined back in 1955.  This wasn’t the NRA that first and foremost promoted shooting sports, hunting and outdoor life. So, the organization always said something about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ So what?  Was that any different from the support for social security and Medicare promoted by the AARP?

              But the NRA went overboard with Trump, in the same way that Trump went overboard with his hateful rhetoric about immigration, his phony claims about ‘building a wall,’ and his refusal to say anything negative about the Nazis in Charlottesville because, after all, they were just marching down the street exercising their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              Maybe the Democrats will get some piecemeal gun-control law past Manchin and onto the Oval Office desk. Maybe a couple of more states will enact ERPO statutes or require that all gun transfers only go forward after a background check.

              But this country has lived (and died) with its arsenal of privately-owned guns for more than two hundred years. And as long as some of these gun owners can get together at a weekend gun show or a banquet or a bar-b-que, the NRA will be around.

              Maybe next year Wayne-o will send me a jacket with the Golden Eagles patch. Last year he sent me a Golden Eagles knife which I use to cut some chicken treats each night for Leonard the Cat. And believe me when I tell you that feeding Leonard the Cat some chicken treats is a lot more important than defending my guns and my freedoms from the ‘tyranny’ of the Deep State. 

A New Documentary About The NRA. Guess What? It’s Not Pro-NRA.

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              Next week a new documentary, The Price of Freedom, is going to open at theaters around the country.  The movie was made by Judd Ehrlich, a skilled and well-known documentary film-maker, and it’s a look at how the NRA has morphed from being an organization devoted to hunting and sport shooting to an organization that increasingly pushes a radical, far-right agenda about guns. You can view a 2-minute trailer here.

              Guess which side the film comes down on?  Hint: It was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. And now the film is getting the usual positive notices by the usual liberal media sources like thefailing New York Times.  Actually, the NYT stock price has gone down from $49 on January 20th to $42 today, so maybe the NYT is failing. But what would you expect when Joe and the Deep State are turning the country into a Socialist mess? Anyway, back to reality.

              Talking about reality, Ehrlich’s new film is a realistic view of the NRA’s shift into media stupidity and crowd-pleasing, alt-right pandering during the administration of what’s his name, which began before the election was stolen last year, but today, America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has once again begun to follow its traditional path. Gone from their website are the loony and vicious video tantrums of Dana Loesch, gone are the conspiracy theories of Grant Stinchfield, gone is the AR-wielding, prancing around of Colion Noir.

              For the boys in Fairfax, it’s back to business as usual, which means sending out the monthly magazine to the members, planning for the annual meeting that’s coming up in September at Houston and re-stocking the online store with what is really a very good collection of clothing and other goodies that promote the NRA.

              I’m assuming that Ehrlich took his camera to an NRA annual show, I’m also assuming that after the interviews with all the big machers like Clinton, et. al., that Ehrlich took the trouble to sit down with a couple of your average, NRA types who are members more out of habit than anything else. If he did, he would discover what I have known since I attended my first NRA show in 1980, namely, that most of the people whose yearly payment of dues is what keeps the organization alive, pay their dues out of habit and could care less about what the leadership says or does.

              Do most NRA members vote Republican? Gee, what a surprise. Are most NRA members older, White males who drive around in a truck? Another big surprise. Do most NRA members believe that liberals want to take away their guns? Surprised me again.

              My response to those surprises is – so what? If you think that NRA members voted for Trump because they really believed he would stand up and fight for their ‘rights,’ think again. Every Republican candidate for President has showed up at every annual meeting of the NRA and promised to protect the 2nd Amendment since Ronald Reagan showed up in 1980 and pledged the same thing.

              When I go to the annual NRA show these days there’s a good chance that I’ll be introduced to the children of NRA members I have been meeting and greeting for the last 40 years. In fact, at the more recent shows I’m introduced to grandchildren. The NRA show is no different from the yearly get-together of the Shriners, except maybe the NRA folks don’t get quite as drunk.

              Incidentally, Judd Ehrlich’s idea that the NRA has been promoting a complete dissolution of all gun laws is simply not true. In fact, the NRA always refers to its members as ‘law-abiding gun owners,’ and it’s not all that easy to abide by laws that don’t exist. The argument between the NRA and its opponents is about whether laws which regulate the behavior of lawful gun owners make any difference insofar as more than 85% of all gun violence, including suicides, happen to be committed by individuals who, generally speaking, don’t obey any laws at all.

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

Florida, The ‘Gunshine. State, Shines Again!

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              It seems like a million years ago but the date was actually February 14, 2018 when a 19-year old kid walked into the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with his AR-15 and shot the place up. The final toll was 17 dead and another 17 injured, and the shooter is going to face 17 murder and 17 attempted murder counts when his trial finally takes place in September of this year.

              After the massacre, Trump went on TV and here’s a bit of what he said: “We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful human connections and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.”

              Trump was concerned about the ‘dignity’ of life? Trump was worried about ‘deep and meaningful human connections?’ Give me a break. Oh well, the good news is that he’s gone. Anyway.

              Right after the shooting, the Florida Legislature quickly passed a new law, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which bars anyone under the age of 21 from buying a long gun – Federal law already prohibits anyone under 21 from buying a handgun. Given that this was Florida, the ‘gunshine state,’ the law also created a new program, School Guardians, who are volunteers trained to patrol schools and carry guns.

              Two weeks ago, a District Court Judge upheld the law but yesterday the NRA announced they would appeal the case and try to get the judge’s ruling overturned, in particular, the prohibition against anyone owning a long gun who is not yet 21.

              “There is no question that 18-to-21-year-olds are adults in the eyes of the law and the Constitution,” says the NRA’s Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer. “To deny those younger adults their rights because of the actions of criminals is nothing less than political discrimination.”

              Good old Granny Hammer. Here she is, all 81-years old and she’s still running around the State Capitol in Tallahassee trying to get gun things done. I love how she knows ‘for a fact’ that the Constitution says that 18-year-olds are adults. Which Constitution is she talking about?

              When it comes to gun laws, Florida is really in a class all by itself. Back in 1987, the state passed a law which prohibited localities from passing any gun law that is different from statewide law. They went back in 2011 and changed the law so that any local official who passes a local gun ordnance that pre-empts a state law will lose his job.

              The best gun law in Florida was actually a law that didn’t become a law. It was a bill filed by Idiot Number Two, Matt Gaetz, (Idiot Number One is Marjorie Taylor Greene) when he was a State Senator. The bill never got out of committee, even though it was a legislative committee chaired by Gaetz. The bill would have allowed people who were shot to sue the owner of a facility if the shooting took place in a gun-free zone.

              Maybe Gaetz figures that when Granny Hammer finally retires, that he can become the NRA’s lobbyist in Florida. Of course, it will be a little tough for him to buttonhole legislatures in the State House if he’s sitting in jail. Oh well, oh well.

              I don’t think the NRA really gives one rat’s damn about whether anyone in Florida who is 18 should be able to own an AR-15. What I think their challenge to the Florida gun law really represents is that life is slowly but (hopefully) returning to normal after the ravages of Covid-19.

              Because when you stop and think about it, what could be more normal than the NRA leading the crusade to protect our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’

Get Ready. The NRA Show Is Almost Here!

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Guess what came in my email this morning? My invitation to the NRA Annual Meeting, which is happening Labor Day weekend in Houston.  More than 14 acres of guns and gear, 65,000 square feet of exhibit space chock full of all my favorite adult toys, plenty of food, plenty of t-shirts to buy, plenty, plenty, and plenty.

Since I am a Life Benefactor Member, I’ll even be able to relax in a private lounge, meet some of the celebrities and politicos who will no doubt show up, and maybe get a chance to congratulate Wayne-o for staying on as Executive V.P.  Will Marjorie Taylor Greene come by to say hello?  Where else would she be that weekend?

I have been going to the NRA get-together since 1980, and from time to time I even bump into a few folks who have been coming to the shindig even before I first began showing up. Going to NRA is kind of like making the pilgrimage to Mecca – you do it because you have to do it. You don’t ask whether or not you should make the trip.

For all the talk over the past year about how the NRA was in a state of collapse, how they couldn’t even pay their legal fees, how the members were leaving in droves, I have a funny feeling that the Houston show will be just like every other NRA show – lots of guns, lots of people playing with guns, lots of reminders that gun owners are the good guys and the good girls.

This may come as something of a shock to my friends in Gun-control Nation, but the last thing anyone thinks about while they’re walking around the beautiful displays of products from Smith & Wesson, Sig, Beretta, Kahr, Taurus, Colt, et. al., is that these companies make and sell products that are used to kill and injure 125,000 men, women, and children every year. You would never guess from the festive atmosphere at the annual meeting that these products caused more intentional deaths in 2020 than in any year since 1995.

Hey – just wait one goddamn minute! It’s not the guns that cause those deaths. It’s the people, the bad guys, who use those guns in ways they shouldn’t be used. If a gun is used ‘responsibly’ and ‘safely,’ two favorite words of my friends in Gun-control Nation, nobody would get hurt from guns at all. Or at least almost nobody except for the occasional dope who tries to clean his gun before he checks to see if it’s loaded or not.

There’s only one little problem with this fanciful scenario which is repeated by every Gun-nut Nation zealot whenever they try to ‘explain’ why there’s no difference between a gun and any other consumer product like a bicycle or a droid – you’ll hear this spiel again and again at the NRA show.

The whole point of using a gun ‘responsibly’ is to use it to inflict a serious, often fatal injury on someone else. What do you think the gun was designed to do? Do you think that Gaston Glock wanted to design a product that could be hung up on the wall behind the stove and used for making scrambled eggs?

Last week a friend who works for the Brady Campaign told me that he is planning a public meeting in my state that will be held in mid-September, right when I get back from the NRA show. The program will feature several speakers, including a survivor of gun violence and a police officer who will talk about safe storage of guns.

Isn’t that just wonderful how everyone on both sides of the gun argument now agrees that all we need to do to get rid of all those unfortunate shooting events is to make sure that guns are used in a safe and responsible way?

Which only goes to prove that you don’t have to go to the NRA show to have a completely unreal view about guns.

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.

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