Is the NRA Going to Stick Around?

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              Today I received my NRA Golden Eagles pin and badge with a letter from Wayne-o cordially inviting me to the annual show next month in Indianapolis. I also happened to read a post republished on MS-NBC by a Professor of Accounting at Ohio State which says the same thing that a gazillion posts have been saying over the last few years, which is that America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ isn’t yet on life support but could be ending up on a financial oxygen tank sometime in the next couple of years.

              Most of the internet sources which carry the NRA’s obituary tend to be read by liberals who aren’t particularly enamored about guns. So, if you run a story about how the NRA is teetering on its last legs, you’ll get enough clicks to help sell whatever medicine or body lotion or shoes and clothing are advertised that day.

              The fact that the way the NRA is discussed and described by its natural-born enemies is just as, or even more distorted than the way the NRA talks about the gun-control side, is neither here nor there. After all, it’s the gun-control advocacy groups who pride themselves on only relying on ‘evidence-based’ information to shape their views of the world around them, right?

              Here’s the basic theme explored in this article on the NRA’s possible demise: “I can say the NRA financial picture is, as of early 2023, a mixed bag. The gun group has shored up its financial position over the last few years. However, the way in which that financial recovery came about risks hemorrhaging the NRA’s core supporters.”

              Of course, the author didn’t bother to interview a single, core supporter of the NRA, but he knows that the organization’s cutback of its basic programs is sure to have a negative impact on the degree to which the membership will continue to fight for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The article’s entire thesis is based on the fact that payments for various shooting programs have gone down while payments for lawyers have gone up.

The author concludes by saying: “Though the NRA apparently shored up its bottom line, its financial neglect of programs like firearms trainingcompetitions and field services could ultimately disappoint its members and donors.”

This entire article was written by someone who has absolutely no idea about why more than 4 million Americans continue to pay dues and make donations to the NRA. I can’t imagine that he has ever gone to a single NRA shooting event or walked past the NRA booth at a gun show – there are at least 8 gun shows coming up in Ohio over the next 30 days.

Know what happens at those gun shows? People walk around, often with their kids, greet the same vendors and visitors they have seen at this show many previous times. Maybe they buy a hot dog and a drink, maybe they try to sell one of their guns to someone else because their truck needs new tires, maybe they stop by the NRA booth and complain about how much money Wayne LaPierre spent on his clothes, maybe they pick up and play around with a bunch of guns until the old lady says, “C’mon Henry, you promised this weekend to mow the lawn.”

What observers like Brian Mittendorf (the author of the cited article) don’t understand, is that for all the talk about how the NRA is this terrible organization which blocks every attempt to reduce gun violence through so-called ‘common sense’ laws, the NRA is actually just a group of hobbyists who get together from time to time to share their enjoyment in the ownership of guns.

Now that the Pandemic is over, there’s a local gun show which is held every three months in the West Springfield fairgrounds, which is across the river from the city of Springfield, MA where I happen to work and live. Springfield’s South End is the crummy end of town with a gun-violence rate which matches Honduras or some other third-world place.

If I were to walk up to someone yakking at the NRA booth and tell him that what he was doing contributed to the endless shootings which occur about one mile away from where he is standing, he would stare at me in total disbelief. It wouldn’t be that he disagreed with me – he simply would have no idea what I was talking about at all.

This is why the NRA isn’t going out of business and this is why Brian Mittendorf and others who get a publishing credit get it all wrong when they predict the NRA’s possible demise.  I have been an NRA member since 1955 and the reason I stick with the organization is very simple- I like guns.

Don’t ask me why I like guns. I just do.

Don’t Count the NRA Out Quite Yet.


              Ever since Mike Spies did some great reporting on the various flim flams at the NRA, the liberal media and Gun-control Nation have been touting the collapse of America’s ‘first civil rights’ organization.

              The group was going down the tubes because the Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, was outfitting himself in the boutiques on Rodeo Drive. Then Ollie North was going to take over the organization until he was kicked out. Then NRA-TV shut down and the advertising agency which thought up that brilliant idea – Ackerman-McQueen – was sued, then a bankruptcy and move from New York to Texas didn‘t go through, blah, blah, blah and blah.

              Worst of all, was the news that the NRA’s membership was going to hell in a handbasket, with even some Board members walking away. And since the NRA’s operating budget depends on dues, if the membership numbers decline, so does the inflow of cash.

              We now have the latest missive about how the NRA is going to fold up and disappear, in this case the leak of an internal memo which shows that things haven’t gotten any better, they’ve only gotten worse. The memo shows that dies receipts are down from what was expected to come in, ditto donations to the political action fund, ditto membership renewals, ditto, ditto and ditto.

              This report got a headline on The Trace, whose staff writer, Will Van Sant, noted that when a Democrat is in the White House and talk about gun control, this is usually exactly what revs up fundraising and member support for the NRA.

              But that’s not happening this time around, because as one pissed-off Board member says, “They [meaning LaPierre and management cronies] have destroyed the NRA brand, they have lost credibility. In our society, firearms ownership is expanding, and these new gun owners are not joining the NRA, and it’s because of the brand.”

              I am a member of the NRA, in fact, I’m a Lifetime Endowment member, which means I give the organization enough money each year so that they won’t throw me out no matter what I write or say. I just received the March issue of the American Rifleman magazine and if the NRA is on the verge of collapse, you wouldn’t know it from what the magazine is all about.

              There’s the usual editorial about how the 2nd Amendment is under attack, another editorial complaint about this or about that misguided anti-gun talk, and a somewhat disjointed article about the anti-gun ministrations of the CDC. Nobody who gets the magazine each month bothers to read that crap.

              What we do read are the excellent articles on the history of different guns which puts the Smithsonian to shame, as well as some technical data on reloading different calibers and some tests of the Chapuis line of French shotguns which having been acquired by Beretta, are finally going to be appearing over here.

              Next time you go into Barnes & Noble, take a look at one of the magazines on the store rack which is devoted to model trains. Now the difference, of course, is that nobody’s trying to ban model trains, and there has yet to be any research which shows that access to a model train represents threat to public health.

              But leaving aside the several pages devoted to gun-control hysteria, American Rifleman reads just like any other magazine which covers a particular hobby which is what guns are really all about. Yea, yea, I know all about how guns protect us from the bad guys out there, but I have personally bought and sold at least a thousand guns since I joined the NRA in 1955, and I will continue to buy and sell guns and read American Rifleman for the simple reason that I like guns.

              The NRA’s real problem is that the same people keep buying all those guns, even when more guns are bought than were bought the year before. Next time you’re in a big shopping mall, take a look at the number of customers inside the Apple store. Get it?

              The NRA will be around as long as there are people like me who had model trains, toy soldiers and toy guns when they were kids. The model trains and toy soldiers were given away but the toy guns became real guns and thus remain.

              So, the average gun owner will get older, and the NRA will get smaller over the next twenty to thirty years. Dollars to doughnuts, the organization will still be around even when The Trace stops focusing on guns and becomes a fashion magazine.

Will the New Gun Law Reduce Gun Violence?

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              There’s one little problem with the gun bill being debated in Congress. I’m not sure it has anything to do with guns. It does have a lot to do with community safety and resources for mental health and stuff like that. Which is a good thing, particularly the focus on mental illness. But guns?  I’m not so sure.

              In fact, the only specific gun issue which has been mentioned so far is the idea that anyone who wants to buy a semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15, would have to be 21 years old and go through a mor detailed background check.

              Now this provision was obviously inserted in the bill because several of the most recent mass shootings – Uvalde, Buffalo – were committed by kids who were not yet 21 years old.  But does this mean that young men under 21 years old are a particularly serious threat to go out, pony up a thousand bucks or so and go home with an AR-15?

              The kid who killed all those other kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School was 20 years old but used his mother’s gun. The young man who shot 12 people at the movie theater in Aurora, CO and wounded another 70 was 25 years old. And the shooter who rampaged through a building at Virginia Tech in 2007 was 23 years old but – oops – he used a Glock handgun to kill 32 students and staff.

              So why all this attention being paid to assault rifles when someone with a handgun can commit just as many murders in a few minutes’ time? I’ll tell you why.  Because the United States is the only country in the entire world which gives law-abiding residents to guns that were not only designed specifically as military weapons but are still carried by troops in the field.

              Bot only am I talking about the AR-15 rifle, but the same can be said about the handguns which are involved in most of the nearly 100,000 intentional gun assaults which occur in the United States every year.

              Where do you think the Glock pistol came from?  It was designed by Gaston Glock in response to an RFP issued by the Austrian military.  Where do you think Sig pistols come from? And as for all those pistols designed and manufactured by Smith & Wesson, their provenance was the handgun design shop at 1600 Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield, MA when S&W got serious in the 1i990’s about trying to take the police market back from Glock.

              Wait a minute, you say. You can’t keep Americans from buying those assault rifles and hi-capacity, semi-automatic pistols.  We have a ‘right’ to buy and own those guns. That’s what the 2nd Amendment says.

              In fact (note the use of the word ‘fact’), the 2nd Amendment says nothing of the kind. The 2nd Amendment says that Americans can ‘keep and bear arms,’ but it doesn’t define the word ‘arms.’ And when my late friend Tony Scalia wrote his 2008 opinion to explain what the 2nd Amendment really meant, he made a point of saying that it did not embody Constitutional of any kind for what he referred to as ‘weapons of war,’ which happen to be a pretty good description of guns made by companies like Glock, Sig, and S&W which are used not to kill Bambi but are used to kill people like you and me.

              And while we’re at it, let’s not indulge in all that nonsense about how a gun is a self-defense tool or device or whatever other word Gun-nut Nation uses to avoid using the word ‘gun.’ Because what’s a defensive act of violence happens to be an offensive act of violence to someone else. And in case you think I’m just being contrary to prove a point, spend a little time reading the research on homicide done by Ira Wolfgang where he discusses how half the murders committed in Philadelphia occurred because the victim first assaulted the perpetrator, and the other half occurred because the guy who killed the other guy couldn’t keep his mouth and/or his hands to himself.

              The gun bill being debated in Congress will provide money for programs we need, in particular programs which might make it easier for everyone to access resources for mental health. But as long as both sides of the gun debate hold their discussions within a context which has little, if anything to do with how to get all those military-style guns off the street, this new law will effectively do what the previous gun laws have done, to quote Grandpa: ‘gurnisht helfen’ (read: nothing at all.)

Who’s Afraid of the NRA? Nobody, That’s Who.

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              So, here’s the good news about the Uvalde massacre, if there can ever be any good news about an event as dreadful as what happened almost two weeks ago at the Robb Elementary School.

              For the first time in my memory, the organizations which have been in the forefront of efforts to reduce gun violence (e.g., Everytown, Brady, etc.) can’t complain that their efforts are being frustrated because of the power and influence of the NRA. If anything, what is remarkable about the debate which has broken out over Joe Biden’s call for a new gun law is the virtual absence of the NRA.

              Recall what happened after Sandy Hook, when Wayne LaPierre went on national TV a week after the slaughter in Newtown and gave a fiery, no-holds-barred speech castigating liberals, Hollywood video producers, inept parents and 2nd-Amendment enemies as the reasons for mass shootings, and called for all schools to be immediately turned into armed camps.

              This time around, America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ released a two-paragraph statement which contained the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’ bromide but then went on to thank everyone in Uvalde who tried to help out after the massacre occurred. Period. Nothing more.

              The NRA held its annual meeting in Houston, but attendance was far below the number of people who usually show up for this event, and there were probably more folks demonstrating outside the Convention Center during Trump’s speech than there were folks inside the Convention Center listening to him whining away.

              The NRA’s post-Uvalde silence has been so noticeable that GOP candidates running in this year’s election cycle have been forced to rely on advice from a variety of organizations, all of whom are saying that any talk about Uvalde is not going to work. The basic argument being made by conservative political consultants and messaging experts is to avoid talking about the 2nd Amendment or gun ‘rights’ until the media decides that gun violence is no longer a topic of interest and ramps up stories about something else.

              Which means that if Gun-control Nation wants to press for a new gun law, they won’t be able to use the NRA as their favorite stalking horse – they’ll have to fashion and promote their gun-control argument on its own terms.

              They also won’t have Donald Trump to kick around anymore, because following the primary results in Georgia, his so-called ‘victory tour’ seems to have run out of steam.

              Meanwhile, the NRA happens to be quietly celebrating two victories this week which just a few months ago seemed to be beyond their wildest dreams. During the annual meeting in Houston, Wayne LaPierre was re-elected as Executive Vice President, a move which just about everyone had been saying wouldn’t take place. But it did take place, and all those stories about Wayne-o’s million-dollar wardrobe and his over-the-top vacation jaunts have disappeared.

              More important was a decision from a New York State judge which denied an attempt by the state’s Attorney General to dissolve the NRA because the organization’s alleged financial mismanagement had not created ‘public harm.’  A lawsuit seeking relief for the siphoning of monies and what the judge referred to as the ‘greed’ of Wayne-o and others can proceed, but the group’s basic legal existence remains intact.

              Meanwhile, I continue to get my weekly email from Wayne-o reminding me to renew my Golden Eagle membership which gets me a lovely, plastic wallet card which I can show to a cop as I hand over my driver’s license because I was driving too fast. I can also buy a couple of golf shirts from the clothing catalogue which just arrived and this coming weekend I can drive 20 minutes to a gun show at Sturbridge and hang out at the NRA booth.

              Know how many public events the Brady Campaign is holding anywhere near where I live between now and Labor Day? None, as in a big, fat zero.

              I have been a member of the NRA for 66 years. It’s very simple. I like guns. I am also a registered Democrat and if the Democrats and their allies in Gun-control Nation manage somehow to pass a new gun-control law, I’ll still vote the blue team every single time.

              On the other hand, I’d also like to see the gun-control argument being made on its own terms simply because I’m against violence in any and all its forms. Aren’t you?

Do We Still Need Research on Gun Violence?


              I have been writing about guns, the gun business and gun violence for early ten years.  I posted my first blog in May 2012 when I learned that the NRA, of which I am a Lifetime Endowment member, was pushing a law in Florida that, had it not been overturned by a federal appeals court, would have criminalized physicians who counseled patients about guns.

              I simply didn’t understand how anyone would be afraid of anything said to them by a physician, but I guess I’m kind of naive in that respect, considering how many people are still resisting the Covid-19 vaccine.

              My gun blog had a few viewers but that changed after the Sandy Hook massacre in December which created a media firestorm about gun violence and changed the public discussion about guns in several immediate ways.

              To begin, Obama came out with a new gun-control law which went nowhere but at least generated the beginnings of grass roots gun-control organizations to compete with the NRA. This was also the time that social media made it easier to form advocacy groups and promote ideas and strategies for gun control. Nobody has done this better than Shannon Watts and her girls.

              At the same time, the pro-gun groups or as they prefer to call themselves, the gun ‘rights’ folks, also started popping up on the internet, forcing the NRA to move towards the alt-right, partially to deflect criticisms from gun-control groups, as well as to protect its right flank from the real crazies like Gun Owners of America and the militia nut jobs who have emerged full flower before and during the Age of Trump.

              Meanwhile, if we go back to 2012 and try to understand what has happened with guns and gun violence from then until now, what we quickly realize that things haven’t gotten better, they’ve gotten worse. Know what the national gun-violence rate was in 2012?  Try 10.44. Know what the GV rate was in 2020, which is the most recent year for data from the CDC? How about 13.44. Gee, that’s only an increase of 28.7%.

              But wait a minute, you say. The 2020 number has to be taken with a grain of salt or maybe with a salt shaker because, after all, that was the first Pandemic year.

              Yea, right. Except it’s not right. The national violence rate from 2012 to 2020 went up by 17.4% – a little more than half the increase in the gun-violence rate.

              Now if you tap the average medical or public health gun researcher on the shoulder and ask for an explanation as to why gun violence has shown such a remarkable increase over the past eight years, he or she will tell you that nobody was able to do any CDC-funded research on gun violence over that period of time.

              Which is true, except that I’m not so sure that our inability to prevent or reduce gun violence has little, if anything, to do with research into the causes of this scourge at all.

              Back in the early 90’s, two very able researchers published research which definitively found that access to a gun in the home created risk for homicide and suicide. And by the way, this research did not qualify guns as to whether or not they were safely stored.

              I read these articles when they first appeared and I not only knew they both were correct, but I never understood why it was necessary to do any more research on the issue of guns, gun violence or gun risks.

Meanwhile, during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the gun industry shifted away from the production of long guns – shotguns, rifles – to the production of handguns, in particular semi-automatic pistols which carried 15 rounds or more of military-grade ammunition.

Why did this product shift take place? Because new manufacturing technologies – MTM manufacture and polymers – doubled and sometimes tripled operating margins for companies that primarily produced handguns. For all the talk about how Americans wanted to own handguns because they needed to protect themselves from increased crime, the gun industry has never succeeded in convincing a majority of Americans that they need to own a gun.

We are the only country in the entire world which allows law-abiding residents to buy, own, and walk around with guns which are designed solely for the purpose of ending human life. I mean, you just don’t use a Glock or a Sig pistol to shoot a bird out of a tree.

Need more research to figure that one out? No, you don’t.

Taking On The 2nd Amendment.


Last week I received an email from our friends at Americans Against Gun Violence (AAGV) asking me to spread the word about their annual High School Essay Contest which gives out $15,000 in prize money for the nest essays written by high school students about why the 2nd Amendment should be changed.

The AAGV is asking high schoolers to write 500 words or fewer about this statement by Chief Justice Warren Burger: “If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment…. This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word ‘fraud’ – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.

As in past years, the best 12 essays will be given cash prizes and the deadline for sending in essays is April 16th. The problem this year is that there has been a noticeable drop-off in responses, even though news about the contest was sent to more than one thousand educators across the country, along with a flyer advertising the program which you can download here.

I really like the idea that AAGV is trying to engage high school students in this effort because it’s when kids are in high school that they most often get turned on by guns. So why not get high school students thinking not just about guns but what we need to do to reduce the violence caused by guns?

The problem, according to AAGV, is that many high school educators are intimidated by introducing anything in their classrooms which smacks of a negative attitude about guns. It’s not just that Gun-nut Nation is watching out to keep doubts about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ outside of school, it’s that the whole issue of what is and isn’t taught in schools has become a political football thanks to the culture war being conducted by the GOP.

But I happen to think there’s another reason why raising the issue of gun violence in the classroom seems to be slowly fading away. And it has to do with the fact that many of the groups and individuals who are concerned about gun violence are just as, or even more concerned with protecting everyone’s Constitutional ‘rights.’

Back in 1989 our friend Sandy Levinson wrote an essay about the 2nd Amendment which appeared in the Yale Law Review. You can download the article right here, and if you haven’t read it, you should. What Professor Levinson basically argued is that if liberals want to defend those parts of the Bill of Rights that protect free speech and the free exercise of religion, they should be defending the free ownership of guns as well. After all, the Bill of Rights is a package deal, and you can’t slice or dice Constitutional rights to support only one point of view.

Levinson’s argument has become a standard narrative in the gun-control crowd.  In fact, the AAGV is the only gun-control organization which doesn’t explicitly proclaim itself to be supporting the 2nd Amendment even though these same organizations want gun ownership to be more tightly regulated and controlled.

The problem today is that the GOP has decided to wage an all-out assault on liberal Constitutional precepts and ideals, so what we thought were settled issues like gender and abortion have now come under fierce attack. After all, what else is the GOP going to complain about? The fact that nobody’s unemployed?

Last week the Governor of Washington signed legislation which bans hi-capacity magazines, as well as ‘ghost’ guns.  Laws requiring safe storage of guns were passed last year in Oregon and Colorado. But other states, like Texas and Kansas, have recently passed pro-gun laws.

When one of our two national, political parties believes that getting shot by a gun is a Constitutional privilege and not a problem for public health, the chances of any tampering with the 2nd Amendment are slim to none.

Of course, when Galileo was locked away in the tower he didn’t turn around and declare that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

Want To Go to The NRA Show?


              So, yesterday I get an email from the boys in Fairfax telling me that the NRA is once again doing their annual meeting which will be held in Houston this year.

              Hey! Wait just one goddamn minute!  I thought the NRA was out of business.  I thought that between the scandal with Russia, the fight with Olllie North, the big investigation by the New York State Attorney General and Wayne-o buying millions of dollars of clothing at some shop on Rodeo Drive, that America’s ‘oldest civil-rights organization was ka-put. 

              As Grandpa would say, vus machts-du? (read: what’s going on?)

              I’ll tell you what’s going on. What’s going on is that you don’t take an organization which does care and feeding of its membership the way the NRA cares and feeds its membership and assume that things are going to hell in a handbasket just because they’ve had a couple of bad years.

              I’m also a member of the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Fund, and the National Parks Conservancy Organization, or whatever they call themselves.  When was the last time I went to a national meeting of any of these organizations and said hello to people who I have seen at other meetings over the years? Never. These organizations don’t have meetings.

              I also make monthly donations to at least three national, gun-control organizations. I guess this makes me a member of those organizations as well. Except there’s no real membership relationship to these organizations at all, unless you want to call it a ‘relationship’ when I get an email asking me to send them more cash.

              I went to my first NRA national meeting in 1980.  It was held in Philadelphia, believe it or not. Ronald Reagan showed up and gave a speech – big deal. I spent all my time at this meeting talking to gun writers like Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton whose stuff I regularly read in the monthly NRA magazine, American Rifleman, whose articles on gun history put the Smithsonian to shame.

              Since that first show, I have gone to NRA national meetings in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and a few other states. Since I am a Lifetime Endowment member (which means they can’t throw me out no matter what I say) there’s always a special lounge where I can relax, have a cup of coffee, and say hello to Wayne-o when he drops by.

              Not only can I go to a national show ever year, but I can also go to gun shows every weekend which are sponsored by the NRA. The only difference between those shows and the national NRA show is that I can buy and sell guns at a local gun show. At the national NRA show all I can do is play with the guns.

              Several weeks ago I posted a column on Shannon Watts and her MOMS where I pointed out that her group had more activities coming up than what was listed on the NRA website. But the great work being done by Shannon focuses almost entirely on appearances before state legislators considering new gun-control laws. They aren’t social events per se, and this is where the NRA has everyone in Gun-control Nation completely beat.

              When I was in college, I had a girlfriend whose father never missed going to New Orleans for the annual Shriners jamboree. The fact that the Shriners operated these wonderful hospitals around the country was taken for granted and was entirely beside the point. This guy never missed the national binge so he could get together with all his Shriner friends.

              For those of you in Gun-control Nation who think the NRA is one step away from being good and dead, you better think again. If you’re a gun nut, and there are plenty of us still around, being able to wander through 14 acres of gun displays and gun-related crap is a joy to behold.

NRA versus NPR. Who Wins? The NRA.

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              You may recall that back in July 2018, the FBI arrested a Russian moll, Maria Butina, and charged her with spying by trying to infiltrate the Trump Administration through contacts she had made with the NRA. Just what America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ needed as it was about to be engulfed in a massive political fight between Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North, the results of which are still going on.

              North got booted out as NRA President in 2019, and then there was a big fight between NRA and its long-time PR firm, Ackerman-McQueen, and then an abortive bankruptcy, and then a still-active investigation by New York AG Letitia James, and then the cancellation of NRA-TV, and then the collapse of revenue, and then the articles by Mike Spies, and then and then and then, all of my Gun-control Nation friends were overjoyed and assumed the NRA was to quote Grandpa fartig (read: finished) and toyt (read: dead.)

              Meanwhile, I still get my weekly emails from Wayne, my monthly magazine shows up in my mailbox on time, the online clothing store has a new line of polo shirts which means that my golf club will shortly allow me out to play, and when all is said and done, things at NRA headquarters in Fairfax seem to be back to where they used to be.

              How did all this happen? You might want to read a new book by NPR’s investigative correspondent Tim Mak, Misfire, Inside the Downfall of the NRA, which purports to explain the events of the last five years. The book has received rave reviews from some of the usual suspects, including David Frum and Olivia Nuzzi, I’ll get to those reviews and what they really mean below.

              In the meantime, let me just say that the book is completely and totally wrong. And it’s wrong because the author may be someone who knows all the political ins and outs of the D.C. scene, but he doesn’t know anything about guns, or the people who make guns, or the people who sell guns, or the people who buy and own guns. Which is kind of standard for what happens when someone in Gun-control Nation takes an allegedly ‘inside’ look at the ‘other’ (read: pro-gun) side.

              So, the result is that someone like Tim Mak ends up interviewing all kinds of people, but he has no ability to determine whether they are telling him the truth, or some of the truth, or none of the truth. The fact that you ask two people the same question and get two different answers is about as valid a way to figure out why something did or didn’t happen as the man in the moon. 

              So, in this book, Mak begins by relating a conversation with a ‘trusted’ source who told him that Maria Butina “infiltrated the NRA in order to promote Russian interests.” [p. 112] But what exactly were those Russian ‘interests?’ Here is where Mak completely misses the boat and takes his book off in a direction that it shouldn’t have gone.

              Butina came to the NRA show for the same reason that lots of foreigners come to the show every year – she was looking for an importer and/or a manufacturer who could help her get the AK-47 assault rifle into American gun-owning hands. Her boss, Alexander Torshin, was on the board of the Russian bank which funded a Russian gun company, Izhmash, which makes the AK-47 for the Russian military.

              Why did Izhmash want to get into the American gun market?  For the same reason that companies like Glock and Sig have gotten into the American gun market, because the American market happens to be larger and potentially more lucrative than all the other commercial gun markets in the world combined.

              That’s the reason that Butina was at the NRA show in Orlando, that’s the reason she tried to ‘infiltrate’ the NRA, and none of what I just said is mentioned or even hinted at in Mak’s book. Did he attend the NRA show?  Of course not. Why bother to go to the NRA show when you can have breakfast with a trusted ‘source’ in D.C. and get all the dirt?

              Butina ended up trying to make something more of herself than just being a sales-person for the AK-47 by moving to Washington and getting mixed up with a small-time political consultant who had been involved in some state-level campaigns. She used some of this guy’s connections to begin promoting herself as a ‘representative’ of the Russian government which is when she violated the law about registering as a foreign ‘agent’ which then got her arrested by the FBI for being a ‘spy.’

              Now for me, being a ‘spy’ means that you are doing all kinds of secret stuff to get information which otherwise you’re not supposed to have.  She never did anything like that. She just forgot to register herself because the truth is that she wasn’t employed by the Russian government at all. She was peddling a consumer product and by telling Torshin that her sales gig was opening up important doors, she was able to increase her salary and make more charges to her expense account.

              And that was it.  That was the whole story about Maria Butina and her connection to the NRA.  Do you get any of this in Tim Mak’s book? Nope.

              I could have sat in my living room in Massachusetts and done all the so-called ‘investigative’ journalism which Mak claims he did for this book. You can do it too. Just go to this website, Home – NRA Watch, which contains all the documentation from the various legal proceedings involving the NRA and you’ll find virtually every so-called ‘interview’ which Tim Mak claims provided him with the content for this book.

              That’s not investigative journalism. That’s shabby journalism and it’s not made any less shabby by the fact that three of the five blurbs on the book’s back cover were written by current or former colleagues of Tim Mak when he wrote for The Beast.

Students Demand Action – Now!


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.

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