Donations

I subscribe to a few anti-gun newsletters to keep tabs on what the opposition is doing. The other day I got an email from the Giffords group (formerly ARS; funny how anti-gun-rights groups keep changing names) asking for a $3 donation.

Instead, I ended up donating $25 to the NRA-ILA and $25 to the NRA-PVF (and that’s even though I’m already a Life member), plus I bought some stuff at MidwayUSA and chipped in a few bucks through their NRA RoundUp program.

Once the move to the US happens, the kids are settled in, and we figure out a household budget, I’ll need to get the wife and kids signed up as NRA Easy Pay Life members and see what budget we have for periodic donations to gun-rights groups.

Attempting to de-legitimize the NRA and gun rights supporters

Although the pro-gun-rights side has numbers, a real grassroots movement, political influence, court cases, and intensity on our side (at least for now; who knows how our representatives will sell us out), the opposition has a substantial presence on social media and a willingness to use it. This has been made clear by a concerted effort to de-legitimize the NRA, supporters of gun rights, and millions of gun owners and sympathetic Americans.

As an example, various Hollywood stars are now calling for Amazon and other streaming service operators to remove the NRA TV channel or app from their services.

Why? Because they don’t like what they have to say and they are actively trying to make the NRA and its members seem to be not only less legitimate, but instead monstrous accomplices of mass murderers.

Certainly, Amazon and streaming services have the right, as private enterprises, to include or not include any channel or app with their services. It would be well within their rights to remove or de-list the NRA TV channel or app, but I argue that this is both a bad idea and extremely troubling. The content that NRA TV is producing is of interest to a wide audience (else they wouldn’t make it), is lawful, and does not harass, defame, or otherwise harm others. De-listing them would move Amazon and others from a mostly-neutral platform provider to an arbiter of content, which is something I very much doubt they wish to be.

Similarly, people have been pressuring a variety of companies (including Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, First National Bank of Omaha, etc.) to sever their longstanding partnerships with the NRA. I also find this troubling, but less so than the attempts at de-listing the NRA TV app. Again, private enterprises are free to partner (or not) with whomever they choose, but I don’t understand why they bend to the whim of a noisy group of activists who likely don’t use their product or service anyway. Perhaps they think it avoids bad PR and protests on social media? I have no idea: blogs aside, my only use of social media is sharing family photos and the like on Facebook with family and friends since I have a large extended family scattered all over the place. I studiously avoid Twitter like the plague it is.

But I digress: it appears that the initial attempts at de-legitimizing the NRA and gun owners, in that several companies have publicly de-partnered with the NRA (though it likely has little effect over all, and many partnerships like the NRA-branded credit card are likely to be replaced quickly by a more NRA-aligned proivder) has been moderately successful.

How could we, as the gun owning community, counter this? I’m open to suggestions.

Media: reciprocity is making the sky fall!

H.R.38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, passed out of the House of Representatives yesterday and is now headed for the Senate. As expected, the media is beside itself with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Let’s look at the New York Times’ article about it, starting a bit into the article:

Together, the measures were the first gun-related bill to pass through the chamber since two of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States, in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Tex., in the fall.

While technically true, it seems a bit misleading to conflate lawful carry with the criminal misuse of arms. Still, par for the course for the Times.

But the background check measure was not enough to win over most Democrats, nor did it persuade law enforcement officials in some of the largest cities, including New York, who say the legislation would force locales with strict gun laws to bow to places with few or no gun restrictions.

So, the Democrats are against improving the NICS system. Got it. Nice to have that on record. Ss for forcing locales with strict gun laws to “bow” to places with few or no gun restrictions, good. Those strict laws are unjust.

Democrats said the measure would jeopardize public safety and set a dangerous precedent for overriding states’ rights to determine their own laws.

States can determine their own laws, but that doesn’t mean those laws are right, just, or constitutional. Restricting honest people from effectively protecting themselves is a terrible thing.

The House bill would not force states to change their own laws, but it would treat a concealed-carry permit like a driver’s license, letting individuals allowed by one state to carry a concealed weapon with them into another state.

Seems perfectly reasonable. What’s the issue here?

It would also allow visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges and other federally administered lands to legally carry concealed guns. And it carves out a provision that would let qualified permit holders carry concealed guns in school zones.

Good.

Law enforcement officials from major cities like New York and Los Angeles, where strict gun control laws are aimed at handguns, warned that the bill would usurp states’ authority to set their own laws and effectively impose the lax laws of Southern and rural states on densely populated cities.

Excellent. Nullifying or overturning unjust laws is a good thing, whether it’s overriding laws mandating racial segregation in the South or laws that restrict good people from protecting themselves.

Treating carry permits like any other state-issued license or certificate, like a driver’s license, marriage license, etc. is only logical. If I can drive from Arizona to New York without having to get a driver’s license from each state in between — even though those states all have somewhat different traffic laws — I should be able to do the same thing with a carry permit. The fact that one has a carry permit means that one has been vetted by both state and federal background checks, and is one of the most law-abiding people in the country. These are the people who should be encouraged to carry wherever they can.

In short, all the things that the New York Times and other media are complaining about are the very things that I’m pleased to hear. Now, if only the Senate can get this passed and signed into law. One can hope.

Numbers

The Women’s March on Washington claim that “over 1 million [people] in Washington” and “over 5 million [people] worldwide” marched the other day. Very cool. I’m happy to see people peacefully exercising their rights and making their voices heard.

Assuming their numbers are accurate, and I have no particular reason to doubt them, I find it interesting how these marchers are — according to both themselves and the media — are part of some mass movement that should influence public policy and to which politicians and other people of influence should particularly listen.

Yet, the NRA with its 5+ million members (not to mention other groups, like the GOA, SAF, etc. with hundreds of thousands of members) is a fringe group of cousin-humping rednecks that should be mocked, denigrated, and ignored by those in positions of authority.

Funny how numbers mean different things.

Social media roundup, part 2

Back in late 2013 I checked how popular various pro- and anti-gun groups were on Facebook at Twitter. I figured I’d repeat the analysis to see how things have changed in the intervening years. Newly-added groups or individuals are bolded.
Gun Rights Groups:

  • National Rifle Association (Facebook): 4,360,790 (2013: 2,748,839) +58.64%
  • National Rifle Association (Twitter): 294,000 (2013: 191,692) +53.37%
  • Gun Owners of America (Facebook): 1,107,856 (2013: 276,867) +300.14%
  • Gun Owners of America (Twitter): 68,300 (2013: 22,786) +199.75%
  • Second Amendment Foundation (Facebook): 378,722 (2013: 119,810) +216.1%
  • Second Amendment Foundation (Twitter): 11,200 (2013: 4,962) +125.72%
  • National Association for Gun Rights (Facebook): 4,274,248
  • National Association for Gun Rights (Twitter): 7,424
  • Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (Facebook): 205,747
  • Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (Twitter): 1,442

Gun Industry:

  • National Shooting Sports Foundation (Facebook): 348,490 (2013: 157,718) +120.96%
  • National Shooting Sports Foundation (Twitter): 41,800 (2013: 21,104) +98.07%
  • SHOT Show ? run by NNSF (Facebook): 96,866 (2013: 44,573) +117.32%
  • SHOT Show ? run by NSSF (Twitter): 51,400 (2013: 23,649) +117.35%
  • Glock, Inc. (Facebook): 1,475,378 (2013: 614,185) +140.22%
  • Glock, Inc. (Twitter): 158,000 (2013: 63,336) +149.46%
  • Smith & Wesson (Facebook): 1,184,344 (2013: 680,937) +73.93%
  • Smitth & Wesson: (Twitter): 140,000 (2013: 54,447) +157.13%
  • Sturm, Ruger & Company (Facebook) 493,549 (2013: 345,734) +42.75%
  • Sturm, Ruger & Company (Twitter): N/A (Ruger appears to have no Twitter presence anymore.) (2013: 18,310)

Gun Control Groups:

  • Americans for Responsible Solutions (Facebook): 177,283 (2013: 89,414) +98.27%
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions (Twitter): 1,671 (2013: 210,708) -99.21%
  • Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Facebook): N/A (MAIG no longer has a Facebook account.) (2013: 19,271)
  • Demand Action ? MAIG on Twitter (Twitter): N/A (MAIG no longer has a Twitter account.) (2013: 26,860)
  • Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (Facebook): 442,548 (2013: 122,938) +259.98%
  • Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (Twitter): 36,500 (2013: 12,254) +197.86%
  • Brady Campaign (Facebook): 112,893 (2013: 58,650) +92.49%
  • Brady Campaign (Twitter): 25,600 (2013: 17,170) +49.1%
  • Violence Policy Center (Facebook): 58,268 (2013: 20,571) +183.25%
  • Violence Policy Center (Twitter): 3,926 (2013: 1,934) +103%
  • CSGV (Facebook): 198,066 (2013: 46,314) +327.66%
  • CSGV (Twitter): 13,800 (2013: 9,575) +44.13%
  • Shannon Watts (Facebook): 1,166
  • Shannon Watts (Twitter): 11,800
  • Everytown for Gun Safety (Facebook): 905,324 (Everytown didn’t exist in 2013, but was formed from MAIG.) +636.41%
  • Everytown for Gun Safety (Twitter): 56,500

What can we learn from these numbers?
Compared to the 2013 stats, all entries on the list except Ruger (who discontinued their Twitter account) and ARS (who lost essentially all of their Twitter readers, for whatever reason) had significant growth.
The NRA alone has more than 2.3x the number of Facebook followers of all the gun control groups combined. The National Association for Gun Rights is nipping at the heels of the NRA, with 98% of the number of followers. The GOA has only 58% the followers of all the gun control groups combined, though they dominate all the gun control groups except Bloomberg-funded Everytown.
The Brady Campaign (5.9% of gun control followers) and VPC (3.1%) are more or less rounding errors, with ARS (9.3%) and CSGV (10%) being only slight better.
Everytown alone has 47% of the total number of gun control followers. Everytown + MDA make up 71% of the total number of gun control followers, though the GOA + SAF have 10% more followers than Everytown + MDA. Glock alone has 9.5% more followers than Everytown + MDA.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado no-compromise gun rights group, has more Facebook followers than any gun control group except Everytown and MDA.
Recently I’ve seen gun control advocates suggest that they have enough people on their side to join the NRA en masse, outnumber the gun owning members, and either dismantle the organization or vote in NRA elections to change the group’s position on issues. Although absurd on its face, the proposal is even more laughable when you consider that the grand total of people who’ve clicked “Like” to *any* of the gun control groups on Facebook is less than half the number of people who’ve done so for the NRA even though clicking “Like” involves no expense or effort. Actually joining the NRA requires the expenditure of actual money for 5 years to get voting privileges, something essentially none of the gun control advocates are willing to do.
Every single one of the gun-rights groups is a membership organization funded by dues-paying ordinary people. None of the gun-control groups have dues-paying members, and while some individuals and groups donate money to the groups, the vast majority of the funding for Everydown and MDA (the only groups that matter) comes from Bloomberg and other wealthy elites.
Gun control groups are basically paper tigers, though backed by Bloomberg’s billions, at least two of those tigers have a bit of a bite. We should be wary.

Spin and the NRA legal challenges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recently passed a law that allows membership groups (read: the NRA), including those without legal standing (that is, they haven’t been directly harmed by a law), to sue cities that have enacted gun laws that violate the state preemption laws. If they win, the plaintiff would be entitled to attorneys fees.
It’s no surprise that clueless anti-freedom people such as Elanor Clift (who recently penned this missive) try to spin this situation as horrible and the NRA as some sort of soulless monster intent on stripping “common sense gun laws” from poor, helpless cities.
For example ((I’m leaving out the absurd misunderstanding of the so-called “Florida loophole” that Ms. Clift makes and am focusing solely on the preemption issue.)),

Ed Foley, the mayor of Jenkintown, a borough in the Philadelphia suburbs, told the Daily Beast that the NRA forced him ?to choose between public safety and financial solvency.? […] Under the threat of a lawsuit brought by the NRA, an ordinance in place since 2010 requiring Jenkintown residents to report lost or stolen firearms at the police station was rescinded in a public meeting. ?It was a hold-your-nose vote,? says Foley. ?It?s such an innocuous law, and it doesn?t do anything to restrict anybody?s right to have a gun. I don?t know why the NRA isn?t a bigger supporter of the police. The police want the law.?

Naturally, they focus on how reasonable and “innocuous” that law is, and that the “police want the law”. Who could argue with something as sensible as requiring that someone who had their gun stolen report that theft to the police?
Indeed, I agree — in principle — that such laws are not an undue burden on honest gun owners, subject to certain conditions. I do, however, think that they’re useless: honest people would report their stolen property to the police anyway and seek reimbursement from their insurance company. Straw purchasers, who the law is seemingly aimed at, probably wouldn’t. Thus, the law would essentially only affect honest people while doing effectively nothing about straw purchasers.
But I digress. The effectiveness or innocuousness ((Which is, I was somewhat surprised to discover, actually a word.)) of a particular law is not the issue. The issue — which is conveniently ignored by anti-gun writers — is that such laws violate state preemption law and are thus invalid. The new law allowing challenges to such invalid, illegal “laws” seeks to remedy this without requiring that someone be made a sacrificial lamb by violating the law and challenging it in court.
If the people of Pennsylvania think that lost-and-stolen laws are a good idea, they’re welcome to write and submit a bill in the state legislature. Such a law would be perfectly legal everywhere in the state. However, cities and other localities lack the legal authority to pass gun laws — any gun laws — in the state, and it’s wrong for them to ignore preemption, even if they have the best of intentions.
Hat tip to Sebastian.

Mid-Term 2014 roundup: that went well.

Overall, the election seems to have gone well for the pro-freedom side: Republicans (who are typically, but not always, pro-gun-rights) have a substantial majority in both federal houses. Unsurprisingly, the forecast at FiveThirtyEight was quite accurate, and better than most individual polls.
As usual, the true winners are the TV companies who made zillions of bucks running political ads.
I can only hope that the Republicans use their majorities in both houses to actually accomplish productive things and avoid burning precious political capital on divisive social issues. We’ll see.
Republican governors were elected in blue Maryland and Massachusetts, which surprised me, while a Democrat was elected as governor in Pennsylvania. The race in Colorado is too close to call yet, but FiveThirtyEight is predicting that Hickenlooper will barely squeak by with a win, or potentially a runoff.
As expected, endorsements from gun-control groups were essentially meaningless outside of “safe” districts: the Americans for Responsible Solutions “Champions for Common Sense Official Election Night Tally Card” listed 13 races in the House and Senate. While AZ-2 is still being counted (with the two candidates within a few handful of votes of each other at the current moment), six of the ARS-endorsed candidates lost their elections.
Miguel has a good rundown of what Bloomberg’s money got him (hint: not much, with about 50% of those he endorsed or funded losing their races).
Although they were roundly rebuked in most races, gun-control groups did have one victory worth noting: I-594 in Washington (which mandates background checks on nearly all transfers of firearms, including temporary transfers) passed with just under 60% of the vote, significantly less than the “90% of Americans” that gun-control groups claim support such measures. Gun-control groups wildly outspent pro-gun-rights group by more than a factor of 17, with gun-control groups (and a few wealthy benefactors like Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Nick “We need more school shootings!” Hanauer) contributing more than $10.6 million, while pro-gun groups and individuals only contributed a bit more than $602,000. The fact that a school shooting took place in Washington just a few weeks before the election probably helped bolster support for the measure, even though the measure (if in effect at the time) would have made no difference.
The Bradys (and their allies) are spinning the passage of I-594 as “the only place where guns were directly on the ballot this election day” while ignoring the dozens of races where gun-control supporters were defeated. While the measure is likely to be challenged in court, the gun-control side is happy about this one victory and promises that it is an “indication of things to come”. It’d be worthwhile to keep your eyes open for when similar measures are proposed in other states — such measures need to be challenged early.
In short: it wasn’t a perfect election for the pro-gun-rights side, but overall we did pretty well. Gun control at the federal level is now essentially off the table, though we need to be concerned about state-level measures promoted by big-money groups and donors.

On Fundraising Strategies

My strategy for political fundraising is pretty simple: like many people, I join membership organizations that are aligned with my position on a particular issue (( For example, the NRA, GOA, and SAF for gun rights, the ACLU and EFF for freedom of speech, privacy, etc. )), keep my membership up to date, and subscribe to their mailing lists.
Additionally (and in my view, more critically), I also subscribe to the mailing lists of groups advocating against my position. For example, I’m subscribed to ARS mailing list (( I’d subscribe to Everytown and CSGV, but I’m not sure I could survive bashing my head against the wall that frequently. )). Whenever they send out a message calling for more donations (( ARS often asks for small donation amounts and has an “anonymous donor” that will match all contributions. Anyone know who that donor is? )) I make a note of the amount they request. Every few months I add up all the requests that ARS makes, double it, and split that amount between contributions to the NRA, GOA, and SAF.
Groups like the NRA, GOA, and SAF work to concentrate and amplify the voices of their members. Individually, a vote or a letter to your legislator isn’t terribly meaningful, and I can’t make flashy TV ads or do much with $50, but the NRA and other groups can use that money much more effectively for lobbying, advertising, etc.
While I can’t hold a candle to Bloomberg’s billions, I try to do my part.
I’m curious what strategies others have when it comes to fundraising and political advocacy. Thoughts?

ARS is getting nervous

Americans for Responsible Solutions seems to be getting a bit nervous.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent fundraising email entitled “Potentially devastating” which I received from them:

Bad news. This headline just came in:

NRA goes big in key 2014 races

“The National Rifle Association has reserved $11.4 million for its initial fall advertising campaign and will begin airing its first TV commercials in three Senate races crucial to determining which party controls the chamber next year.

“The gun rights group said it plans to spend much more than the initial outlay during the final weeks before the midterm elections.”

$11.4 million, with “much more” to come? That could be more than enough money to unseat leaders in Congress who support commonsense proposals to reduce gun violence.
We [ARS] already have ads on the air in 4 House races. But now that the NRA’s moving into statewide races, we need to be there too.
Our country simply can’t afford to lose members of Congress who voted to expand background checks. If they lose, the gun lobby’s candidates will sit in the House, Senate, and governors’ mansions around the country.
They won’t just block expanded background checks — they could even roll back some of the most basic laws in place that help make our communities safer.

It sounds like ARS is getting worried. Good.