Guns

Speak Softly and Carry a Concealed Handgun

Would a nicer NRA be more effective?

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Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, by Richard Feldman, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 296 pages, $24.95.

In September the National Rifle Association unveiled a $15 million advertising campaign urging voters in key states to "Defend Freedom" and "Defeat Obama." It declared that the Illinois senator "would be the most anti-gun president in American history." FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, issued a scathing analysis of the NRA's effort, saying it "distorts Obama's position on gun control beyond recognition." A co-author of the FactCheck critique went further, telling Fox News the ads were "one of the worst examples of lying" he had "ever seen."

FactCheck made some legitimate points. An NRA flyer, for example, misleadingly presented inferences based on positions Obama has taken over the years as his "10 Point Plan to 'Change' the Second Amendment." Yet all the verifiable claims in the NRA's TV spots had a factual basis, a point FactCheck missed largely because the NRA refused to provide its sources and explain its reasoning. According to FactCheck, the NRA's public affairs director "declined to speak to us except to say that the claims are based on Obama's voting record and statements he has made in the media."

The episode made me think of Richard Feldman, the former NRA and gun industry lobbyist who argues that such apparent errors in public relations are in fact calculated attempts to foster unfair treatment so the NRA can complain about it. The organization and its supporters portrayed FactCheck's critique, which was parroted by The Washington Post, as yet more evidence of the mainstream media's anti-gun bias. The NRA reinforced the impression of a conspiracy against gun rights by noting that "FactCheck's primary funding source," the Annenberg Foundation, had given $150,000 in grants to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

As Feldman tells it in Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, picking such fights is part of the NRA's strategy to build membership and raise money. During nearly two decades as a lobbyist against gun control, he says, he discovered that the NRA was "a cynical, mercenary political cult" whose leaders "weren't interested in actually solving problems, only in fueling perpetual crisis and controversy." Since its financial health depends on keeping its constituents in a constant state of alarm and indignation, Feldman writes, the organization eschews compromise and "would rather fight than win."

The NRA, which memorably alienated some of its supporters by calling agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms "jackbooted thugs" shortly before the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, surely has been guilty of hyperbole and rhetorical excess over the years. (So, too, have countless organizations that rely on direct mail to raise money—including, as Feldman notes, the NRA's opponents.) But it's not true that the NRA never compromises. The organization seems to accept all the major features of the current federal gun control regime, including the prohibition of firearm ownership by certain categories of people, the background checks used to enforce those criteria, and the ban on civilian ownership of post-1986 machine guns. Feldman's own narrative depicts an organization steering a middle course between an old guard that preferred to eschew politics and the activists he calls "Second Amendment fundamentalists," zealots eager to defend their right to own automatic weapons. The existence of alternative gun rights groups such as Gun Owners of America (which advertises itself as "the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington") demonstrates that some people think the NRA concedes too much.

To the extent that the NRA doggedly pursues enemies of the Second Amendment, it has been remarkably successful in scaring politicians away from gun control, as Feldman himself emphasizes. By contrast, Feldman's attempts to appease gun controllers, the "heresy of compromise" for which he was ostracized by the NRA's leaders, met with mixed results at best. His account suggests that people with a visceral antipathy toward gun ownership may not be interested in understanding their opponents, except as a way of defeating them. Trying to placate such people may only embolden them. And even if some supporters of gun control are willing to negotiate in good faith, Feldman's vague call for ending the "stalemate" that stands in the way of "a serious attempt at making public policy work in the best interests of the American people" is of little use in deciding which kinds of gun control are reasonable, effective, and constitutional—questions that are especially salient now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Feldman, a Long Island native who graduated from Boston University, began his political career as a liberal Republican, working for anti-gun politicians such as Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate John Buckley, co-founder of People vs. Handguns. He says his Second Amendment epiphany came when he was working as a deputy tax collector and auxiliary police officer in Cambridge in the late 1970s. There he encountered a grocer in a rough neighborhood who "had been robbed at gunpoint three times in a little over a month" but could not obtain a handgun permit because, as a police lieutenant put it, "he's one of them Portugees, just off the fuckin' boat" and "the chief doesn't believe people like him should have guns." Recognizing that "police could not and would not protect their fellow citizens," Feldman concluded "that shopkeeper had the constitutional right to defend himself and his business." That experience, along with three years at Vermont Law School, where he spent a lot of time plinking with gun-enthusiast friends, evidently changed Feldman's outlook to the point where he considered working for the NRA his "dream job."

Feldman is clearly still proud of his political work in the Northeast, where he helped defeat candidates who received bad grades from the NRA. In 1984, he reports, the organization "backed candidates in 1,128 federal and state races" nationwide, and 956 of them won, "an amazing 85 percent pro-gun victory." Years later, working more surreptitiously, Feldman helped anti-tax activists defeat New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio, a Democrat who had championed that state's "assault weapon" ban, along with several of the legislators who voted for it. At the national level, Feldman notes, President Bill Clinton himself attributed the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress to the NRA, which mobilized voters against Democrats who had voted for the federal "assault weapon" ban. The NRA, Feldman says, has earned its nickname: Never Re-elected Again. As for presidential races, he plausibly argues that the NRA played a crucial role not only in the defeat of Al Gore in 2000, which is widely attributed to anger at Clinton's gun policies, but also in John Kerry's loss four years later.

The Democratic platform seems to reflect a gradual recognition that gun control is a risky issue for the party. The 1996 and 2000 platforms both contained several paragraphs on the subject, bragging about the Clinton administration's achievements (passage of the "assault weapon" ban and the Brady Law, which created national waiting periods and background checks for gun purchases) and calling for more gun control, including "a ban on cop-killer bullets," "a full background check," and "a gun safety test to buy a new handgun." In the 2004 platform, the gun discussion was reduced to one sentence that promised to "protect Americans' Second Amendment right to own firearms" while "reauthorizing the assault weapons ban" and "closing the gun show loophole." The 2008 platform had a paragraph on the subject, devoted to reconciling "commonsense laws and improvements" (such as "closing the gun show loophole, improving our background check system, and reinstating the assault weapons ban") with "Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms."

That latest platform included a line similar to one Barack Obama used repeatedly during his campaign: "We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation, but we know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne." What works in Chicago, according to the Democrats, is a handgun ban very similar to the Washington, D.C., law that the Supreme Court overturned last year. Obama, who repeatedly voiced support for both laws, nevertheless managed to praise the Court's decision, which he said was consistent with his own longstanding view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms, albeit one that is subject to "reasonable regulation" (the definition of which seems to vary from city to city). He countered the NRA's anti-Obama ads with testimonials from gun owners who assured voters of the Democrat's dedication to the Second Amendment. And to a large extent those reassurances worked. In its critique of the NRA's ads, FactCheck repeatedly suggested that Obama's general statements of support for the Second Amendment somehow canceled out his specific positions in favor of gun control. So even though the NRA may well be right that Obama is "the most anti-gun president in American history," he feels obliged to pretend otherwise, which is in itself an accomplishment.

If Richard Feldman, advocate of the artful compromise, were to sit down with Barack Obama, would they be able to reach an agreement about what constitutes "reasonable regulation"? Probably not. For all his complaints about the NRA's rigidity, Feldman agrees with almost all of the group's positions, ranging from its opposition to waiting periods for gun purchases to its support for nondiscretionary carry permit laws of the sort that would have helped that Portuguese grocer in Cambridge. Like the NRA, he shakes his head over the misconceptions underlying outrage about "Saturday night specials," "plastic" guns, "cop-killer bullets," "fingerprint-resistant" guns, and "assault weapons" (although he faults the NRA for not doing enough to clear up those misconceptions, saying it prefers to preserve the ignorance of gun control supporters as a subject of derision and fund raising letters). There is not much room here for common ground between Feldman and our new president.

To get a sense of how far apart this pair's definitions of reasonable would be, consider the "assault weapon" ban. Although many Americans were under the impression that the law banned machine guns (a misconception that gun control activists did their best to perpetuate), all of the weapons it covered were semiautomatic, firing once per trigger pull. Feldman notes that the guns were chosen based mainly on their scary, militaristic appearance, as opposed to capabilities that would make a difference in the hands of criminals. The law banned certain firearms by name, along with guns that accepted detachable magazines and had two or more of these features: a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher. Before the law took effect, Feldman notes, the impending ban triggered a "buying frenzy" as people lined up for the targeted guns (along with magazines holding more than 10 rounds, also banned by the law). After the law took effect, manufacturers made trivial changes to popular models (for example, renaming them or removing a bayonet mount) so they could continue to make and sell them. Neither the ban nor its expiration in 2004 had any noticeable effect on crime, which is not surprising, since there was never any evidence that "assault weapons" played a significant role in crime to begin with.

Like most Democrats, Obama considers the "assault weapon" ban the epitome of reasonable gun control, although it's not clear he understands what the law did. In a 2004 debate with Alan Keyes, his Republican opponent for the U.S. Senate, Obama explained the rationale for renewing the "assault weapon" ban this way: "Unless you're seeing a lot of deer out there wearing bullet-proof vests, then there is no purpose for many of the guns." He thereby conflated the "assault weapon" issue with the "armor-piercing bullet" issue, apparently not realizing that ordinary hunting ammunition fired by ordinary hunting rifles can penetrate "bullet-proof vests." It's unlikely that Feldman could educate President Obama out of his support for this silly law.

Feldman's previous efforts at getting along with gun controllers—the ones that caused his erstwhile allies at the NRA to turn on him and thereby led to this score-settling memoir—do not inspire much confidence in conciliation. In 1997, when Feldman was executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, an industry group, President Clinton was contemplating legislation that would have required gun manufacturers to include "child safety locks" with their firearms. Feldman headed off this mandate by getting manufacturers to voluntarily include "child safety locks" with their firearms. That did not stop the Democrats from continuing to demand "mandatory child safety locks" in their 2000 platform.

Shortly after gun makers gave in on the trigger lock issue, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell (now Pennsylvania's governor) was talking about suing them for the damage caused by gun-wielding criminals. Feldman tried to persuade Rendell that the industry took his concerns about urban violence seriously and that cooperation would accomplish more than litigation. Rendell met with Feldman repeatedly, gave the impression that he appreciated the industry's readiness to talk, and then went ahead and filed a lawsuit anyway. So did more than 30 other local governments, posing a serious threat to a relatively small industry with thin profit margins that could ill afford years of expensive litigation. Ultimately the gun manufacturers were saved not by a willingness to bargain but by laws that put an end to Rendell et al.'s legal assault. Guess who lobbied for those?

The NRA's swift action in stopping the government-sponsored anti-gun lawsuits does not jibe very well with Feldman's claim that the organization prefers to keep controversies going for their fund raising value. On the face of it, the NRA's reaction to the lawsuit that ultimately led to last year's Supreme Court decision upholding the Second Amendment fits his theory better. The association initially opposed the challenge to D.C.'s gun ban, which was spearheaded by Cato Institute legal scholar Robert Levy, arguing that it was premature and could lead to an adverse Supreme Court ruling. NRA officials said they wanted to wait until there were more conservatives on the Court. Feldman (who does not discuss the case in his book) presumably would say the NRA's real motivation was to avoid a ruling that would reassure gun owners about the security of their rights, making them less responsive to fund raising solicitations.

But as it turned out, the Court's decision left plenty of things for gun owners to worry about. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia went out of his way to say "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." He also suggested that the Second Amendment permits bans on carrying concealed guns and on possession of "dangerous and unusual weapons," in contrast with weapons "in common use."

The "dangerous and unusual" standard seems to be aimed at saving federal restrictions on civilian possession of machine guns. But all weapons are dangerous, and any weapon that is banned (such as the guns arbitrarily prohibited by the "assault weapon" law) will thereby be rendered unusual, which makes Scalia's reasoning circular. In any event, the "dangerous and unusual" exception, along with Scalia's more general statement that "the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited," will provide grist for gun debates (and fund raising appeals) for many years to come.

Senior Editor Jacob Sullum is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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  1. They can definitely take some credit for Gore 2000, as he lost TN by a hair probably thanks to the gun issue, but to take credit for Kerry 2004 is a bridge too far.

    And their cynicism combined with their cafeteria approach to the 2nd Amendment is basically the reason why I refuse to give them money.

  2. Yet all the verifiable claims in the NRA’s TV spots had a factual basis, a point FactCheck missed largely because the NRA refused to provide its sources and explain its reasoning.

    There were cites for all of the NRA Obama record facts in American Rifleman and the mailers I received.

  3. “Elemenope | January 22, 2009, 12:04pm | #
    They can definitely take some credit for Gore 2000, as he lost TN by a hair probably thanks to the gun issue, but to take credit for Kerry 2004 is a bridge too far.”

    And West Virginia.

  4. could not obtain a handgun permit because, as a police lieutenant put it,”he’s one of them Portugees, just off the fuckin’ boat”

    Sounds more like the Massachusetts I know rather than the enlightened tolerant progressive place joe suggests.

  5. people shouldn’t be permitted to own Glocks – they don’t have safeties.

    *runs out, closes door, locks it behind him*

  6. the NRA was “a cynical, mercenary political cult” whose leaders “weren’t interested in actually solving problems, only in fueling perpetual crisis and controversy.”

    That sounds like… well, just about every other lobbying group out there. And both branches of the major political party. And the media.

  7. One thing that’s annoying about the NRA is that almost all ranges require an NRA membership to become a member.

    1. That’s because the NRA is one of the few to offer liability insurance to gun ranges, and one of the stipulations for the insurance is that all range members be members of the NRA.

  8. “distorts Obama’s position on gun control beyond recognition.” A co-author of the FactCheck critique went further, telling Fox News the ads were “one of the worst examples of lying” he had “ever seen.”

    Yeah, it is the worst example of lying ever seen if, and only if, you believe his words on the campaign trail and totally disregard the entirety of his voting record. The whole fact-check debunked the NRA is pure bullshit. Obama’s anti-gun record is there for all to see. This must be the first time in the history of politics where we are expected to take a politicians word over how he voted.

  9. Episiarch,
    Hence why I am a card-carrying member of the NRA.

  10. I would vote for Michael over Freedo.

  11. B,
    Then again, maybe FactCheck was pointing out you can’t take what Obama says at face value. I still don’t know whether he thinks only idiotic rednecks oppose NAFTA or if he’s for dismantling it.
    Any updates?

  12. Economist, that all depends on whether he is campaigning in Ohio or Florida.

  13. Hence why I am a card-carrying member of the NRA.

    As am I. Which I would prefer not to be. I don’t like joining any organization.

    That’s why I said it was annoying.

  14. The NRA, which memorably alienated some of its supporters by calling agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms “jackbooted thugs”

    Hmm, this is something a lot of libertarians might agree with. I mean, have we not been treated to dozens of ‘jackbooted thug’ SWAT stories by Mr. Balko?

    What do you call a LEO who kicks in your door, unannounced and shoots all the family pets and any unnecessary family members, then says “oopsy! Wrong house!”?

  15. I don’t like joining any organization.

    Not sure I’d want to belong to any organization that would take me as a member.

  16. What do you call a LEO who kicks in your door, unannounced and shoots all the family pets and any unnecessary family members, then says “oopsy! Wrong house!”?

    A dead man.

  17. “One thing that’s annoying about the NRA is that almost all ranges require an NRA membership to become a member.”

    I go shooting all the time and have been to a multitude of ranges. Quite a few of them have made me get a membership before I could shoot, even if I don’t intend on returning, but I have never encountered one that required an NRA membership.
    And I wouldn’t blame the NRA for that annoyance, I would blame the owners of the range.

  18. As a gun owner, I hate the NRA. They are far too willing to compromise away my ability to defend myself.

    They will never receive a dime from me. More “extreme” gun groups like Gun Owners of America might.

  19. One thing that’s annoying about the NRA is that almost all ranges require an NRA membership to become a member.

    I’m pretty sure that has more to do with the NRA providing insurance for the ranges than anything.

  20. Damned dirty apes.

  21. I’m pretty sure that has more to do with the NRA providing insurance for the ranges than anything.

    Yep. The NRA is the biggest insurer of shooting ranges in existence.

    They are also the largest organization that actually practices what it preaches when it comes to gun safety- certifying instructors, and doing the bulk of the work when it comes to teaching people how to safely handle firearms.

  22. If not for the NRA you’d have to join some jack-booted thug organization (or the military) to use the range.Aside from their political activity they are engaged in firearms education and training at most every level.They are the only political organization I am a member of
    (continuous since 1990 and Papa Bush’s import ban)

  23. Quite a few of them have made me get a membership before I could shoot, even if I don’t intend on returning

    Interesting, the ranges I go to simply charge a higher range fee if you’re not a member, don’t require membership, and definitely don’t require NRA membership.

    But my range experience is limited. The range gets…tiring. So I still go out in nature to do my shooting.

  24. The tendency toward victimology is common with all sorts of advocacy groups, but seems particularly strong with the NRA. I suppose for good reason. It seems to motivate the rank and file and generate revenue. Of course, it does have a downside, alienating skeptics folks who would otherwise be allies. Not to mention the foes.

    I can only think of one range around here that requires a NRA membership. I think a one or two more give a discount for card carrying members. But most don’t seem to care. Personally, I hate clubs and memberships. I’m happy that there’s plenty of gun friendly BLM land not too far away where I can shoot like I please.

  25. Also, I will note that even though the NRA can be seen as compromising some pro-gun positions, they do a damned site more actual lifting when it comes to moving the RKBA forward than anything Larry Pratt has ever done.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that GOA exists, and the NRA is far from perfect, but I have yet to see even one piece of legislation or one lawsuit brought by GOA. They talk a good game, but don’t seem to undertake much actual action.

  26. http://volokh.com/posts/1222201928.shtml

    The above link is to the most thorough demolition of Fact-Check’s claims I have ever read.

  27. Yet, you can have no doubt that the dominant media narrative by far is that the NRA’s claims about Obama have been debunked.

  28. Speaking of which, you can’t get an M14 for love or money these days. Backordered up to a year, and no new orders being taken. I shoulda jumped on it three months ago.

  29. Not easy RC but I’ve seen a few on the secondary market for a lot of money.Having the right trade helps a lot too. Just a little while ago(post election) there were quite a few of the old chinese imports for under 1k here in GA. Springfields are much higher.The bad economy might pry a few more loose.

  30. I’m an NRA member, and I get tired of their hyperbolic panicky mailings as well as their propaganda magazine (which replaced the cool self-defense oriented one I really liked). I think they know it’s the rubes they need to rile up when it comes to elections – you know, the same ones the Democrats pander to.

    Nevertheless, they’re effective and I don’t mind paying them for what they’ve done and will continue to do.

  31. All the smart guys were stocking up four months ago. Since the election, there’s been a huge run on M1’s, AR’s, AK-type rifles, double stack handguns, and magazines.

  32. I would vote for Michael over Freedo.

    Well I liked it, Kolohe.

  33. Also, feel free to sub in “paranoid” for “smart” in my previous post to suit taste.

  34. One thing that’s annoying about the NRA is that almost all ranges require an NRA membership to become a member.

    Some take GOA. However, easy way around it, get NRA for a year, get your range card, canx the NRA and send the money to GOA or to JFPO or someone that understands.

    Now there’s these prickheads at the “American Hunters and Shooters” that are rather treasonous if you’re of that bent. They need to be soundly scourged.

  35. Also, feel free to sub in “paranoid” for “smart” in my previous post to suit taste.

    That’s right, because “lawful” gun owners have nothing to fear from Obama. Nothing at all.

    Just like lawful gun owners in DC have nothing to fear, even with their fifteen page firearm registration procedure and all its heinous requirements and opportunities. It’s just common sense regulation, obviously, since any common sense is regulated out of it.

    Nothing at all to fear.

  36. Now there’s these prickheads at the “American Hunters and Shooters” that are rather treasonous if you’re of that bent. They need to be soundly scourged.

    I look forward to watching AHSA fail miserably in the digital age.

  37. I look forward to watching AHSA fail miserably in the digital age.

    When they send me stuff saying how good Obama is for gun owners, I send back something saying “Please show me a definitive statement where he says he will not ban any class of firearms based simply on cosmetics. If you cannot do so, so me something where he says any unqualified statement in regards to second amendment rights, or even in a single instance repudiated any gun control agenda item.”

    For some reason they aren’t getting back to me. I guess they had a long lunch or something, since he’s no threat and all.

  38. The bad economy might pry a few more loose.

    That’s what I’m counting on.

  39. “FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center…”

    nonpartisan project?

    Ha!

    That’s a good one.

  40. The “assault weapons” ban has a high likelihood of coming back, so I understand why mediageek and his buds would be stocking up. But any sort of national restrictions on more ordinary firearms are extremely unlikely even with BHO in the White House.

    We can however thank the NRA for that, though.

  41. The “assault weapons” ban has a high likelihood of coming back

    I would hope not, it was rather stupid and ineffective at anything other than fucking with people for the sake of it. Bush also “supported” it publicly, but he didn’t have the history that Obama has in pushing stupid things like that. He pushed other stupid things, true, but not in regards to firearms.

  42. The “assault weapons ban” already included “ordinary” firearms, and the ones proposed since 2004 continually widen the scope of what is considered an “assault weapon”.

    How many do you think need to be in the hands of citizens before they are considered ordinary?

  43. “Also, feel free to sub in “paranoid” for “smart” in my previous post to suit taste.”

    well, if enough people were hitting the market, it’d be smart to stock up, even if you’re paranoid, no? 🙂

  44. don’t you people GET it! Glocks have NO SAFETY! dangerous! Especially when dropped!

  45. don’t you people GET it! Glocks have NO SAFETY! dangerous! Especially when dropped!

    For some reason that wants to be followed with something like “I have SAFETY SKILLS! I deal with SAFETY so the..” or something similar to my reading.

    I’d be careful, though, when I made that sarcastic remark a few days ago a bunch of people took me seriously.

  46. tg,

    It’s called a trigger, don’t pull it unless you want it to go “bang”.

  47. “One thing that’s annoying about the NRA is that almost all ranges require an NRA membership to become a member.”

    So the NRA is a union? Wow, no wonder people are joining the GOA in droves.

  48. and the ones proposed since 2004 continually widen the scope of what is considered an “assault weapon”.

    Actually, I saw something recently where the latest version gives sole discretion to the Atty General (Holder, a true supporter of the constitution and all the amendments to be sure, in this case). I’ll see if I can find that link.

  49. “It’s called a trigger, don’t pull it unless you want it to go “bang”.”

    Yah! the detonater in a block of C4 is usually called a safety too! Bullets hurt!

  50. Here it is, from HR1022 in 2007, probably reintroduced verbatim, and with Pelosi in charge, will probably make it out.

    It says, under definitions. The bolding of the assholery part is added by myself:

    `(L) A semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General. In making the determination, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any Federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event.’.

    So, just because the DEA buys a 30-30, the automatic presumption is that it’s no longer suitable. Sure, you can spend your dollars rebutting that presumption, if you want. However, it really gives him/her complete latitude with no guidance, and the way it’s worded your ONLY way to fight it to hope that the govt purchased it, otherwise there is no rebuttable presumption.

    Bonus link, common sense gun control in the eyes of Obama. At least I guess so, he has said so in the past, but then again you’re not supposed to pay attention to what he actually says, so who really knows?

  51. No one is professional enough to handle this glock fo-tay except f. BANG

    I’m ok, it’s ok…

    PUT THE GUN DOWN! (say the children)

    Good thing the safety was on!

  52. I just hope we’re not going to wind up with a gun bubble.

  53. n making the determination, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any Federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes

    There goes the Remington 870.

  54. Episiarch said
    “One thing that’s annoying about the NRA is that almost all ranges require an NRA membership to become a member.”

    I don’t know where you got this idea, since even the NRA range at NRA headquarters doesn’t require this (I had a membership). Neither do other ranges in NO VA AFAIK.

  55. There goes the Remington 870.

    As well as the Mossberg 500, Remington 700, a couple of Savage rifles, CZ’s, Glocks (safety or not), most handguns, etc.

    But we have nothing to fear if we’re gun owners. Lawful gun owners. Nothing to fear. Holder will take care of us.

    I don’t know where you got this idea, since even the NRA range at NRA headquarters doesn’t require this (I had a membership). Neither do other ranges in NO VA AFAIK.

    A lot of the private ranges do in order to encourage ownership. NRA mother ship is large enough it’s not an issue. I’ve found that GOA membership (or, if you’re in the DC area, Maryland Shall Issue or VCDL works too, and that kind of thing). I don’t have a problem with private clubs expecting members to work to preserve rights, I do have a problem with requiring one particular organization who, historically, caves more than Harry Reid.

  56. “The “assault weapons” ban has a high likelihood of coming back, so I understand why mediageek and his buds would be stocking up. But any sort of national restrictions on more ordinary firearms are extremely unlikely even with BHO in the White House.”

    I will ask the same question: How many people have to own a so-called “assault weapon” before it becomes ordinary. “Assault weapons”, particularly those in .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, are some of the most popular sporting rifles made.
    One of the features they consider as automatically constituting an assault rifle, if a detachable magazine is present, is a pistol grip. If you have ever read anything put out by the Brady Campaign, you know they believe the only reason a pistol grip exists, I kid you not, is so these guns “can be fired from the hip”. That right there proves those assholes are totally fucking clueless about guns. Firing from the hip exists only in Hollywood movies. I have shot tens of thousands of rounds from dozens of rifles and never once have I fired a gun from the hip.

  57. “Firing from the hip exists only in Hollywood movies.”

    I’ve asked gun nuts about this, and apparently, this method of firing is done with fully automatic weapons where as you’re firing, you guide your aim with the other hand based on where the bullets are landing.

    Obviously, if you’re firing a semi-automatic weapon, you need to use the gun sights or a scope, so firing from the hip is pointless.

    So in Bradey Center Logic, if automatic weapons are baaaaad, so are rifles with a pistol grip–since semi-automatics can be converted to fully automatics with some skill.

  58. I have shot tens of thousands of rounds from dozens of rifles and never once have I fired a gun from the hip.

    Try bump firing. It’s a blast.

  59. I’ve asked gun nuts about this, and apparently, this method of firing is done with fully automatic weapons where as you’re firing, you guide your aim with the other hand based on where the bullets are landing.

    You’re speaking of the Taylor position, it’s not on the hip, it’s under the dominant upper arm, indexing with the upper body.

  60. “I have shot tens of thousands of rounds from dozens of rifles and never once have I fired a gun from the hip.”

    I have. On numerous occasions…with a sub-machinegun. If I was being fired upon, I could only hope the assailant was firing from the hip; very inaccuaate unless you walk the rounds into the target, by which point, you’re likely on an empty chamber.

  61. …[I]ts financial health depends on keeping its constituents in a constant state of alarm and indignation….

    Whoops, thought I was reading an article about the NLP for a second.

  62. I’ve asked gun nuts about this, and apparently, this method of firing is done with fully automatic weapons where as you’re firing, you guide your aim with the other hand based on where the bullets are landing.

    I’ve never heard this. Every time I’ve fired a full-auto weapon*, I’ve been told that the proper way to use it is to shoulder and sight it like a regular rifle, and then fire short bursts of 2-5 rounds.

    I do vaguely recall reading the military manual on the M-60 where they advocated a technique of firing from the hip where you would fire a burst every time your right foot hit the ground, or something similar.

    *Which is not that often.

  63. Try bump firing. It’s a blast.

    I find it to be a waste of ammunition. Absolutely worthless technique for anything other than turning money into noise.

  64. Other Matt:

    That’s right, because “lawful” gun owners have nothing to fear from Obama. Nothing at all.

    Are you “afraid” of Obama? Don’t think you can take him? All that basketball making him a killer?

    No, you’re not. Your choice of words is poor. Using emotional terms like that is a trick … not useful in a debate. You’re arguing like the NRA argues.

    The fact is that nobody has anything to “fear” from Obama. If you are a gun owner, simply follow the procedures required by your state and you will be on your way to legally possessing a firearm without “fear”. Pay attention to new regulations, and lobby against those you think are no good, and you’ll be just fine. No need to introduce “fear”. “Smart” and “aware” are better.

  65. The fact is that nobody has anything to “fear” from Obama. If you are a gun owner, simply follow the procedures required by your state and you will be on your way to legally possessing a firearm without “fear”. Pay attention to new regulations, and lobby against those you think are no good, and you’ll be just fine. No need to introduce “fear”. “Smart” and “aware” are better.

    And what does one do when particular firearms or accessories are simply prohibited outright?

    Under the previous ban on so-called “assault weapons” high capacity magazines manufactured after September 14, 1994 were completely illegal to possess.

    What do you propose that I do if such a law is passed again, and I wish to, for example, take up competitive shooting in the Open division of USPSA?

    Do you honestly believe its fair for me to have to pay an exorbitantly artificially high price for magazines that hold more than ten rounds, in deference to a law that by all verifiable and impartial accounts had absolutely zero impact on violent crime in this country?

    (For more information on the study commissioned by the Clinton Administration regarding the effectiveness of the ban on so-called “assault weapons” click here.

    Long story short, the study found no demonstrable effect on crime from the ban. You can download the PDF at the above link and read it for yourself.

  66. Very interesting comments! Thank God (& guns) that we have a First Amendment which allows us the right to argue, disagree and reflect upon the many ways to perceive this issue – PEACEFULLY! Oh, for the record, I’m still a proud, card carrying member of the NRA. Disagree with them I have, but without NRA we would have lost our Second Amendment freedoms long before Heller made it to the Supremes.

  67. The NRA does way more good than any negative aspects that are admittedly easy to find. I’ve been in the NRA over two decades, and that will never change.

    The current gun buying panic is an interesting dissection in hedge betting. I guess a lot of folks give a better than 50% chance that Obama will ban “assault weapons” in whatever incarnation it might appear. However, a lot of people are also hedging their bets on ammo bans by buying reloading equipment for the first time. This is creating a price bubble on both ammunition and reloading supplies at a time when both copper and lead is a 1/3 of what it was just 6 months ago. At a time when the rest of the economy is in the crapper, the gun industry is having a banner year.

    I suppose there is little downside to buying guns that might fall under the scope of an assault weapons ban. (Provided you don’t overpay; prices right now seem to be reasonable.) Even if it doesn’t get banned in the future, you probably pay half of what a “preban” fetched in the Clinton years.

    The ammo and reloading panic seems to be a trainwreck waiting to happen, however. It’s extremely unlikely that any ammo ban would pass, and eventually some people are going to be stuck with ammo that’s worth half of what they paid for it.

  68. It’s extremely unlikely that any ammo ban would pass, and eventually some people are going to be stuck with ammo that’s worth half of what they paid for it.

    They can shoot it as the price drops replacing it with cheaper ammo as it comes available

    I welcome $4.5 a box 9mm brass cased FMJ.As I shoot all my $9 a box stuff I’ll dollar cost average into the lower price:)

  69. “The ammo and reloading panic seems to be a trainwreck waiting to happen, however. It’s extremely unlikely that any ammo ban would pass, and eventually some people are going to be stuck with ammo that’s worth half of what they paid for it.”

    Thats a fine trainwreck if you ask me; let the bubble burst from lack of new regulations. While the rest of the economy is in meltdown, those who loaded up on overpriced guns and ammo during the bubble will be unloading them at the new market price (sans Obama panic premium).

  70. I’m talking about the people stockpiling 5-10k rounds at the current prices. That indicates to me they’re planning to sit on it for a while.

  71. …those who loaded up on overpriced guns and ammo during the bubble will be unloading them at the new market price (sans Obama panic premium).

    Good for you and me; bad for those that panicked and bought high.

    The gun industry comes out the winner in this, and I couldn’t be happier for them. I couldn’t think of a better group of people to be leading the economic recovery.

  72. No, you’re not. Your choice of words is poor. Using emotional terms like that is a trick … not useful in a debate. You’re arguing like the NRA argues.

    No, I’m using his own words. That’s what the Obama campaign continually says in regards to firearms, “Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear.” It’s kind of like saying that cattle lawfully in the feedlot have nothing to fear from the farmer, to me, but it’s their words, not mine.

  73. And what does one do when particular firearms or accessories are simply prohibited outright?

    MG hits it dead on. It all hinges on “lawful” gun owners. If you make a class of guns illegal, you cease to become a “lawful” gun owner. In DC, NY, if you own a magazine which carries more than 10 rounds, you are not a “lawful” gun owner.

    Today, I’m “lawful”. If you outlaw AR15s and their derivatives, tomorrow I am no longer a “lawful” gun owner, just a guy with a few new flower beds in the back yard.

    But we have nothing to fear. Really. Nothing at all. Just follow the procedures, and there will be nothing to fear. Nothing. Not according to Obama, he believes it’s an individual right to have a firearm.

  74. Richard Feldman is one of the most honorable, forthright men dedicated to protecting all law-abiding citizens right to bear arms!

  75. I would hope not, it was rather stupid and ineffective at anything other than fucking with people for the sake of it.

    You forget that, to the Obamanauts, that’s a good in and of itself.

  76. MG hits it dead on. It all hinges on “lawful” gun owners. If you make a class of guns illegal, you cease to become a “lawful” gun owner.

    On that note, HR 45 intends to make all of either licensed or unlawful if we own a handgun or a semi-automatic weapon with a detachable feeding device. It’s a fun read. But hey, we’ve got nothing to fear, right?

  77. Source the Annenberg Public Policy Center… as non-partisan… HAHAHAHAHAHA – that is like saying Osama, I mean Obama is a moderate capitalist that likes America the way it is…. what a Joke. To hell with both Obama and the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

  78. HR 45 is an incoherent tripe written by a monkey on crack. It has as much chance of passage as I do of being elected UN Secretary General.

    Ted Kennedy has introduced a bill every year since the late 1980s that would ban all centerfire rifle ammo. Amazingly, it still hasn’t managed to get out of committee.

    It does trouble me that people like Robert Rush are pushing lame-ass shit like that, though. I guess that’s attributable to Obama getting elected.

  79. One of the biggest lies in all the rhetoric is ‘assault weapons’. Assault weapons were banned in 1934. The gun ban morons have convinced the ignorant that guns that have the same cosmetic appearance are, in fact ‘assault weapons’. Gun owners have even coined a sarcastic term for them; EBR’s or ‘evil black rifles’.
    The gun grabber sleazeballs have redefined ‘assault weapons’ to describe some hunting rifles.

  80. I think that the “gun control” issue is in the same state as the “abortion” issue in the sense that the extremes make a lot of noise and hinder reasonable debate.

    I lived for 10 years in Switzerland where they have more guns per capita then in the US while having very tough gun control laws (in particular access to ammunition is restricted to armories). They live with it because everybody agrees that the goal is preventing gun violence not forbidding gun ownership.

  81. I lived for 10 years in Switzerland where they have more guns per capita then in the US while having very tough gun control laws (in particular access to ammunition is restricted to armories). They live with it because everybody agrees that the goal is preventing gun violence not forbidding gun ownership.

    How many darkies live in Switzerland?
    The non-firearm related violent crime rate in the US exceeds the combined (firearm related + non-firearm related) violent crime rates of most European countries.

  82. “How many darkies live in Switzerland?”

    Are you suggesting gun violence is the privilege of non-whites?

  83. HR 45 is an incoherent tripe written by a monkey on crack. It has as much chance of passage as I do of being elected UN Secretary General.

    Funny, it’s functionally equivalent to the Illinois law it’s obviously based upon. The Illinois law passed, so why won’t this one?

    Admittedly, I don’t think it will, but the idea that someone felt it was time to try bothers me.

  84. Switzerland? Without ammunition a gun is even more useless than a brickbat. That’s not freedom, that is criminal stupidity.

  85. “One of the biggest lies in all the rhetoric is ‘assault weapons’. Assault weapons were banned in 1934. The gun ban morons have convinced the ignorant that guns that have the same cosmetic appearance are, in fact ‘assault weapons’. Gun owners have even coined a sarcastic term for them; EBR’s or ‘evil black rifles’.”

    “Assault weapons” weren’t banned in ’34. The NFA and 922(o) allow ownership of fully automatic weapons, as long as they were properly registered by 5/19/86. They are very expensive compared to their semi-auto only counterparts, but some of us own quite a few “real” assault rifles and machineguns anyway.

  86. That is true, but pretty effectively bans them so far as criminals are concerned. The FBI background check is extremely thorough.
    To my knowledge only one crime has been committed with a legal machine gun since 1934; that by a police officer killing a snitch. With gun set on semi-auto.

  87. The murder rate in the US is comparable to that of Europe if you correlate by ethnic background. American Jews versus European Jews, Americans of Norman/Anglo-Saxon ancestry versus Brits of Norman/Anglo-Saxon ancestry, American children of Jamaican immigrants versus British children of Jamaican immigrants, Japanese residing in America versus Japanese residing in Europe, Pennsylvanians of German ancestry versus old families in Germany.

    Though it’s mostly the poorest Mexicans who come to America these days, their murder rate — though double the Anglo murder rate — is lower than that of Mexicans in Mexio (where legal firearms are much less available).

    If you take the murder rate among non-Hispanic white Americans and double it three times, you get the murder rate of African Americans (which is comparable to the murder rate in Jamaica where firearms are essentially outlawed).

    What is amazing is that even though our multi-cultural mix gives us a net murder rate that is much higher than Europe’s (which suggests that we have a much larger population of violent criminals, proportionally speaking), we have much _lower_ levels of burglary (especially the most frightening kind — when the victims are home), mugging, car-jacking, and assault.

  88. But hey, we’ve got nothing to fear, right?

    Nothing at all. Not a thing. Obama says it’s just common sense regulation, after all. Hell, we shouldn’t even need lube.

  89. Ted Kennedy has introduced a bill every year since the late 1980s that would ban all centerfire rifle ammo. Amazingly, it still hasn’t managed to get out of committee.

    However, the last time it came up, Obama voted in favor of Kennedy’s amendment that would have prohibited practically any centerfire rifle ammunition.

  90. I think that the “gun control” issue is in the same state as the “abortion” issue in the sense that the extremes make a lot of noise and hinder reasonable debate.

    If standing in opposition to ineffective laws that make it difficult for a US citizen to exercise a civil right is “extremism” then very well.

    I’m an extremist.

  91. Other Matt, I’m truly sorry that fear is such a strong emotion in you. I hope you make it through the next 8 years being terrified.

    Oh … a magazine is not a gun. You can be a “lawful” gun owner and an “unlawful” magazine owner at the same time. Not everything is one big bundle of fear, y’know. Most things, like gun ownership regulations, are composed of discrete elements, which a thoughtful, unafraid person could discern.

    (See? I’m merely saying that the emotion of “fear” is misplaced, and ill-used in this discussion. Obama is correct … you have, literally, nothing to “fear” from him. You could probably kick his ass, if the occasion arose. No need to be “afraid.” On the other hand, you DO need to pay attention and become legislatively active if you discover procedures afoot with which you disagree.)

  92. Congrats James, you just won the award for pedantic asshat of the day. But I suppose thats easier than arguing the substantive point of OM’s post, however poorly worded it may be.

  93. Congrats James, you just won the award for pedantic asshat of the day. But I suppose thats easier than arguing the substantive point of OM’s post, however poorly worded it may be.

    Kinda seems that way, doesn’t it?

  94. “Kinda seems that way, doesn’t it?”

    Yep. But James apparently doesn’t want to address things like the burden of proof under the 1994 AWB which made it a crime to possess a “semi-automatic assault weapon” bearing certain features. If you had one made prior to the ban, it was grandfathered, but the burden was actually on the possessor to show the firearm in question was legally possessed prior to enactment of the ban. Didn’t keep your receipts? Too bad.

    Nor does he want to address the issue of the NFA and errors in the National Firearms Registry and Transfer Record (NFRTR). There have been cases where a legally owned (and rather rare and expensive) NFA weapon was confiscated and destroyed because of errors in the NFRTR.

  95. NRA has presided over the diminution of the 2nd, always ready to swallow incremental restrictions rather than play hardball. In the end the 2nd is gone as sure as if it had been swept away by the wind.

    The 2nd is about preventing a monopoly of force. If the intent of the Founders had been respected, we’d have access to any and all weaponry of military utility that would be issued an individual trooper.

    Instead we deal with various state bans on types of personal arms and ammunition and a looming permanent fed ban on virtually all semi-auto weapons. (We lost the select fire arms when we were barred from acquiring any mfrd after ’86, an outrage NRA was complicit in).

    NRA’s exec VP for life and his cronies live large at members’ cost and take care of their cronies in the marketing world with sweetheart contracts and deals. As a life member (dues paid!) I cannot even get contact info for the individual board members, guess the head shed fears any whiff of discontent.

    Most of my contris now go to Gun Owners of America and Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership…GOA by the way, has stepped up to aid the unfortunate Mr. Olufson, NRA is nowhere to be found or even heard.

    NRA…too nice…too inbred…to be effective

  96. “people shouldn’t be permitted to own Glocks – they don’t have safeties.”

    Maybe not, but Combat Tupperware keeps your ammo fresher, longer.

  97. “I lived for 10 years in Switzerland where they have more guns per capita then in the US while having very tough gun control laws (in particular access to ammunition is restricted to armories).”

    Hmmm . . .the Switzerland on the planet with BLUE sky has somewhat different rules. My host when I visit the Confederation has a nice, heat-sealed bag of issued ammunition in the closet with his government-issue machinegun. Every so often, he takes the machinegun and the ammo to be inspected. When the ammo gets too old, they issue him a bag of new ammo and let him burn up the old stuff on the range OR take it home for use some other time. Knowing that his kids like to shoot, they usually give him a bunch of old ammo that other guys didn’t want to use (which incidentally means they only have to fill out one form at the end of the day, rather than also having to deal with counting the old stuff and transporting it to a distribution center).

    If they kept the AMMO in the armories, then what would the point be in handing out the FIREARMS?

  98. Indeed, Switzerland’s controls on ammo only applies to making sure each citizen has his minimum required amount. Everyone can buy more (at discount if it is in a Swiss martial caliber) if they want. But antis like to make up their own facts about this . . .

    GOA almost fucked up the shall issue law in, IIRC, Utah. They have an all or nothing attitude, they demanded Vermont style CCW or nothing. For that reason, I prefer NRA.

  99. tired dog,

    We have been winning the gun fight since the ’90s.

    The ’86 MG ban was something Democrats tacked on to the firearm Owners Protection Act, which rolled back key protions of the Gun Control Act of ’68. On balance, FOPA was worth it. It was a net gain.

    We have gotten rid of the ’94 AWB, we have shall issue CCW in about 40 states, and we have the Heller decision and the removal of the DC ban. It’s slow, sure, but the movement is now in the right direction.

    NRA has its faults, but it also has success. Not sure GOA accomplishes anything. The reality is, demanding a right to MGs and RPGs right now ain’t going to work.

  100. I don’t think a “nicer” NRA would be more effective. I believe they have been all too willing to compromise over the years and have given too much ground. Gun Owners of America is a far better representative. They understand the primacy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Founders intent. The Second Amendment explicitly protects an individual’s right to bear arms.

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