Forge Of Freedom Podcast With Alex Ooley

I was a guest last night on attorney Alex Ooley‘s Forge of Freedom Podcast. It was Episode 144: The NRA’s Fall from Grace Corruption, Trial, and Declining Influence. As you can guess by that title we discussed the New York Attorney General’s suit against the NRA.

Alex and I discussed what led to it the lawsuit, how it evolved, the jury phase, and now the remedial phase. We also discussed the impact the trial has had on the advancement of Second Amendment rights.

The podcast went for about an hour and 15 minutes. You can watch and listen to the whole podcast below.

The show notes for this episode are here. It also gives you time breaks if you want to skip to certain sections.

If YouTube is not your thing, the podcast can be found on Rumble and on Spotify.

Amazon Prime Days 2024

I am an affiliate of Amazon which means I get a small commission when you buy from items I have linked here. It costs you nothing but does help me defray the costs of running this blog. The deals today are for Amazon Prime members but you can sign up for a free trial and still qualify.

The products below are ones I’ve used or are things that I think you will find useful.

These Soundcore Q20 noise canceling headphones are the ones I bought for my trip to South Africa. While there are more expensive noise canceling headphones such as from Bose or Apple Beats, these worked just fine on my 15 hour plus flight. Not only did they have good audio quality, they were comfortable. They hold a charge for up to 60 hours and mine still have plenty of juice left when I got home. In addition to canceling noise, they are a great way to listen to podcasts music using the Bluetooth feature. They also come with a microphone jack and cord so that you can plug into in-flight movies. They don’t come with a case but you can buy this one for $20 less than the “official” Soundcore case. The headphones fit in it and were protected.

Next up is a book that I think everyone needs to read. It is David Yamane’s Gun Curious. David is a good friend who has worked on this book for many years. I am disgusted that a major publisher didn’t pick it up given it was a fair and even-handed view of the gun culture. I guess they only like stuff that makes us look crazy. If you haven’t bought a copy yet, do it now.

If you don’t have an emergency bag at home or in your car, you should. One of the essential items needed is a way to get pure drinking water. I got the LifeStraw for both myself and the Complementary Spouse. For under $10, it is a cheap way to avoid gastrointestinal distress while staying hydrated.

Another thing I was very glad I had on my trip to South Africa was the Apple Air Tag. I put one in my suitcase and one in my gun case. Not only was I able to track their movement around the airport, I was able to confirm that they were loaded on the plane. I had heard too many horror stories about people flying with firearms on a hunting trip (or any trip for that matter) and their guns went elsewhere. I consider it cheap insurance.

Finally, everyone can use an EDC small flashlight. This 250 lumen Streamlight Microstream is rechargeable through a USB port. The flashlight I brought with me to Africa failed so I wish I had brought this one. If you don’t mind a red flashlight, you can save $8 over the cost of one in black or copper. To my mind, it will be easier to find when you need it assuming you were not smart enough to clip it to your pocket. Even though this flashlight is rechargeable, many of your other battery-operated lights and tools are not. This is a good time to stock up especially on odd sizes like CR2.

MORE ITEMS: I came across a couple of more items that I can highly recommend. Both are custom molded ear plugs from Decibullz.

First, are the Decibullz Percussive Moldable Earplugs. I have a pair that brought with me to Africa on my safari. The price on the Prime Days is exactly the same as what I got them for with a discount given to me at the SHOT Show. I found that they worked as well as my custom-molded injected plugs. With help from the Complementary Spouse, these were easy to mold to my ears.

If you just want plugs to use at the range that block all sound, the regular Decibullz give you a 31 NRR with customization at a great price. I have a couple of pairs that were given me at the SHOT Show’s range day. They work and they fit.

EVEN MORE ITEMS: I saw this Yeti cup this morning. I have a couple that I received as gifts. If you want a cup that will keep your coffee hot for a long time, this is it. Normal price on these cups is $30, so getting one for $19.50 is a great deal. The only downside is that it doesn’t fit in a lot of cup holders.

These Howard Leight electronic hearing protection muffs are selling for $20 less than when I bought them and are 66% off the current price. I have had my first pair for 15 years and they still work fine. All I’ve had to do over time is change the batteries. I did update them with these gel pads which I highly recommend. They really do make a difference in both comfort and fit while wearing eye protection.

Sorry Charles – Doug Hamlin Is Not A Placeholder

My good friend Todd called me this morning asking if I had seen this report from the New York trial. It was from The Trace’s Daily Bulletin. The report was a one paragraph blurb about Charles Cotton’s testimony.

From The Trace’s Daily Bulletin for July 17th:

The National Rifle Association’s new chief executive Doug Hamlin is a placeholder, according to the testimony of former NRA president Charles Cotton that points to fault lines in the gun group’s leadership. In May, board members chose Hamlin, who led the NRA’s publications arm, as Wayne LaPierre’s replacement. Hamlin is allied to a small, self-described reform bloc at the group. “The intent is to try to get, frankly, some high-powered person to take it over,” testified Cotton, a LaPierre defender whom the reformers consider part of an old guard. Cotton made his remarks in a New York courtroom where the final phase of New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit against the NRA is underway. —Will Van Sant 

Say what you will about The Trace and reporter Will Van Sant but they don’t get stuff like this wrong. I’m sure Cotton actually said that in his testimony in court. That said, I don’t think anyone who participated in the NRA Board of Directors meeting in May thought the election of Doug Hamlin to be the new CEO and Executive VP was to be as a placeholder. Moreover, I don’t think Hamlin would have stuck his neck out if he himself thought he was only destined to be a placeholder.

If you are talking placeholders then you are talking about people like then-Interim EVP Andrew Arulanandam. You could even include Cotton in this category as he was pitching himself as the EVP to settle thing down for a few years and then ride off into the sunset. I don’t know where Cotton got the idea that Doug Hamlin was a placeholder unless that is how the Cabal would like to see it.

NRA Hasn’t Decided Yet To Collect The Money Wayne Owes?

NRA President Bob Barr was on the stand today in the second day of the remedial phase of the New York trial. According to Erik Uebelacker of Courthouse News, Barr just said moments ago that the NRA has not yet decided if they will actually try to collect the $4.4 million the jury said Wayne owes.

What do you mean you haven’t decided to try and collect the money Wayne looted from the NRA?

WTF, Bob! That’s the members’ hard-earned dues and contributions we are talking about.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

The bench phase of the NRA’s trial in New York City opened today. The first witness to take the stand was former NRA President Charles Cotton who now chairs both the Audit and Ethics Committees. Among the things he included in his testimony was the following regarding succession planning according to AP reports.

Charles Cotton, an NRA board member, was the first witness to take the stand. He revealed that the organization did not have a succession plan in place when LaPierre announced his retirement in January, just before the start of the trial’s first phase — suggesting his exit was hasty and not expected.

If only they had listened to one of their members who offered a resolution asking the Board of Directors to draft and adopt a formal succession plan. That resolution was offered at the NRA Meeting of Members held in Tucson, Arizona in October 2020. Mind you that this was in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the most vulnerable population included senior citizens like LaPierre. That meeting was being run by 1st VP Charles Cotton as then-President Carolyn Meadows was absent due to health concerns.

As you can probably guess by now that resolution was soundly defeated. One of the arguments offered against it was that the NRA Bylaws provided a succession plan in that the Executive Director of General Operations would take over as the Interim EVP and CEO. This is exactly what happened when LaPierre resigned. Another argument was that the NRA was not the same as a for-profit corporation where succession planning is a best practice.

Among those testifying against the resolution in favor of succession planning was Joel Friedman who now sits as Vice-Chair of the Ethics Committee. Friedman is also a member along with Charles Cotton on both the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee and the Finance Committee. He is only on the Board now because Carl Rowen, Jr. was convinced to resign in order to allow Friedman to ascend to a directorship.

This truly is a case of what goes around, comes around.

As to the Endowment Life member who offered that serious resolution of succession planning, it was me. Perhaps if the Board had listened to the members instead of kowtowing to the Cabal, the NRA wouldn’t be in the position it is now.

Yes. Yes, She Is.

Gun rights attorney Kosta Moros calls out Shannon Watts for this incredibly stupid post. She didn’t even bother to edit out the bit about “child access prevention laws” as if that would have made a difference.

I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

Follow-up On Corey Mason

The new “professional opportunity” to which Corey Mason will transition is as the Executive VP for Conservation and COO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. It appears that he will remain with the Dallas Safari Club over the next month before moving on to the new position.

The Wild Sheep Foundation announced his hiring yesterday.

BOZEMAN, MT — The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) is pleased to announce that Corey Mason of Texas will join WSF as Executive Vice President of Conservation, effective August 12, 2024. In this capacity, Mason will lead WSF conservation efforts to conserve and enhance wild sheep and their habitat worldwide. He will also serve as Chief Operating Officer, supporting the foundation’s current and future programs and strategic initiatives.

“Corey has served the conservation and hunting community with distinction as CEO of Dallas Safari Club (DSC) for the past seven years and as a Regional Director, Program Leader, and biologist roles for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for sixteen years before leading DSC,” stated WSF President and CEO, Gray N. Thornton. “He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist®, and a recognized industry leader in promoting sustainable use, not only in North America but around the globe. Corey has worked extensively with state, federal, and international agencies and conservation industry NGOs. He brings talent, capacity, relationships, and additional leadership to the WSF staff  – he is a blue chip hire, a franchise player, and a force multiplier to our team. I am thrilled, and we are honored to have him join WSF.”

Mason has a BS and MS in Wildlife Management and has served as an organizational lead for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and CITES Conference of Parties and Animals Committee meetings. He also serves on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Board and state advisory committees for bighorn sheep, mule deer, and whitetail deer and was a member of the National Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council.
 
Corey will work closely with WSF Vice President of Conservation Kevin Hurley, a 50+ year wild sheep conservation leader and veteran who on July 1st transitioned to part-time with WSF as he nears retirement. As COO, Corey will work alongside WSF President & CEO Gray N. Thornton to expand current programs as well as help launch innovative WSF initiatives.

“I could not be more excited to join WSF’s incredible team. I have admired the organization’s focus on strategic initiatives and programs, and having worked in the conservation space for decades, I have seen that WSF’s leadership is widely recognized and respected and that the professionalism and efficiency of the staff are appreciated by members and partners worldwide,” Corey Mason stated.  “I am eager to support the important mission of WSF and look forward to serving its members,” Mason added.
 
“As the world’s leading wild sheep conservation, advocacy, and hunting organization, WSF directed $9.2 Million to Grant in Aid, education and outreach programs, and our state, provincial, and tribal agency partners during our 2023-2024 fiscal year ending June 30th. This is $1.7 Million more than the $7.5 Million we directed in fiscal year 2022-23 for an incredible $16.7 Million to mission programs in just two years. Adding Corey Mason to our team will help ensure that those dollars make an impact on the resource,  and with our agency and chapter and affiliate partners, Put and Keep more Wild Sheep on the Mountain,” Thornton concluded.

From what I can gather reading comments on various forums made by long time DSC members, there has been a fight going on between those who wanted DSC to remain a “hunting club” and those who wanted it to progress into more conservation and advocacy for some time. A number of board members and the President-elect resigned over it. There was a dissident faction in 2019-2020 that floated an effort called “Save DSC” that some have called an attempted coup. The “Save DSC” group forced a vote on changing the bylaws which only got 18% in favor of it. As I have only been a member of DSC since 2022, I am somewhat ignorant of all the forces at work behind the scenes, what happened in the past, and who is who. This all could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Mason who decided it was time to leave for greener pastures. I will say that in the couple of meetings I was in with Mason that he seemed like a breathe of fresh air after enduring some of the stuffiness of the NRA’s hierarchy.

I do hope that all goes well for him at the Wild Sheep Foundation and DSC can find a new Executive Director and CEO that can take it into the future.

Corey Mason Out As CEO Of Dallas Safari Club

Corey Mason, the CEO and Executive Director of the Dallas Safari Club since September 2017, is out according to an email sent to DSC members today. Whether he was fired or decided to step aside is not known at this time.

There was a good deal of discontent over the decision to move the annual convention from Dallas to Atlanta for the next five years. That move was due to the demolition and reconstruction of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Dallas Convention Center. Work on it was due to begin this summer but seems to have been postposed until after January 2025. Many felt that the convention should have remained in Texas and been moved to a city like San Antonio. In the meantime, the Texas Trophy Hunters Association which is now part of SCI, scooped up the open January slot and will hold their Outdoors Extravaganza there in 2025.

DSC President Ray Mulholland sent out this message today around 2:30 PM EDT:

Good afternoon DSC Members, Volunteers, Exhibitor Partners and Sponsors,

I’m writing to share an important update about the evolution of our leadership team. Our CEO, Corey Mason, will be transitioning to a new professional opportunity. Corey has been a pivotal force in driving numerous successful national and international initiatives and strengthening our organization. While we will certainly miss his leadership, we fully support his decision and recognize that this move is a testament to the high regard in which he is held within the world of wildlife conservation. We wish him nothing but the best and are deeply grateful for all he has done for DSC.
 
In light of this transition, our Board of Directors will immediately engage in the search for a new CEO who will continue to build on the strong foundation Corey has laid. During this time, our dedicated executive team will maintain focused and steady leadership, while continuing to advance the DSC mission.  Brian Fienhold, DSC’s Director of Operations and Development, will serve as Acting CEO during the search process.
 
We are eagerly anticipating our upcoming annual convention in Atlanta, which promises to be another incredible hunting and conservation gathering for all.  We look forward to seeing you there and thank you for your continued support and dedication to DSC.

I am not upset that the convention is going to Atlanta as that is an easy drive for me. However, if you have to come from Texas for an event that used to be in your own backyard, I can understand the angst.

Hopes For Reform At NRA Dashed

When the NRA Board of Directors meeting ended on the Monday after the NRA Annual Meeting many, including me, had high hopes that reform was finally coming to the organization. Reformers had won two out of three of the officer positions, the EVP, and a majority on the Nominating Committee. This was on the heels of the resounding victories of the Four for Reform. Doug Hamlin, the new CEO and EVP, started making good changes and signaled a new openness.

However, as I noted at the end of May, how newly elected NRA President Bob Barr handled committee assignments would be the key to showing the court in New York just how much the NRA had changed and embraced reform. I went on to add that Charles Cotton and David Coy must not be allowed to serve on the Audit and Finance Committees respectively.

I began to be more than a little concerned when it came out that Barr had made Cotton the new chair of the Ethics Committee. That was the harbinger of more to come as it became obvious that Barr had ignored his mother’s warning about running with the “wrong crowd”.

Yesterday, Barr’s appointments to the Audit, Finance, Ethics, Bylaws and Resolutions, and Legal Affairs Committees were announced.

NRA President Bob Barr has announced some committee assignments:

Audit

Charles Cotton – Chairman
E. Wilkinson – Vice Chairman
Charles Beers
Curtis Jenkins
Rocky Marshall

Bylaws & Resolutions

Carol Frampton – Chairman
Charles Cotton – Vice Chairman
Scott Bach
Bob Barr
Larry Craig
Joel Friedman
Jim Wallace

Ethics

Charles Cotton – Chairman
Joel Friedman – Vice Chairman
Clel Baudler
Jay Printz
Barbara Rumpel
Mark Vaughan

Finance

David Coy – Chairman
Ron Schmeits – Vice Chairman
Joe Allbaugh
Bill Bachenberg
Isaac Demarest
Patricia Clark
Allan Cors
Charles Cotton
Joel Friedman
Curtis Jenkins
Carolyn Meadows
Bill Miller
Buz Mills
Amanda Suffecool
Mark Vaughan

Legal Affairs

Sandra Froman – Chairman
Scott Bach – Vice Chairman
Bob Barr
Charles Cotton
Carol Frampton
Charles Hiltunen
Curtis Jenkins
John Sigler

The first thing you will notice is that Charles Cotton is on every single one of these important committees and retains his chairmanship of the Audit Committee to go with his newly appointed chairmanship of the Ethics Committee. The next thing you notice is that David Coy has retained his chairmanship of the Finance Committee.

The only one of the Four for Reform members to be appointed to any committee was Rocky Marshall who was appointed to the Audit Committee. I find this disappointing as their election is being used by the NRA in its court filings to assert that things have changed and no special monitor was needed. While Rocky’s appointment is good and proper, why was not Jeff Knox put on Bylaws and Resolutions as he probably knows more about the Bylaws than any member of that committee. Likewise, would not it have been wise to put Judge Phil Journey, the only jurist on the Board, on the Legal Affairs Committee.

With the exception of the Finance Committee which has has four known reformers on it (out of 15 total members), the remaining committees have one and perhaps two known reformers on them. If Barr wanted to signal to the members of the NRA and to Judge Cohen that things had changed at the NRA, this certainly was not the way to do it.

While I don’t have a crystal ball on what will happen in the remedial phase of the New York trial, I think the odds are better than even that a special monitor will now be appointed to oversee the NRA’s finances. It should be noted that this monitor will have nothing to do with functions and programs of the NRA including its political functions. While this will put me at odds with some friends on the Board who are reformers, I think that the special monitor will be a requirement if the NRA is ever to crawl out of the morass it finds itself in.

UPDATE: I can fully understand the frustration that Judge Phil Journey must have felt that caused him to file a motion to intervene in the New York trial. That was on July 3rd and he obviously saw things that are now only coming to light. It has been suggested to me that the appointment of Charles Cotton to head the Ethics Committee was specifically meant to go after Judge Journey for having the temerity to break ranks.

Stephen Gutowski has more on Journey’s motion here along with the NRA’s denials.

13th Annual Free Firearms Training Event For Women In Detroit

Registration has opened for Rick Ector’s 13th annual introduction to handguns event for women in Detroit. His goal this year is to provide 1,700 women with a free shooting lesson. When he started his goal was 50 women and it has increased over bit by bit.

The event will be held on Saturday, July 27th, and Sunday, July 28th, at the Recoil Firearms range in Taylor, Michigan. Registration for the even opened yesterday (July 8th). Interested women can register for a 90-minute time slot here.

Here are the details of the event:

  • No previous experience required
  • Ammunition and firearms will be supplied
  • All women participants from age 12 to 80 are welcome
  • All minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
  • Please register for only one 90-minute time slot
  • Over 10,000 women have been trained over the years

The event is presented by Legally Armed in Detroit and Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit with the aid of a cadre of volunteer instructors from around the US.

More information is available here.