The End Of An Era

If you grew up in a certain era and had your hair cut at a barber shop, there were always a pile of old Field & Stream magazines to read while you waited.

It featured writers like Warren Page talking about rifles, Bob Brister about shotgunning, and A. J. McClane on fishing. It would have humorous essay by Ed Zern with his Exit Laughing column. It had Tap’s Tips from H. G. Tapply which had all sorts of useful tips and tricks. And could you have ever come across an outdoor writer with a better name than Ted Trueblood? Even now they have David Petzel and Phillip Bourjilly as shooting editors.

I received an email dated April 27th from Colin Kearns who is the current editor. He announced that they were going to a 100% digital format along with their sister publication Outdoor Life.

 I also shared that I wasn’t entirely sure what the next phase of Field & Stream’s legacy—the beginning of the next 125 years, if you will—would look like. 

Well, now I do. And I’m excited to share this news with you: Field & Stream is going to be a digital magazine. 

You might be wondering: What does a “digital magazine” mean? Great question. For starters, instead of having issues delivered to your mailbox, they’ll conveniently come to where you already consume so much F&S content every day—to your phone, tablet, or computer. A digital edition also lends itself to a sleeker and more interactive design than a print magazine ever could, opening the door to video, audio, animation, and other dynamic add-ons that will enhance your experience with the magazine. 

At the risk of sounding like a “But wait, there’s more!” infomercial spokesman—there is, in fact, more.

With your digital subscription to Field & Stream, you’ll get access to the F&S archives where you can enjoy many of the best and most famous stories from the history of the magazine. All F&S subscribers will also get a bonus subscription to the all-new digital edition of Outdoor Life magazine. 

It also appears that instead of being a monthly magazine, the publishing format will be that of a quarterly. I guess that leaves Sports Afield of the old big three “hook and bullet” magazines that will still be published in a print edition. Even then, Sports Afield closed and then was reopened by Field Sports Publishing who also owns Safari Press. It is strictly a big-game hunting magazine now.

I know bytes, bits, and pixels are a lot cheaper to produce than laying out a paper magazine. Still, there is a feeling you get from actually holding something printed on paper you just don’t get from a digital edition. I guess at my age nostalgia is an ever present condition.

What Does NC Have That SC Doesn’t?

Well, other than higher mountains, more people, and more area, you mean?

North Carolina has open carry as a constitutional right thanks to the NC Supreme Court’s 1922 decision in State v. Kerner. South Carolinians have been fighting to get open carry as a constitutional right.

It looks like thanks to the SC State Senate that their fight will continue on even longer. An amendment to the bill that would allow open carry with a permit was defeated yesterday 25-21.

From the AP:

Several Republican leaders in the Senate weren’t ready to go as far as open carry without a permit.

“I think training and background checks are important,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, a Republican from Edgefield.

Senators expected to debate well into Wednesday night. Once the day is finished, there are four more days left in the General Assembly’s session.

Gun rights groups have made open carry a priority for years and put extra pressure on senators after Republicans won an extra three seats in the 2020 elections.

Opponents of the open carry bill include a number of current law enforcement leaders, including State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, and the police chiefs and sheriffs in some of the state’s largest population centers.

South Carolina is one of only five states without some type of open carry law, joining atypical partners such as California, Florida, Illinois and New York.

I feel bad for South Carolinians on this. However, part of me is somewhat amused by it. The amusement comes because South Carolina has always been considered the epitome of gentility unlike us ruffians in “vale of humility” called North Carolina. Old court cases in the 1800s held that only ruffians, scofflaws, and the like carried concealed whereas gentlemen carried their arms openly.

Pistol Purchase Permit Repeal Passes NC House

The North Carolina House of Representatives passed H398 yesterday which repeals the state’s Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit. The repeal passed on a vote of 69-48 with three absences. The bill had the support of the NC Sheriffs’ Association.

Grass Roots North Carolina which has fought for the repeal for years released this statement:

By a vote of 69-48, today the NC House passed H. 398 to repeal our Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit system. Having passed one chamber before next week’s crossover deadline, the bill remains alive for action in the Senate. Grass Roots North Carolina has been the main advocate for the bill, having worked for nearly twenty years to repeal the archaic law.

GRNC president Paul Valone said, “Today, the North Carolina General Assembly has taken a step toward abolishing a vestige of the Jim Crow era which is being used by a small number of sheriffs to obstruct citizens from protecting their families, as well as bringing gun purchase background checks into the 21st Century. GRNC would like to thank primary bill sponsor Rep. Jay Adams and Republican leadership. We would also like to thank the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association for its support.”

Looking at the breakdown of the vote, you had two Democrats and 67 Republicans voting for passage while 47 Democrats and one Republican opposed passage. The Democrats supporting passage of the bill were Rep. Shelly Willingham (D-Martin/Edgecombe), an African-American, and Rep. Michael Wray (D-Halifax/Northampton). The lone Republican who opposed the repeal was Rep. Dudley Greene (R-Avery/McDowell/Mitchell) who had previously served as sheriff of McDowell County.

My own representative, Rep. Brian Turner (D-Buncombe), is more concerned about allowing you to walk around downtown Asheville with a drink in your hands than about repealing a bill that was meant to discriminate against blacks. As The Animals sang in 1965, we gotta get out of this place!

If you live in North Carolina, go here to see if your representative thinks you still should be living under a law that was intended to curtail the rights of African-Americans or not.

Closing Arguments In NRA Case

All sides had their chance to make their closing arguments yesterday in the NRA’s bankruptcy case. The morning session was devoted to the NY Attorney General, the US Trustee, and a few others with the afternoon being primarily the NRA along with short rebuttal statements from the NY Attorney General’s team, AckMac, and Judge Journey’s attorney.

The blog NRA IN Danger does a good job summarizing the arguments from the morning and the afternoon so I won’t go into much detail.

I listened in to parts of both the morning and the afternoon arguments. The most surprising came from Lisa Lambert who is the Assistant US Trustee. Her job is to represent the process and preserve the integrity of bankruptcy.

From what I saw and heard yesterday morning, she was on fire. I wish I had video to be able to post but that is not available nor would it be permitted.

Danny Hakim of the New York Times devoted an entire column to her argument.

The National Rifle Association’s hopes of end-running a legal challenge in New York were dealt a serious blow on Monday when a Justice Department official rebuked its leadership and called for the dismissal of its bankruptcy filing or the appointment of an outside monitor to oversee its finances.

Lisa L. Lambert, a lawyer in the United States Trustee’s office, which is part of the Justice Department, said the “evidentiary record clearly and convincingly establishes” that Wayne LaPierre, the longtime N.R.A. chief executive, “has failed to provide the proper oversight.” For a number of years, she added, “the record is unrefuted that Wayne LaPierre’s personal expenses were made to look like business expenses.”

She said that if an Examiner is appointed that they must have a budget much higher than the $350,000 proposed by Judge Phillip Journey and that they have power over spending.

Her comments flustered Greg Garman who is one of the bankruptcy attorneys representing the NRA according to Hakim. I don’t know whether it is because she didn’t mince words or because it is rare to have the US Trustee fire a broadside. Professor Adam Levitin of Georgetown Law said he thought the NRA was in real trouble if the US Trustee gets involved as she did. Professor John Pottow of the University of Michigan Law School echoed his comments noting it was very rare.

While Mr. Garman asserted the transgressions of the NRA were relatively minor and that it “had righted its ship” obviating the need for outside oversight, Ms. Lambert, the Assistant US Trustee, disagreed as she laid out episodes of corruption by LaPierre and others in the NRA.

Regarding the charter flights, she said: “LaPierre says these are for security, but the evidence says he picked up family. The evidence says that extra stops were not to be noted in the booking records. And the testimony is unrefuted that no N.R.A. policy authorizes charter plane flights.”

Mr. LaPierre’s close aide, Millie Hallow, even diverted $40,000 for her son’s wedding, Ms. Lambert noted, but beyond repaying that amount after she was caught, she “otherwise has suffered no additional consequences.”

Mr. Garman said throughout the trial that there was a “line of demarcation” in 2018, when the N.R.A. undertook a self-audit and corrective measures. But Ms. Lambert said the evidence presented in the 12-day trial showed that “even after the self-described course correction the irregularities were not fixed,” noting that, among other things, Craig Spray, the former chief financial officer, refused to sign the N.R.A.’s 2019 tax filings.

“The N.R.A. has stated that it is seeking refuge from the New York attorney general’s actions and wishes to change its state of incorporation,” she added. “That can be done outside of bankruptcy. It is not a legitimate reason for filing bankruptcy. ”

Judge Hale ended the hearing by thanking the attorneys on all sides for keeping it relatively civil and noted this was one of the longest trials in his career as a bankruptcy judge. He also jokingly said that this trial was not the reason he plans to retire next year as he had already announced those plans before being assigned this case.

Judge Hale ended by saying a written ruling on the case would be out by next week.

UPDATE: For more perspective on the closing arguments, please read Stephen Gutowski’s report in The Reload on the final day.

UPDATE II: Frank Tait has his impressions of the final day of the bankruptcy hearing here. I missed that part of the arguments about a contract with Marion “The Enemy Within” Hammer running to 2030 but I think any sane person would be appalled by it.

My own feeling is that the best outcome would be an Examiner with an ample budget and powers to make a difference. As Jeff Knox has said to me repeatedly, his fear of a Trustee is that he or she could decide to put the NRA into Chapter 7 liquidation.

What pisses me off more than anything is that just when we need a powerful NRA the most, it is distracted from its task of defending gun rights due to the corruption of Wayne and his cronies. It is beyond frustrating that the Board of Directors cares more about not offending Wayne and preserving the statue quo than about doing what it should be doing to clean house. I feel like invoking Godwin’s law to compare the Board to those Wehrmacht generals who supported Hitler even when they knew he was insane but I won’t. I’ll just say that not doing their job has put the NRA and its members in the position we are in today.

Smith & Wesson Selling Thompson/Center Arms

It looks like Smith & Wesson is planning to divest their Thompson/Center Arms subsidiary. According to the press release below, it will allow them to shift production capacity to the S&W line where sales are booming. Their last financial report issued in March said that sales were up 102% over the same quarter a year ago.

They say the company will remain committed to both hunting and long-range shooting. That said, I don’t see anything in the existing Smith & Wesson product mix other than big boomer revolvers that is really hunting-related. The only long-distance rifle is a T/C bolt action on a chassis.

They did not announce a buyer for the company but merely said they plan to divest it. Looking at potential buyers, I think Savage Arms might be the most likely candidate. They would probably ditch the T/C bolt rifles as they compete with their own but could add the Contender and Encore lines. I really don’t see RemArms as being able to buy them and I don’t see Ruger being that interested now that they have Marlin.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., May 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ Global Select Market: SWBI), a leader in firearm manufacturing and design, today announced that it plans to divest its Thompson/Center Arms brand. This decision is part of the Company’s broader strategic plan that will focus on its core Smith & Wesson brands.

Mark P. Smith, President and CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., said, “Thompson/Center is a beloved hunting brand with a longstanding heritage, and we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition. Thompson/Center Arms’ loyal consumers should rest assured that they will continue to receive the world-class firearms, accessories, and customer service support that the brand has been known for since its founding in 1965.  We remain fully committed to the hunting and long-range shooting market, and with this divestiture we will be able to now focus on these categories under our iconic Smith & Wesson brand.  Additionally, this will allow us to immediately redirect manufacturing capacity to increase overall production volumes, allowing us to gain additional market share while simultaneously increasing profitability.”

At this time, a buyer for the Thompson/Center Arms brand has not been identified; however, the divestiture is not expected to have a material financial impact on the Company’s first quarter fiscal year 2022 results and the Company expects the divestiture to be accretive to the Company’s full year fiscal 2022 through higher overall production levels, increased margins, and lower marketing costs. The Company states that this decision will not result in a workforce reduction as its flexible manufacturing model allows it to repurpose capacity immediately to other areas without a headcount reduction.

If you want to buy them, they say to call them at 413-747-3448.

NRA Reorganization Plan

The attorneys for the National Rifle Association filed this reorganization plan with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas on Sunday. I assume that it was approved by the NRA Board on Saturday. I say assumed as no word has come out of those meetings on whether it was passed, what the vote was, or anything else.

I have listened to some of the closing arguments in the case today. I missed the NY Attorney General’s closing argument but I have read that they pushed for dismissal. I did parts of the arguments of the attorney for Judge Phillip Journey and other board members as well as that by Lisa Lambert who is the US Trustee. Both argued for the appointment of an examiner with special powers. Ms. Lambert was especially forceful that the examiner have the power and the money needed to do the job. They both argued against the Chief Restructuring Officer.

I have only briefly scanned through the reorganization plan. However, from what I’ve seen it just moves the NRA to Texas, leaves the existing board in place, and says members now will be members in the Reorganized NRA.

If you do have the time to read through this and see something, please add you observations in the comments.

NRA Reorganization Plan by jpr9954 on Scribd

Vote On H398 Is Wednesday

It finally looks like the North Carolina pistol purchase permit will be on its way out. A vote in the NC House is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5th.

Of course, I fully expect Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) to veto H398 if it passes the North Carolina General Assembly. An override will depend upon whether Democrats want to defend a racist, Jim Crow-era law that has been shown still to discriminate against African-Americans.

As Grass Roots North Carolina says in the alert, now is the time to put on and keep up the pressure.

Call your own representative, Democrat or Republican, and demand they pass this bill. If you don’t know who your representative is, use this tool.

Email every House Republican. Their email addresses are in the alert. You may need to copy the email addresses into your word processor and convert the “;” into a “,” depending upon your email program. I’d also suggest pasting them in as a BCC. Two minutes of copy and paste is all it takes. I just did it.

If you are not on the Grass Roots North Carolina email alert list, you need to be! Go here to sign up.

For Your Weekend Reading

The NRA Board of Directors is having a special meeting today in Dallas along with a regular meeting tomorrow on Sunday. The special meeting is to approve the reorganization plan and the Chief Restructuring Officer. This comes on the heels of the last day of testimony in the US Bankruptcy Court hearings.

Day 10, as reported by the blog NRA In Danger, had testimony from the NRA’s outside auditor and the proposed Chief Restructuring Officer as well as cross-examination of Wayne LaPierre. While there is a lot there and you should read it in its entirety, three things captured my attention.

This witness did not do well under cross examination. He argued he’d reformed everything, then was faced with improper events that occurred after his alleged reforms. His choices were to appear corrupt or to appear incompetent and out of control, and he went with the second choice.

That to me provides even more evidence to Judge Harlin Hale that perhaps a trustee is called for. As those who are no fans of Wayne but are really worried about the future of the NRA have observed, a trustee would have the power to convert the Chapter 11 into a Chapter 7 and dissolve the NRA.

The second thing that captured my attention was Wayne’s response to the NRA’s attorney Greg Garman when asked about his background and history.

Background. MA from Boston College in politics, VA legislature. Got Phd. Over at DNC, knew NRA people, NRA right across street. Went into NRA building, they offered me job, late 1977. State liaison for year, then director state local. 1 year, then head govt affairs, in 1980. Membership now 4.9 million. Tried convert NRA into freedom organization. Outreach to celebrities. Celebrity shoots in Hollywood, dinners, etc.

Wayne does not have a PhD. He may have been in a PhD program in political science at BC but he never earned a PhD. I was admitted to the PhD program in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill. However, I left with a wife and no degree. I would never, ever, claim to hold a PhD if I hadn’t earned it. It just isn’t done and is consummately tacky.

Finally, there is Judge Hale’s question that he ordered the attorneys for both sides to answer on Monday. Judge Hale may be nicknamed “Cooter” but he is no fool.

Judge asks question, to be answered in arguments Monday (no court Friday)—chapter 11 purpose is to save company from liquidation bankruptcy. Does court have jurisdiction where sole purpose is to save company from dissolution under state law, which dissolution will only occur if the state court concludes dissolution is in best interests of public?

The blog NRA In Danger examines Judge Hale’s question in more detail. It is the critical question: does the court have jurisdiction? If not, then the case must be dismissed and the NYAG is free to continue in her attempt to dissolve the NRA.

Her dissolution suit has been strengthened by the bankruptcy court revelations. Just the lad day of testimony saw Wayne LaPierre claiming that he’d begun cleaning everything up in 2017, but forced to admit that he’d been given an incredibly lucrative “golden parachute” agreement in mid-2018 (it would have given him many millions had the board ever stopped electing him) that was signed by an outgoing president and Carolyn Meadows, now NRA president and head of the board’s Special Litigation Committee. The signing of the contract implicates NRA’s current board leadership, and also LaPierre himself, and shows his supposed 2017 reforms are. sham. He himself is free to loot despite them. On the same day those board officers signed another golden parachute for Woody Phillips, the NRA treasurer who had to “take the Fifth” dozens of times in his testimony. Others who got such agreements, LaPierre testified he had no idea of the contracts, showing that even if he were honest, in practice others are free to loot NRA at will without his being able to discover it.

Read the whole thing.

Moving on, a column by Stephen Gutowski on his new platform The Reload examines what he calls the membership program. In 2013, Wayne promised to double the membership after it had just hit five million members. Membership now stands at 4.89 million members. Not only has membership not doubled under Wayne’s most recent watch but it has regressed.

If the NRA’s membership has hit a ceiling, that’s significant, and it’s a bad sign for the most influential gun-rights group on the planet. It’s also a bad sign for NRA leadership’s argument in their current argument in the bankruptcy case. NRA leadership has repeatedly argued the LaPierre is the driving force behind fundraising at the organization, and it could not operate anywhere as effectively without him. But LaPierre has not only failed to meet his self-set 2013 goal of doubling NRA membership; membership has actually receded by his own account.

There are millions of new gun owners out there. I imagine some may have joined the NRA this year but the majority have not. Moreover, if what I’m reading across the Internet in forums on hunting, on the Second Amendment, and the like is correct, then there are a lot of people refusing to renew memberships or to make donations so long as Wayne and his grifter cronies remain in power. I am hearing this from both Gun Culture v1.0 and 2.0. I know my own wallet will remain closed to the NRA so long as Wayne is there.

Finally, my friend Kevin Creighton has an excellent post about the NRA’s fund raising approach. He notes Stephen Gutowski’s column on the NRA’s negative growth and relates it to their fund raising approach.

However, let’s face facts. For over 10 years now, the NRA’s primary messaging has been “Give us money, they’re a-comin’ for yer guns.” Okay, fine, let’s say they actually ARE coming for our guns. What have you, the NRA, done to prevent that from happening? What value am I getting for my donation? Why should I give to you right now, except out of habit?

Kevin relates his success fund raising for a faith-based organization using a positive approach. He urges the NRA to get away from the negative approach and return to the more positive approach of the past. Then, both money and membership might grow.

If you are a NRA member or were at one time, you really need to read all these blog posts and articles. Those of us who want a reformed NRA may be voices crying in the wilderness like the Old Testament prophets but the fight for the Second Amendment depends upon it.

Ridicule Is Man’s Most Potent Weapon

Saul Alinsky‘s Rule Number 5 states, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”

Mike Spies of The Trace understands this very well and just unleased a torrent of ridicule upon Wayne LaPierre. Somehow – and I have my suspicions – he obtained the lost and unaired footage from a 2013 African safari that Wayne and Susan LaPierre took that was to have aired on Under Wild Skies. That show was hosted by Wayne’s former BFF Tony Makris and was sponsored by the NRA. I have been told that Makris and Wayne used the show to reward LaPierre loyalists with a paid-for safari in Africa.

The footage is part of an article that is running in both The Trace and The New Yorker.

The footage of LaPierre in Botswana first shows him walking through the bush dressed in loose-fitting safari attire and an NRA Sports baseball cap. He is accompanied by several professional guides and his longtime adviser, Tony Makris, a top executive at the N.R.A.’s former public-relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, and the host of “Under Wild Skies.” The heat, at times, causes LaPierre to sweat. As he walks, his wire-framed glasses slide down his nose. After a guide spots an elephant standing behind a tree, LaPierre takes aim with a rifle. As LaPierre peers through the weapon’s scope, the guide repeatedly tells him to wait before firing. LaPierre is wearing earplugs, doesn’t hear the instructions, and pulls the trigger. The elephant drops. “Did we get him?” LaPierre asks.

The guide at first says yes, but then, as he approaches the elephant, it appears that the animal is still breathing. The guide brings LaPierre within a few strides of the elephant, which lays motionless on the ground. He tells LaPierre that another bullet is needed. “I’m going to show you where to shoot,” the guide says. “Listen, hold your rifle—I’m going to tell you when. Just hold it up.” The guide pushes the rifle’s barrel skyward as other men involved in the expedition move around in the distance. “I’m going to point for you where to shoot. Just waiting for these guys.”

Needless to say, Bwana Wayne botches this and two more shots. Tony Makris is the one who has to deliver the final shot.

It appears that both Wayne and Susan are using custom Blaser rifles with engraved actions and beautiful wood that I was told a while back were billed to the NRA. I wonder what ever happened to them.

As the video makes clear, Susan is the better hunter and much better shot than Wayne. She is also much more excited by her trophy than is Wayne who looks kind of befuddled. You wonder if he isn’t just looking for a place to go and throw up.

The whole episode brings to mind that classic Hemingway short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. While Wayne didn’t run in the face of the elephant like Macomber did in the face of the lion, it took someone else to finish the job. Moreover, Wayne comes off as a bumbling incompetent and not the great white hunter in charge of an organization dedicated to preserving hunting and the Second Amendment.

I know this is coming from the Bloomberg supported The Trace. As I’ve said in the past, just because you don’t like the source doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. Spies gets his information right because he knows he will be sued every which way if he doesn’t.

I hope to go to Africa in a couple of years to hunt plains game. Unlike Wayne, I will be paying for the trip myself. Also, unlike Wayne, I plan to get in a lot of shooting practice in advance especially from sticks. It appears that Wayne was not that familiar with his rifle and it shows. When you are given the chance for the hunt of a lifetime, you damn well ought to be ready.

SCOTUS Accepts Carry Case

In Orders of the Court released this morning, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in NY State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett et al. This is a case that challenges New York’s requirement to show cause for issuance of a carry permit.

20-843 NEW YORK STATE RIFLE, ET AL. V. CORLETT, KEITH M., ET AL.


The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to
the following question: Whether the State’s denial of
petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for
self-defense violated the Second Amendment.

From the Washington Post:

The court will hear the challenge to a century-old New York gun control law in the term that begins in October. It is considering a law that requires those who seek a permit to carry a concealed weapon show a special need for self-defense. It is similar to laws in Maryland, Massachusetts and elsewhere that the court in the past has declined to review.

The individual plaintiffs in the case – Robert Nash and Brandon Koch – have permits to carry outside the home for hunting and target practice purposes. However, they were turned down when they requested carry permits for self-defense.

It takes four justices to agree to take a case. Last year, the court turned down a number of Second Amendment cases. The operating consensus was that the conservatives on the court were unsure of where Chief Justice John Roberts would come down. Now, however, with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, that has changed and there are five potentially reliable Second Amendment votes.

Assuming that the court agrees that there carry outside the home for self-defense is a key component of the Second Amendment, Chief Justice Roberts will have a hard decision. If he goes along with the majority, he gets to assign the opinion or reserve it for himself. If he is in the minority, then the assignment choice goes to the longest serving Associate Justice in the majority. In this case that would be Justice Clarence Thomas who has telegraphed many times his frustration with the court’s refusal to treat the Second Amendment as any thing other than a second-class right. Part of me hopes that Roberts is in the minority because that means a stronger decision in favor of the Second Amendment.