The End Of An Era

Miguel Gonzalez of the Gun Free Zone blog announced today that his blog is closing. He started his blog in 2008 and it was one of the blogs that I visited frequently. He started adding co-bloggers AWA and J.Kb. a few years ago and J.Kb. went too far in a post.

From Miggy: is my brand and has been since 2008. Good or bad, I am responsible for what is being published under it and I have dealt consequences for mistakes made before and carried on…

The advocacy of sending anybody to a gulag camp and stealing their money is not acceptable under any circumstances in this blog. NONE.

I do not give a damn if it was sarcasm, joke, titillation or clickbait, it simply is a Mortal Sin.

“When people say they are going to kill you/send you to camp, take them at their word.”

How many times through the years I have posted this concept in the blog I am not sure, but probably a lot. It hurt me to no end to see that idiocy published under my brand.

This is something I can’t take back and nobody can. So, the only thing I can do is making sure this stops right here and that means shooting the horse in the head….

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a memorable ride. But now it has come to its end.

My social media presence will be at MiguelGGG (@MiguelGGG12) / X. Email should still be working for a while at least.

My eternal thanks to all of you who read, shared, contributed and even gave me crap.

Maybe we will continue in another realm.

This saddens me because another of the old time bloggers has ridden off into the sunset. When I started in May 2010, you had people like Miggy, Sebastian, SayUncle, Tam, Kevin Baker, Joe Huffman, Linoge, JayG, Weerd Beard, Sean, Breda, Thirdpower, and many more putting out stuff every day. We did battle with the evil minions of the gun prohibitionist lobby. We proudly wore the mantle of being called insurrectionists by Ladd and Josh at CSGV. We considered ourselves the Propaganda Corps of the Unorganized Militia and we had patches to prove it.

Some moved on to podcasting like Weerd and Breda, other went mainstream like JayG who is now an editor at Shooting Illustrated, some like Tam, Kevin Baker, and Joe Huffman still are at it, and sadly others like Sebastian, SayUncle, Thirdpower, and Linoge have essentially stopped writing.

I would disagree with those who say blogging is dead. However, it may be on life support. Commercial blogs such as TTAG, AmmoLand, and The Firearm Blog are still going strong but it isn’t the same. Then you have both podcasting and the YouTubers putting out “content”. I’m not sure where Instagram fits in all of this but I guess it does.

I will keep doing what I’ve been doing until I get tired of it. Fortunately, I’m not there yet.

J. Warren Cassidy, RIP

Former NRA Executive Vice President and CEO J. Warren Cassidy passed away on Wednesday, June 12th at the age of 93. In addition to serving as the EVP from 1986 to 1991, Cassidy headed the NRA-ILA starting in 1982 after Neal Knox was fired by Harlon Carter. Cassidy was Wayne LaPierre’s immediate predecessor as EVP.

Cassidy served as president of the Goal Owners Action League, was elected to the NRA Board of Directors in 1978, and served one term as mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts. He served for 22 years in the US Marine Corps Reserve retiring in 1975 as a Lt. Colonel.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 1991, Cassidy was forced to resign as EVP by the Board of Directors due to mis-management issues related to a new computer system, a drop in NRA membership, and a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement. Another article stated that Cassidy, when he became EVP, wanted to change the NRA’s image to put more emphasis on training and hunter safety as opposed to fierce advocacy for the Second Amendment. From my outsider’s perspective of events almost 40 years ago, it appears that is was a classic battle between the “Fudds” and hardline 2A advocates.

From his obituary:

After retirement, he moved to East Wakefield, NH and later, Mirror Lake, NH where Joan and he enjoyed family visits, golf, home projects, and giving treats to neighborhood dogs.

Cassidy is survived by his wife, Joan Cassidy (Purtell), and five children: Joseph Cassidy III and his wife Anne; Julia Rose (Cassidy) and her husband Ray; Phil Cassidy and his wife Tina; Susan Van Tongeren (Cassidy) and her husband Philip; and Beth Grew (Cassidy) and her husband Steven. He is also survived by his sister Carol Welch (Cassidy); his grandchildren: Michael, Diana, Bart, Cara, and Cassie; and, his great-grandchildren: Aiyla, Shayn, and Alina. Warren was pre-deceased by grandson, Christopher van Tongeren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be sent to the Tuftonboro (NH) Free Public Library. Cassidy will be interred at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Lynn with military honors.

A Funeral Mass will be 11:00 AM Saturday June 22 at St Katharine Drexel Church in Alton, NH.

Planning Ahead Is Essential

When going overseas, it is essential to plan ahead and prepare for most contingencies. I did that when I recently went to South Africa. I used a travel agent to book my airfare, I reserved my room online for the night I arrived, and I used an expediting service to take care of my rifle permit from the South African Police Service.

An actual sign seen in a Caltex service station restroom near the town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape reminded me that even with all that preparation there were still some things I couldn’t foresee.

While I did not have an occasion to make that request, I do feel for those who saw the sign just a little bit too late. I’m guessing toilet paper is a more valued commodity in small town South Africa than I assumed and that management was tired of having it stolen.

The bottom line is to follow the Scout Motto: Be Prepared!

PS: I found that you can get individually wrapped baby wipes called “Stall Mates” from Amazon. (#commission earned)

National Bourbon Day 2024

In addition to being Flag Day, it is National Bourbon Day. A day in which we celebrate America’s native spirit.

When it comes to whiskey, bourbon is my go to choice. There are times I wish I liked the Scottish single malts after listening to a podcast like WhiskyCast, they just don’t do it for me. I do like rye, Irish, and Canadian whiskies but not as much as bourbon.

I am what you might call an accumulator as opposed to a collector. If I see an interesting bottle of bourbon while traveling, I’ll probably pick it up.

Thus, as you can see in the picture below, I have a couple of bottles of bourbon from Texas that I picked up in Dallas while attending the DSC Convention and a couple of bottles from Kentucky bought when visiting relatives. As an aside, both the Ironroot Harbinger and the New Riff Single Barrel are store picks.

I am going to crack open one of these tonight. If I had to say which one right now, it will probably be the Still Austin BIB Red Corn Bourbon.

My dram tonight will be a two-fer. One to celebrate the SCOTUS win on bump stocks in Garland v. Cargill and the other to celebrate our “native spirit”.

A Win In Garland V. Cargill

In a 6-3 decision with the majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court has struck down the ban on bump stocks. Joining in the majority opinion were Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Justice Alito also had a concurring opinion. Finally, in no surprise to anyone reading this, Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion in which she was joined by Justices Kagan and Jackson.

From the opinion which affirmed the 5th Circuits en banc decision in favor of Michael Cargill:

We hold that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a “machinegun” because it cannot fire more than one shot “by a single function of the trigger.” And, even if it could, it would not do so “automatically.” ATF therefore exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a Rule that classifies bump stocks as machineguns

Justice Thomas examined the mechanics of how a semi-automatic trigger works in an AR-15. Illustrating this with graphic diagrams, he concluded that the addition of a bump stock does not change the single “function of the trigger”. He said it merely reduces the time between the separate functions of the trigger. He goes on to add, “A bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does.” Too bad he didn’t mention Jerry Miculek by name! He goes on to say that the position of the ATF and Justice Sotomayor’s dissent are logically inconsistent. This is due to the acknowledgement that a person can bump fire without using a bump stock and that a semi-auto rifle without a bump stock fires only one shot with each pull of the trigger.

Justice Alito in his concurrence notes that the statutory language is clear and the Court must follow it. Taking note of the Mandalay Bay shooting, Alito says a tragic event itself does not change the law’s meaning. If there is to be a national ban on bump stocks, then it is up to Congress to amend the law.

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor says the majority has just put bump stocks back in the civilian hands. This, of course, ignores the fact that actual machine guns reside in the hands of civilians as the National Firearms Act did not ban civilian ownership but merely taxed the possession. The rest of her dissent goes on to criticize Thomas’ opinion and its examination of the mechanics of a trigger function.

She ends with this hyperbole:

Today’s decision to reject that ordinary understanding will have deadly consequences. The majority’s artificially narrow definition hamstrings the Government’s efforts to keep machineguns from gunmen like the Las Vegas shooter.

I am sure that the gun control industry will be wailing and gnashing their teeth over this decision regardless of how faithful it is to the letter of the law. While some states have banned the possession and sale of bump stocks which is their sovereign right, there is not now a national ban on them. It does emphasize just how important the elections in November will be for our civil rights. If President Biden wins and the Democrats take both houses of Congress, I am sure a national ban will follow forthwith.

If You Haven’t Guessed Where I Went, Here’s A Hint

As I said in my last post, I was planning to be heading out of town. In case you haven’t figured out where I went, here is a hint.

While it isn’t the original by Toto, something about all those fresh faced Irish kids singing in Gaelige just warms my heart. And yes, as I can attest, it does rain in Africa. It also snows.

So yes, I went to Africa. Specifically, I went to the Eastern Cape province of South Africa to hunt with my brother-in-law Larry. I plan to have a number of posts about our experiences hunting, the people we met, our wonderful hosts Juan (pronouced Ju-On) and Lauren Stander of LJ Hunting Safaris, and the things we saw.

Lauren has put up a series of posts about our time in the Eastern Cape on their Facebook page. Here is a link to the first one.

Finally, in what I consider a closing of the circle, Jono McHugh of Round The Fire With Kingsview Safaris podcast relates how he happened to move to America and how he is now referring client inquiries to Juan and Lauren. I had reached out to Jono a year ago when I finally made up my mind to go on safari and he was the one who put me in touch with Juan. It was fitting that I listened to this podcast on my last leg of the journey home from Africa.

Two New Stories I’m Following

This is going to be a quick post without much detail or analysis as I am heading out of town shortly.

First, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the NRA in the case of National Rifle Association v. Vullo. The court’s opinion was written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The full 31-page opinion is here. Justices Gorsuch and Jackson had concurring opinions. The SCOTUS vacated the 2nd Circuit’s decision and remanded for further proceedings.

From the opinion:

Six decades ago, this Court held that a government entity’s “threat of invoking legal sanctions and other means of coercion” against a third party “to achieve the suppression” of disfavored speech violates the First Amendment. Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U. S. 58, 67 (1963). Today, the Court reaffirms what it said then: Government officials cannot attempt to coerce private parties in order to punish or suppress views that the government disfavors. Petitioner National Rifle Association (NRA) plausibly alleges that respondent Maria Vullo did just that. As superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services,
Vullo allegedly pressured regulated entities to help her stifle the NRA’s pro-gun advocacy by threatening enforcement actions against those entities that refused to disassociate from the NRA and other gun-promotion advocacy groups. Those allegations, if true, state a First Amendment claim.

I would see also Stephen Gutowski’s report on this as it will be updated. There is no official comment from the NRA as of yet but they did have this graphic posted on Twitter.

The other story that I’ve been following broke a couple of days ago. Vista Outdoor rejected the revised offer from MNC Capital while confirming their acceptance of the offer from Czechoslovak Group (CSG) for the Kinetic Group aka Vista’s ammo business. CSG has also increased their offer by $50 million which makes it a total of $1.96 billion. Assuming that the shareholders approve it and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States allows the transaction to continue, Vista shareholders will receive one common share of Revelyst stock and a cash payment of $16 for every current share of Vista Outdoor owned.

The Wall Street Journal had a long article on this transaction on May 22nd. It paid particular attention to the objections of Sen. J. D. Vance (R-OH) and former Sec. of State Mike Pompeo. The major emphasis of their objections seem to be that it would give a foreign company too much control of the US gunpowder, primer, and ammo market.

Now On To NRA Committee Assignments

The real work of the NRA Board of Directors is done in the various committees. These committees range from the Audit, Finance, and Ethics Committee to Outreach, Federal Affairs, and Legislative Affairs. Officially, it will be new NRA President Bob Barr who selects the members for all these committees. More on that later.

There is also the Special Litigation Committee, the Nominating Committee, and the Executive Committee. This last group of committees had its members selected at the Board meeting after the Annual Meeting. The Special Litigation Committee is, by default, composed of the officers. (see correction) The Nominating Committee is a nine-member committee with reformers holding a 5-4 majority. It will now be chaired by Charlie Beers who is Chairman Pro Tem (highest vote getter).

Going back to 2019, you may remember that a number of reformist Board members were purged from their committee assignments for asking the wrong questions and given no committees upon which to serve. This was done by former NRA President Carolyn Meadows presumably with the approval of then-EVP Wayne LaPierre. Among those purged from their committee assignments were Esther Schneider, Tim Knight, Sean Maloney, Duane Liptak, and Allen West. All five ended up resigning from the Board. This retaliation against these Board members became an issue in the New York trial. The jury found that the NRA had retaliated against them in violation of New York’s whistleblower law. The video deposition of Carolyn Meadows on retaliation helped in this finding.

NRA President Bob Barr has a unique opportunity to show Judge Joel Cohen that the NRA has reformed enough that it will not need a special monitor. He can grab this opportunity if and only if he does certain things. First and foremost, he should consult with Bill Bachenberg and Mark Vaughan on the appointment of committee members and make these appointments in a balanced manner such that reformers are fairly represented. For example, I think Rocky Marshall, one of the Four for Reform, has the requisite knowledge and experience to be valued addition to the Finance Committee. Likewise, who better than a judge like Phil Journey to serve on Legal Affairs. Additionally, the appointment of the chair and vice chairs of the committees needs to be even handed.

Second, Barr needs to be transparent in his appointment of committee members. In the past, the composition of committees was rarely, if ever, disclosed. This needs to change. The members of the NRA deserve to know who is serving on each and every committee whether it is a Board member or an outside appointee.

Finally, and this is a critical point, Charles Cotton and David Coy must not be allowed to continue to serve on either the Audit or Finance Committees. Their abdication of their fiduciary duties while heading the Audit and Finance Committees was one of the reasons that the New York Attorney General’s Office was able to a) bring the lawsuit in the first place and b) successfully win their case with the jury. Allowing either of them to continue to serve on these important committees would send a sign to both Judge Cohen and the membership of the NRA that the leadership of the NRA was not serious about cleaning up the organization. Members and potential members will continue to keep their wallets closed if they remain in place. Frankly, I think the greatest service that they could do for the NRA which they profess to love would be to resign from the Board altogether.

CORRECTION: I was wrong in assuming that the Special Litigation Committee members were selected by position. That is that it was to be composed of the President, 1st VP, and 2nd VP.

According to a Board resolution in January 2021, the SLC was to be composed of Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee. That all three were officers was merely coincidental. After then-1st VP Willes Lee resigned from the SLC, it was later reconstituted by Board resolution to add David Coy and perhaps Bob Barr.

The key thing to remember about the Special Litigation Committee is that it only concerned matters dealing with the New York Attorney General’s case against the NRA. The rationale for even having it was that given the NRA’s then-CEO/EVP Wayne LaPierre and then-General Counsel John Frazer were named defendants in the case their participation in decision making regarding the case would be a conflict of interest.

Oh, The Things You Will Find

If you have ever misplaced a key for a padlock or gun case, you will relate to this next post. In my case it is a tubular key for my Tuffpak gun case which I bought at an auction a couple of years ago. I know it is somewhere but I don’t know where. I can even see the key that was tied to a piece of cord in my mind’s eye.

Somewhere along the line I must have untied it from the case and now I need it if I want to use this gun case to carry my rifles to Africa. The key was not in the case or any of the bags stuffed in the case. This led me to start looking in the obvious locations such as my desk drawer and my nightstand drawer. Nope, not there.

This led to searching elsewhere in other drawers which has turned into something of an adventure. It is an adventure as you never know what you will find or rediscover. The photo below illustrates just a fraction of the things found.

There are the things you’ve been looking for and then there are the things you didn’t realize you still had. In the former category is my Swiss Army Alox Pioneer knife in the center of the photo. Turns out it was in a tray on top of my chest of drawers. Also found there were the mini level, the Lansky Mini Dog Bone knife sharpener, the patriotic stickers, and the suction-cup mounted peep site for your shooting glasses. I think that means I need to clean up the top of that chest of drawers so I can find even more stuff!

Then in the category of things I didn’t realize I still had are multiple sets of corded ear buds that no longer work with my newer iPhone as it doesn’t have a headphone jack. I also didn’t remember buying that blue Master TSA lock nor the Energizer reading light. The latter actually still works!

Finally, there are the things you knew you had but you didn’t remember putting them in that drawer. First, was the school picture of my first girlfriend taken in 1973-74. I had met Pat who was from Ontario at a weeklong summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina. We did get together the next year in Canada after I had graduated high school and she was headed to Grade 13. Unfortunately, we lost track of one another when she went off to university in Ottawa. I do wonder what has become of her. Second, there are the Nikken magnets which are supposed to reduce pain or swelling by adjusting your magnetic polarity or something like that.

As to that missing key, I’m still looking and there are still more drawers to search!

Looks Like Woody Phillips Settled With NYAG

Based upon a document filed yesterday by attorneys for the New York Attorney General’s Office and Wilson “Woody” Phillips, it appears that Phillips and the Attorney General’s Office have come to a settlement agreement. They mutually agreed to adjourn the briefing schedule with “respect to equitable relief applicable to Mr. Phillips.” This is pending a stipulation of settlement. Judge Joel Cohen has signed off on this stipulation and proposed order regarding the briefing.

Going back to the jury trial, Phillips was found liable for breach of fiduciary duty along with damages of $2 million. He was also found to have engaged in a related party transaction. It will be interesting to see if the stipulation of settlement will be for the full $2 million in damages as found by the jury.

Along these same lines, it would probably be in Wayne LaPierre’s best interest, though expensive, to execute a similar settlement. The jury said he must repay $5.4 million of which he had already repaid $1 million. I believe the Attorney General’s Office set the amount of damages at a much higher level and could be asking Judge Cohen to approve the higher amount.

Now that the Board of Directors has elected three out of four candidates for leadership positions, has named a Chief Compliance Officer, and voted to give the reformers five out of nine positions on the Nominating Committee, it may have a good case for reaching a settlement with the Attorney General’s Office without the imposition of a special monitor. The settlement of the NRA Foundation with the DC Attorney General certainly has set a precedent to do this. More importantly, a settlement before the next phase of the trial would allow the NRA to finally be free from the greedy grip of Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors. Personally, I can’t see any advantage to the NRA of actually going to the next phase of the trial if a settlement can be made that allows them to move forward without a special monitor. The only one who wins would be Bill Brewer as his pocket would be even more padded than it already is.

You can see the court document embedded below or linked here.