This weekend, the New York Times and the Arizona Republic, two papers on opposite ends of the country, featured stories in which gun bloggers played a role. To see this much recognition paid to gun bloggers by major newspapers is frankly amazing. I don’t think I’d be overstating things if I said that most in the media consider us gun bloggers as crazy fringe types ranting about gun rights, the Constitution, and the Second Amendment or posting about arcane topics such as the difference between .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO.
The New York Times’s lead story in their Sunday Business section was about Cerberus and the Freedom Group. In a rather straightforward story, Times reporter Natasha Singer described how financier Stephen Feinberg, CEO of Cerberus, created what has become the Freedom Group of companies starting with Bushmaster and then adding icons such as Remington, Marlin, and Harrington and Richardson to the mix. The story details their place in the market, the relative lack of handguns in their product mix, and how this last factor could impact Freedom Group’s growth as concealed carry expands.
It is in the discussion of the growth of Freedom Group that gun bloggers are mentioned.
Still, the Freedom Group has ingested so many well-known brands so quickly that some gun owners are uneasy about what it might do next. Two years ago, a Cerberus managing director, George Kollitides, ran for the board of the N.R.A. Despite an endorsement from Remington, and the fact that he was a director of the Freedom Group and Remington, he lost. His campaign didn’t sit well with some gun bloggers, who viewed him as an industry interloper.
Andrew Arulanandam, the N.R.A.’s director for public affairs, declined to speculate about why Mr. Kollitides lost. “It’s a great question to ask our four million members,” he said.
The gun bloggers mentioned in the story are Sebastian and Bitter of Shall Not Be Questioned. It links to their 2009 endorsements for the NRA Board of Directors where they discussed why they were not endorsing George Kollitides.
The Arizona Republic featured a front page story today entitled “ATF gun probe: Behind the fall of Operation Fast and Furious.” The story by Dennis Wagner is one of the better overviews of Operation Fast and Furious and does a good job at outlining the scandal. It is even better at bringing to light the behind-the scenes moves that brought this scandal to public consciousness. As Wagner notes,
The initial story line of Fast and Furious was about outrage — anger that guns, let out of sight, had been used in crimes. But the backstory of the investigation is one of hidden motives, curious contradictions and strange allegiances, both among those who organized the effort and those who exposed it.
It goes into detail on how Senior Agent John Dodson sought out the advice of ATF veterans Jay Dobyns and Vincent Cefalu who eventually began to network with bloggers David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh.
Dobyns and Cefalu began networking with two of the most prominent and prolific Second Amendment bloggers in America.
David Codrea, an Ohio-based writer, is field editor for GUNS Magazine and an author on a website known as “The War on Guns: Notes From the Resistance.”
Mike Vanderboegh runs a website, Sipsey Street Irregulars, which he identifies as a gathering place for the 3 percent of Americans willing to fight for the right to bear arms.
Vanderboegh and Codrea, longtime friends, this year received Soldier of Fortune Magazine’s Second Amendment Freedom Award and the David and Goliath Award from Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
Dobyns says he turned to the bloggers because of a shared animus toward ATF administrators. “Do they have an agenda? Of course they do,” he said. “But it’s my experience that they’re not anti-ATF; they’re anti-bad ATF.”
Codrea and Vanderboegh began churning out essays on Fast and Furious, even giving the operation its sardonic nickname, “Project Gunwalker.” They joined forces with other bloggers, government employees and gun dealers in what Vanderboegh calls “a coalition of willing Lilliputians.”
The story recognizes the role that Codrea and Vanderboegh played as intermediaries between the whistleblowers and Congressional staffers. Indeed, it was their pressure that got people like Sen. Chuck Grassley to pay attention to the whistleblowers and give them protection. It also makes note of how improbable it was that a pair of Threepers got together with the ATF whistleblowers.
In interviews, Vanderbeogh and Codrea chuckle at the irony of government agents relying on their critics to find a congressional audience.
“It’s so improbable that ATF guys would come to us, the Second Amendment advocates,” Vanderbeogh says. “But we realized we did have common enemies in the ATF hierarchy.”
I am glad to see gun bloggers get their due in both stories. It is about time.