GRPC 2015: Using Media To Advance Gun Rights

I was honored to be asked to be on a panel at the 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference. The topic of our panel was “Using Media to Advance Gun Rights.” Also on the panel were Charles Heller of Liberty Watch Radio, Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media, Herb Stupp of New York who had been part of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s cabinet, Cheryl Todd of GunTalk AZ, and Dave Workman.

Below is the text of my speech. I would welcome comments and criticism.

Hi. I’m John Richardson.

This morning I plan to tell you how I as a citizen journalist use the Internet to advance gun rights and how you can use it too. As the representative of New Media on this stage this morning, first let me tell you how I got started.

I had been a longtime reader of blogs. I finally decided in May 2010 that I could do just as well as anyone else and started my blog, “No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money.” The name was a play on the Warren Zevon song, “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money”. I’m a – not a lawyer – hence the name.

I didn’t have many readers at first but I just kept plugging along. Then something happened that gave my blog a big boost: Alan Gura won the McDonald case and then using this ruling, the SAF and Grass Roots North Carolina sued North Carolina to overturn the ban on firearms during declared states of emergency.

I saw it as my mission to report on the details of this and the other McDonald follow-on cases. I worked hard to provide background information so that readers would have a really good understanding of the issues. I felt that if people who supported gun rights had better knowledge than that provided by the mainstream media then they could argue our side more persuasively.

Fast forward to today, 4200+ blog posts, 1.7 million visitors later, and there have been many more cases and a good number of wins. Somewhere along the way I added the role of podcaster to my efforts on behalf of the Second Amendment. I am now a co-host on The Polite Society Podcast which is livestreaming this conference.

My blog as well as the podcast does four things: it educates, it informs, it advocates, and it entertains. The first three help advance the cause of gun rights while the fourth is just because we all need to laugh a bit especially if it is at the expense of the gun prohibitionists!

Let me give you some examples.

Our podcast The Polite Society Podcast has a regular feature called Defensive Gun Uses. We compile instances of how a lawful gun owner has used a firearm to defend him or herself and their family. The examples we have often involve robbery or a home invasion. We look at what the person did right and what they did wrong. We don’t sugarcoat it as this is essential education on the rights and responsibilities of gun owners.

The best example of the blogosphere informing people that helped advance the cause of gun rights was the work that David Codrea, Mike Vanderboegh, and Dave Workman did in exposing Operation Fast and Furious which started right here in Phoenix. It was bloggers that connected whistleblowers with Congressional investigators. It was bloggers that introduced the whistleblowers to Sharyl Attkisson so that she could air their stories on television. Many other bloggers including myself took the ball put into play by David, Mike, and Dave and ran with it. If the scandal – and it wasn’t some botched sting operation – gained legs, it was due to the efforts of New Media – not Old Media.

We in the New Media are open about our efforts to advocate on behalf of gun rights and the Second Amendment. Back in 2011, ATF was soliciting public comments on whether to implement a reporting requirement that would force border state FFLs to inform them when someone bought more than one semi-auto rifle within a five day period. The gun control lobby had a letter generator, we didn’t. With the assistance of one of my readers, we set up a letter generator with a pre-written letter. Our letter generator sent 3,203 letters to OMB opposing this power grab. ATF still implemented it but by God they couldn’t say there was no opposition!

I don’t think I need to give examples of how blogs entertain. There are just too many.

An old journalist once said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those that own one.” Well, as a blogger and podcaster I do own one. And thanks to the Internet so does everyone in this room.

When you post pictures of yourself taking a new shooter to the range on Facebook, you are advancing the cause. When you post a picture of a new gun you bought to Instagram, you are normalizing guns. When you tweet a link to an article that is pro-gun, you are spreading the message. Let’s not forget Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube. Posting pictures or videos of successful hunts, reloading benches, etc. help advance the gun culture.

If there is one message I want to leave you with this morning it is this: We are in a cultural war against strong, well-funded, top-down opponents. They have the mainstream media on their side. We have the grassroots. New Media gives us the tools to conduct our cultural guerrilla war, build our grassroots support, and spread our message of self-reliance, freedom, and gun rights.

Thank you for your time today.

The Polite Society Podcast livestreamed both days of the conference. I was able to excerpt my presentation. While the crowd on Sunday was not as large as that on Saturday, it was certainly more people than I had ever spoken to before. Click on the “Watch highlights” to see my portion of the presentation.

From Knife Rights On Proposed Ivory Ban

I am a firm believer in conservation. Notice I said conservation and not preservation. Preservation is for artworks; conservation is for land and animals. Locking up a forest makes it susceptible to disease and fire. Likewise, legitimate hunting of elephants and other ivory bearing animals gives them an economic value. With an economic value comes protection and anti-poaching initiatives. I may never hunt an elephant but I recognize that both the numbers and herd health will be helped by hunting.

Banning the trade in ivory legitimately brought into the United States in the 20th century will do nothing to stop current poachers. If anything, it will increase the economic reward to poachers. It is akin to the so-called war on drugs. Efforts to dry up supply just increase the street price of cocaine, meth, etc. and increase the incentive to the cartels to try and smuggle it into the country.

The comments on the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal close on Monday. I sent my comment in today. Here is what Knife Rights has to say about it:

Comments are due on Monday, September 28, 2015, to oppose the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Proposed Rule Change
that would implement a domestic ivory ban affecting millions of
Americans, including owners of ivory-handled knives and knives with
ivory embellishment. With very few very limited exceptions, it would be
illegal to buy, sell or trade any ivory or any item with even the
smallest bit of ivory included. Not a single elephant will be saved by
punishing owners of decades-old perfectly legal ivory that has been in
this country since before import bans were implemented in 1990.
Practically all the poached ivory goes to China or Asian countries,
virtually none of it come to the U.S
. (Click here for additional details on the Proposed Rule Change and a link to the published NPRM)

Rights abhors the poaching of all species. The proven solution is to
attack poaching at the source, not punish lawful ivory owners in the
U.S. who cannot have any effect on poaching in Africa. Successful
anti-poaching programs in Africa have demonstrated that an integrated
comprehensive approach that encourages the locals to fight poaching does
work to save elephants.

the investments of millions of Americans will not save a single
elephant in Africa. This is the worst kind of “Feel Good – Do Bad”
government action.

As of Wednesday, Sept.
23, over 1,500 comments have been submitted. Too many are from people
who make simplistic and emotional statements about saving elephants or
repeat factually unsupported slogans from non-profit organizations
making millions of dollars off this campaign to ban ivory.  However,
many others are thoughtful comments explaining why the proposed rule
punishes innocent Americans without doing anything to stop poaching in
Africa. We need you to add your voice of reason to those opposing this absurd, abusive and illegal ivory ban.

Ideally, your comment should be personal and specific, but comment regardless. 
Form letter comments are not as effective as individual comments, but
regardless, please comment because every comment in opposition counts!
Use the information below to develop your comment.

The Proposed Rule Change is arbitrary and capricious.  It punishes
people who have invested in ivory, including ivory-handled knives and
knives with ivory embellishment, that was legally imported decades ago
which has nothing to do with recent African elephant poaching.

The government should focus resources on stopping poachers in Africa and
prosecuting criminals who smuggle ivory to Asia if it wants to stop
elephant poaching.  Punishing innocent Americans who own or trade ivory
that was legally brought to this country before the poaching crisis has
no rational relationship to poaching African elephants, so the Proposed
Rule Change seriously violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

FWS misrepresented data and studies about ivory in the United States. 
CITES data shows that hundreds of tons of illegal ivory flows to China
and Asia, but almost none of it comes to the United States.
Even Dr. Daniel Stiles, an expert FWS relied upon in the Proposed Rule
Change, submitted a comment pointing out how FWS has misrepresented his
The legal ivory import control system in place before February 2014 was
working in the United States, and government prosecutions show that they
were certainly capable of investigating and successfully prosecuting
the very few people who break the law.  Creating a new class of
criminals from people who need to sell or trade in otherwise legal ivory
will waste resources, distract from enforcement efforts against actual
poachers and smugglers, and unfairly persecute people who abided by
international trade bans that were already in place. Along with creating
bad policy, FWS’s misuse and misrepresentation of data is an egregious
violation of the federal Information Quality Act. (Click here for more background on this blatant violation of the law)

* FWS’s claim that less than 2% of ivory sales will be impacted by this ban is nonsense.  (Here you should describe how the ban would impact your business or collection individually, where applicable.) 
Conclude by stating that this ban falls almost entirely on small
businesses, so the FWS certification in the proposed rule that it would
not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small
entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act is false.  As
is their finding under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement
Fairness Act that there is not a disproportionate impact for small or
large businesses.

* The exceptions in the Proposed Rule
are useless and do not adequately allow legal and legitimate commerce as
directed in Executive Order 13648 on Combating Wildlife Trafficking in
July 2013.
  To qualify for any exception, a person would need
to provide documentation about import, sales and transfers that was not
required in the past, so it was never created.  FWS undermines all of
the exceptions, which are irrational, vague and arbitrary in any case,
by placing an unachievable burden on legal ivory owners.  The agency
also fails to describe specific documentation burdens with specificity,
so even if an owner or business has some documentation about an ivory
item, he or she cannot be certain whether documentation is adequate.
These failures are serious violations of the federal Administrative
Procedure Act.

* Add any additional personal objections
to this irrational and abusive rule that is unfair, un-American and will
not save a single elephant in Africa. Please be polite in your comments
so they will be taken seriously. 

Conclude by
demanding that FWS must either withdraw the proposed rule entirely for
its failure to follow the law or, alternatively, at a minimum publish an
extensive revision correcting its many errors for a full new notice and
comment period. Nothing less is acceptable.

The above are suggestions that you can adopt or add to as you see fit.

FWS does not accept comments by e-mail or fax.  You need to submit comments online by 11:59 PM, September 28 at:  Fish
and Wildlife Service (FWS) Proposed Rule: Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife and Plants: African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Rule;

You can also view comments already submitted at this website. (Alternatively, if that link doesn’t work, then go to Once at the website, search: FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091) 

on the “Comment Now” button in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
Follow the instructions on screen for submitting comments. When
submitting comments, you can either identify yourself or type
“Anonymous” in the required name fields.  You can type your comments
directly into the provided text box, copy and paste into the text box or
upload a file (below the text box).

If you must submit comments by mail, they must be postmarked by 11:59 PM, September 28. Mail them to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091
Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: BPHC
Falls Church, VA  22041 


A Win For Knife Rights In The Second Circuit

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals provided a win for knife rights and the Second Amendment yesterday. The case involved the suit that Knife Rights had filed in New York against DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. The judge in the District Court had dismissed that case in favor of the defendants saying that the plaintiffs did not have standing because they hadn’t identified specific knives. The Second Circuit disagreed in part and remanded the case back to the District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In a decision authored by US Appeals Court Judge Reena Raggi, the Second Circuit said the individual plaintiffs clearly showed that they had shown a threat of prosecution for intended conduct. Indeed, Native Leather, the business plaintiff, was under a deferred prosecution agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Because of this, they had standing. However, she found that Knife Rights and the Knife Rights Foundation did not have standing to sue.

The Court concluded:

To summarize, we conclude as follows:

1. Plaintiffs Native Leather, Copeland, and Perez have standing to
challenge defendants’ application of N.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.00(5) and 265.01(1)
because each has expressed a present intent to possess such knives (but for
defendants’ challenged enforcement actions) and each has demonstrated a
credible threat of prosecution based on defendants’ (a) recent enforcement
actions against them, (b) express threat to prosecute Native Leather further
under the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement, and (c) continued defense
of the wrist‐flick test that allegedly prompted plaintiffs’ past violation charges.

2. Our precedent precludes Knife Rights and Knife Rights Foundation
from asserting standing on behalf of their members under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  Nor
can these organizational plaintiffs demonstrate standing to sue on their own
behalf based on claimed injury to their activities from expenditures diverted to
oppose defendants’ actions.    Such past injuries cannot be redressed by the
declaratory and injunctive relief sought in this action, and plaintiffs fail to demonstrate that any future expenditures and attending injuries are certainly

3. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs’
motion for leave to amend their complaint a second time to address defects in

Accordingly, the district court’s judgment of dismissal is AFFIRMED as to
Knife Rights and Knife Rights Foundation, and VACATED as to Native Leather,
Copeland, and Perez.   The case is REMANDED as to these three plaintiffs for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

 Knife Rights was quite pleased with this ruling even if they were found not to have organizational standing in the case.

The reversed lower court previously found that the claims were not specific enough to proceed because they did not identify specific makes and models of folding knives at issue — even though the very inability to determine which knives would be arbitrarily deemed “illegal” is the basis of the lawsuit itself! The Second Circuit agreed that specific knives need not be identified for the case to proceed.

Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “we are very pleased that we have overcome the absurd ruling of the lower court on ‘standing’ and can now proceed with the heart of the case itself — the unconstitutional manner in which the City and DA enforce the New York State’s gravity knife law to potentially demonize all folding knives.”

There have been over 60,000 “gravity knife” prosecutions in the City in the past 10 years, with the rate doubling recently. These prosecutions have focused almost exclusively on common locking-blade pocket knives, not actual historical paratrooper gravity knives which were the basis for the statute back in the 1950s. The so-called “wrist flick” test employed by the City and DA is a completely subjective test with immense variability and no knife owner can know can know with certainty whether or not his or her knife is legal at any point in time. This enforcement is unconstitutionally vague and must not continue.

Perhaps the lower court will finally see just how abusive the NYPD and DA Vance have been towards knife owners.

Walking Dead Fashion Line?

I am most certainly not a fashionista. However, I do from time to time watch Project Runway with the Complementary Spouse. So I do have some exposure to the world of fashion. Thus, when I saw the picture below of Kanye West’s line of clothing my eyes rolled. What would Tim say and how soon would Heidi be saying “Auf Wiedersehen!”.

From NY Mag

I probably saw that picture of his clothing line in the Wall Street Journal. My immediate thought was that it was zombies from the Walking Dead. Given that Kanye is a big gun control supporter, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Gun control does tend to attract zombie-like supporters.

An Interesting Bullpup From South Africa

The Vektor CR-21 was a bullpup carbine made in South Africa. It was based upon their R4 rifle which was a derivative of the Israeli Galil. The internals of the CR-21 were similar and it used the same magazines as the video shows.

The CR-21 never made it out of the prototype stage but it would have been interesting to see how with a little more development it would have stacked up against the Tavor and other bullpups. It really is futuristic looking

Say What?!

Jean Fontaine is the “data lead for South Carolina Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” She lives in Greenville, South Carolina. I’m not sure what a data lead is but I imagine it to be somewhere between a mailing list manager and someone who clips articles from a newspaper.

Ms. Fontaine had an op-ed in the Greenville News regarding a training session she attended in Minneapolis, Minnesota this summer. She started the column by saying:

This summer, I took training in Minneapolis for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a nonpartisan organization that supports the Second Amendment. It was created after Sandy Hook to advocate common-sense gun reforms that are straightforward…

Either the training Ms. Fontaine took in Minnesota was on how to be a commedienne or she just told a whopper. The Demanding Moms for Illegal Mayors are neither non-partisan nor pro-Second Amendment.

Fortunately, those who bothered to read this screed long enough to comment thought she was full of it as well. There was not one comment supportive of her position.

A quick Google search reveals that Ms. Fontaine is a former educator who objected to constitutional carry in South Carolina when it was proposed in 2013. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in the late 1960s. I’m sure Ms. Fontaine, bless her heart, is a nice person and means well but her advocacy is misguided and dangerous.

Quote Of The Day

There was a column a couple of weeks ago in the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer. The columnist, Ned Barrett, blamed legal gun owners who had their guns stolen for fueling “criminal gunfire”. The column said that legal gun owners who had their guns stolen were “the headwaters in the river of guns that flows to criminals.”

Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone did not let this lie go unchallenged. As Tom Gresham always says, “A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth.”

Paul said:

Blaming gun owners for theft of guns lawfully locked into cars is like blaming rape victims for wearing their skirts too short; it faults victims, not perpetrators.

 Paul is absolutely correct. The victim should not be blamed. If anything, the blame lies with the so-called gun free zones that force people to lock their legally owned and carried firearms in their cars.

2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference

The 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference opens next weekend, September 25-27, in Phoenx. The free event is sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and has been for the past 30 years. You can still register to attend and I believe that they do allow in person registrations on Friday night and Saturday morning. The event is being held at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel.

My colleagues and I on the Polite Society Podcast will be livestreaming the event. We will also feature interviews with some of the presenters during conference breaks. You can watch the livestream either on our webpage or on our YouTube channel.

C-Span will be broadcasting the Sunday portion of the conference. I’m not sure which C-Span channel it will be on but I’m sure you can find it if you check their website later in the coming week.

The final agenda has been published and I have uploaded it to Google. A number of state level organizations will be participating including Grass Roots North Carolina, Georgia Carry, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the Illinois State Rifle Association, Florida Carry, and many more. Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed will be speaking on Saturday about the impact of 3-D printing on the future of gun control. This is just a taste of what is being presented at GRPC.

If you check the agenda for Sunday morning, there is a panel on Using Media to Advance Gun Rights. It will feature people like Dave Workman of Gun Week, Charles Heller of Liberty Watch Radio, and someone else whose work you may have read a time or two.

If you can’t be there in person, I would encourage you to partake of our livestreaming of the event. It was a grassroots effort to put it together. I would thank the New Jersey Second Amendment Society,, and those who contributed to our GoFundMe campaign for their monetary support in making this a reality.

Absurd Ruling In Terry Murder Trial

US District Court Judge David Bury ruled on Friday that no mention of Operation Fast and Furious aka Project Gunwalker could be made in the trial of two men accused of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

The U.S. asked the judge this summer to keep the details of Fast and Furious out of the murder trial, stating it was irrelevant.

Bury agreed. “I agree with one exception. I can’t find any relevance expect if the government should open the door,” he said.

If the government brings up the origins of the guns found, Bury ruled that defendants can then bring up Fast and Furious.

Bury ordered the defendants “not to refer to … or elicit any testimony regarding Operation Fast and Furious. Understood?”

Excuse me?

The defendants, Ivan Soto Barraza and Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza, used AK-47s to kill Agent Terry that the BATFE had allowed (encouraged) to be walked to Mexico as part of Operation Fast and Furious. Given that the Department of Justice and BATFE were complicit in providing the firearms used to kill Agent Terry, ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata, and 300 or more Mexicans, I’m not surprised that the US Attorney’s Office doesn’t want it mentioned. However, I am surprised that a judge would deny the defense of the opportunity to use it in defending their clients.

It is obvious that burying the details of Operation Fast and Furious is important to the prosecutors. In addition to the judge’s order above, they have a whole series of questions for potential jurors asking about their knowledge of Project Gunwalker.  One does have to wonder if this was a local decision to suppress mention of Operation Fast and Furious or did the order come down from DC.