An Inconvenient Truth

The Cult of Personality Known as Giffords sent out an email this morning. As might be expected on the anniversary of the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, they called for more gun control.

We took it upon ourselves to fight for change by electing a gun safety majority in the House. They passed H.R. 8, the background checks bill, but it sat on Mitch McConnell’s desk every day since.

But that’s about to change. With a newly elected gun safety president and gun safety majorities in both the House and Senate, it’s finally time to make universal background checks the law of the land. And today’s a great day to say you’re still in the fight.

The inconvenient truth is that the killer obtained his firearm after passing a FBI background check. In other words, a universal background check or mandated checks on private firearm sales would not have made one bit of difference.

The killer had no criminal record because of an arrangement between the Broward County school system and the sheriff’s office. This despite being expelled for bringing a weapon to school along with other run-ins that should have resulted in a criminal record.

As noted at the time by Max Eden in the City-Journal:

But the explicit aim of Broward’s new approach to school safety was to keep students like <killer> off the police’s radar. If the Sheriff’s department didn’t know about his deeply troubling behavior, perhaps it was because they were no longer supposed to know about it.

So instead of dealing with the inconvenient truths and the deeper issues at play, the Cult of Personality Known as Giffords and their like-minded brethren including President Biden will just call for more gun control – even though none of it will stop the next mass casualty event.

Every Picture Tells A Story, Part IX

Every Picture Tells A Story is the longest running feature on this blog. It first ran on October 6, 2011. As of today, it has now hit its ninth iteration.

It started out as a way of showing the transition from restricted or no carry rights to shall-issue carry rights. When the feature started, there were states like Illinois that did not allow any concealed carry. It is still very hard to obtain a permit in states like New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, etc.

The graphics were created by my reader Rob Vance who has been updating it for the last 10 years.

The graphic plots the percentage of the United States population over time that had no-issue, may-issue, shall-issue, and constitutional carry with regard to concealed carry of firearms.

I said at the time:

If I may add a couple of other things, I’d say that shall-issue is the new norm in 2011 as opposed to no-issue or severely restricted may-issue back in 1986. The other thing I would add is that the experience with shall-issue concealed carry in the early adopting states like Florida paved the way for its adoption elsewhere. That is, people applying for concealed carry licenses are law-abiding citizens who have taken the responsibility seriously. Unlike what the Violence Policy Center would have you believe, the streets are not running with blood nor have they.

With Gov. Spencer Cox (R-UT) signing Utah’s constitutional carry bill on Friday, there are now 17 states that no longer demand a permit to carry concealed. The Utah law goes into effect on May 5th. As might be expected, the Utah media is aghast. Even the LDS-owned Deseret News was all a-twitter. They are worried that people won’t get training anymore. The permit itself is not going away and people who want to carry in other states under reciprocity would still need it. As Clark Aposhian of the Utah Shooting Sports Council noted, open carry was already legal without a permit in Utah and all the new law does is allow you to put a coat over the gun.

Tennessee and Montana could be added to the list later this year. Montana already allows permitless carry outside of the city limits and the bill pending in their legislature expands it to cities as well.

I may have to rethink what I said in 2011 about shall-issue becoming the new normal. In “free” states, I think constitutional or permitless carry is fast becoming the new normal.

“A Personal Agenda”?

Judge Phillip Journey hit a nerve with his motion for appointment of an examiner in the NRA’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. So much so that the powers that be felt compelled to send an email to all members of the Board of Directors after 9pm Monday night.

The email was by NRA President Carolyn Meadows. Let me correct that last statement. The email was from Carolyn Meadows but it was so lawyerly crafted that I have immense doubts that she herself composed it.

She starts off by mentioning the court filing and then asserts the Judge Journey misunderstands the NRA’s bylaws. She says he is mistaken in his belief that the formation of the Sea Girt LLC vehicle and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing required special board approval. She asserts that the revised employment contract of Wayne LaPierre which was approved by the entire board provided that authority.

I am not a lawyer nor am I an expert in bankruptcy law. However, from everything I’ve read elsewhere from real experts in bankruptcy law, the formation of special entities and especially the filing of a bankruptcy requires an expressed approval from a board. In other words, it is not a power that can be delegated to the hired staff like Wayne.

The Complementary Spouse read over the email as well. Her take was that this email actually, for the most part, did not dispute Judge Journey’s motion so much as dance around it.

Then there was this line: “I find it disgraceful anyone would suggest otherwise to advance a personal agenda.” That was in reference to the line in the motion of how at least one board member was told to sit down and shut up. The Complementary Spouse noted the irony of accusing a board member of having a personal agenda when no one has a bigger personal agenda than Wayne LaPierre.

The email ends by saying if any board members have questions to please direct them to the board’s attorney Wit Davis. I should point out that he was hired by Wayne LaPierre to replace Steve Hart who LaPierre fired.

Safari Club Convention And Other Events Too? What A Great Week!

I received a press release announcing the 2022 Safari Club Convention has opened registration. It is to be held in Las Vegas on January 19th to the 22nd at the Mandalay Bay. Those dates got me to thinking about what else just might be happening at that same time.

I found this! The AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is being held the 20th to the 23rd at the Hard Rock Casino.

And this as well – the World of Concrete! Tools, trucks, mixers, oh, my!

Just kidding. I mean they are being held in Las Vegas at the same time but that is not really what caught my eye.

What did catch my eye and excite me is that the SHOT Show is being held January 18th through 21st at the Sands Expo Center. The recently opened Caesars Forum will also be the scene for part of the SHOT Show.

So this means both the Safari Club Convention and the SHOT Show will be in Las Vegas the same week. I really think this is great because it would be one airfare and one hotel instead of two. I certainly plan to go as things stand now.

I’m sure I’d be exhausted trying to do both but what wonderful exhaustion it would be!

NRA Board Member Asks For Examiner

Attorneys for Phil Journey, a state judge in Kansas and a NRA Director, filed a motion in the NRA’s bankruptcy cased today. The motion asked the court to appoint an examiner (or independent investigator) to examine claims against the NRA made by the NY Attorney General Letitia James. These claims were made in the suit seeking the NRA’s dissolution.

Journey says he fully supports the NRA’s mission of protecting the Second Amendment through “education, training, and sport.” He then says:

Accordingly, Movant (Journey) seeks the appointment of an examiner to bring to light the veracity of the alleged fraud, dishonesty, incompetence, and gross mismanagement that has plagued the NRA’s reputation, caused significant alienation of the Association’s members and supporters, and hampered its ability to fulfill its core organizational purpose.

He then lays out the areas which he wants the examiner to investigate:

The best path to ensure that the NRA seizes upon the opportunity before it to recommit to its most historical ideals is to appoint an independent examiner to add transparency and confidence to the bankruptcy process. To that end, Movant requests the appointment of an examiner to examine and investigate: (i) the actions of Debtors’ pre- and post-petition management; (ii) the management practices being employed in the operation of the non-profit organization; (iii) the compensation of management; (iv) the benefits and perks being provided to the Debtors’ management team; and (v) the propriety of arrangements with certain vendors.

Journey goes on to accuse the NRA’s management of using Ackerman McQueen and other vendors as conduits to hide personal expenses and perks. He then says the Board has become a figurehead while “management” aka Wayne LaPierre actually steered the direction of the NRA.

He alleges the bylaws were violated by not having the Board of Directors to vote on the bankruptcy filing nor was the intent to seek Chapter 11 even disclosed to the Board. He goes on to note that the NRA’s management routinely ignored the bylaws, the laws of New York, and Robert’s Rules of Orders which led to Craig Spray resigning and the designated head of reorganization deciding not to take the job. Furthermore, the formation of Sea Girt LLC was not approved by the Board. Journey says information was withheld by management and the Board’s attorney which made it impossible for them to do their fiduciary duty.

The legal rationale along with case law is then presented in the argument as to why an examiner is needed.

I will be blunt. I always thought Phil Journey was a Wayne LaPierre loyalist which is why he got nominated and elected to the Board of Directors. This is either a measure of his disgust with Wayne, Brewer, and their cronies or the ultimate sleight of hand to divert attention elsewhere. Given what is in the motion, I’ll go with the former for now.

I fully expect Brewer and company fight tooth and nail against this. He did issue this statement to Bloomberg News on Journey’s motion.

The NRA disputed the claim that it didn’t follow its own rules when it filed bankruptcy. It didn’t directly address the question of whether an examiner should be appointed.

“This plan was undertaken in full compliance with NRA policy,” NRA lawyer William A. Brewer III said in an email to Bloomberg. “The plan has been widely endorsed by NRA board members, NRA members, elected officials, and other key stakeholders.”

I think this motion will get very serious consideration from Judge Harlin Hale for two reasons. First and foremost, Phil Journey is a sitting judge in a state court in Kansas. That alone elevates his concerns above that of a mere bystander. Second, he is now and has been in the past a director of the NRA. I think that would give him standing as he has a fiduciary duty.

For now, it will be very (very!) interesting to see what comes of this motion. I hope it succeeds and I hope the creditor’s committee is successful in getting a trustee appointed.

I have embedded the full brief below. Read it for yourself and tell me what you think.

Motion To Appoint Examiner In NRA Bankruptcy Filing by jpr9954 on Scribd

Yeah, It’s The Trace But…

It sucks but sometimes you can get more timely and accurate information on what is happening with the NRA from Bloomberg’s The Trace than from the NRA itself.

I had noticed yesterday that Judge Phillip Journey of Kansas, a NRA Director since 2020, had secured representation before the bankruptcy court as a “creditor”. I thought it kind of strange but then there was this in today’s The Trace.

Grumblings from the NRA board?: Phillip Journey, a judge in Kansas who won his seat as an NRA director in 2020 and also served on the group’s board in the 1990s, notified the Texas court hearing the gun group’s bankruptcy case that he’s secured representation in the case. My colleague Will Van Sant notes: “I’d heard recently that Journey and a handful of other board members have concerns about actions taken by the NRA’s current leadership.” Journey has indicated he may take further action in the case, but offered no details.

It could be that Journey and some others are seeking to be a “white knight” and save the NRA leadership from itself and the ambitions of William Brewer III. I guess we will know soon enough.

In other NRA news from The Trace, I learned that the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation had turned down the NRA’s request to consolidate all their cases into US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. That includes the Dell’Aquila class action suit in Tennessee, the NRA’s suit against Letitia James in New York, and two AckMac related suits in Texas.

The panel said that despite the NRA’s assertion of factual overlap they just didn’t find enough to warrant moving the cases to Texas. Lest you think the panel was filled with anti-2A judges, Judge Roger T. Benitez whose rulings in California have been fantastic is a member of the panel.

The full decision can be found here.

NRA Bankruptcy Updates

In the last week and half there have been a number of updates in the NRA’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. I will take them in order.

First, there was a debtor’s motion (the NRA) to allow Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, to serve as special debtor’s counsel in the case. While the entire filing is 53 pages long, here are some excerpts. It should be kept in mind that the NRA has retained Patrick Neligan of Neligan LLP as its bankruptcy specialist attorney. Mr. Neligan has been practicing high-level bankruptcy law for over 35 years.

BAC and its attorneys are well-positioned to handle these matters for the Debtors because BAC has accumulated a reservoir of knowledge that could not be efficiently offloaded to, or replicated by, substitute counsel.

One way of looking at Brewer’s statement is that they know where the bodies are buried. I don’t think that is their intention but it could be read that way and they are needed to keep them buried.

In 2020 and in 2021, BAC’s standard hourly rates were as follows:
Professionals 2020 Hourly Rates
Founding Partner, William A. Brewer III $1,400
Partner $700-$900
Associate $275-$600
Consultant/Analyst $250-$725
Investigator $250-$350
Public Affairs $375-$800

Are their fees capped?

Did you agree to any variations, or alternatives to, your standard or customary billing arrangements for this engagement?
Response:
Yes. For one of the matters, BAC agreed not to seek fees for its professionals’ time inexcess of $100,000.10 In addition, BAC represents the NRA in another matter pro bono. Otherwise, BAC has not agreed to any variations or alternatives to BAC’s standard or customary billing arrangements. BAC’s engagement by the Debtors in connection with the Debtors’ bankruptcy cases is to serve as special counsel to the Debtors in the litigation that began PrePetition and other related matters BAC has been handling for the Debtors, as well as to assist Neligan LLP (lead counsel to the Debtors) during a transition period after the filing of the chapter 11 cases in order to facilitate the quick, efficient handling of matters drawing on BAC’s institutional knowledge.

In other words, with regard to one aspect of the case they will limit their fees as per agreement to $100,000 but after that the sky is the limit.

Remember that the bankruptcy filing has put many of the NRA’s other cases on hold so Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors has got to make their money somehow.

The Special Litigation Committee of Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee think having Bill Brewer involved is just dandy and they are all for it. Then again, they pretty much do as they are told by Wayne LaPierre.

Moving on, a mailing list of all additional creditors of the NRA was filed with the court on Monday, February 1st. Included in that 247-page list was the NRA Foundation. It should be remembered that most of the firearms in the National Firearms Museum and the National Sporting Arms Museum are not property of the NRA. Rather, they are on loan from primarily the NRA Foundation as that was to whom they were gifted by donors.

In a February 2nd report by Reuters on the latest hearing in the case before Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. Hale, attorney Patrick Neligan denied the Chapter 11 filing was in bad faith.

“This is not a bad faith filing and we look forward to using Chapter 11
to resolve litigation and to move forward to emerge out of this
bankruptcy as a company domiciled here in Texas,” Neligan said
during Wednesday’s hearing.


The question of whether the NRA filed the bankruptcy in good faith could arise if the judge is asked to dismiss the case.

Judge Hale did ask both the NRA and the NY Attorney General’s Office to scale back the rhetoric and treat this as “a regular bankruptcy case.”

The US Trustee in the case appointed an Official Unsecured Creditors Committee consisting of five members. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. was appointed the interim chair of the committee. As seen in the screen shot below, two of the committee appointees will probably cause a bit of consternation in Fairfax as well as in the offices of Bill Brewer.

I sincerely doubt that either AckMac or David Dell’Aquila are going to roll over and play dead for Wayne and the NRA.

Finally, in an interview posted today in FreeBeacon.com by Stephen Gutowski, Mr. Dell’Aquila says he will be pushing for a court-appointed trustee to oversee the NRA’s operations.

“We’re going to definitely do a motion for a trustee,” Dell’Aquila said. “I would not be surprised if the majority of the other creditors don’t join or do a similar thing.”

The article goes on to note that the court could appoint a trustee and that such a trustee would have broad powers. That trustee could “displace” the current leadership and the board. Moreover, the trustee would have the fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the creditors and could go after Wayne and others for misuse of the NRA’s money for personal expenses.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to get a trustee in there, certainly from the creditors’ point of view, and, I would argue, even for the five million members because every dime that they waste in frivolous litigation is a dime less that could go to the core mission,” Dell’Aquila said.   

As might be expected, attorney Bill Brewer who had previously dismissed the idea of a trustee back in January expressed his disappointment that Dell’Aquila was on the committee.

“The NRA is disappointed that a disgruntled individual who has filed frivolous claims against the Association is appointed to the committee,” Brewer told the Free Beacon.

Dell’Aquila’s attorney Elliott Schuchardt said that even with some of the defendants dismissed in Dell’Aquila’s class-action suit, the remaining claim against the NRA is worth $64 million potentially making it the largest creditor.

“We think there’s enough evidence of fraud here that we can make a good faith argument to the bankruptcy court judge that somebody else should be running the NRA,” Schuchardt said. 

I have always held that this bankruptcy filing was a gamble. Wayne and Brewer are too clever by half and I think the result will not be to their liking.

There is another hearing scheduled in the case for Wednesday, February 10th by WebEx. I’m sure we will hear something more then.

Great Cartoon

This has been trending around the Internet yesterday and today.

The only correction I might make is to drop “This Part Wouldn’t Be Too Tough” a bit further south into the Bay Area. There are some areas in the Bay Area I’d exclude like maybe Oakland as I get the feeling that there are a lot of off the books firearms in that area.

Remington Arms Set To Reopen March 1st

The Roundhill Group which bought Remington Arms in the bankruptcy auction tentatively plans to restart production at the Ilion plant March 1st. According to WKTV Channel 2 Utica (NY), maintenance will begin on the plant in mid-February in preparation for the March 1 restart.

Roundhill Group partner, Richmond Italia, said the company plans to bring back 200 employees by the first day of production.

Italia says the company is working with the state to increase jobs at the Ilion facility.

“We’re deep in negotations with the state, trying to come up with some sort of compromise to build a new facility,” said Italia. “If we are able to come to terms and we do build a new facility, we will consolidate everything in New York, which will bring the company back to 800 to 1,000 employees, eventually.”

Roundhill Group obtained their Federal Firearms License in early January.

A story in the Utica Times-Telegram indicates that they may have some negotiating to do with United Mine Workers of America Local 717 which represents the workers at the Ilion plant.

Remington workers are represented by United Mine Workers of America Local 717, and union members expressed confusion about the offers they received in December to begin work at the plant again in February.

The offers said they would receive the same salaries they had been making, but there would be some changes to the health plan and workers would be employed “at will,” which could deny them due process if they were terminated for any reason.

Phil Smith, UMWA director of communications and governmental affairs, said at the time that there had been no talks with Roundhill and that companies could not legally ask union members at a facility where there is a union contract to work without that contract as a condition of employment.

Italia said Friday that the owners are in talks with the union and “hope to come to a mutual beneficial agreement for all parties involved.”

He said the offer to the employees was not conditioned on waiting for these negotiations to be complete.

“I understand people need jobs to survive,” he said. “I’ve been there, and I sympathize. We are willing to risk reopening the plant, even while in negotiations.”

As to which firearm they will start producing first, Shooting Illustrated reports that it will be the 870 shotgun.

In an aside, there is a report that the lawsuit in Connecticut against Remington, Soto v. Remington, is still scheduled to go to trial in September. I don’t see how it can as it appears that none of the pre-bankruptcy legal liabilities were assumed by any of the bidders in the bankruptcy auction.

NRA CFO Resigns

Craig Spray, CFO and Treasurer of the National Rifle Association, has resigned. I found out the news on late Friday afternoon. Spray had been CFO since 2018 when Wilson “Woody” Phillips retired. He had previously been the CFO of furniture maker Knoll, Inc.

I have not seen any official announcement of it but I have gotten it from multiple sources including from a Director.

The official story as far as I can tell is that Spray resigned for health reasons. He had a heart attack sometime in the past. If you remember, back in 2018 Spray had to step aside for a few weeks due to health issues and the infamous Josh Powell was named acting CFO.

Rumor also has it that Spray learned of the NRA’s bankruptcy filing in the Texas at the same time as the Board of Directors were notified. That is, after the fact. Chief financial officers are usually the key individuals involved when an organization declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If that is indeed the case, it is enough to cause one to ask WTF?