Books Brought Back From Houston

While I was in Houston attending the NRA Annual Meeting, I was given a few books by the authors. I will be doing reviews on them as soon as I finish reading them.

The first is by Mike Detty. Mike was an Arizona gun dealer who became intimately involved in an BATFE operation as a confidential informant. That operation was called Operation Wide Receiver and was the predecessor to Operation Fast and Furious. Like Fast and Furious it involved selling firearms to strawmen for the Mexican drug cartels. Also like Operation Fast and Furious, the BATFE lost track of these guns. Mike’s book is entitled Guns Across the Border: How and Why the U.S. Government Smuggled Guns into Mexico: The Inside Story. The book has an introduction and forward by Sharyl Attkisson and David Codrea respectively.

The second books is a short little paperbook by Dave Kopel that is part of the Encounter Broadsides series. It is entitled The Truth About Gun Control. This looks to be one of those books that you’ll buy to hand out to your friends – especially those on the fence about gun control.

The final book is one I stumbled across at the Crimson Trace booth. It is by Richard Mann and discusses handgun training for personal protection. Richard was doing a book signing and handing out free copies so I took one. The book includes material on how to select the best sights and lasers along with how to integrate them into training. The title of this book is Handgun Training for Personal Protection: How to Choose & Use the Best Sights, Lights, Lasers & Ammunition.

SAF Congratulates NRA On Record Attendance At Annual Meeting

In a nice gesture, Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation issued a release yesterday congratulating the National Rifle Association on their record turnout in Houston for the Annual Meeting. While I saw Alan at the SAF booth in Houston, I didn’t get a chance to stop and talk.

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today congratulated the National Rifle Association for its record-breaking turnout over the weekend at the 142nd annual meetings in Houston, Tex.

“With a turnout of more than 86,000 members and guests, many of whom became new members, the NRA can be justifiably proud,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, himself an NRA Life member. “It sends a strong signal to the gun prohibition lobby that America’s firearms owners are more committed than ever to protect their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

Gottlieb also offered sincere congratulations to Jim Porter, the newly-elected NRA president, succeeding Gottlieb’s longtime friend David Keene.

“There is no doubt that Jim Porter is devoted to protecting the Second Amendment,” Gottlieb stated. “We offer him our best wishes and hopes for a very successful presidency.”

SAF exhibited at the event and staff was in attendance at the members’ meeting, and Gottlieb noted that Houston made all NRA members feel very welcome.

“Without doubt,” he said, “this was a truly well-organized gathering, and considering the turnout, NRA staff clearly did a monumental job.

“We’re looking forward to late September,” he concluded, “when SAF and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms will be back in Houston for the 27th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference. After this weekend’s remarkable experience, it’s certain that Texans are not only ready to stand and fight to protect their firearms rights, but they will, as always, fight to win.”

April Marks The 35th Record Setting Month

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released its adjusted NICS data for the month of April. The trend of increases over the same month in the previous year remains unbroken at a record 35 months.

The April 2013 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NICS) figure of 1,185,231 is an increase of 27.2 percent over
the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 931,660 in April 2012. For comparison,
the unadjusted April 2013 NICS figure of 1,702,455 reflects a 20.2
percent increase from the unadjusted NICS figure of 1,416,074 in April

While the NICS checks are indicative of trends in firearm sales, they are not a perfect correlation as the NICS System is also used by states such as Kentucky and Iowa for their concealed carry background checks on both new applicants and current holders.

I know from speaking with several manufacturers in Houston at the NRA Annual Meeting that firearms are headed out the door as soon as they are made. I didn’t hear any manufacturer say they were building up inventory.

That’s A Lot Of People For A Fringe Organization

Sebastian has the stats up on the 2013 Annual Meeting.

For a “fringe organization” to increase the number of attendees by 12,488 from the previous year and to set an all-time record attendance of 86,228 says something. I.e., that we are not the lunatic fringe that some in the media, Congress, and the Obama Administration would like to portray us as. We are the mainstream whether they like it or not.

Comparing the exhibition space of the George Brown Convention Center in Houston to St. Louis’ America’s Center Convention Complex, the Houston venue was 27% larger. In fact, while all of it was open to attendees, not all of it was used by the exhibitors. Because of the larger space, it didn’t feel quite as crowded as the annual meeting in St. Louis. I should say, that it didn’t seem as crowded as St. Louis on Friday. Saturday is another story and it was wall to wall people in every aisle, on the sidewalks, and in the rest of the Convention Center.

I tried to buy my commemorative Annual Meeting pin at the NRA Store on Saturday afternoon around 4pm. I was out of luck as they had sold out by noon! By contrast, in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte, you could still have found the pin on Sunday afternoon when the store closed. This is as good an indicator as any of the increased attendance. Fortunately for me, they found a handful more and I got one on Sunday morning before leaving for the airport.

Random Thoughts About The NRA Annual Meeting

I made it home this evening from Houston about 6:30. I came home to heavy rain and flash flood alerts as opposed to the clear but cool weather we had in Houston. To put this in perspective, we’ll probably have half the annual rainfall of San Diego in one day.

Like everything in Texas, the George Brown Convention Center was bigger than past venues for the Annual Meeting. I heard that it was about 10% larger than the America’s Center in St. Louis. That would explain why on Friday it didn’t seem as crowded. That changed on Saturday when it was packed even with the extra space. From everything I’ve heard, the number of attendees will probably set a record.

Houston is a big city! It is especially big when you are driving hither, thither, and yon and getting lost more than once in the process.

While the big companies get most of the attention, it is fun to cruise the outer aisles of the convention center as that is where you find the small companies. The little guys often have some of the more interesting items.

Speaking of big companies, I was impressed that the Ruger’s CEO, Mike Fifer, not only worked their booth but could be seen out and about on the floor of the convention center walking about without any assistants or other marketing staff.

I finally got to meet the people who run God’A Grip. They had stayed in the same motel that we did in Pittsburgh and I never knew what they made. I got to try their Sorbothane cheek pad and pistol grips. The grip additions gave me a tighter grip on the test pistol than either skater’s tape or checkering. I’ll be buying some of their grips. This is one of those small companies on the outer rows that I mentioned earlier.

I talked to the people at PTR Industries. Their workforce had more than doubled in the past year due to demand for their PTR-91 rifles. Despite this, Connecticut doesn’t consider those “good” jobs and they’ll be leaving. The guy I spoke to was a production worker and didn’t know where they’d be moving.

The media room was over twice the size of the St. Louis one which, in turn, was larger than the one in Pittsburgh. There were plenty of times when the media filled every table and every spot. I saw a lot of foreign press and even was interviewed by a reporter for a Norwegian newspaper.

Finally, the best thing about the NRA Annual Meeting is not the guns and gear, it is the people. This includes both the attendees and the bloggers I got to meet. I made new friends, renewed old acquaintances, and had a great time with “my tribe”.

My Day Is Made!

I was so afraid that the ne’er do wells from the lesser gun prohibitionist groups would not show up in Houston to the NRA Annual Meeting. They are always amusing in their sad pathetic way.

My prayers have been answered and there is joy in Mudville.

From today’s Houston Chronicle:

Opponents gather

Outside the convention center, an array of gun-control advocates is expected to demonstrate opposition to the NRA and its lobbying prowess.

“I don’t think it’s a losing battle at all,” said Heather Ross, an organizer for the “Occupy the NRA” group that plans to lead the reading of names of 4,000 gun-violence victims under a #NoMoreNames banner at Discovery Green, across from the convention center. The list will start with the 26 victims of gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.

Texas is not as uniformly pro-gun as most people believe, Ross insisted.

“The concept that we’re all a bunch of gun-toting crazies is inaccurate,” she said. “That’s largely pushed by people elected to office.”

Of course, they never would have you believe that lives are saved and rapes prevented through the use or even mere presence of a firearm.

In Houston At The Convention Center!

I’ve made it to the George Brown Convention Center and have picked up my media credentials. So far I’ve seen a bunch of British reporters plus one from Bloomberg News. It’ll be interesting to see what she reports!

I’ve haven’t caught up with any of the other bloggers yet.

Parking seems to be adequate with a number of lots surrounding the Convention Center. With the exception of the Hilton’s parking deck, parking prices are in the $10-12 for the day.

UPDATE: Those were the prices for parking before the meeting started. They rocketed up to $30 near the center with the prices falling the more you had to walk. I paid $15 on Friday, $10 on Saturday, and lucked into a City of Houston lot for only $5 on Sunday.

Off To Houston Plus Two Items

I’ll be leaving to catch my flight to Houston in a few minutes. Blogging may be sporadic for the next two days as I’ll be spending time with family in Texas. Expect it to resume full force during the NRA Annual Meeting and thereafter.

A couple of items before I leave.

First, Sebastian reports that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down the NRA’s appeal in NRA v. BATFE. He has a good preliminary analysis of the opinion. This is the case that challenged the Gun Control Act of 1968’s restriction on sales of handguns to those between 18 and 21 years of age.

Second, today is the 38th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese communists. Mike Vanderboegh posted a very soul-searching remembrance of the event a couple of days ago. As Mike would be the first to point out, he used to be a left-wing radical. When I say “left-wing”, I don’t mean a brie and Chablis liberal – think really hardcore.

If you want to read a good book on that last month of the Vietnam War, I’d suggest Black April by George J. Veith.

The defeat of South Vietnam was arguably America’s worst foreign policy disaster of the 20th Century. Yet a complete understanding of the endgame—from the 27 January 1973 signing of the Paris Peace Accords to South Vietnam’s surrender on 30 April 1975—has eluded us.

Black April addresses that deficit. A culmination of exhaustive research in three distinct areas: primary source documents from American archives, North Vietnamese publications containing primary and secondary source material, and dozens of articles and numerous interviews with key South Vietnamese participants, this book represents one of the largest Vietnamese translation projects ever accomplished, including almost one hundred rarely or never seen before North Vietnamese unit histories, battle studies, and memoirs. Most important, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of South Vietnam’s conquest, the leaders in Hanoi released several compendiums of formerly highly classified cables and memorandum between the Politburo and its military commanders in the south. This treasure trove of primary source materials provides the most complete insight into North Vietnamese decision-making ever complied. While South Vietnamese deliberations remain less clear, enough material exists to provide a decent overview.

Ultimately, whatever errors occurred on the American and South Vietnamese side, the simple fact remains that the country was conquered by a North Vietnamese military invasion despite written pledges by Hanoi’s leadership against such action. Hanoi’s momentous choice to destroy the Paris Peace Accords and militarily end the war sent a generation of South Vietnamese into exile, and exacerbated a societal trauma in America over our long Vietnam involvement that reverberates to this day. How that transpired deserves deeper scrutiny.

Reader Meet-Up At The NRA Annual Meeting (updated)

UPDATE: Based on the feedback, Friday or either day were the leading vote getters. So let’s go for 11am on Friday at the Starbucks in the George Brown Convention Center. It is located on Level 2.

I’ll buy the coffee. “Frou-frou” drinks are on you.

A few weeks back, I had a suggestion from a reader that we have a meet-up at the NRA Annual Meeting in Houston. I’d like to see if there is any interest in that. It would have to be either Friday or Saturday as my flight leaves too early on Sunday to do it then.

Now, please bear with me as this is the first time I’ve done a poll.

I meant to add that the George Brown Convention Center does a Starbucks where we could meet for coffee.

Feel free to leave suggestions for alternative places in the comments section.