Riding Shotgun With Charlie

You know you’ve made it when you get invited to do a Riding Shotgun With Charlie!

For those that don’t know, in addition to his GunGrams, Charlie Cook has done a series of YouTube videos where he and a guest from the 2A community drive around and discuss things gun and 2A related.

Charlie and I filmed this episode in Phoenix after the end of the 2019 Gun Rights Policy Conference. Also joining us was Andrew Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation who we gave a ride to the airport.

The Complementary Spouse and I watched the entire video last night. After a few awkward moments when we begin, it was good.

I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to Charlie for having me on.

Game Theory

Certain truths can be stated without reservation.  FACT ONE: American youth love video games.  And, FACT TWO: Guns have been a large part of our history and culture for hundreds of years.  Here’s another: Without the constant renewal and growth of new participants, the gun culture and shooting sports will wither and die, and the Second Amendment will be closely behind it.  The Second Amendment would become a quaint reminder of a distant past, then, gradually, incrementally, be reduced to an abstract symbolic concept.  

If one were to set out to address the challenge of finding new participants for the shooting sports, where would you look and who would you look for?  Well, it would be nice to target young people, heaven knows the more “mature” crowd is already well represented!  It would also make sense to target people who already have demonstrated some interest in and knowledge of guns.  

This ideal demographic of future competitive shooters, firearms enthusiasts, and Second Amendment activists exists within the world of video gaming.  We know from anecdotal evidence that the cross-pollination opportunity between the video gaming culture and the “real” gun culture is significant.  In fact, even the briefest look at the gaming industry reveals the staggering scale of the numbers involved.  Gaming is huge!  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 97% of all teenagers play video games; and 81% of 18-to-29 year olds are gaming, and a large percentage of those games are based on shooting and gun themes.  For example, the Red Dead Redemption Part 2 Cowboy’ action game grossed over $725 million its opening weekend and has sold over 25 million copies.

In fact, my own introduction into the world of firearms was the indirect result of video games.  My sons’ interest in guns was piqued after playing video games, which lead to an interest in paintball and airsoft guns.  Realizing quickly if I had declared real guns forbidden it would have only strengthened the attraction, I embarked on a mission to learn all I could about safe gun use in order to educate my sons and keep them safe.  I reached out to a knowledgeable gun-owning friend, who gave us a brief introduction to guns and recommended a safety training class.   To my great joy,  guns and the shooting sports have become a central part of our lives ever since, providing countless hours of enjoyment and family bonding.

Of course, only a small percentage of gamers will make the leap from shooting guns in video games to shooting guns in real life.

But a small percentage of a big number is still a big number.  There are barriers to entry that must be overcome. Not everyone has a gun-owning friend (that they know of) to whom they can reach out.  With this in mind, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), promotes the excellent “First Shots Program” offered at many local shooting ranges. The program is geared towards safely introducing first-time shooters to the fun of shooting.

Andrew Gottlieb, Director of Outreach for the Second Amendment Foundation, has begun some excellent work on the issue of gaming and how it relates to the Second Amendment.  A key point he made in his presentation at the 34th Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Phoenix related to the inevitable blame-game and finger-pointing that occurs whenever a mass murder event occurs and it’s subsequently revealed the “murderer was a video game player”.   Mr. Gottlieb said plainly “The gun people need to stop pointing to the video games as the cause,  because that just makes the gamers point back to the gun as the cause when both parties should be pointing to the acts of the individual perpetrator!”  I must admit, I have been tempted myself to point to games as a causal factor; however, considering how pervasive gaming actually is you might as well point to shoes as the cause of mass murder because as far as I know most murderers aren’t barefoot!  Alas, there are not simple answers to complex problems.  

As firearms enthusiasts, gun owners and Second Amendment advocates, let’s actively look for ways to reach out to the people who are already interested in what we do.  Get out there and find a gamer to take shooting, it’ll be a blast!

Shane Will Be Joining The Blog

I met Shane Thurston for the first time at the Gun Rights Policy Conference held in Chicago. That was the year after the win in McDonald v. Chicago and the late Otis McDonald himself was there. He and I would then meet periodically at GRPC over the next number of years and became friends.

This year we started talking about him contributing to the blog and he agreed. While I have resisted adding others besides the Complementary Spouse to the blog, Shane brings something to the blog that I can’t. That is, he knows what it is like to be a gun owner behind enemy lines.

He lived in the Chicagoland area for many years and now lives in Westchester County, New York. Sometimes work and your spouse’s work doesn’t leave you with many options.

He will be writing about guns, the Second Amendment, and personal safety from that perspective. He will be submitting pieces on an occasional basis which I hope becomes more regular.

Here is a picture of Shane when he first learned about the NY SAFE Act.

Well, actually, it might be a picture of his standard poodle Kaiser but you get the drift.

GRPC – Day 3

The third day of the Gun Rights Policy Conference was only a half day. Peggy Tartaro, editor of Women & Guns, served as the moderator for this day. The day began with a session on knife rights.

Doug Ritter – founder and chairman of KnifeRights.org – They have trademarked the slogan “Knife Rights – The Second Front in the Defense of the Second Amendment”. Doug noted that the challenges faced with regard to knife rights are that the same groups against gun right are against knife rights, the anti’s are looking at knives as an easy target, and finally, they see attacks on knives as a backdoor to more gun control. The biggest challenge right now is the declared war on pocket knives by NY DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. who is attempting to shake down retailers in the same way that Tony Soprano might. A lawsuit is being readied against New York on this. The legal team will include Alan Gura and NJ gun rights attorney Evan Nappen among others.

Les de Asis – found and president, Benchmade Knives – noted that the Federal Switchblade Act was enacted in 1958. At that time, knife makers were not united and rolled over in the face of opposition. The difference now is that knife makers are united. Many companies have donated over $30,000 each to finance the pending litigation in New York City.

Todd Rathner – NRA Director and director of legislative affairs for KnifeRights – Said that we need to build support for knife rights at the state and local level. Pointed to their success in Arizona and New Hampshire. Said we have to be pro-active. Remember that knives are everyday tools.

The next session was entitled “Countering the Establishment Media Bias”. The session was moderated by Tom Gresham of GunTalk Radio.

Tom Gresham – Said that there was and was not media bias. Part of it comes from ignorance. Noted they usually don’t know they are wrong and we must work to educate and correct them. Rather than getting in their face about it, be smart and give a reasoned argument. Remember ignorant is not the same as stupid and the media isn’t stupid.

Declan McCullagh – CBS News – There is media bias. Political editors tend to be left of center. Some try to compensate for this, some don’t. The biggest bias is invisible bias – the story that isn’t written.

Malia Zimmerman – editor of the Hawaii Reporter – Discussed how to reach out to the media. Make an expert list and give out to the media. When dealing with TV reporters, make sure to talk to the cameraman as they tend to be more conservative and often ex-military.

Don Irvine – president of Accuracy in Media – To combat media bias, we need to be experts in using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It allows us to get our message out even if the media won’t do it.

The third session of the day featured a discussion on campus safety and the battle for concealed carry on campus.

David Burnett, president of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus – The Virginia Tech shootings were a mini-9/11 for colleges. Discussed the empty holster protests which are a token of being disarmed. It has now spread to 130 campuses and has gotten a lot of publicity. Noted that students are being taught that being disarmed will keep them safe.

Jim Manley – staff attorney for Mountain States Legal Foundation – Discussed their lawsuit against the University of Colorado. Under the Colorado Concealed Carry Act, universities are areas where concealed carry is permitted. Won their case in the Colorado Ct. of Appeals but the university appealed to the CO Supreme Court. The Ct. of Appeals rejected rational basis – a lesser standard – as the standard of review.

Rick Walker – Western Regional Director, SCCC – Noted the importance to get to students now as they are the next generation of leaders. Help students to get involved; teach them they have a role.

The Battle for Places to Shoot was the next session. The various challenges to gun ranges on both public and private land was discussed.

Dave Workman – senior editor for Gun Week – Discussed the threats to shooting and hunting on public lands especially US Forest Service land. USFS has, in some areas, tried to use a non-existent law/court ruling to shut down shooting areas. Noted that the introduction of wolves along with endangered species will be used as a means to impact shooting on public lands because the noise might “bother” them. Pointed out HR 5523 which would prohibit the closure of public shooting on public lands. Need to see if your Congressman is a sponsor.

Guy Smith – founder of GunFacts.info – Suggested we get involved with the local shooting ranges so that they will survive. Need to keep track of local government meeting agendas as they are where the threat will come from. Pre-emption laws are our number one tool to keep ranges open.

Jim Bass – president of the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center – Ranges can’t avoid being on the radar of anti-gun groups and politicians. Ranges must absolutely make sure that they are in compliance with all environmental and lead abatement laws. Should have lead reclamation policies in place along with safety equipment.

The final presentation session of the day was a discussion of the gun rights battles of the future and how to prepare for them.

Joe Waldron – legislative affairs director of CCRKBA – Since the budget has not been passed by Congress yet, the funding acts for department such as Justice and Homeland Security will be targets for add-ons for gun control. Logic and facts are needed to pass pro-gun bills; only emotion is needed to pass gun control laws. The lame duck session could be very dangerous for gun rights if the Democrats lose.

Sean McClanahan – president of the Iowa Firearms Coalition – Said we need to encircle or hem in the anti-gunners. In the pursuit of gun rights, we should ignore party politics for the most part. Noted that “shall issue” concealed carry passed in Iowa due to a Democrat.

Alan Gottlieb – Joined the last session towards the end. Said we can never give up because if we do, we lose. We need to keep the anti-gunners on the defensive. Their advantage is that they have a common target – guns. We must present a united front and not air our dirty laundry in public.

The conference ended with the report of the resolutions committee and closing remarks from Alan Gottlieb and Joe Tartaro.

GRPC – Day 2 – Part 2

More from Day 2 of the Gun Rights Policy Conference.

Sheldon Clare – President of National Firearms Association (of Canada) – Discussed the close vote on removing long arms (shotguns and rifles) from the Canadian Gun Registry. Noted that if it had been a truly “free” vote, it would have passed instead of losing 153-151. Rarely do party members stray from the party line on votes in the Canadian Parliament or they know they will pay the consequences from their party leadership.

Bill McGrath – legal counsel, Safari Club International – He said the biggest issue for gun owners and hunters is unelected bodies making rules, laws, and regulations. McGrath pointed to the European Commission as a prime example of this. The bureaucrats in Brussels make many rules that will eventually effect us. For example, the EU recently passed a regulation banning ammo in checked baggage. Most European countries have been allowed to opt out. However, if this regulation is adopted by the International Air Transport Association, it could impact us in the US. He pointed out the current 5 kilo limit on ammo in checked baggage is a result of the IATA.

Bob Barr – former Congressman from Georgia – Barr was the lunch speaker and spoke about the role of the United Nations on gun control. He specifically talked about the Arms Trade Treaty which the Obama Administration backs.

Tom Gresham – host of GunTalk radio and a director of SAF – Started by apologizing for dissing Californians. He noted the role of CalGuns and CRPA in changing policy in California. Some actions are to gain time and distance. For example, the sunset provision of the so-called Assault Weapons Ban bought us time to change Congress. When the Democrats agreed to that provision in 1994, they never thought they’d be out of power in 2004.

Alan Gura – attorney in the Heller and McDonald cases – noted that the SCOTUS have used substantive due process as a way to make up for screwing up on the Privileges or Immunities Clause under the Slaughterhouse cases. Had always planned to argue both substantive due process and the P or I clause in the McDonald case. You could tell he was still perturbed with the role the NRA played in taking some of his oral time in that case.

Gura later discussed the Ezell case in Chicago which is challenging the Chicago ban on gun ranges. He said when they looked at the new Chicago Gun Law, they looked for three things: low hanging fruit, annoying, and unconstitutional. The gun range ban was all three.

Donald Kilmer – attorney for Nordyke in the Nordyke v. King – Kilmer is one of the leading California gun rights attorneys. He said originally that the Nordyke case was a Pyrrhic victory as it declared the Second Amendment applied to the states but it didn’t allow the Nordykes to put on their gun show in Alameda County. Now, since the case is being re-argued in the 9th Circuit, there is a chance to get the gun shows restored on the Alameda County Fairgrounds. However, it goes beyond that since many other California counties adopted Alameda County’s ordinance, they would be overturned if Nordyke wins.

Gene Hoffman – CalGuns Foundation – Californians lost their gun rights incrementally and will win them back incrementally. Echoing what Alan Gura has said in the past, it is essential to pick the right fight with the right plaintiff. Discussed Sykes v. McGinnis which is challenging discretion in CCW permit cases. Noted that not being banned from owning a firearm and wanting to have a means of self-defense should be reason enough to get a CCW permit.

Massad Ayoob – Noted that Florida became a shall issue state in 1987. He pointed out that a lot of the grass roots groups have grown up post 1960s and post CCW legislation.

Bill Caffrey – Handgun Club of America – “Even idiots have rights” – Speaking of the AZ constitutional carry noted that no fees, no training, and no licenses may mean we have accidents or damn fools with guns. We need to encourage legislators to make it easier and cheaper to get training. By this he meant more range availability.

Alan Korwin – publisher and owner of Bloomfield Press – Noted that we should not be pro-gun but pro-rights and pro-freedom. This makes the opposition anti-rights and anti-freedom.

Gary Marbut – Montana Shooting Sports Association – The Federal government has expanded the Commerce Clause from colonial times. Discussed their case backing the Montana Firearms Freedom Act.

Nick Dranias – Goldwater Institute – Said we should look at the First and Second Amendment the same. You don’t license printing presses so you should do the same with arms.

Michael Boldin – Tenth Amendment Center – Noted that if enough states tell the Feds to lump it, the Feds back off.

Paxton Quigley – author, Armed and Female – said she had been anti-gun earlier in life. Then a good friend was raped and Quigley realized that if she had been armed, she would have been able to protect herself. Noted that the number of women who are firearms owners is growing. She discussed being interviewed for a feature in Marie Claire magazine.

Nikki Stollard – Pink Pistols – She was unexpectedly absolutely hilarious. She noted that Deana Sykes, the lead plaintiff in Sykes v. McGinnis, is the Sacramento head of Pink Pistols. The one thing the California press would hate to be seen as is homophobic. So, if the press attacks Sykes, then it is homophobic.

Dr. Timothy Wheeler – Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership – said the scientific endeavor against gun rights (such as using the CDC) was as bad as the prejudice against guns in academia.

David Theroux – President, The Independent Institute – discussed the problems that they had with the Stanford University Press in publishing Stephen Halbrook’s book, The Founder’s Second Amendment. Ended up publishing it themselves as Stanford put up all sorts of roadblocks to stop its publication.

Unfortunately, I missed the last session of the day as the time change caught up with me.

GRPC – Day 2 – Part 1

Day 2 of the Gun Rights Policy Conference is the big day of the conference. Below are some of my brief impressions of the speakers and what they had to say.

Alan Gottlieb said the gun rights movement should emulate the civil rights movement if we want to achieve success. That is, it should be bottom up with the grass roots guiding the movement instead of top-down like the gun control groups.

Joe Tartaro, President of SAF, said that our goal is the preservation of our rights. He compared our opponents to characters in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. As we go down the Yellow Brick Road, we first come to the Wicked Witch of the West. No surprise here – it’s Nancy Pelosi. Then there are the Flying Monkies – Eric Holder, Chuck Schumer, Hillary, and Lautenberg. Finally, there are the Munchkins – Michael Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and his “munchkin mayors”.

Alan Gottlieb came back and said that judges are key in the next few years. He said that if the anti’s lose in the legislature, they will seek to impose gun control by using regulations out of the Executive Branch. The judiciary will be the only way to stop them. He noted that we can expect all new judicial appointments to be anti-gun. It will be a litmus test like being pro or anti abortion.

Larry Pratt – “DISCLOSE Act is like a gag. A gag in the throat is not the way to promote freedom under the Bill of Rights – not just gun rights.”

Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition – “Our single issue is liberty”. He made a point that we need to lose the word ALLOW. We should not say that we are allowed to exercise our gun rights. They are our rights to begin with.

State Senator Sam Sloam of Hawaii – “Hawaii is to the left of San Francisco and to the right of PyongYang, North Korea”.

Tom Pedersen – lobbyist for the California Rifle and Pistol Association – Litigation has changed the willingness of politicians to push anti-gun bills.

Richard Pearson – Exec. Dir. of Illinois State Rifle Association – “The Chicago tar pit is bigger and stickier than the LeBrea tar pit in California!”

Jim Wallace – Gun Owners Action League (of Massachusetts) – Stopped saying gun rights and started saying civil rights about 5 years ago. Has renamed the proposed one gun a month bill in MA the Lawful Citizen’s Imprisonment and Profiling Act.

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy said that constitutional rights are not as well protected by the courts as you would expect.

I’ll stop with that and do another report later on more from Day 2.

Gun Rights Policy Conference – Day 1

We got registered for the Gun Rights Policy Conference and got our badges.

Today was essentially registration and an opening reception.

Gene Hoffman of the CalGuns Foundation and John Fields from the California Rifle and Pistol Association welcomed every one. Unlike in some states, it seems that CalGuns and CRPA play well together.

I recognized some of the gun rights celebrities at the reception. Alan Gura was there looking relaxed in jeans and sneakers. Alan Gottlieb, of course, was everywhere. I noticed Tom Gresham and Mas Ayoob.

We shared a table with a really nice guy who was a pilot for United and lived in the region. It was very interesting discussing the differences in gun policies between North Carolina and California. I also finally got a coherent explanation of what a “bullet button” was.

We ended the night early as we were “whupped”.

UPDATE: Derek at the Packing Rat has some pictures from the reception posted to his blog.

Light Blogging For the Next Week

We are up and getting ready for our flight to San Francisco for the Gun Rights Policy Conference. I must be excited because I’ve been awake since about 5am. I hope to have stuff up as the conference progresses.

A lot of the gun rights biggies will be there – though not the NRA this year – including Alan Gura. It should be very interesting. There is even speculation that there will be Zombies or is it anarchists protesting! I promise pictures if there are protesters.

It will probably be light blogging after that as we are taking a few days to drive along the California coast after the conference.

I do have one observation – have you ever noticed that the most luxurious and expensive hotels will nickle and dime you to death but the Day’s Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses give you a free breakfast and free WiFi? The Hyatt-Regency San Francisco Airport actually charges guests to park there. WTF?

San Francisco MTA Punked (bumped)

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority has rather rigid guidelines for the ads they will accept. For example, they won’t take any advertising that “appears to promote the use of firearms.” They even forced the new Will Farrell/Mark Wahlberg movie “The Other Guys” to change their ads so that it featured a can of Mace instead of a pistol.

Poster for GRPC on MTA bus stop (Calguns.net/forums)

However, the MTA was no match for the fearless duo of the CalGuns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation. According to Alan Gottlieb, he believes that MTA violated its own ad guidelines because “they believed we were prepared to file a lawsuit on First and Second Amendment grounds if, for any reason, the city didn’t take them.”

Gene Hoffman posted a crytic note on the CalGuns.net forum last night that said:

If anyone lives or works in the City, please stop by the following locations and report back (photos would be awesome) on what, if anything, you see there

Townsend St SS 86ft E/O 4th St F/E – 2
Masonic Ave WS 44ft N/O Hayes St F/N – 1
Geary Blvd NS 61ft E/O Divisadero St F/W – 2
Fulton St NS 94ft W/O 8th Ave F/W – 2
Mission St NS 86ft W/O 8th St F/W – 2
Polk St WS 23ft N/O Sutter St F/N – 1
North Point St NS 44ft W/O Polk St F/E – 1
Jackson St NS 38ft E/O Van Ness Ave F/W – 2
Columbus Ave WS 61ft S/O North Point St F/S – 2
Van Ness Ave WS 34ft S/O Greenwich St F/N – 1
McAllister St NS 28ft W/O Webster St F/E – 1
Lincoln Way SS 30ft W/O 21st Ave F/W – 1
Stockton St WS 181ft S/O Clay St F/N – 1
Haight St SS 39ft W/O Pierce St F/W – 1
Geary Blvd NS 24ft E/O 3rd Ave F/E – 1
Main St ES 269ft S/O Howard St F/N – 2

-Gene

Speculation ran rampant that this was going to be another LCAV non-event or other guerrilla action against the anti-gunners. The result is what you see above – an in-your-face poster (with a shotgun) that promotes the Gun Rights Policy Conference in San Francisco. These posters appear on 15 bus stops scattered around San Francisco.

Way to go CGF and SAF! There is nothing like taking a guerrilla war to the heart of the enemies’s territory.

UPDATE: If you go to the link above to Calguns.net, you can see more of the GRPC posters around San Francisco.

UPDATE II: According to a report from CBS News, the San Francisco MTA is investigating whether the GRPC posters violate their policy on ads promoting the use of firearms. It looks like they are getting pressure from the SF Board of Supervisors to take them down. All of this publicity is making Alan Gottlieb happy. If they take down the ads, he’d be even more happy saying ” “All I can do is pray that all the publicity will make them want to decide to take down the ads — so we can sue!”

UPDATE III: Thanks to a reader of Snowflakesinhell.com, I see that the New York Times is now covering the story.

On Friday, riders waiting at a bus stop displaying the pro-gun poster seemed unaware that they had previously been shielded from such images. “I don’t want to see guns,” said Zsuzsanna Legradi, a 42-year-old gardener. “No one should have guns. It is bad enough that people have knives.”

Imagine her horror at seeing the Toyota Prius in this post.