Perhaps The Locals Do Know Best

We often complain about national groups coming in and telling the locals how they should be doing it. This is usually in the context of a group like Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown, Moms Demand Action, or Giffords. However, sometimes it is our own side in the battle for gun rights that is doing this.

Such is the case in Alabama where the NRA is supporting a move to consolidate the list of pistol permit holders, that state’s nomenclature for a concealed carry permit, into a statewide database. The bills in question are HB39 and SB47. The bills provide for the permits to be standardized and issued statewide. They also provide for a lifetime carry permit.

This move is getting a mixed reaction as reported by CBS 42.

Bama Carry and the Alabama Gun Rights Network don’t always agree on the best strategies for advancing gun rights in the Heart of Dixie.

However, when I reached out to friends who are affiliated with those organizations, the response I got was virtually identical. They are opposed to the bills in their current form as they create a database of gun owners which has the potential to be abused.

My friend Beth Alcazar, the Alabama representative of the DC Project and a board member of Bama Carry, had this to say to me in a Facebook message. I’m quoting her with her permission.

At the heart of this matter (and why we are hesitant to get on board) is the fact that law abiding gun owners will be on a registry, with all information being shared, statewide, and this info. could end up on a driver license. This, of course, could cause problems traveling across state lines. What if someone is stopped or pulled over and now questioned or harassed (or searched) because of this identification? And what happens if a government body must be created to oversee this database? Currently, our permit info. is only in the hands of our sheriffs. A lifetime permit could open that up… from just local to state.

Additionally, the NRA doesn’t appear to be listening to Alabamians or to our state’s largest gun rights group, and they continue to push legislation that has potential problems or unintended consequences.

And therein lies the problem. When it is a matter of state and local politics, local activists should be listened to. That there seems to be a disconnect between local gun right rights groups and the NRA on an issue of local concern is not good. The NRA should either defer to the local groups or work to find a compromise that satisfies all gun rights groups involved.

We in North Carolina had much the same problem in 2011 concerning gun bans outside the home during periods of declared emergencies. Grass Roots North Carolina along with local plaintiffs and the Second Amendment Foundation brought Bateman v. Perdue. The NRA-ILA representative in North Carolina was pushing for a quick legislative fix that would have mooted the case. The problem with a quick legislative fix was that it could have been changed on the whim of the next General Assembly. GRNC, SAF, and local activists had to push legislators to let the court case run its path. In the end the General Assembly did that and we won a decision in Bateman declaring the gun ban unconstitutional.

I wrote back then (June 2011) that “there are some in the NRA’s hierarchy who believe the NRA has to be the be-all and end-all of all things Second Amendment.” I noted that the NRA does some things really well and others not so well. I said the NRA should concentrate on training, the legislative arena, and other areas where a mass organization can do well. I didn’t think they were nearly as good at Second Amendment litigation as SAF.

I would now modify my statement from 2011 to say that the NRA does lobbying at the national level well and should work closer with state and local groups on state level lobbying if they want to be effective. Moreover, by state and local groups I don’t mean it has to be the NRA state affiliate as the experience of non-affiliates VCDL and GRNC has shown. Whether the NRA and their state ILA representatives are wise enough to recognize this is still open to debate.

NY Department Of Financial Services Files Charges Against NRA

The New York State Department of Financial Services has charged the National Rifle Association with violating the state’s insurance laws. The NRA is accused of acting as an unlicensed insurance broker. DFS is seeking civil penalties as well as injunctions against the NRA.

From their press release issued today:

The Department of Financial Services (DFS) today announced that it has served a statement of charges against the National Rifle Association (NRA). The Department alleges that the NRA, which does not have a license to conduct insurance business in New York, violated various New York State Insurance Laws, among other things by acting as an insurance producer without a license in endorsing and marketing insurance programs, including “Carry Guard.” DFS also alleges that the NRA engaged in misleading marketing practices, deceiving its members. The Department is seeking civil monetary penalties, as well as injunctive and other appropriate relief.

In the statement of charges announced today, DFS alleges that, since 2000, the NRA has worked with the Kansas City Series of Lockton Companies LLC (Lockton) to offer a variety of insurance products to NRA members, their families and affiliated businesses. According to the statement of charges, the NRA endorsed the programs as well as marketed them to its members through NRA-affiliated websites and email marketing, despite the fact that the NRA does not hold an insurance producer license from DFS. In return, the NRA received substantial compensation, including royalties based on a percentage of the insurance premiums paid by its members. An entity is required to be licensed by DFS to engage in these activities related to the sale and marketing of insurance products in New York State.

DFS alleges that not only did the NRA act as an “unlicensed insurance broker” with regard to its Carry Guard product, the insurance itself was unlawful. According to the DFS, since a self-defense shooting is an intentional act, it cannot be covered under the state’s insurance laws.

The complaint does not limit itself to Carry Guard. It goes on to include other insurance offerings such as liability insurance for ranges and instructors and theft insurance for gun collectors.

The charges are not confined to the Carry Guard program. DFS alleges that the NRA participated in soliciting its members with respect to many other insurance products, going back to approximately 2000. For example, the charges allege that the NRA participated in offering its members insurance products involving coverage for firearms instructors, gun collectors, gun clubs, gun shows, federal firearms dealers, and other aspects involving firearms, as well as life, health, and property offerings for their members. The charges allege that the NRA participated in the generation of more than 28,000 such policies for New York consumers and allege that the NRA unlawfully received royalties of about $1.8 million between 2000 and 2018 from Lockton on such policies in New York.

In addition, DFS alleges that the NRA misrepresented that the insurance offerings to its members was at the lowest cost possible, when in fact the NRA was taking for itself substantial royalties, sometimes more than 20 percent of the premiums paid.

The Department of Financial Services is seeking up to a $500 penalty for each of the 28,000 policies issued to New York residents.

A hearing is set for April 6th in Manhattan on these charges.

The full complaint can be found here.

The NRA responded through their outside counsel William Brewer III:

“Today’s announcement is about politics, not protecting consumers,” William Brewer, a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement. “The NRA acted appropriately at all times.”

Brewer goes on to say:

Brewer said the NRA did not underwrite, sell or administer insurance programs, and “like countless other affinity groups … relied on insurance-industry experts to oversee and market products tailored for its members.”

Josh Powell And NRA Have Split

While it was reported yesterday that Josh Powell was on administrative leave from the NRA, it now appears that their employment relationship has been severed. The initial report was based upon court filings by Ackerman McQueen in Alexandria Circuit Court.

Newsweek is reporting that an email was sent this evening to the members of the Board of Directors informing them that Powell was gone.

From Newsweek:

However, according to an internal email obtained by Newsweek, Powell has departed the NRA entirely.

It was not clear whether Powell was fired or if he resigned. The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The email clarifying the nature of Powell’s departure was sent to the board of directors Saturday evening by the NRA’s general counsel John Frazer.

“Several directors have reported receiving media queries regarding Josh Powell and his employment status with the Association,” he wrote. “For the sake of clarity, we note that Josh is no longer employed by the NRA.”

In noting the sensitivity of discussing personnel matters, Frazer made reference to “the assortment of pending and threatened litigation” facing the gun-rights group.

The Newsweek article also raised a question that someone asked me on Twitter this evening: how did Ackerman McQueen know or find out that Powell had been placed on leave?

Save the Second raised some interesting questions regarding the termination of Powell’s employment with the NRA.

From their Facebook post:

 1. Why, specifically?

2. Was this a move against Wayne’s wishes/protection?

3. Was there an insultingly generous severance package to add insult to injury after his disastrous tenure as an overpaid executive that didn’t seem to do anything right?

4. Will the problems he and his decisions/appointments caused in the NRA’s Education & Training Division be undone ?

Given that it will be classified as a personnel matter, I think the whys and wherefores of his termination may never be fully known. Moreover, unless either Wayne or one of his inner circle talks, we won’t know the answer to number 2.

We may have to wait until the Meeting of Members at the Annual Meeting in Nashville to find out if any severance package has been paid. If then.

Only time will tell if the problems Powell caused in Education and Training will be solved.

Hat Tip: Save the Second for the Newsweek article

AckMac Court Filing Noting Josh Powell’s Administrative Leave

Below is the Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant’s Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Provide Meaningful and Supplemental Answers to Interrogatories. This was filed on January 23rd by attorneys for Ackerman McQueen in their legal battle with the National Rifle Association. It covers both the first and second lawsuit filed by the NRA against AckMac in City of Alexandria Circuit Court.

This is where we first learned the Wayne LaPierre’s Chief of Staff Josh Powell was on Administrative Leave. As far as I know, it had not been public knowledge before that.

There is a lot of legalese in these pages but a scan through them does give the reader a sense of the battle between the two former allies.

There is also the amusing line of Q&A indicating that Wayne was upset that someone at AckMac told the Wall Street Journal his grandniece had drawn on the walls of The Four Seasons with crayons.

2020.01.22_Ack MTC Rog Responses by jpr9954 on Scribd

Hat Tip – Beth for the document

NRA’s Josh Powell Placed On Administrative Leave (Updated)

Wayne LaPierre’s Chief of Staff Joshua Powell has been placed on administrative leave. This is according to court filings in one of the lawsuits involving the NRA and Ackerman McQueen in Virginia courts.

From the Washington Post:

A top National Rifle Association official has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the nonprofit group’s lawyer, according to a recent court filing, in a sign of ongoing turmoil surrounding the nation’s largest gun group.

The removal of Joshua L. Powell, the NRA’s chief of staff, was referenced in a Jan. 23 filing in Alexandria Circuit Court by the NRA’s former public relations agency, Ackerman McQueen. “Mr. Powell has now been placed ‘on leave’ by the NRA pending an investigation by NRA counsel,” the filing in Virginia says.

According to the story by Beth Reinhard, the NRA has not responded to multiple requests for comment. It is also unknown whether he is on paid or unpaid leave. His last reported compensation was $919,969 according to the 2018 NRA Form 990.

Powell also refused comment. The Post notes that he, ” removed “National Rifle Association Chief of Staff – Senior Strategist” from his Twitter bio this week.”

Powell has had a checkered history at the NRA. He was the one responsible for rushing CarryGuard out before it was ready when he served as Director of General Operations. He has also been named in sexual harassment allegations involving an Ackerman McQueen employee. It was serious enough that AckMac told Wayne LaPierre that they refused to work with Powell anymore.

As to why now and not earlier, that is unknown. Some have speculated he knew too much dirt and the powers that be wanted to keep him close. Powell has had a reputation according to some of looking out for himself above all else. If so, it would not have been unreasonable to suspect that he would cut a deal to save himself if it came to it.

Eventually we may know the full story. As for today, we know he is on administrative leave and that’s that.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rob Pincus, we have a photo of the filing in question. It is a filing by Ackerman McQueen asking the court to force the NRA to provide additional information regarding its interrogatories. As Powell is on administrative leave and “not in good standin”, his prior responses on behalf of the NRA under oath are no longer sufficient.

2020 NRA Board Election: My Choices

Note: Every ballot will have the same names on it. However, the order of the names may vary from one ballot to another. Look for the name and not the number! Thanks to David Z. for this reminder.

You will only see two names chosen on my ballot: Graham Hill and Frank Tait. There are some others on the list who may be worthy of your vote but I am a bullet voter. That is, I pick a limited number of candidates in an effort to increase the efficacy of my vote.

Jeffrey Hague of Ellendate, Delaware is on the ballot but has withdrawn his name. It was too late to remove it from the ballot. From what I read elsewhere, he thinks he can do more for gun rights in Delaware by continuing his work as president of the Delaware State Sportsman’s Association.

Existing Board members who would have been up for re-election but were not renominated include Melanie Pepper, Lance Olson, and Heidi Washington. Melanie Pepper asked too many questions which irritated the Old Guard. She had been removed from her committee assignments. Lance Olson, though long thought to be a member of “Wayne’s Posse”, somehow ran afoul of him. If you remember, he was one of the Board members subpoenaed in the fight in Virginia courts with AckMac. Finally, Heidi Washington, the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections and daughter of former NRA President Tom Washington, asked not be to renominated.

Frank Tait is running by petition for the Board of Directors. He was the one who authored the petition of no confidence in Wayne LaPierre at the 2019 Meeting of Members. I helped gather signatures for Frank’s petition and continue to support his candidacy. He has a business background that has long been needed in board members. Moreover, he is a NRA Training Counselor, Chief RSO, an Appleseed and Revere’s Riders trainer, and an active IDPA competitor.

I voted for Graham Hill in 2017 and I’m proud to vote for him again. Graham is an attorney, lobbyist, former Congressional staffer, President of the 50 Caliber Institute, and a board member of the American Suppressor Association. Graham is an active 3-Gun competitor as well as a hunter. He does this from a wheelchair and without assistance. With the turmoil in the NRA-ILA, Graham brings the knowledge and experience on Capitol Hill to help provide a guiding hand to it.

I might have voted for Mark Robinson except he is running for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina. The time he might have devoted to the NRA will be, of necessity, devoted to his campaign.

I do have misgivings about some candidates. For example, Thomas Arvas, Clel Baudler, and Howard “Walt” Walter are all in their 80s. With all due respect to their age and experience, they are past their prime and younger, more active candidates are required if the problems facing the NRA are to be resolved. I also have misgivings about Charles Cotton who is currently the First VP. In addition to being First VP, Cotton has been chair of the Audit Committee for a number of years. Too many things have been rubber stamped after the fact by the Audit Committee. This has contributed to the dysfunction in board governance which in turn has made the NRA vulnerable to the attack by the Attorney General of New York. Then there is John Cushman who is running by petition. His comments at the 2019 Gun Rights Policy Conference thanking women for being there to support their men (3:45 mark) were sexist, demeaning, and insulting. I know many women expressed to me their disdain for his comments.

If you are voting member, you should have received your ballot in the February issue of the official magazine (American Rifleman, American Hunter, America’s 1st Freedoms, or Shooting Illustrated). To be a voting member, you must be either a Life Member (or above) or an Annual Member with five or more years of membership without any interruptions. If you qualified and didn’t receive a ballot, I’d urge you to contact the Secretary’s Office at NRA Headquarters.

On average, only 6% of eligible members vote in any year. This is a disgrace and why too many people who have no business being on the board get elected year after year. If you are eligible, do yourself, the NRA, and everyone else a favor and vote after you have done your research.

Oh! The Horror!

Magpul donated 1,000 30-round PMags for the NRA to give out to those who attended the January 13th NRA rally at the Virginia State Capitol. Duane Liptak, Magpul’s Executive VP, is a member of the NRA Board of Directors. Bear in mind that a magazine ban is one of the agenda items for anti-gun Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly. A magazine ban, I should add, that has no grandfathering.

Giving out 30-round PMags was reminiscent of what Magpul did for rallies in Vermont in 2018 and in Colorado in 2013. In other words it was nothing new. Nonetheless, the gun prohibitionists at the Cult of Personality known as Giffords have their panties in a wad over this.

Gun rights advocates from around the country are urging armed protesters to descend on Virginia’s capital before the General Assembly’s first legislative session of 2020 to stop Democrats from passing gun-control bills.

The NRA is even getting involved by offering to hand out 30 round magazines to protesters for free if they show up.

Tweet from the NRA: EMERGENCY AIRLIFT: @Magpul_HQ sent us 1,000 30 Round PMAGs to hand out tomorrow in Richmond to NRA members who show up to fight Northam's extreme gun ban! We'll see everyone TOMORROW at the General Assembly Building in Senate Sub-Committee Room1 on the 5th Floor at 8am!

A 30 round magazine was used to shoot this organization’s co-founder, Gabby Giffords, kill six people and injure 12 others in Tucson.

First off no magazine of any size can be used “to shoot” anyone. A magazine is merely a container. It, more importantly, just like a firearm is an inanimate object that cannot do anything unless it is used by human being.

In Ms. Giffords’ case, the murderer in Tucson had a Glock pistol as his weapon of choice. He did have a Glock 18 knock-off magazine that jammed when he was reloading allowing heroic bystanders to end his rampage.

The killer bought it legally after passing a FBI NICS check. That he was able to pass such a check despite evidence of mental issues was due to the failure of school authorities to report his behavior and due to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department ignoring his actions. The latter was due to a friendly relationship between the killer’s mother and Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

Giffords and other such organizations who send out these pleas for money rely on shock value and the decay of memory with regard to past events. That it is dishonest has never stopped them in the past and won’t stop them in the future. Fortunately, there are both the Internet and those of us with long memories to set the record straight.

Demanding Moms Channel CSGV In Comments About Lobby Day

When Ladd Everitt was the communications director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (sic), it was a favorite tactic to characterize Second Amendment supporters as “gun extremists”. CSGV’s Executive Director Josh Horwitz took it a step further by calling those who opposed the Obama Administration‘s efforts “insurrectionists“. I was one of those called a “gun extremist” when I challenged the sainted Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) over some of her comments.

In a news release about the VCDL’s Lobby Day next Monday, Moms Demand Action channels CSGV and calls it a “gun extremist rally”.

On January 20th, gun extremists – including out-of-state militia groups – will descend on the Virginia General Assembly, hoping to intimidate lawmakers into rejecting the democratic will of the people who, by wide margins, want (and voted for champions of) common-sense gun safety laws.

The Democrats won control due to court-ordered redistricting. The plan was devised by California-based special master Bernard Grofman of U. California – Irvine and intended to be most favorable to Democrats. It was approved in a 2-1 decision with Obama-appointed Judges Barbara Keenan and Arenda Allen in the majority. Republicans who opposed the new districts called it “legal indefensible” because it was so slanted towards the Democrats.

They portray Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions as “lawless county resolutions”.

Lawless County resolutions, or as gun extremists call them, ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ resolutions, which threaten that officials will  disregard their duty to enforce duly enacted and constitutional laws, have no legal force. The resolutions also threaten the safety of communities nationwide by fostering distrust in law enforcement and may deter people from reporting individuals that may hurt themselves or others.

Since when did promoting respect for God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights become a threat to the safety of communities? That is the kind of argument one would have expected from racial segregationists who opposed school integration in the face of Brown v. Board of Education.

Overflow crowd at the Amelia County hearing

The news release continues and throws in “militia”, “white supremacist”, “Charlottesville”, and “Civil War” for good measure. I’m surprised they didn’t include “Boogaloo” as well. Remembering that Everytown and Moms Demand have the best PR flacks that money can buy, it is obvious that they want to scare both African-Americans and suburban “soccer moms” with this rhetoric. This is the sort of thing that Matt Bracken warned about in his comments on Lobby Day characterizing it as a Charlottesville-style setup.

They end this screed with a few words about their ultimate boogeyman – the NRA.

The NRA has yet to make any public statement disavowing the January 20th event or the various militia groups planning on attending. However, the NRA’s people and rhetoric are intertwined with the January 20th rally. The NRA put out a formal statement supporting the Lawless County resolutions, and former NRA TV personalities like Cam Edwards and Antonia Okafor are listed as speakers at the rally. The NRA has taken out billboards throughout Virginia ominously and baselessly warning of coming “confiscation” of firearms.

While the NRA hasn’t “disavowed” the VCDL’s Lobby Day, they haven’t supported it either. Instead, they came up with their own rally being held today. As to “baselessly warning” about confiscation, a magazine ban without grandfathering certainly meets the standard for confiscation.

We know the Demanding Moms don’t respect the Second Amendment. It is increasingly clear that they don’t support the First Amendment rights of their opponents. The First Amendment ends ” the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is exactly what the many thousands of Virginians and their supporters from other states will be doing on January 20th.

When You Have No Grass Roots, This Is How You See It

When your organization has no real grass roots, you tend to see all real grass roots activities as being directed from above. That’s how you do it so you assume that is how the opposition does it.

This is how Brady United (aka the Brady Campaign) is choosing to portray the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement.

Disturbing so-called “Second Amendment sanctuaries” are a coordinated effort supported by politically motivated, national groups. Since 2018, more than 270 counties have passed resolutions declaring themselves as “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” and this number continues to rise. 

Christian Heyne, the Brady VP for Policy, said, ” We are not talking about a grassroots movement. We are talking about a dangerous push from the gun lobby to remain relevant.”

This, of course, is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

What you are seeing in Virginia as in North Carolina is not being directed from Fairfax. If anything, the NRA is late to the game here.

What you are seeing is an organic effort by state and local groups to assert their God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights. This would include state-level groups like the Virginia Citizens Defense League and the Illinois State Rifle Association.

From VCDL in Prince William County, VA

You see Facebook groups springing up like with Rowan County pushing the movement. You see local citizens like in Kenton County, Kentucky recognizing that what is happening in the Virginia General Assembly could happen to them and taking action.

Unlike Brady United who is telling people how to fight Second Amendment Sanctuaries using FOIA requests, no one told my friend and fellow blogger Dave Cole to speak up in Kentucky. And no one has told the thousands and thousands of people who have shown up across Virgina to show up. They were asked and they responded.

The NRA’s Famous Whiskers

November marks the time of year when many normally clean shaven men grow out a winter beard and or mustache. Additionally, the Movember foundation who’s goal is to “change the face of men’s health has also successfully promoted the growing of a mustache in November to bring awareness to several men’s health issues including cancer and suicide prevention.    


So before the month of Movember comes to a close let us take a moment to recognize the first president of the National Rifle Association, the mustachioed civil war general, U.S. Senator and governor of Rhode Island Ambrose Burnside.  


As significant as his accomplishments were, he became most famous for his outstanding and uniquely styled mustache and side whiskers which became known as  “sideburns” an anagram of his name Burnside.  As a Union general who experienced his fair share of defeats, he was known to say of the Union troops, “Out of ten soldiers who are perfect in drill and the manual of arms, only one knows the purpose of the sights on his gun or can hit the broad side of a barn”.   This statement reflected the recognition of the need for more modern rifle training leading to the opening of the first modern rifle range in Queens NY.  


How very very much has changed in a 150 years!