A Critical look at Brandon Webb’s perspective on gun rights

Since Brandon Webb announced his intention to run for the NRA’s board of directors, he’s been under a considerable amount of scrutiny from the gun community for statements he’s made in the media and online about willingness to “compromise” in the name of safety. To deflect some of the criticism, Mr. Webb recently posted clarifications of his opinions on several of the sites he operates, including his personal blog. Here is the link to read the full post, which of course is titled “A Navy SEAL Sniper’s perspective on firearms ownership & the NRA in America.”

We’ll skip over the body of the post, because it’s essentially just Webb talking about how he really, really does like guns, and also did you know he was a Navy SEAL sniper? In all seriousness, it would be nice if he go five minutes without reminding us of that. However, at the end of the post Mr. Webb conveniently lists bullet points that summarize his thoughts on gun rights. We’ll take a look at each one of those point by point.

The 2nd Amendment is inherent in America’s cultural DNA

Okay. I’m not really sure what that means, but I’ll allow it. I’d prefer an opening statement like “The 2nd Amendment is a Constitutional right, equal to any other right in the Bill of Rights.”

Limiting magazine capacity is impractical

Sure, I agree with that. So far we’re 2-for-2 with soft, generic pro-gun talking points!

Punishing law abiding gun owners is not the solution

I agree with this as well, and we’re now 3-for-3 on generic pro-gun talking points. Looking for a little substance here, Brandon.

I believe everyone who owns a gun should attend a basic firearms & range safety qualifications course and that these courses should be standardized

This is where Mr. Webb really begins to go off the rails. Mandatory training for gun ownership is absolutely unacceptable. Remember, we’re talking about a Constitutional right here. This is akin to forcing someone to pass a literacy test to exercise their freedom of speech, which is blatantly un-Constitutional. Mandatory training to exercise the right to keep and bear arms turns into a mess pretty rapidly, and becomes a great tool for the state to deny that right to law-abiding citizens.

The NRA should be like PADI or NAUI and encourage gun ranges to only accept NRA basic qualified shooters on the range.

If you’re wondering, PADI and NAUI are diving organizations. Again, Webb displays a lack of understanding of the real American gun culture. There are approximatly 80 million gun owners in the country, of which 5 million are NRA members. Let’s say for the sake of argument that 10 million shooters have taken an NRA basic class of some sort. Using Webb’s logic, when the other 70 million gun owners turn up at the range to practice, he wants to turn them away. Brandon Webb’s NRA would turn from an organization that tries to grow the shooting sports into an exclusive club, limiting access to training for self-defense, hunting, and sport shooting.

Few people outside of America understand how important firearms ownership is to Americans

Duh and/or hello. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

Background checks are a good idea but should take minutes, not days

We already have this. It’s called NICS, and it works pretty well. Someone running for the NRA board should probably know that.

Often gun laws are made by people who don’t use, own, or understand firearms

Also duh. We’re now back to generic pro-gun talking points.

Mass shootings have to be dealt with head-on or America will face more gun restrictions and erosion of 2nd Amendment rights.

Also, I agree with this. But it’s easy to agree with vaguely generic pro-gun talking points that point out something everyone agrees on without suggesting a solution.

NRA training needs to be brought up to date.

If you’re still reading, you’ll probably have noticed a pattern here. Mr. Webb seems to make vague pro-gun statements that everyone can agree with, but whenever he gets closet to suggesting a solution, he goes completely off the rails. See above, and this is an example. NRA training needs to be brought up to date with what? What exactly is wrong with NRA training? Do you mean the NRA Basic courses? Or do you mean their LEO training? This is just a vague catch-all statement.

Legislation on increasing the prevention of severely mentally ill folks (e.g. paranoid schizophrenia)from gaining access to firearms seems logical. Increase the early warning signs

Of course this seems logical. It’s phrased in a way that no one would disagree with it. Of course we don’t want crazy people to have guns. The problem is how do we limit crazy people’s access to guns without further infringing the rights of law-abiding citizens. Where are you ideas for that?

Dogs/handlers at schools and colleges are better than armed guards, in my opinion. Dogs are an incredible resource to use in these situations

So when a dude rolls into Franklin D. Roosevelt High with an AK and shoots the dog, then what?

Guns aren’t the problem, mental illness is the problem. It’s like punishing responsible automobile owners (which kill more people annually) because of drunk drivers killing innocent people on the road

Back to generic pro-gun statements.

I believe we should be able to concealed-carry and open-carry where practical (e.g., not on an elementary school campus or an airplane)

Awesome! I agree. Who decides what’s practical?

Guns are guns and people should be able to own and obtain a permit to own everything, short of an anti-tank weapon or WMD, if they’re properly trained/certified

We can do that already, and we don’t have to pass literacy tests to vote arbitrary training standards to do it.

The NRA should take a strong leadership position when it comes to legislation affecting ownership pro and con, not just a “supporter” of legislation. The perception from the left is that the NRA is an uncompromising organization

…it does that. You do realize that’s basically what the entire NRA-ILA does? Seriously, if you’re running for the NRA board, you should probably know what the NRA does.

The NRA should take a strong leadership position when it comes to legislation affecting ownership pro and con, not just a “supporter” of legislation. The perception from the left is that the NRA is an uncompromising organization

You say that the left perceives the NRA as uncompromising like it’s a bad thing. It’s really not. Also, I’d like to note that from when I read Webb’s post yesterday and today, he edited this line item. It was previously “I wouldn’t let Wayne LaPierre lead my kids on a camping trip”, and was a paragraph that did nothing but disparage Mr. LaPierre’s leadership of NRA. Interesting that Webb softened his tone overnight.

If elected to the board I would be one of 76, but I would do my best to make sure we hold the elected leaders accountable, and work on ways to promote and engage the responsible youth in this country. They are the future, and you cannot ignore the decline in youth firearms participation and membership.

I swear, if he makes one more generically vague statement with no substance…

I believe the 2nd Amendment is a right we should keep and hold dear

And there it is.

So what are we to make of all of this? Webb’s pro-gun statements are so generic and soft that they’re essentially meaningless. His statements on mental illness are equally pointless because they’re worded in such a way that no one would disagree with them. Of course we don’t want crazy people getting guns.

The far more troublesome areas of Webb’s position on the gun rights issue are his ideas about training. The NRA’s training arm exists to grow the shooting sports, not limit access. Suggesting that we should have mandatory training for gun ownership is unacceptable; and when compounded with his desire to have ranges limit access to only shooters who have passed a training course Mr. Webb becomes a closer ally to the Brady Campaign than the 2nd Amendment. The final nail in his coffin is his staggering ignorance of the current role of the NRA in American politics and the influence it has over legislation at the state and federal level.

Brandon Webb served his country with distinction as a Navy SEAL, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for that service. That debt should not give us blinders about his political positions, and his clearly stated desire to place limits and compromises on the right to keep and bear arms. His statements read less like someone trying to get on the NRA board, and more like a person who’s trying to set himself up to get talking head gigs on CNN as “The Navy SEAL who is a moderate voice on gun rights.” We wish him all the best luck with that, and will continue to oppose his election to the NRA’s board.

Editor’s Note: Because Mr. Webb has already edited his posts in the past to redact potentially damaging information, we have reprinted his bullet points in their entirety here.

31 thoughts on “A Critical look at Brandon Webb’s perspective on gun rights”

  1. NRA *has* updated their training materials recently. The updated “Personal Protection In the Home” and “Personal Protection Outside the Home” courses are very similar in content to what’s been taught in the big private sector academies for the past 30 years. Students that complete NRA Basic Pistol, PPITH and PPOTH end up with 32+ hours of training including drawing from concealment, clearing malfunctions, shooting from cover and other commonly taught defensive skills relevant to armed citizens. NRA even established a new rating, Advanced Pistol Instructor, that can only be obtained by NRA instructors who have also taken at least 40 hours of non-NRA training from a nationally recognized, credible program in higher level firearms skills.

    Someone running for the NRA board should spend $100 and buy copies of those manuals from NRA (anyone can purchase) before commenting on the state of NRA curriculum or getting into a position to have power over that program.

  2. I wouldn’t have a problem with requiring basic safety training to own a gun if and ONLY if that training was a required part of all public school curricula. In other words, get Eddie the Eagle into every elementary school in the country. It might even cut down the accidental child shootings that make gun owners look bad, too.
    Of course it would also increase the heart attack incident rate among liberal parents, but you can’t have everything ;p

  3. Thanks for doing the work on this Caleb. I’m a 20-year Navy vet and I respect Mr. Webb’s service, but that doesn’t get a free pass for a less-than-supportive stance on the 2A. There is at least one legislator I can think of, also, who is a veteran hero, that has become so liberal I reserve my harshest language for him.

  4. Brandon Webb: “Hey guys we need to update the training curriculum!”
    NRA: “Brandon, we did that already.”
    Brandon: “Okay, then lets put ourselves out there as the voice of all American gun owners.”
    NRA: “Yeah dude, we already are.”
    Brandon: “Well gun ownership is our right as American citizens.”
    NRA: “No way! Here’s my shocked face.”
    Brandon: “Okay, well maybe we ought to compromise on some reasonable gun legislation.”
    NRA: “Uh huh…We’re still waiting to hear a single reasonable piece of legislation from the Brady Campaign or Michael Bloomberg.”
    Brandon: “Maybe we should try to seem less like we don’t agree with a single thing they say.”
    NRA: “None of the gun owners we represent agree with a single thing they say. You’re suggesting we not represent the people you just said we’re the voice for?”
    Brandon: “Well then we need to mandate training!”
    NRA: “Brandon, eat a snickers…”

  5. “We can do that already, and we don’t have to pass literacy tests to vote arbitrary training standards to do it.”

    Really? That statement is false for about 30% of the US population. Just because something doesn’t affect you in Red State Land doesn’t mean it isn’t a genuine problem. What if we could roll back the bans and establish nationwide carry (allowing gun culture to grow into states where it’s been severely damaged; segregating ourselves, aka “voting with our feet,” may feel good but it’s a losing proposition), and all we had to give for it was universal, consumer-doable electronic background checks? Is THAT too much compromise? When does it get bad enough that we finally decide we need to stop the bleeding? When 50% of us are living in ban-territory?

    I agree that his idea of barring untrained people from ranges is idiotic (how do you train if you’re barred from all the local ranges?), but has anyone tried engaging with this guy, rather than just completely writing him off as an enemy of the 2nd Amendment? The dude’s pro-carry, pro-semi-auto, pro-standard mag. He doesn’t fit the typical profile of “gun owner, but”s who want to ban everything they don’t like, and that alone is refreshing and may say something about the direction of the gun rights fight.

    Also, amen to what Wyfaggro said about training being mandatory for everyone, not just gun owners. Thinking your kids can go through life in the US without ever being around guns is like thinking they’ll never have sex. Knowledge is power.

    1. If you read his statement, he’s saying that people should have to get training to get a permit to own guns. Not carry. You’re telling me that approximately 30% of the US gun owning population (24 million people) have to get permits just to own guns?

      1. No, I’m saying that nearly 30% of the US population can’t “own [or] obtain a permit to own everything, short of an anti-tank weapon or WMD, [even] if they’re properly trained/certified” (to which it appeared your “We can do that already” was a response). That statement of his (in full: “Guns are guns and people should be able to own and obtain a permit to own everything, short of an anti-tank weapon or WMD, if they’re properly trained/certified”) appears (to me, at least) to be a statement that the elimination of all bans is worth some limited training requirements. Maybe I misinterpreted it, or perhaps I was simply unclear earlier (if so, I apologize).

        Honestly, I think the removal of gun owners from these states is one of the genuine goals behind the most onerous restrictions, and I think this segregation is harmful to the further growth of gun culture. Since gun owners taking their acquaintances shooting is one of the ways we spread the joy, pushing gun owners out of these states (by banning their guns or making gun ownership too expensive or legally risky) directly inhibits our growth as a community (which, again, I think is the whole idea). Eliminating bans might take off some of that pressure, which is why I hold it as a noble goal, worthy of some sacrifice.

        As for the “about 30% of the US population” number, the combined total population of people who live in states that ban rifles or standard mags or some combination thereof (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_population_by_state – from the Population Estimate for July 1, 2012 column) is at least 89,809,553 (CA, NY, NJ, MA, MD, CO, CT, HI, plus DC; correct me if I’ve missed any or included non-ban states), which is 28.6% (please excuse my earlier rounding) of the total US population.

        1. For what it’s worth, add several million from Cook County, IL. Wouldn’t ‘t want to be left off the list.

      2. Actually, no…he didn’t. What he said was “I believe everyone who owns a gun should attend a basic firearms & range safety qualifications course and that these courses should be standardized”

        There’s absolutely nothing in that statement about mandatory training. Everyone who owns a firearm SHOULD have basic range and safety training. “Should” is not “must.” That’s your editorializing. considering the number of times some jackass has put my life, or that of my children in danger at the range by muzzling me with a loaded weapon, and the liability issues involved, I’m surprised more private ranges don’t require you to take a safety test, or watch a video, like the outdoor range in my area does…so at least they can indemnify themselves that they showed the idiot how to be safe, and he chose to ignore it.

        Btw…where do you get your numbers on how many gun owners there are…you know, since you’re running down Mr. Webb for playing loose with the facts. I’d really like to know. Because the census doesn’t agree with you, nor do any of the recent surveys on gun ownership. Sure…you can fall back on “well a lot of gun owners don’t respond to surveys because they don’t want it to be known they own firearms,” and I’d agree with that. But that being the case, you’re pulling the ownership number out of your hind parts. Because nobody knows…anymore than anybody knows with any kind of certainty how many defensive gun uses there are a year. It’s a guess.

        And if you’re going to throw guesses around as fact, then you ought to give Webb some slack for lack of specificity on a campaign platform for a position that really doesn’t matter much anyways considering on the Sr Board Members can really make any decisions.

        1. I get my gun ownership numbers directly from the NRA-ILA fact sheet. As far as Mr. Webb’s statements, the best case scenario is that it’s another generically squishy statement about training. When taken in context with his other statements, it’s obvious that he wants to establish tests to exercise a Constitutional right.

        2. The problem with training mandates is that they are open to abuse by politicians and bureaucrats that really just want to eliminate legal gun ownership by making it impossible to get training in the first place. It’s a classic Catch-22.

      3. The problem with training mandates is that they are open to abuse by politicians and bureaucrats that really just want to eliminate legal gun ownership by making it impossible to get training in the first place. It’s a classic Catch-22.

  6. I believe we should be able to concealed-carry and open-carry where practical (e.g., not on an elementary school campus or an airplane)

    Hold on! The Oregon of Portlandia fame doesn’t ban permit holders from carrying on K-12 campuses. Why should we settle for anything stricter than that?

  7. He sounds like a Naval POLITICIAN, a Walrus not SEAL – and ALL his statement are completely elastic: Obamacare seeks to remove the DNA aspect of the 2A in American culture, impracticality has never once limited the non-sense that anti-gunners exhibit and seek to impose as solutions, and punishment is only the extreme side and end-game of onerous restrictions – it goes on and on, complete fungibility on the level of Quisling’s accedance and compliance to the demands of the Reich Chancellery…

  8. Being in the military, like law enforcement or government, or any other position of service to one’s nation, states or towns, does not magically bestow upon anyone logic and reason. Unfortunately Mr. Webb is not really demonstrating much of either.

  9. First, I don’t have a dog in this fight as I’m a Brit. However as our rights were ripped from our collective babe-like grasp years ago, I think I have an inkling as to your man Webb’s mindset- To whit, the only firearms ‘culture’ one runs up against is in the military. Consequently, a lot of ex-military feel that the only people that should be allowed to have a gun are those that have had safety drills hammered into them on a demanding training course. Everybody else (non-military trained) is some kind of ‘gun owning untermensch’ (Yuk).

    Webb himself admits that he grew up with no real firearms experience, and I quote: ‘I never shot much as a kid, aside from shooting clay pidgeons off the bow of the boat I worked on. I hunted quite a bit, but it was with my spear gun, not a rifle. I learned to shoot in the Navy, and only became an expert with a weapon by the time I finished my first SEAL platoon work up’.

    It may be that he is just of the very same mindset as many from the more ‘enlightened’ Old World.

    Cheers and all the best – Rusty

  10. I have someone like him on my Board; a great critic. I refer to him as ‘a socialist agitator”.

    This NAVY seal should stay in the military, where there is a place for him to abuse the lower ranks, and be under the control of his superiors so he does not abuse them too much. Not in civilian life, we we are all supposed to be equal- or at least treated equally.

  11. We must be more aggressive on debunking the connection between driver education and firearms education. Most states (35?) do not require driver education. You have to prove that you know can start the car, know what a stop sign means, how to use turn signals and not much more: In many states, you don’t even have to parallel park. (The firearms equivalent of a Driver’s Manual is included with every new firearm.) No state requires you to attend Bob Bondurant racing school, which is the equivalent to Webb’s suggestions. And once even basic training requirements are in place, they will be escalated to Catch 22 status. P.S. To all you “protect your family” types: Do you know how to properly use your car’s anti-lock braking system? If not, there’s a big gap in your defenses.

  12. You know, i don’t agree with Mr. Webb on a great many points, but a great deal of this rebuttal is just as bad as what he supports. In fact it’s worse. Mr. Webb put his ideas out there with no snark or snide asides about anyone else’s beliefs…he just stated his position, right or wrong. And it galls me because members of the gun community are just as fanatical and leading in their criticism of people they don’t agree with as the gun grabbers are, in many cases.

    Take for example this statement: “Mandatory training for gun ownership is absolutely unacceptable. Remember, we’re talking about a Constitutional right here. This is akin to forcing someone to pass a literacy test to exercise their freedom of speech, which is blatantly un-Constitutional. Mandatory training to exercise the right to keep and bear arms turns into a mess pretty rapidly, and becomes a great tool for the state to deny that right to law-abiding citizens.”

    Skipping for a moment that Mr. Webb said absolutely nothing about mandatory training other than in the author’s imagination, the analogy is just bunk. It’s not akin to forcing someone to pass a literacy test to speak in public…speaking badly in public has no chance of getting an innocent bystander killed. It’s closer to requiring an ID to vote, which everyone is in favor of when they can easily get a driver’s license and they think it will keep illegals from voting for democrats. But then again, that would only be if he said he wanted mandatory training…which he didn’t.

    People in our community are very fond of letting everyone know that it’s our natural, inalienable right to defend ourselves with firearms…and They’re right. But you also have an inalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…which means you have the right to expect that someone exercising one of their rights isn’t going to kill you through negligence…which is what happens far more than it should by untrained individuals going out and buying something they know nothing about, and then negligently killing someone because of lack of basic safety training.

    Here’s another one. “We already have this. It’s called NICS, and it works pretty well. Someone running for the NRA board should probably know that.” Really…so you, who’ve chastised Mr. Webb several times for not doing research, don’t know that if you don’t have a concealed carry permit in many states, you wait days to buy a firearm? In Florida it’s 3…but that’s actually 5, because the day you apply doesn’t count no does the day you pick it up. In other states it can be up to 30 days, even if you do have a permit…which by the way contains a training component in most states.

    And another “You do realize that’s basically what the entire NRA-ILA does? Seriously, if you’re running for the NRA board, you should probably know what the NRA does.” You do realize that most of the general public, who aren’t NRA members, have no idea who ILA is, or how it’s funded, or that they’re a separate arm of the perceived Old White Man’s club headed by out of touch guys like LaPierre, right? And yeah…being perceived as uncompromising is bad. Gun owners, even at the guessed number you were throwing around, are still out numbered 3 to 1. When non gun owners, and people not a part of the community get scared by an event, then refusing to even discuss something is a great impetus for those people to utterly ignore everything you say when you do speak. And at 3 to 1, we’ll lose a concerted effort to put in restrictive gun control.

    This is the one that just takes the cake “We can do that already, and we don’t have to pass literacy tests to vote arbitrary training standards to do it.” Really? You can. Try getting a select fire weapon in the state of Illinois. Or hell, let’s make it easy…come down here to Florida, where we have relatively unrestrictive laws, and get one of our local top cops to sign off on your ATF paperwork anywhere in the South part of the state, or even in the conservative haven of Jacksonville. Because you can’t already do that. And when you do, you open the door to the ATF popping in for a visit unannounced whenever the hell they fell like it.

    Here’s an instance where the guy is actually advocating getting rid of the Gun Control Act of 34 and you’re so wrapped up in criticizing his faults, you mock him on it…and you’re wrong.

    I don’t have a problem with honest criticism, but most of this rebuttal is just bunk.

    1. I’m not going to try to rebuttal everything you say, but I will point out that ideas are more dangerous than you think; indeed, someone mouthing off in a crowd, not knowing what he is doing, can get people killed. It’s why “inciting a mob to violence” is illegal–yet we don’t require training to exercise 1st Amendment rights.

      Incidentally, that training exists. Indeed, about half of the Associated Press’s Stylebook consists of information to avoid libel and slander.

      For that matter, you’re analogy of requiring an ID to vote as equivalent to requiring mandatory training is also bunk. Getting an ID to vote should be relatively easy: if you don’t have one already, it shouldn’t be hard to get one, and the States that are requiring it are even making it free for people who can’t afford it. What level of mandatory training should be required for gun ownership? A 1-hour video that you can sleep through? Four hours of instruction from an NRA-qualified instructor? 40 hours of SEAL training? If you make it easy (like with voter ID) it’s pointless…but if you make it difficult (you can get your Special Voter ID, but you have to pass a literacy test, show that you’ve memorized the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address, (and if we don’t like you, you have to recite these in Chinese), and you have to pay a one-time monthly-recurring fee of $250, until we decide to raise it–to show the equivalent in Voter ID issues) then you are /clearly/ violating the right to keep and bear.

      Finally, your rebuttal smacks of “we need laws to keep blood from running in the street” combined with “look at all these restrictive laws, they aren’t bad, are they?” If loose gun laws are all that bad, then Vermont, where carrying without a permit is legal (and has been for over 200 years) should be a blood-bath…yet it’s not. Somehow I doubt that all these legal hoops do anything to create safety, and I’m glad that the NRA challenges them.

  13. How about you help us out here in the communist state of Hawaii. We already have to get a 14 day waiting permit to acquire!

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