Last year before SHOT, I wrote a post attacking former SEAL Brandon Webb for his views on the American gun culture, calling him anti-gun. Brandon fired right back on his site, and it looked like we were headed for a full on blog war. Then something strange happened – we had a professional email exchange, and agreed to meet up and do an interview at SHOT SHOW 2014. That interview turned into a pleasant conversation between two dudes whose points of view really aren’t that far apart.
I don’t think Brandon Webb is anti-gun. I also don’t agree with him on every subject. In our conversation, we discussed everything from the role the NRA could play as the gun culture changes, what it’s like being a gun owner in California, and how different viewpoints colored both of our perceptions.
The reason I’m writing this post now is because with NRA Annual Meetings kicking off tomorrow, it’s an appropriate time to revisit this discussion. Here are the two takeaways from that conversation. First, I don’t think that at the time, Brandon had a solid grasp of all the NRA’s programs outside of their political stuff. That’s not surprising, because a lot of people don’t realize that the NRA is more than a political organization. I think that NRA is working to change that, and that’s an important thing. I’d love to see a greater emphasis from NRA on their shooting programs, on education and training.
The second takeaway is the really important one though. I believe that we’re too quick at times to criticize potential allies for straying from what we believe to be the Gospel of Gun Rights. Brandon Webb isn’t anti-gun. Like I said up top, we certainly disagree on things. But on the core issue of the 2nd Amendment, we agree that it is an individual right for the citizens. That’s important. We can fight and argue all day about semantics, but attacking people because they’re not true believers in our pure vision of the perfect Gun Rights world doesn’t do us any favors. I personally should have taken a more nuanced approach with Brandon, and I sometimes wonder if we’re tossing good people under the bus for not being ideologically pure.
The story behind all of this is simple: two guys took potshots at each other online, but then when we sat down and talked like grow ups, we realized that working together was smarter than sniping each other online. Maybe what we need is more of that – talking like grow ups, and not Gun Rights purity contests.
Any examples of how he clarified his views? I know he may have been professional butwith his views he sure seemed anti gun.
A big problem is that I didn’t fully clarify my stance, which I did when Caleb and I met at SHOT in Vegas. I’ll take responsibility for that, and I’m glad to answer any questions or clarify where I stand on issues directly via this page.
Caleb and I had a good talk, and I respect him for taking the time to hear me out.
I personally think most people truly don’t know what my “views” are or took the time like Caleb did to investigate. Most made a lot of ungrounded conclusions off of a few sound bytes taken out of context. I’d also suggest that my career as a Navy SEAL/sniper Course Manager, and writer. My company owns http://www.armsguide.com, and http://www.loadoutroom.com and do good work on these sites, and I also used to do reviews for On Target magazine as well, and this should weigh into people’s overall assessments.
I’m happy to clarify any mis-interpretations of what you think my “views” were that have you undecided. So fire away, I’m all ears.
My thing was based on the soundbites it seemed like you wanted licencing to own a firearm and a qualification before being allowed on a range. Also that the nra would be the agency deciding that. The idea of more control over gun ownership and ability to shoot seemed very off to me.
Let me clear that up. I think it’s a good idea for anyone owning a gun to be properly trained. This could be a father/uncle or an NRA training program (also think the NRA should update their curriculum). I do think having a basic competency test for commercially operated ranges is a good idea with what I’ve seen and how often I’ve been swept on ranges.
When it comes to government, I’ll always say less involvement is better and that’s not just the 2A…
We all agree training is good but I dont think it should be mandatory to have passed a class to use a range or buy a gun. How would the standards be regulated?
Also here in maine we dont really have ranges we have clubs. All the clubs have safety requirements to join but there all self set not regulatory body .
Just dont get how any of these requirements are practical or enforcable.
You’re making assumptions that I support requirements, I don’t, and I sure as hell don’t want anyone, including the NRA enforcement them formally. That’s the mistake a lot of 2A folks make when they here training. I just said it’s a good idea and that the NRA needs to update their training programs. They’re outdated.
What is your stance on the NFA, and civilian ownership of NFA items?
Can you be more specific?
How do you feel about removing silencers/suppressors, short barreled rifles, and short barreled shotguns from the NFA?
What are your thoughts on repealing the Hughes amendment?
Do you think any law abiding citizen should be allowed to own these items?
Given that the 2nd amendment is in place to protect the right of the people to defend themselves from a tyrannical government, wouldn’t you agree that any citizen should have the right to be as well armed as the average soldier on a battlefield?
” I believe that we’re too quick at times to criticize potential allies for straying from what we believe to be the Gospel of Gun Rights”
I think that’s because in the past there have been plenty of people and organizations who have sold us out. They end up being used by the anti-gunners to further restrict our rights (see: Dick Metcalf). We are tired of compromise with likes of them. We no longer want to give up some of our rights so that we don’t have to give up all of our rights. We know the lies and the word play the anti-gunners give. Are all of them hard core anti-gunners? No, but we recognize the slippery slope. Here are the key words that no pro-gunner that deserves our support should ever say:
“I support the 2nd Amendment but…”- there is no but
“I’m a gun owner, but”- there is no but
“I support licensing”- we don’t license rights
“I support registration” – leads to confiscation
“I support mandatory training”- not only does that give somebody else power over our rights (who decides what training is enough?), it vastly affects the poor who cannot afford training (as opposed to going with a friend to show them).
“I support reasonable, common sense restrictions”- almost always means unreasonable, not common sense gun control
“I support universal background checks”- that is just registration in another word, and background checks do not stop crime anyway.
“I’m a moderate”- just means you aren’t a full blown anti-gunner, yet
“I support compromising”- more gun control
That last one is where Brandon got into the most trouble. He didn’t understand that we don’t want to compromise- because because the anti-gunners have a different meaning for that word. For normal people, it means each side gets something. For anti-gunners, it means instead of giving up a lot of our rights we only give up a little bit. Now maybe we’d be willing to compromise a Grassley style background check system for removing suppressors/SBSs/SBRs from the NFA or national CCW reciprocity. But the anti-gunners would never go for that.
Now, maybe Brandon isn’t anti-gun. Maybe he just wasn’t a part of our gun culture. (Being a Navy Seal doesn’t mean you are in our gun culture- it just says you’ve used guns. Big deal.) Looking at what he said, he sounds like he really didn’t understand us or the NRA. Nobody who does would ever say “NRA needs to take an active role in the national conversation instead of sticking its collective head in the sand.” Because they are.
Maybe now some time has passed, he has learned the gun culture. Maybe he can recognize how he was speaking the language of an anti-gunner, and how that was a mistake. Maybe now he can say what he supports and opposes.
“I think it’s a good idea for anyone owning a gun to be properly trained.”
Great, then you are cool with gun safety classes in public schools, mandatory firearms exams before a driver’s license is issued and graduation.
As well, you are on board with making firearms training (tuition, ammo, lodging, etc.) tax deductible, above the line, to encourage participation in continuing firearms training?
Who here would be against any of that? Sounds like paradise.
I don’t go around criticizing “potential” allies for their failure go believe in the “gospel”, but I won’t vote to give them a seat on he NRA board either.
i didn’t pay a great deal of attention to last year’s dust up between Brandon Webb, Caleb and others. Just enough to get the impression that Brandon was more interested in making the NRA more “reasonable” and accommodating to the wishes if our opponents than he was in defending our rights.
The NRA board has always been well stocked with folks whose military, law enforcement, shooting, hunting, guiding and business accomplishments were noteworthy.
What the board lacked until more recently were people fully grounded in the politics of the second amendment fight and the importance of defending it against every infringement.
The voting membership changed that by insisting whatever a candidate’s accomplishments, dedication to the political fight and defense of our rights was the most important qualification for board membership.
That’s why NRA membership is several multiples of what it was the day I joined. That’s why a handful of states with “shall issue” turned into just a handful without it. That’s why George W. Bush never got to sign the re up of the rifle/magazine ban he wanted. That’s why no federal anti gun law has been passed in the last twenty years, even when the Dems had the White House, Senate and House.
Winning the politics and in the courts is what makes every other good thing the NRA does even possible. I’ll never vote for a board candidate who doesn’t understand that in their bone marrow.
What I was interested in was making the NRA more effective and current. You can run the numbers yourself but youth shooting/NRA membership is in decline, and a majority of gun owners in the US are not members of the NRA and should be. The NRA will go the way of the VFW (massive decline in membership) in a few decades if the NRA doesn’t start fixing this. The organization has isolated a majority of gun owners in America, and that’s what I was interested in fixing.
I’ll agree The NRA doesn’t seem to know how to appeal to the 18-50 crowd. Aside from having a totally sweet E-zine that’s more modern and interactive than anything anyone else in the industry publishes (and much better than most electronic magazines period) their mail campaigns have been intrusive and sometimes outright misleading, and for example WLP’s blaming of video games for Sandy Hook really rubbed a lot of us the wrong way, (You don’t step on the 1st Amendment in an effort to protect the 2nd, Wayne! Rights are rights!) and gave an impression of an ‘Old White People’ organization that really doesn’t understand the modern enthusiast.
I remember several people getting videos and being told to pay money or send it back. Their mail campaign is awful.
Well said about the 1st. I personally am not a WLP fan. The NRA needs to improve their youth outreach and appeal or we will be talking about the good ole days of firearms ownership.
I’m a product of youth shooting programs and spent quite a lot of time involved in CMP, NRA and NCAA Collegiate shooting as a competitor, coach and volunteer. I also spent some time involved with marksmanship teams when I was in the service. I shoot a few times a year, mostly USPSA and NRA matches with the odd CMP leg match. When my two young kids get a little older they will be very active in shooting.
If you want to be a member of the NRA Board of Directors, I’d like to know specifically what programs you are going to make more relevant to youth and what exactly what does that mean?
All I’ve heard are general comments, but please give me specifics and I’ll give you a fair shake.
I don’t disagree with the spirit of anything in your above post. I’ll point out that VFW #’s reflect the fact that almost all the 13+ million who served ’41 to ’45 are gone now, so maybe not an apt analogy.
I don’t question your skill, self discipline, sincerity or your honor and integrity as a man.
i do think you are a bit behind the curve on the politics of the struggle and maybe a bit naive about the so-called good will of those behind the push for “reasonable” and “common sense” gun law.
That’s the reason, and the only reason, I’m unlikely to support you for a seat on the board.
That’s your right, I’m not arguing that. The only thing I’d say is that I admittedly underestimated the politics but can man up and admit that openly. However, as a board member I would have been an active in taking action as I’ve done my whole life, we need to fight aggressively to maintain the 2A and claw back a lot of 2A rights that have been taken away at the state level.
RE: the VFW, I personally think it’s a great analogy because they haven’t appealed to the current generation of veterans and as an organization they are dying on the vine. I’m worried that in two decades we could see the same thing happen in America, and if the youth are engaged and aware of their rights then how can they stand up and defend them?
I’m not convinced the VFW is a good analogy. The VFW problems are a lot more complicated. I personally saw the disrespect WW2 veterans were given by VN vets, understandable in the light of the disgusting treatment returning VN vets experienced when coming home in comparison to the ticker tape hero parades the WW2 vets got. With the local clubs becoming nothing more than a place to get drunk plus some poor management there is no surprise the membership declined.
Could it be that I’m seeing a sane, calm 2d Amendment discussion sans name-calling unfold right before my eyes?
I’ll throw in my two cents and say the NRA’s positions have been on the extreme side simply because of the slippery-slope theory… In other words, what they want is ok, but it could lead to something we don’t agree with, so we’ll reject everything.
Listen, I catch crap for supporting background checks and even a waiting period (although I don’t like it). But I support those things simply because good guys don’t have anything to worry about from either of those measures. I just don’t want more burden added and am a bit concerned about the potential for a PTSD diagnosis to lead to denial or confiscation.
I know my CCW permit is my right, but just like voting, it’s not without inconvenience and I’m ok with that.
Just don’t try to take it away.
Veteran USMC grunt
I think that a Gun Rights Purity Contest is a fabulous idea! Or not… It surely shouldn’t be conducted on the inter-webs. I completely missed the aforementioned dust up but decided to use “the Google” and educate myself. After about 30 minutes of reading posts, comments and links (the vast majority of which did not originate with Mr Giddings or Mr. Webb) I felt the need for a scalding hot shower to get some of the muck off.
Talking like grown ups from the git-go wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining but we surely would get more accomplished.
Good post. Thanks!
This always cracks me up. Anybody with a mailbox gets dozens of pieces of junk mail every week from supermarkets, telecoms, furniture stores, fast food restaurants and carpet cleaners.
They only complain about the 5 or six pieces they get from NRA each year. If you are such a weak sister that you can’t handle a few pieces of mail per year from the NRA, don’t be a member.
We’re better off without you.
How about when they send you a video or a coin and say that your option is A. Pay for it B. Mail it back on your dime
When you never asked for it.
I remember my old landline theyd always call begging for money.
Much better ways to go about it. The grocery store never sent me a can of soup and asked me to pay for it.
Didn’t mean to be jerk in my previous post. The promotions you mentioned were stupid. I don’t think they’ve done anything that dumb in years. I know the NRA makes a lot of money mailing promotional offers for businesses who pay for it. That money funds the good things NRA does.
I guess knowing that makes me more forgiving of the screw ups and annoyances than some other guys.
Excellent post, Mr. Henry. Let’s talk about “compromise”. The main stream media and enemies of the RKBA (same difference) always speak of compromise as a one way street.
Heads they win, tails we lose. They’ll settle for half of what they want if we’ll just give up half of what we have, and they’ll be back for the rest later.
Real compromise means each side gives up something they have in exchange for something they want. What are the enemies of the Second Amendment willing to “compromise” on?
Are they offering to force “shall issue” on New Jersey, Maryland, California etc. in exchange for “universal” background checks? Are they willing to surrender the May ’86 registry freeze in exchange for mandatory training and qualification for folks who want an M4 or MP5?
People need to think clearly about these things and not buy into our opponents’ bullshit.
I also want to see brandons opinion on the nfa. Its a controversial topic for sure and one often dodged by poliyical types.
My problem with the NRA mailings is when they use hyperbole and GOA style fear-mongering rather than just using the facts.
The facts on gun control proposals *that actually have a chance in hell of moving in Congress* are bad enough. Using the same old not-going-anywhere bill, introduced by the same old suspects, which will languish and die in committee with zero co-sponsors the same old way, to drum up financing insults any informed person’s intelligence.
Rather than play to the uninformed, *inform them* and show the dangers in the “reasonable” sounding legislation. And do so with facts and reasoned argument, not overstated hyperbole and bumper-sticker nonsense sloganeering.
While you may be correct with your comments about hyperbole, do you believe we can win a fight if we don’t use some of the tactics used successfully against us? The Republican Party versus the Democrats is a good example of taking the “high ground” as a losing tactic. I wish it worked like it should, but we live in an imperfect world.
You’re comparing apples to oranges. NRA fundraising mailings go only to members, presumably people who already support gun rights. They aren’t like using hyperbole to sway low-information voters who don’t really care about an issue but can be nudged to one side or the other.
If low-info tactics are required to get donations, by definition that means the NRA is not doing its job of informing its members with actual facts and reasoned argument. Doing so would make each and every one a better informed proponent of grass-roots gunrights advocacy, able to make reasoned, calm arguments; rather than than giving them more BS bumper-sticker slogans to yell angrily and look like idiots in front of those low-information voters we need on our side.
Let’s have this discussion. Here’s my opinions.
Brandon Lee and the NRA Board
My impression is that in California, where gun owners are a reviled and oppressed minority, Brandon’s shackles rest lightly on his shoulders. I may be wrong about that. As far as compromising with any of the astroturf “reasonable” anti-gun front groups — intercourse that.
As far as Brandon’s campaign for the NRA Board, I see it as promoting Brandon, not gun rights. Most “celebrity” board members let the rank and file members feel good about voting for them, but they have little to no power, and the board as a whole has little to no power. NRA is run by the fulltime staff and the intimately bound direct mail and telemarketing company that milks it. That’s just my opinion, just how it looks from here.
Appeal to Youth and Wayne LaPierre
The appeal to youth needs to spread beyond our own kids (and you know what, it is). Young boys especially do not need much urging to be gun happy, and lots of girls, too. A lot of young shooters come in from areas us old timers tend to dismiss, like airsoft (I cringe to write the word) and video games. Most kids find shooting an AK vastly more exciting on a range than on their PS3/4/Xbox/whatever. So lambasting those kids was an extremely foolish move by an elderly and weakening LaPierre.
One thing we can all work together on is ways to enable that range trip, with the consent of the kids’ parents.
Maybe our local gun clubs can put flyers at the local game store?
Training and Training Requirements
I’ve been swept by “trained” people, too. Training is training, it’s not FM (the M is for Magic). The right thing to do is correct the sweeper and the range officer (tactfully, in both cases). I read Brandon’s original rant as a demand for state cert requirements, which is something that he may not known the NRA also backs. (Their lobbyist, a complete Fudd, used NRA’s weight behind it to kill Constitutional Carry in my state, NH).
The NRA in the Real World
The NRA may not be ideal but it’s what we’ve got. Groups with greater purity (by whatever standard) isolate themselves. Call them for the sake of the argument groups to the right of the NRA on gun rights. No group that slips in to the left of the NRA has been anything but a false front, kind of like CISPES or the World Council of Churches back in the 1980s were for the USSR.
Trying to work with our enemies gets you hosed. Ask John Brown of NFATCA — if he’ll tell you the truth about how ATF has used him.
As far as the fundraising mailings goes, the fundraising tail wags the NRA dog sometimes. I’ve been a life member for years and still get mailings soliciting my membership, so it’s not just fundraising, it’s zombie bozo fundraising. But the fundraisers, who control NRA HQ, get paid for every one.
If anybody sends you something unsolicited, they can’t charge you for it — that’s the law in fifty states.
All non-profits that send direct mail or make telephone solicitations are rip-offs. All of them. Anywhere from 1% to 25% of the donations goes to the nominal non-profit recipient, the rest sticks to the fundraisers.
Wait … you mean getting off the internet and actually talking face to face?! AAAHHHH! I don’t like using social skills.
Ahhhhh, still no reply from Mr. Webb regarding his stance on NFA firearms……..
I have a simple question.
With the ATF’s 41P and the massive growth in NFA ownership. Are you for less restricted NFA ownership and hopefully, the abolishment of the NFA?
Or are you supportive of the NFA?
That directly affects me and as a NFA item holder that would be affected by a change in that process. I want to know how you feel about it.
I like what I hear about NRA training and youth involvement, but this is a yes/no for me for you.
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