The biggest gun rights wins and losses of 2014

As we wrap up 2014’s publishing season, we’re looking back at some of the guns, events, and other things that made this such an interesting year. We saw gun sales and ammo prices finally return to normal levels, much to the consternation of some manufacturers. We had political wins and loses, and great debate around some of those events. Today we’re talking politics, looking at the biggest win and loss for gun rights in 2014. It was an interesting year, and there were no shortage of candidates to choose from. The GOP taking a majority in the House and the Senate are “wins” for gun rights, there were numerous state level wins as well. In the loss column, we had some choice ones to look at, with I-594 in Washington fresh in everyone’s minds. We’re going to look a two winners and losers each – one for state level wins and losses and one for national level wins and loses. Here we go, starting first with the wins.

The Biggest State Level Gun Rights Win of 2014
Shall issue carry in Illinois.

While similar actions are in progress right now in DC and California as well, winning the concealed carry fight in Illinois is huge, if for no other reason than it stands as a marker of how far we’ve come. If you’d told me in 2004 that a decade from now we’d have shall-issue carry in IL, I’d have laughed in your face, because there’s “no way” you could get that past the Chicago machine. And yet here we are. Is it perfect? No. Are typical Chicago politics at play still trying to deny people their rights? Of course, that’s the Chicago way. But the fact is that, holy crap people, we have largely shall issue carry in Illinois for Pete’s sake. That’s no joke, and it’s paving the road for similar work in California and DC.

This is part of a larger phenomenon that could be referred to as the Concealed Carry Revolution. As much as the media wants to paint a picture of a diminishing gun culture, it’s hard to argue with facts: more people than ever are getting their carry permits. It’s not just middle aged white dudes getting permits either, the fastest growing demographic getting their carry permits are…women. Mothers, single women – while they’re not the dominating factor, women are getting permits to carry concealed weapons in numbers never before seen. Now that’s feminine empowerment if I’ve ever seen it.

As more people get their carry permits and become part of the CCW culture, we can hope to see more wins in this area. California and DC, as mentioned, are poised to fall next. After that, the last holdout will be Bloomberg’s personal stronghold of New York. If we could get carry in NYC…well that would be something, now wouldn’t it? However, that could be 10 years off. Regardless, shall issue carry in Illinois is a huge win, and something we should all be proud of.

The Biggest National Gun Rights Win of 2014
The popular explosion of the AR15 “pistols” & suppressors

Bear with me on this one. All our regular readers know that that the Sig SB15 and SBX pistol arm braces have exploded in popularity over the last year, leading to an explosion in the AR pistol market. This came in the wake of the ATF issuing a letter that essentially says “yes we know it looks like a stock, but we can’t control what you do with it.” All of a sudden, there are AR pistols all over the place, and that’s a good thing for our gun rights. Additionally, while the majority of the gun market fell off this year after three years of strong sales, suppressor sales continued to hold strong. That’s despite the ATF backlog for NFA items being approximately 3 Why? Because it’s not a terribly difficult logical stretch to use this tiny chink in the ATF’s armor to attack the NFA and start the process of removing SBRs and suppressors from the NFA.

Unfortunately, 2014 wasn’t all roses and expansion of gun rights. Selecting the loss was actually more difficult, because of multiple high profile events that happened. In the end, I decided to take the chicken’s route and call it a tie. Here are the two biggest losses of 2014 for the gun rights movement.

The Biggest State Level Loss
Washington State Ballot Initiative 594

This year in the general election, gun rights got a hard spanking in Washington, losing a ballot initiative by 20% of the vote. That’s a huge, ugly margin, and I-594 made the law of the state so convoluted that it became a felony to pass a gun to my friend for him to check out and dry fire. I wish that was hyperbole, but it’s not. I-594 is so bad that it almost won the national category, because the ripples from this loss are going to be felt nationwide. Bloomberg and his cronies are absolutely going to use this as a blueprint for how to jam up gun rights in every state that has the ballot. They’re already moving in Nevada, where it’s likely to pass because the Nevada electorate is quite possibly even dumber than the WA electorate, which is saying something, because WA elected Patty Murray to office like 5 times or something.

The biggest national loss of 2014
Open Carry Walks/Starbucks/Texas Open Carry

The worst thing that happened to our gun rights on the national level was Texas Open Carry, the Starbucks Carry Walks, and all of the associated shenanigans. I don’t really care if a person wants to OC or not, that’s fine. Whatever floats your boat, just don’t be an a-hole. The problem is that the big “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME” demonstrations gave Mom’s Demand Hot Action a very convenient target that they could go after and get easy PR wins. It’s an absolute no brainer for a company like Starbucks to say “yeah uh pls don’t bring your guns in here” when they’re being blasted in the national media by an advocacy group that loses more money than the NRA makes in a year. Remember, the dollars behind the current generation of Gun Control are bigger than anything – a guy like Bloomberg, who is worth literally billions, can sneeze 20 million into a PR campaign to make it look like Starbucks and other major retailers are banning guns. It doesn’t even matter what Starbucks’ actual policy is, because all that needs to happen is for it to make the Today Show as “Starbucks Bans Guns” and that’s the national narrative.

But instead of playing smart ball, these Open Carry assholes decided to skyline themselves against a foe with pretty good targeting, and managed to singlehandedly inflict multiple, serious, PR losses on the national gun rights issue.

There you have it, the biggest wins and losses of 2014 for gun rights! What did I get right, what did I get wrong, and what do you think should have made the list?


  1. The Washington State ballot is huge I think considering how effective Bloomberg & Co can be with exploiting the issues with ballot initiatives. I think they are planning the same in some other 17 states? In hindsight I’m wondering if passing the Manchin-Toomey bill wouldn’t have been such a bad thing (the better of two evils), at least we would have gotten something out it (national reciprocity).

  2. Would this be a national or statewide win?

    The swift exit of long-time major gun and ammo manufacturers from antigun states gun friendly states. My state got Beretta. I forget the others. But that was a big deal.

  3. I’m a gun guy. I have a CCDW license and carry a gun. However, the open carry demonstrations didn’t help our cause.

  4. The largest loss by far this year was drake v Jerejian which the SCOTUS decided not to make a decision on. The gun laws of NJ are so punishing that you have to prove “justifiable need” in order to carry outside of your home. With about 1 million firearms permit holders the state has only issued less than 2000 concealed carry permits. CA DC IL NY gun laws are all based off of the NJ standard which enables judges and police the ability to deny a citizen their rights. I could go on and on but NJ is the 800lb gorilla in the room that no one wants to touch the rest is window dressing.

  5. Silver lining with the WA state ballot measure, the organized defiance was pretty hugely successful and sets quite a precedent for overturning it. Lawmakers in other states under Bloomberg’s sights are going to have to take notice.

    You shouldn’t forget the mass exodus of firearms companies from non-permissive states as well, though I’m not sure what category to put that in.

  6. Looking ahead to next year (or sometime thereafter) the Newtown case against Bushmaster and others has a huge potential for disruption. Fortunately the suit’s chances of success aren’t great but you know the media is going to play it up.

  7. I’m just happy that Gabby Giffords’ PAC wasted over $2 million on the race for her old Congressional seat – and that mine was one of the 167 votes that decided the election for Martha McSally(R), instead of Giffords’ former chief of staff, Ron Barber(D)…

  8. The last one you mentioned should get top honors…..for stupid. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. You nailed it. The open carry groups down here…..there are no words for it. Just awful.

    1. I’m a gun guy in Texas, and I want the law to be changed to allow open carry. (I don’t want to open carry – I just don’t want to be labeled a criminal if I inadvertently let my gun show and somebody decides it was intentional.)

      Having said all that, I agree with you that the open carry groups in 2014 were counterproductive not only to their own cause, but to the larger gun rights cause(s)..

  9. Paradoxically, WA residents saw the legislature legalize SBRs. That was a win and follows suppressor use which was legalized several years ago. It’s not all bad up here.

  10. You covered my pet peeve perfectly. Open carry as an
    ‘in your face’ thing can cost us big time. There are many ignorant souls who are terrified of guns so why cause a stink by OCing in public.

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