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?

Open carry experience, part 2

Yesterday was my first day actually open carrying a gun around real people. I took the dog for a walk in the park, like I do every day. But today it was different, because my mind was screaming at me the whole time “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU’RE CARRYING A GUN OUT IN THE OPEN WHERE GOD AND EVERYONE CAN SEE IT THIS IS WEIRD.” Contrary to popular belief, I am not so desperate for attention as to want negative attention, which is what I sure I would attract. Of course, nothing of the sort happened, and anyone that did look at me was looking at the dog anyway, because let’s face it the dog is awesome.

the dog

I’ve been carrying a concealed firearm for over a decade now. I’m sure that when I first started, it might have felt unusual, but I can’t honestly ever recall it feeling like that. Open carry on the other hand feels weird because no matter which way you slice it, you are doing something that is not a common practice, and you’re doing it in such a way that anyone who is casually observant can notice.

The other thing I found myself doing was mentally rehearsing what I’d say to the police if they did stop me; and in that I realized I have a couple of goals for any encounter with the police while open carrying:

  • Don’t get shot
  • Don’t get arrested
  • Don’t get my dog shot
  • Have the police leave the encounter with either a positive impression of me, or at least a neutral impression.

Of course, I didn’t encounter the police, and basically no one noticed.

The only other thing of note that I did after yesterday was change my gear. I switched Galco M4 holster for a Safariland ALS, also for a 1911. The ALS paddle is a lot more comfortable for all day wear than the Galco’s paddle, which is narrow and can dig into the hip after a few hours. In comparison, the Safariland wears much better and distributes the load of a full size pistol a lot more evenly. Tomorrow I’ll have another update, which I hope will be as boring as this one.

The Open Carry Experience, Part 1

It’s no secret that I have been extremely critical of the Open Carry movement in the past. For the most part, I find OC “activists” to be nothing more than attention seeking troublemakers, who are at best a nuisance, and in the case of Open Carry Texas are actually helping the other side win mass media victories. But on Sunday, when I got up and put my gun on, I did something a little different. I decided to OC, because it occurred to me that if I really wanted to understand the open carry “community” I should make an active effort to actually open carry.

So for the remainder of the month of June, I’m going to use open carry as my primary method of carry. Here are the ground rules:

  • OC wherever it’s legal with certain exceptions (I won’t OC at church, for example, because it’s rude)
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Dress like an adult
  • Use a grown-up gun in a retention holster

A couple of things right off the bat – I will not be carrying a gun at people. I’m just carrying a gun, and going about my regular daily activities. So if I have to run an errand or perform a task, it will be exactly the same as it would have been if was carrying concealed, I’ll just be carrying the gun in the open. I’m not going to walk around and wait for the cops to show up, this isn’t some kind of asshole political statement. I am just going to carry a gun…openly.

I realized yesterday when getting ready that the only gun I had a proper retention holster for was my 1911, so right now I’m carrying a 5 inch 1911 in a Galco M4 autolocking paddle holster. I’m also wearing a tucked in polo, a nice belt, and clean shoes.

Colt 1911 Galco M4 holster

Each day, I’ll update the series with notes from my OC experience. Yesterday was pretty boring, went for a hike in the state park. I have to say the most striking thing about OC vs CC is I feel weird. It feels strange and unusual to not bother to conceal my gun, especially since I’m not at a match. I do have to be concious of something else – at matches, where I am by default openly carrying, I have the habit of resting my strong hand on my gun. I can’t do that in public, because it would look REALLY weird.

Ultimately, the goal of this is simple: just carry my gun like I would any other day, just not concealed. I’m not going on OC walks, I’m not wandering around with a rifle slung over my shoulder, I’m just a dude dressed like a grownup going about his business. With a gun.

The top five gun control lies

Fact: the national right to keep and bear arms movement is winning. Two Supreme Court decisions, Illinois now has shall-issue CCW, and more and more people are buying guns and carrying guns. There has been an absolutely explosion in awareness of 2nd Amendment rights and gun ownership. If you’d told me in 2004 that we’d be where we are right now, I’d have laughed in your face. And yet with all our victory, and indeed perhaps because of it, the anti-gun factions keep lying, and keep pushing their nonsense. It’s like they see they’re on the brink of total defeat, so they’ve doubled down on their lies even harder. Here are their five favorite lies.

1. The Gun Show Loophole
What they say: Anti-gun activists will tell you until you’re bored to death about the gun show loophole. To hear them tell it, all across America are these Khyber Pass style bazaars full of shady dudes selling machine guns to anyone with cash on hand, no questions asked.

Why it’s a lie: The truth of course is that gun shows are very strictly controlled. Most sellers at gun shows are Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) who are required by federal law to conduct a background check on any firearms sale, regardless of the location where they conduct the sale. That means if you buy a gun from an FFL at a gun shop or a show, they have to do a background check. There are private sellers at gun shows, these are usually collectors and hobbyists looking to clear out part of their collection. It is not a loophole for an individual to sell a gun to another individual, it is complying with the law. So long as the person making the sale is reasonably sure that the buyer is not a prohibited person, the transaction is perfectly legal.

2. A gun in the home is more likely to hurt you than save you
What they say: According to anti-gun people if you keep a gun in your home for defense, you’re more likely to be killed or injured with that gun than you are to use it defending yourself against a home invasion.

Why it’s a lie: This one is actually fairly clever, and should be exposed. Their statement takes a wide definition of what counts as having your own gun used against you, to include suicide. It is a fact that guns are a common choice for committing suicide, especially with males. Because suicides with firearms are more common than in-home defensive shootings, they twist this tragic statistic to their own ends to portray a home defense gun as a lurking cobra under the couch, waiting to strike and murder the home’s occupants. But the truth is that if you remove suicide from the equation, a gun kept in the house for home defense is quite likely to never be fired in anger at all.

3. A majority of Americans support stronger gun laws
What they say: You’ve probably heard this one recently, especially after the Sandy Hook murders. It was mostly used as a way to emotionally bully people who were on the fence about gun control – “everyone else agrees with us, and you do want to be liked, right?”

Why it’s a lie: The truth is that the majority of Americans don’t have the faintest clue what our gun laws are. Try this experiment: find someone you know who is not involved in the gun control debate at all. Describe the current state of all gun laws to them, federal all the way down to state restrictions. Background checks, licensed dealers with federal government oversight, a registry for items like machine guns and suppressors, the whole nine yards. Tell them what makes someone a prohibited person. Then ask them if they think we need more gun laws. The reason that the anti-gunners were able to get their “majority of Americans” lie started in the first place was based on an incredibly misleading poll that asked low information voters whether or not they supported “background checks for all gun purchases.”

4. Assault weapons

Why it’s a lie: While we’ve lost the language battle on the phrase “assault rifle”, we’re winning the battle on the guns themselves. In fact, this one has been so thoroughly smashed that there’s no need for us to deal with it. Simple fact: an AR15 or AK47 is no more or less dangerous than the .30-06 your grandfather used to hunt with.

5. The gun culture is dying out
What they say: To hear it told, fewer Americans are buying guns, and the reason that more guns than ever are being sold is because a few (million) gun owners are buying them in case lots and hoarding them. Gun owners are a dying breed!

Why it’s a lie: The numbers just don’t match up. Guns have been selling for the past 8 years in record numbers, in numbers that couldn’t possibly be accounted for by existing gun owners adding to their collections. Plus, concealed carry permit applications have spiked across the country, and you can’t possibly believe that’s all because some guy has owned guns his entire life and suddenly now wants a permit. No, the majority of those CCW permits are new gun owners. Participation in training classes is off the charts across the country, and many of those attending are first timers. The gun culture may be changing away from hunters in duck blinds…now it’s soccer moms with M&Ps and accountants with 1911s.

The real truth is that anti-gun advocates can’t win without lying. The truth just isn’t on their side. Hopefully you’ll get a change to use this list next time you’re having a conversation with someone who’s on the fence and is merely repeating talking points he heard on CNN. Be gentle, be polite, but be persuasive. And don’t waste your time arguing with the truly anti-gun, because they’re a lost cause, doomed to the eventual dustbin of history alongside similar organizations like the KKK, Holocaust deniers, and 9/11 Truthers.

Don't Tread on my Gun Rights

For my readers in the great state of Washington – this weekend I’ll be at Norpoint Tactical Training Center in Arlington, WA getting people signed up to help with the 2010 Election here in Washington.  See that awesome yard sign?  I’ll have a limited supply of them with me, so make sure you stop by tomorrow from 10am-9pm or Sunday 11am-8pm to sign up and get involved!  Or you can just get a free target and a free button, but if you’re like me, maybe you’re tired of the politicians in DC ignoring you and trying to stomp on your right to keep and bear arms.  If you are tired of it, now’s your chance to do something about it.  Come see me this weekend at Norpoint, or if you’re a Washington resident and can’t make it, email me about how to get involved!