Monday, May 26, 2008

The joy of big dogs

There are things that you learn when you have big dogs. Sometimes you forget them, and you regret it.

A small dog generally does little damage when it bounces around your car in excitement.
A big dog is another matter entirely.
Styrofoam cups for your coffee are okay with small dogs in the car.
They are NOT okay when a big dog sits down on the center console on your styrofoam cup.
With a big dog, you MUST use more durable containers for your coffee. Or get used to cleaning sticky cofffee residue out of the center console, and doing without your caffeine fix.
I already knew this, but some lessons you have to learn more than once. Sigh.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Combative, not complacent, at the NRA convention

Glen Reynolds at blogged a piece from the Louisville gathering wherein he stated that he found the mood at the NRA annual meeting and exposition to be one of complacency. (link to Pajamas Media piece here)

He thought that gun owners had had perhaps too many victories in recent years and no longer felt threatened, and he worried that this wasn't a good thing.
I have to disagree with him. What I saw in observing and talking to people at the meeting and out on the show floor was a variety of states of mind. The most prevalent attituded was guarded optimism. No one was cocky, no one was that foolish or oblivious. While the frivolous lawsuits launched by the various cities had been beaten down in the appeals courts, and people like Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Rendell and their ilk have been roundly thumped at various points, no one pretended that the fight was in any way over or even turning enough our way for anything like complacency.
Rather, I found people encouraged by the marked trend toward a more literal constitutional interpretation that supports our position in favor of gun ownership. Most of the more recent court decisions, as well as the current makeup of the Supreme Court seemed to give most of them some degree of confidence that the pending decision on the DC gun ban will go our way, in part if not in whole. During the Clinton era, hardly anyone would have dared believe that we would break even, let alone win.
But no one was strutting about thumping their chests. They know that McCain is at best a lukewarm ally, hardly to be trusted, let alone to be relied upon. They know that Hillary is not to be trusted at all, and that Obama! Hoo, boy. Obama is a nightmare. Allied with a Democrat-led Congress, he could wreak havoc on us, and that was what I saw lurking in the back of everyone's minds. No one much wants to have to come out for McCain, but Obama scares the beJesus out of them.
No one was ready quite yet to contemplate a wholesale return to the fire sales that preceded the passage of the semi-auto gun ban in 1994, but it simmered in the background, this idea that it could happen again. I sometimes thought that people were trying hard not to talk too much about just when they'd decide it was time to cut their losses and start dumping guns that are likely to be banned if Obama, et al, get their way. People are nervous about that, yes, indeed. But no one wants to be the one that starts the stampede.
However, unlike in times past they're also more feisty in their attitude, more beligerent, less resigned. They seem to believe that this time not only will they have some legal precedents to aid them but that we, gun owners as a whole, will be ready to fight at the sound of the bell: swinging hard, moving fast and pretty much united. After having their heads handed to them in some elections where they misjudged the attitude of the populace toward gun ownership, the Dems are taking care not to bring up gun control except to constituencies they consider friendly. What's more, recent elections have brought conservative Dems into Congress who may well not accept the old leadership's demonization of guns and may prove better allies to us than many Republicans.
The recent kerfuffle over Jim Zumbo's faux pas has lent some confidence to our side. Zumbo uttered the old saw about nobody needing a black gun, and gun owners came swarming up over the gunwales to bite him on the ass for it. This time around, no one seems ready to believe that people are willing to start throwing the black guns over the side so that they can save their precious Perazzis. Perhaps, finally, gun owners have come to realize, really to believe, that if we don't hang together then we shall most assuredly hang separately, each gun type in its turn being outlawed until nothing of what we treasure remains.
So I wouldn't characterize the prevailing attitude at the NRA show as complacency. I would call it the kind of quiet calm that you might see in men getting ready to go into battle, going over the top into something that they know is going to be nasty. They have no illusions. The fight IS coming to them, sooner or later. But this time they're not going to be fighting uphill all the way, knowing the terrain is arrayed against them. This time they have some victories under their belts and even though they know that it's going to get ugly, they know that the other side has been reeling from their own losses, is in a fair degree of disarray and that they ain't as cocky as they used to be, either.
It's not complacency that Glen Reynolds saw. It's the slightly distant, misty look of people readying themselves for a fight they know is coming, soon or late, trying to be ready for it when it's here, reaching into themselves for courage and grit, thinking hard about anything else but defeat. This time they think we can win, if we all just hang tough, and hang together. Somebody's going to get a bloody nose, and they mean for it to be the other guy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The meeting is over, the reporting is pending

Have been back from Louisville for a couple of days, but life has intervened, as always and reportage of the events and people and gear will have to wait a couple of days more.

Should be able to post a lengthy report on things done and seen by this weekend.  In the meantime, let me say what a pleasure it was to meet all the bloggers who atttended, even if we didn't spend a great deal of time together due to all that we were trying to get done.  A big THANKS! to Christy, Bitter Bitch from the Bitch Girls blog, for all that she did to get things organized and to work with the NRA to keep things updated and flowing.  Also wanted to say thanks to Michael Bane for the Friday night happy hour that he hosted for us, where we got to spend a lot of time talking about everything you can imagine.  With Tod Windsor, Tim Craft and Alex Cocco from our Gunsite alumni group and Bob Jaynes, my friend from KC3 there as well, we covered a lot of different subjects, some in quite ribald fashion.  
More to follow, stand by.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Kickoff at the NRA convention!

Got to Louisville yesterday with Churchill in tow and checked in with the press room, got my credentials and a goodie bag of stuff, then took a quick spin around the floor to see what little I could while the vendors were setting up.

Touched base with my friend and fellow Gunsite alumnus Tod Windsor at the Camoseal booth, then headed downtown to the the NRA meet and greet for the press at the Makers Mark lounge.
Got to meet Bitter Bitch and several other of the bloggers, and am looking forward to meeting a bunch more of them at the happy hour tonight at Bass Pro Shops.
Not going to try to do the complete blogging experience while I'm there today, but will definitely have more impressions after getting to spend more time seeing the goods on display.  This is going to be great!  All that gun stuff and all those gun people all together in one place!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Longer, lower, wider!!!

Remember those words?  If you were around in the 1960s and 1970s you do, because that's how the US automobile industry used to describe their cars.

But the reason I bring those words up now is that I think of them every time I hear people gnashing their teeth and wailing about our current gas price crisis, or see another headline about people trying to dump their SUVs because they suck gas like a starlet with a dollar bill up her nose.

When the gas embargo hit us in 1975 people went nuts.  They began to look seriously at the nature of their cars for the first time in many years - those longer, lower, wider beasts that most people were still buying and driving.  Those of us who had gotten interested in European and Japanese cars, with their lighter weight and greater emphasis on efficiency and handling and gas mileage, gazed with some amusement as the US auto industry scrambled to bring out cars that got better MPG.  Some horrible mistakes were made, such as when they also had to deal with some pretty ridiculous safety regulations from the feds, but gradually the American car leaned down and became significantly more competitive in performance.  Since then I'd been watching the changes in car designs and buying habits, and had been generally happy with what I saw as an evolution in tastes and the character of our cars.

Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s that began to change.  Cars started getting big and dumpy again.  Oh, they were better cars than the mishmashes that we were served up in the late 1970s, with better engines and lots more features and technical sophistication, but they were also growing inexorably larger and larger, wider and wider.  The Ford Explorer, for instance, went from boxy and useful to chunky and wide, with less interior space every time I climbed into one.  A lot of that was the greater interest shown by women in the SUV, which meant that more creature comforts were being built in.

My interest in the subject was piqued when I first considered getting an SUV for the purpose that they were originally made, which was to have something that would haul around me and the critters and our gear if and when we had to drive in less than optimal conditions, like in snow, rain or off-road.

But there weren't none a' those out there like I wanted!  I wanted a simple boxy 4x4 with a lightweight body and a big tailgate with lotsa interior space.  The Isuzu Trooper was pretty much the last one that was made that way.  Cars like what I desired were out there, but they were WAY out there, as in other countries, over the water, out there.  You couldn't buy them in the US and still can't.  When I was overseas working or visiting I saw lotsa nifty little 4x4s that were handy and quick and of a size to be useful.  What was available here was, and is, bloated and heavy, of doubtful utility: jammed with 'visual elements' and padding but very little that beckoned to a guy with dogs and gear.  The Honda Element had promise with its "get it filthy, hose it out" basic interior design, but it didn't have roll-down windows - a MUST-have if your dogs ride with you! - and it wasn't as spacious as it should be.  Getting up to the back seat wasn't easy, either.

I thought that the new Toyota FJ re-introduction would be slick and then I saw one.  Ye gods.  It was HUGE, and expensive and essentially useless to someone such as I,  looking for something like a slab-sided Montero from ages past, or an modernized Trooper or even a Suzuki Samurai update.

Longer, lower, wider.  It keeps running through my head like some kind of Detroit mantra, but instead of leading me to automotive nirvana, it's making me nuts as I observe the growing angst over gas prices.  I've been quietly saying to myself "I knew this was coming" for the last 10 years, and at the same time wondering how it was that no-one else did, or seemingly didn't care.  Everyone seemed lost in the pursuit of making yet bigger trucks for more badly behaved women drivers who made up for their missing testosterone with the way that they bullied other drivers, or simply paid them no mind as they rolled down the road, cell phone clamped firmly in ear, wandering lane to lane in no particular pattern.

And then there are the big-ass pick-em-up trucks that the jackass boys drive, that have never seen a speck of mud in their entire existence and never had a critter in the load bed, the ones that they park diagonally across three parking spaces just because they can.  All horsepower and ignorance.  There's a working truck under there somewhere but it'll never get out because of the fat moron driving it. 

Now Ford's in a jam because things have gotten so bad that their enduring sales leader, the F-150 pickup, is even dropping in sales and their SUV line is just sitting there on sales lots, doing nothing.  No one could see this coming?  No one thought about that old 'history repeats itself' phrase?  No one could see a need for smaller and more economical cars that would be suited to people with less money, needing reliable transport that was cheaper to run?

This whole line of thinking was brought to a head by a recent trip to France to visit my daughter, who lives just outside of Paris.  I was in heaven seeing all those slick, quick leetle zootmobiles!  I was CONSTANTLY swiveling around to see yet another really interesting looking car while I was there and even more than that, to see the very practical utility vehicles and delivery trucks and the like that would fill be just the thing for what I wanted and needed.  But they don't sell them here in the states, and I despair that they ever will.  Some are too quirky, too completely adapted to the European market to win over American tastes.  And some would have a hard time meeting US federal specs, yet another hassle that seems designed to screw with sensible choices.  (What did I just say?  OF COURSE, if it's a federal reg, it's designed to screw with sensible, RATIONAL choices.  Yeesh.)

Yet there may be hope.  The Chrysler corporation is doing really well selling a delivery van/truck line that comes almost unaltered from Europe, and if gas goes up even more and the economy continues to tank then we might even see some of those really interesting and quirky and fast and appealing little cars and vans make it over here.  It's something to hope for.

Anything but longer, lower, wider.  Ech.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ain't nothin' succeeds like success

We've had legal concealed carry in Kentucky for 12 years, and it's been a marked success. For those who weren't caught up in the issue and didn't live through all those years when we didn't have it, it's hard to understand how long we went without it, and how hard we had to fight to get it. When I got deeply involved with the effort in 1994-1995 we launched a new way of dealing with our opponents and used some new weapons that made all the difference in our struggle.

Prior to the founding of the Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed (KC3) by Tony Haubner, the anti-gunners held sway in the public communications venues. The newspapers in the large cities, Louisville and Lexington, pretty much controlled the debate by limiting access to the public via their pages, and deciding what they would report or suppress. They were successful in labeling gun owners and proponents of concealed carry as "gunslingers" and "gun nuts" in their reportage and editorials, and we essentially had no effective way to reply or to force them to give us an equal opportunity. They could thumb their noses at us with impunity.

That changed with KC3. We knew that there were several things that we had to do to get CCDW passed. One was to have a good bill to put before the legislature. Tony had drafted one, based on Florida's landmark 1989 law, and with a few refinements we were ready to pitch it.

Next we had to make ourselves heard, and we knew that we were going to have to make news, not just whine about being ignored. So we worked with other groups to collect over 21,000 signatures on petitions calling for the passage of our concealed carry bill, and we started getting people fired up.
Perhaps most importantly, we used talk radio, which was just then beginning to make a national impact and to make a difference in the local media mix. We were able to link up with talk show host Stew Williams on WAKY 790 AM and others in the Louisville market to put out our talking points and to attract public attention, and public comments. That led to debates on TV and to our editorials appearing in the papers which had previously blackballed us. Once we had people talking they couldn't very well ignore us. We were making news, making a noise, making people think and talk and call the radio shows and write letters to the editors.

That was the tipping point, to my mind. Always before the papers had been able to characterize us as a bunch of redneck nutjobs, or worse. This time, when they called us "gunslingers", we fired back "Uh, no. That's not acceptable. My mother's going to get one of these permits when this is passed, and I don't want you calling my mother, or my grandmother who's also thinking about it, a gunslinger. Gunslingers were pretty unsavory and you should be ashamed of talking about these ladies that way." Ooops. How can a politically correct editor go around slinging slurs at women? Pretty soon, we controlled the terms of the debate and forced a consideration of the issue on its merits and the facts, not on the traditional liberal appeal to fear and emotions.

And THAT paved the way for us to bring up all the things that most of the public had never heard, facts about defensive uses of guns and people who owed their lives to having a gun at the right time. We opened a lot of people's eyes to information that they'd never even dreamed existed, because as far as the liberal press was concerned it DIDN'T. They'd never reported it. Worse, they couldn't open their minds even to consider it! I had conversations with reporters where I would tell them things about firearms and self-defense, about government studies that they'd never heard of and about surveys relating to armed citizens and they'd just stare at me. I even had them say to me "I just don't believe that", or "I can't believe that" - and that was IT, end of conversation. Finito. They didn't say that they'd check my facts or that they'd investigate our claims. They just shut down. Their minds were closed to any viewpoint but their own, and we scared them, badly!

So we were on the air, and in the news and we were making people think, and then we were in the legislature in the committee rooms. We were testifying, and finding that we had some of the same problems with the representatives and senators that we had with reporters. They knew what they FELT about it and weren't going to let little things like facts and reality get in their way, by God!

Fortunately, we had more friends than foes in the Kentucky General Assembly and we had Representative Robert Damron, our big gun. While we were beating the drums for our bill, Bob was working the legislature and demonstrating a talent for working the process that no other proponent of concealed carry had brought to the fight before. All the legislators who'd introduced bills in the past were pretty much good 'ole boys whose hearts were in the right place, but they didn't have the backroom skills or savvy that Bob Damron did, and weren't able to make things happen like he did. They didn't speak well on radio or TV and they let the media make rubes of them. Damron was made for the modern media era. He spoke well and could steer an interview where he wanted it. He courted the press, always gave them a story and never forgot about working the press whenever we had a vote or committee meeting coming up. Bob was a bulldog, never let go once he had his teeth in an issue, and if you pissed him off by not coming through for him or trying to screw him or waffling on a vote he didn't forget and he didn't let up.

There's a lot more that went on and a lot more folks who were involved in the effort to get House Bill 40, our CCDW law, passed into law and signed by the governor. There's probably a whole book's worth of stuff in it. I won't even start to scratch the surface with this ditty.

I just wanted to comment on our history with concealed carry at this time because of the NRA convention coming up. There will be thousands of people attending the events in Louisville next week. No doubt hundreds of them will be carrying firearms for their defense. And they'll be carrying them LEGALLY according to the provisions of one of the best CCDW laws in the nation because of what we put into motion back in 1996 with HB40. They'll be carrying in a state that's shown that the hoplophobes were full of horsehockey when in 1996 they wailed about how blood would run in our streets if we let our citizens carry guns in their pockets.

Kentucky's experience with defensive carry has been nothing but good. After our bill passed we spent the next several years making improvements in our carry law, and fighting back attempts by the anti-gunners to sabotage it. We addressed other issues relating to firearms and gun ownership that made things better not only for permit holders but for all gun owners in the state.

So when NRA members come to Kentucky next week and wonder what w
e can do to preserve our rights or even to expand them, we can point to the fact that they can carry concealed here and show them how it's done, with enough effort, grit and sheer audacity. When we work hard at it, we can't lose. At this juncture, with the potential for a president being elected who loathes us and what we stand for, we DARE NOT lose! Watch six!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

If you're coming to the NRA convention in Louisville, here's something you should know...

I'm going to be attending the NRA convention next week in Louisville, Kentucky since I live just up the road in Frankfort, and have been doing some digging around about the situation vis a vis concealed carry in the area.

As you may or may not know, Kentucky has an excellent concealed carry law. We recognize permits from other states and we have liberal restrictions on where you can carry. Since it passed in 1996 it's been a great success. There have been over 60,000 permits issued, and permit holders have an excellent safety record. The Violence Policy Center, the Brady bunch and their mindless minions predicted that blood would flow in our streets if the law was passed but once again, as ever again, they were wrong. Now more Kentuckians, and our guests, are guarded by the armed citizen, the best protection you can get.

Unfortunately, some few places still haven't gotten the word and they prohibit legal CCDW on their premises and in their buildings. Sadly, one of those is the Louisville Slugger museum, where they show you how they make the famous hardwood baseball bats.

Their website is at They have signs posted on their doors prohibiting lawful citizens from exercising their right to carry in their building. Sounds to me like a reason not to go there, if that's what they want.

The organization that I helped found and used to help run, the Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed (KC3 -, has gone missing in action so they're not putting out the word on this like they should be. The most recent president and vice president abandoned ship in a most unseemly manner, like rats going overboard, leaving the outfit rudderless just as the NRA convention approached and this issue loomed large. Pity, since if it wasn't for KC3 there wouldn't be CCDW in Kentucky in the first place. It's a shame that our organization fell into the hands of some people who were too lazy to carry on the fight, and who tried to cripple it as they headed for the lifeboats.
So I'm passing this on to you in cyberspace so that you'll know that if you come here for the gathering, please do NOT spend your money visiting the Louisville Slugger museum if you believe in self-defense and the preservation of your rights. And please be sure to contact them via their web site to let them know why they're going to be missing out on their share of the estimated $15,000,000 (15 MILLION!) that NRA members and attendees are going be spending in Jefferson county that week. It does no good to avoid them if they don't know why you're doing it.

The GOOD NEWS is the the Frazier Historical Museum, just down the street from the Louisville Slugger, has now taken down their "no weapons" signs and informs us that they welcome CCDW permit holders as long as they observe the laws pertaining thereto.

Their web site is and if you love edged weapons, firearms of all types and all ages and the history that surrounds them they you're going to LOVE this place! They even have a large section of arms on loan from the Tower of London armory!

By all means, if you love history and guns and knives and swords, take the time to visit the Frazier museum, you'll have a ball. They have fencing demonstrations in addition to the static displays, and the layout is as modern as it gets, very nicely done.

This is a perfect opportunity for gun owners to use the power of the purse both to reward our friends and punish our foes. Don't let it pass by. Every time we flex our economic muscles we send the message that we won't be ignored or trifled with by the politicians and organizations who threaten our rights or impugn us.