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Synopsis of This Week’s Firearms Politics by Duane Liptak

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As a well-connected member of the firearm industry, Duane Liptak has a pretty good idea what’s happening in the legislative battle erupting over firearms. He’s also running for the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors in the 2018 election. He shared this synopsis of the current state of affairs after watching President Trump televised meeting with Congressional leaders this week and speaking with some of the people that are at the front lines in the fight for our Second Amendment rights. -Rob Curtis

By Duane Liptak

I’ve seen a lot of speculation, a lot of fears, and some outright misinterpretations of the current situation and stances on issues concerning the gun debate floating around lately, and although I’m not claiming to have a crystal ball, or, certainly to be the most informed person on the entire issue, I do have some folks working for us and some relationships that have afforded me some insight into the situation.

I put together this synopsis of where we stand using the resources I have. I can only attest to the accuracy of it as it has been conveyed to me, and I’ve tried to indicate where it’s my interpretation. This is a snapshot, the situation is constantly evolving, and it’s moving fast–so don’t take any of this as a concrete status. Without further delay, after discussions with the K Street folks, some of the National Rifle Association leadership, and others, here's where I believe we are:

Yes, Trump was being exceptionally histrionic. His tone in the meeting on Sunday was much different, apparently. My biggest takeaway after watching that meeting three or four times is that he has absolutely no idea what the heck is actually going on with some of the prior proposals. The few talking points about things he actually wants done were about purchasing age and background checks (fix NICS—maybe more, unfortunately) plus school security, but he had no idea what was in the Toomey Manchin bill or that they introduced that bill in defiance of the NRA. He had no idea what Feinstein's bill was at all, and he has no idea that he has no power to unilaterally ban bump fire stocks through regulation without changing the statutory definition of machine gun (Adam Kraut, et. al. are apparently standing ready to challenge and enjoinder anything like that), and he's throwing his typical chaos all over the place to shake things up.
School security was the major talking point of the NRA meeting, along with resisting any of the other ineffective measures that hurt our rights. I currently believe Trump’s position will end up being short of a hardware ban of any kind, except for bump fire stocks, unless someone can explain to him what they actually do and how dumb it is to bother banning them–and especially the second and third order effects potential on quality triggers, etc…

I also believe that the “take the guns and due process later” comment was an emotional outburst, probably due to frustration with the failures of the Florida situation, and that if he has any cooler heads at all around him, he will be talked off that ledge quickly.

Yes, it's not ideal commentary from a sitting president that made some very strong pro-gun statements on the campaign trail. No, Trump was not my first choice, but we'd probably have been dealing with this a year ago if his opponent won, and we'd be selling out the country for the benefit of the Clinton Foundation. Don't be mad at the NRA for backing him, because that was done when it became obvious that if we all didn't back him, we'd have Clinton in the White House and if Trump did squeak by without the NRA endorsement, we wouldn't have a seat at the table. Bottom line, we’d be in a worse position legislatively, and we’d also have a 5/4 court against us, rather than a 5/4 court in our favor. That alone may save the nation yet. Politics sucks. That's a fact.
If anything gets signed through a presidential executive order, the aforementioned legal efforts will likely invalidate it in short order as long as the courts aren't slow.

Ryan, of all people, still seems solid on absolutely no hardware bans and being resistant to anything else except school security. He seems to understand that none of the bans make our kids safer. The house will likely be in favor of increased school security measures. If he can hold the House together, we should be okay… and the House has the most to lose in Republican districts going into 2018 if they pass gun control.

So, I'm still cautiously optimistic that we will end up with school security and no hardware bans at all. I am concerned about age requirements and fix NICS. They know that November will be a bloodbath and they will likely lose the House to Democrat control if they cave; and then Katy bar the door, we're screwed.

We just have to make sure that if Fix NICS slips through, it still only includes the mandatory reporting parts which don't essentially change anything. It just adds penalties for people that don't do what they were supposed to be doing anyway. And, it's at least still tied to reciprocity, or doesn't go at all, and we have to fight to keep the long gun purchasing age at 18 to avoid stripping gun rights from millions of young Americans who are old enough to vote, die for their country, enter legal contracts, and get married.

We could ensure reciprocity remains relevant by tying it to teachers’ rights to carry, but we need to fight to avoid any changes to NICS that could have any potential for abuse. I hate to see any changes at all, but the buffoonery and lack of reporting by the Air Force in the Texas shooting has this one being a hot issue with bipartisan support, so while I oppose…I'm just saying where I think it stands.

Senate is less certain, as the Republican majority is razor thin and Rubio are already flaking, plus enough others are milquetoasts that it's a risk. They also have fewer seats up, and some of those guys are in purple states or have purple bases where they are trying to play the line. I haven't had confirmation on where McConnell's head is at. He was solid after Vegas. Not sure now.

I didn't speak with Wayne LaPierre or Chris Cox, who met with the President, but I did speak to Pete Brownell and other leadership at the NRA. My understanding is this: They oppose the bump fire stock ban, they oppose the age limit, they VEHEMENTLY oppose the whole skipping due process nonsense, they VEHEMENTLY oppose ANY hardware restrictions, and are supporting only school security enhancements, mental health and law enforcement responsibilities that also protect due process, and another point that I thought was a nice touch–which is civil liability for school administrations that neglect basic physical security or have policies to avoid referring dangerous youths to law enforcement or mental health for evaluation and awareness.

Gun Owners of America doesn't seem to have a seat at the table from what I've seen, but they need to keep getting the grassroots of their membership active and contacting congress critters, too. They also need to stop trying to demonize the NRA, that's not helping and it's not valid.

Yes, I’d like to see changes, and that’s why I’m running for the board, but the NRA is the only group that’s even getting a voice here, so we’ve got to make it OUR voice. Some help from GOA on the legal fight if an executive order goes through would be good, and stand by for challenges to anything that violates due process.

Bigger threats on the state level… The Flordia bill has some REALLY dangerous language about bump fire stocks and triggers, mental health etc., and is 66 pages of intentionally vague BS. If you're in Florida…You need to be writing and calling non-stop for school security, culpability for school administrators, etc., and to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens. Kill that bill. It's dangerous because the title and supposed topics are portrayed as “common sense controls”, but it's nefarious.

The Illinois bill is absolutely draconian. Same there. Anyone there needs to be in the 2-minute drill…that bill is bad, bad, bad. I fear that one has steam and includes all the hardware bogeymen.

Colorado has a Senate majority that is holding strong, but if the Republicans lose the Senate this fall and don't take the governor's mansion, expect California style gun control in the spring.

Utah…someone from the Church of Latter Day Saints needs to slap your governor.

Minnesota is as draconian as it gets too, although I’m not fully briefed on that situation. I'm looking at where we can help in those states.

Of course, all of this is a snapshot and may change tomorrow. The biggest thing is that if you haven't written your Congress critters at the state and federal level and your Governors, do it. If you have, write them again. Call, too. Have your spouse write them. Make sure your extended family is writing them. The minute anything specific hits the floor, write and call again. Use facts, not anger and threats, but a polite reminder that November is around the corner doesn’t hurt. NRA-ILA has contact forms, and their narrative can help write your body copy, but a personalized note potentially has more impact than a form letter. The benefit to a form letter is that they can quickly tally up who is for and who is against an issue when the letters come in. Maybe both is the answer.

And don't shop at Dick's.

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