Rocky Times On Horizon For Gun Owners, Industry


BULLETIN: Cox Departure From NRA Adds Confusion, Concern

This week’s resignation of Chris Cox, veteran executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, left a lot of people stunned, others not so much, depending upon to whom one listens.

Chris Cox

Cox had been “suspended” about a week earlier over his alleged connection to what has been described by some as an “attempted coup” to oust longtime NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. Cox strongly denied that assertion.

Having led ILA since 2002, Cox was seen by many as the heir apparent of the top management position if or when LaPierre, 69, decides to retire. Now that appears to be no longer the case, adding to the confusion among members and non-members about NRA’s situation.

The embattled NRA has been under fired for several weeks following reports of budget problems and dueling lawsuits filed by the organization against its longtime public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, and a subsequent legal action by “Ack-Mac” against NRA. A separate legal action had been filed against former NRA President Oliver North, said to have tried to get LaPierre to resign during the annual convention in Indianapolis in April.

Wayne LaPierre

But LaPierre survived that alleged effort and North departed, stepping down as president.

The organization is being investigated by the New York State attorney general’s office, and earlier this week, LaPierre announced a shutdown of live broadcasts via NRA-TV. Here’s LaPierre’s statement to members:

“As many of you may know, we have been evaluating if our investment in NRATV is generating the benefits needed. This consideration included the return on investment and the cost and the direction of the content. Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment.

“So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming. Whether and when we return to ‘live’ programming is a subject of ongoing analysis.

“The NRA will continue and improve our service on social media channels and our flagship website, – your trusted resource of information. Our many web sites will continue to showcase new and archived videos, as we reorganize much of this information in a way that better serves our key audiences.

“What necessitated the change now is our conclusion that our longtime advertising firm and website vendor failed to deliver upon many contractual obligations it made to our Association. The NRA will always hold our vendors to high standards and ask that they maximize their value to the Association. No exceptions.

“Looking ahead, you can expect great things from your NRA. We will energize our messaging strategy, become more cost efficient, and promote the NRA’s singular focus like never before. Simply put, our messaging strategy will advance the NRA’s core mission: to serve our members and fight for our Second Amendment.”


Rocky Times On Horizon For Gun Owners, Industry

Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s plenty to go around as July looms on the horizon for Washington gun buyers, California gun owners and Virginia lawmakers, and the firearms industry was stunned by the recent filing of Chapter 11 papers by SportCo Holdings, which owns a couple of major distributorships, including Ellett Brothers.

So, we’ll begin in the Northwest, where Evergreen State gun buying is about to become a train wreck because the FBI advised state firearms retailers they will no longer conduct background checks for handguns in the National Instant Check System (NICS). The derailment arrives July 1, unless some miracle occurs at the federal level.

July 1 brings a change in handgun background checks in Washington State.

Henceforth, background checks for handgun buyers will be done at the local/state level, not by the NICS system, and it means no more same-day delivery on a handgun for anyone with a concealed pistol license. Ever since NICS went online, Washington CPL holders could purchase and take home a handgun, on the principle they had already passed a background check when they got their carry license. But now the typical 10-day waiting period will apply. There are currently more than 616,000 CPL holders in the state.

Law enforcement sources in the state tell us there is no easy solution. If this suddenly wakes up Washington’s estimated 2 million gun owners, it might make for some interesting messages to anti-gun U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with Democrat Congressional members who just can’t seem to get gun control out of their systems.

It might also result in problems for wannabe president Gov. Jay Inslee and his anti-gun Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Also July 1, the bulk of gun control Initiative 1639 takes effect, requiring annual background checks on buyers of so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” (the definition includes .22-caliber rifles such as the Marlin Model 60, Remington Nylon 66 and Ruger 10/22), plus a mandatory 10-day waiting period, requirement to allow law enforcement to examine one’s medical records, a fee to cover the cost of the paperwork, so-called “secure storage” and other mandates.

The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association are challenging provisions of the measure in federal court.

Golden State Demagoguery

Meanwhile, California gun owners have been scrambling to stock up on ammunition in advance of the state’s new law requiring ammunition purchases to be made face-to-face with retailers. No more online sales.

To purchase ammunition, buyers will have to go through a background check. Anti-gunners convinced themselves this will reduce violence, just like they thought years of other gun regulations would do the same.

Californians take yet another gun control hit July 1 when ammunition purchases will require background checks.

The law, passed as Proposition 63, also bans possession of “large-capacity magazines.”

Golden State liberals bring it all to you and the state’s beleaguered gun owners are growing more frustrated by the minute for being treated like second-class citizens.

Fox News quoted two retailers. Scott Bodkin, owner of OC Guns, said his sales doubled in the weeks leading up to the change in state law, adding people “don’t like it. It’s just another typical California deterrent to make things tougher for gun owners,” he said.

Retailer Mike Hein in Orange County told the Los Angeles Times, “Most people know about the deadline. They are running scared. They are pissed off.”

Virginia Legislators To Mull Guns

Back in The Old Dominion, anti-gun Gov. Ralph Northam has called a special legislative session for July 9 so lawmakers can consider his resurrected gun- control package in response to the May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Screen snip, YouTube)

Democrat Northam wants to ban so-called “assault weapons” even though the Virginia Beach murderer used two handguns. He wants “universal background checks” even though killer DeWayne Craddock passed background checks to buy his handguns, plus a federal check to purchase a suppressor.

Northam also wants to restrict child access to firearms, even though no child was involved in the shooting. The governor wants to require reporting lost or stolen firearms, even though Craddock didn’t steal either of his handguns. And Northam wants to revive the Commonwealth’s useless one-gun-a-month law, which would not have affected Craddock because he bought his guns about two years apart, in 2016 and 2018.

What Northam really wants is to ratchet down on the rights of law-abiding gun owners who didn’t commit the crime.

Bankruptcy For Big Distributors

The big downer for retailers and manufacturers came with the filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by SportCo Holdings, which owns United Sporting Company (USC) and Ellett Brothers, along with several other entities

What happened? A big part of the answer reportedly is Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the 2016 election, and management at the distributorships mistakenly bought big leading up to the election thinking she would win. It would have resulted in a rush on gun shops with lots of sales, but with Donald Trump taking the White House, gun owner fears subsided and there was no panic.

As sagely, albeit painfully, explained by Jim Shepherd at The Outdoor Wire, “Rather than booming sales and healthy margins, they were caught with inventory no one wanted.”

We’re talking rather substantial money, too, that is involved, according to Shepherd’s story. Vista Outdoors is the top creditor, in for more than $3.29 million, to which would be added Savage Arms at more than $1.9 million and Bushnell for $1.87 million, both part of the Vista family. Add Sturm, Ruger at more than $3.1 million, Magpul Industries for another $2.078 million, and on down the line to include Smith & Wesson at $1.38 million and Fiocchi of America at more than $1.09 million. This just touches the surface. There are scores of smaller unsecured creditors, according to the filing.

There were other factors leading to the SportCo Holdings filing. According to Digital Journal, the sale of Cabela’s to Bass Pro Shops also caused a “significant disruption” to outdoor retailing.

And then there’s the lawsuit, filed in South Carolina, involving two corporations “listed as holding 10% or more of SportCo’s equity interest.” Those companies are Wellspring Capital Partners I.V. L.P. and Prospect Capital Corporation. The latter is suing the former, along with several individuals. The lawsuit spans 32 pages.

Collateral Damage

There is a ripple effect to the downturn in gun and ammunition sales, and it has to do with wildlife management and the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration fund.

In Fiscal Year 2018, even as gun sales were beginning to lag, the Pittman-Robertson fund was able to distribute $797,160,652, but for FY 2019, the figure declined to $673,586,164. The money is apportioned to state wildlife agencies.

Revenue for the fund comes from the sale of firearms, ammunition and related products. Even gun owners who don’t hunt help support the fund with their gun and ammunition purchases.

But Then There’s Vermont

Every storm cloud has a silver lining, right?

Gov. Phil Scott caused no small amount of angst for anti-gunners when he recently vetoed legislation that would have created a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. ABC News said gun-control proponents were “deeply disappointed.”

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. (Screen snip, YouTube, VTDigger)

Scott, a Republican, is not liked by everyone in the gun-rights community. Last year he signed legislation he described as “a package of historic gun safety reforms because I believe they make schools, communities, families and individuals safer, while upholding Vermonters’ constitutional rights.”

Still, putting a veto on coveted gun-control legislation is no small matter.