Georgia Bill Makes Property Owners Liable for Injuries in Gun-Free Zones

Georgia House Bill 1364 makes property owners liable if a legal concealed carrier is harmed while barred from being armed for self-defense on the owner’s property.

HB 1364 says, “Any lawful weapons carrier who is prohibited from carrying… and who is injured… shall have a cause of action against the person, business or other entity that owns or legally controls such property,” according to 11 Alive.

The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Martin Momtahan (R).

Momtahan explained his motivation for introducing the legislation.

He said, “All we want to make sure is, if you’re in the store or anywhere and it has a ‘no gun’ sign, then that store needs to understand they have absolute custodial care of that person [who’s denied the ability to be armed].”

The text of HB 1364 clarifies that any posting that bars legal gun owners from being armed for self-defense must be accompanied by signage that makes clear the land owner understands his custodial duties:

Any public notice posted on a property that includes language which provides that weapons are prohibited on such property shall also contain language citing this Code section and providing that any lawful weapons carrier who is prohibited from carrying his or her weapon, including a concealed weapon, while on such property shall be under the absolute custodial care of the person, business, or other entity that owns or legally controls such property.

 

BLACK HILLS PICKS UP $30 MILLION NAVY/MARINE CORPS AMMO CONTRACT

South Dakota-based Black Hills last week beat out five other ammunition makers to deliver 9mm ammo to the Navy and Marine Corps.

The $30,885,083 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract covers the procurement, manufacturing, testing, inspection, and packaging of 9mm barrier blind cartridges to the Navy and Marine Corps. These will be for use in the services’ front-line 9mm pistols including the Beretta M9 and SIG Sauer M17 and M18.

The rounds were chosen for “combat purposes to provide enhanced terminal effects,” as described by the contracting agency, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division, in Norco, California. NSWC Corona first listed the contract opportunity last June and had six competitive bids submitted.

Although it is not disclosed what loads were submitted for testing, Black Hills introduced its Honey Badger Line of self-defense ammo in 2015, which used a monolithic copper solid projectile to consistently penetrate barriers. In its 100-grain +P version, the Black Hills Honeybadger 9mm archives 1,250 FPS velocity out of a 4.4-inch test barrel and generates 347 foot-pounds of energy. The company also makes a 125-grain Subsonic Honeybadger.

 

The Black Hills 125-grain 9mm Subsonic Honeybadger
The Black Hills 125-grain 9mm Subsonic Honeybadger. (Graphic: Black Hills)

Compare this to the standard M1152 load developed by Winchester which was selected in 2016 as the ammunition supplier for the U.S. Army Modular Handgun System program. Using a 115-grain flat nose full metal jacketed bullet, the 9x19mm Luger round has a distinctive shape. With a brass case and military primer, it has an advertised velocity of 1,320 FPS at the muzzle which translates to 445 foot-pounds of energy. Downrange these shifts to 1,301/432 at 5 yards and 132/387 at 25 yards, according to the tables provided by the company.

The work on the Navy’s new barrier blind cartridge will be performed at Black Hills’ Rapid City plant and is expected to be completed by February 2029.

Judge Declares Fargo’s Ban on Home-Based Gun Businesses Goes Too Far

For several years the city of Fargo, North Dakota has prohibited FFL’s from operating out of their homes, but the state legislature took aim at that restriction last year and passed a law that bans localities from establishing zoning ordinances that specifically include firearms and ammunition based businesses.

The city almost immediately filed suit challenging the law, but this week state District Judge Cherie Clark ruled against Fargo; tossing out the city’s lawsuit and rejecting its argument that the zoning preemption law violates the state constitution and the home rule powers granted to local authorities.

“While the Court agrees that (the North Dakota Constitution) intends for ‘maximum local self-government,’ the law is not settled that this language alone provides home rule cities the right to legislate on topics the state legislature has limited,” the judge wrote.

But she also expressed concerns about the Legislature’s actions: “If the legislature continues to pare home rule powers, home rule cities lack the discretion to address important issues impacting their respective and unique communities.”

What, exactly, is so unique about Fargo that federal firearms licensees shouldn’t be allowed to operate a home-based business? The city has never offered a good explanation, instead blithely asserting that it “does not want its residents to utilize their homes in residential areas as gun stores.”

Well, tough. There’s no prohibition in either state or federal law that precludes home-based FFLs, and it doesn’t appear that any other locality in the state has tried to erect any similar barriers, so why should FFLs in Fargo be punished or forced to spend money on a brick-and-mortar location, especially if they’re selling guns on a part-time basis?

This is actually the second law that the state legislature has adopted to deal with Fargo’s restrictions, but the city was successful in defending its ordinance in 2021, which led lawmakers to try again last year.

Bill sponsor and Republican state Rep. Ben Koppelman told a state Senate panel in April that the issue came to greater attention in 2016 when, because of the ordinance, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives refused to renew the federal firearms licenses of Fargo dealers who sold out of their homes.

“What is at issue is whether we want local governments creating gun control or whether we want gun regulations to remain a state-controlled issue,” Koppelman said in April. “Without this bill and in light of the (2021) court opinion, I think local political subdivisions could propose all sorts of local gun control, and based on the anti-gun track record of the City of Fargo Commission, I think we could expect it.”

Both sides in the lawsuit agree that the issue at hand goes beyond the zoning laws in question, and instead touches on the ability of home-rule localities to pass their own laws in any number of areas. But even though the North Dakota Constitution compelled the state legislature to come up with a home-rule statute and lawmakers granted home-rule communities the authority to adopt ordinances, resolutions, and regulations that provide for public health, safety, morals, and welfare, it’s still within the state’s authority to declare certain subjects off-limits to local control.

Three years ago the legislature adopted a preemption law stating:

1. A political subdivision, including home rule cities or counties, may not enact a zoning ordinance or any other ordinance relating to the purchase, sale, ownership, possession,transfer of ownership, registration, or licensure of firearms and ammunition which is more restrictive than state law. All such existing ordinances are void.

A state judge ruled that Fargo’s home-based FFL zoning prohibition could still be enforced because the state had no regulations concerning commercial firearms sales. While most of us would conclude that any zoning ordinance would be more restrictive than a state law that doesn’t exist, District Judge Stephannie Nicole Stiel sided with Fargo’s argument that the ordinance in question wasn’t more restrictive than state law because state statutes were silent on commercial gun sales sales.

That’s not the case these days, thanks to the legislature’s response last year, and Judge Clark made the right call, even though her editorializing on the legislature’s actions was completely unnecessary. Fargo officials could still appeal Clark’s decision, but the odds of success are pretty long, and it would be a waste of time and taxpayer money to try to keep this needless ordinance in place instead of accepting home-based FFLs and the tax revenue they generate.

NRA Loses Corruption Case, LaPierre Liable for Millions

Manhattan, New York — The National Rifle Association failed to safeguard its donor’s funds while Wayne LaPierre diverted millions toward lavish personal expenses.

That’s the finding a six-person jury handed down on Friday after a week of deliberations. They sided with New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.) against the NRA and its leadership. In addition to the group and its former CEO Lapierre, the jury also ruled against former Treasurer Woody Phillips and General Counsel John Frazer.

The six-member jury in the civil case found LaPierre did $5.4 million worth of harm to the NRA by using its charitable funds to pay for things like private jet travel. They determined he’d already paid back about a million dollars of that harm, but also that there was enough evidence to bar him from being the group’s CEO in the future.

They found Phillips had violated his duty to work in good faith for the NRA, and that his briefly-lived post-employment contract was an unauthorized related-party transaction. However, they found it didn’t do any monetary harm to the organization. Similarly, the jurors found Frazer had violated his duty to the group and authorized “materially false” statements the NRA made on a government disclosure about related party transactions, but they also found his actions didn’t cause the group monetary harm and there wasn’t cause to remove him.

The jury also found a series of payments made to board members or people related to NRA employees were not properly approved ahead of time, but all but two–hair and makeup for Wayne LaPierre’s wife and speaking fees for former NRA president David Keene–were properly approved after the fact. However, they also found the NRA did not have a proper whistle-blower policy for years and did nothing to prevent retaliation against eight whistle-blowers identified in the case.

Judge Joel Cohen is now tasked with deciding what remedies are appropriate for the damages the jury has identified. What he decides will determine the future of the nation’s largest gun-rights group. In addition to barring LaPierre from working with the NRA or other non-profits, he could force the former CEO to pay the organization back for expenses the jury found were unlawful. But he could also appoint a monitor to oversee the NRA’s operations, which might completely transform the group’s leadership and internal operations.

A significant overhaul of the most prominent gun group in America will have a substantial impact on gun politics throughout the nation, especially since it’s far from clear the group can recover.

Of course, the corruption allegations and legal ordeal have already made a tremendous mark on the NRA. Since news of the illicit spending broke in 2018, the group has experienced an unprecedented exodus of members. Millions of people have abandoned the organization, with nobody quite sure how many remain. That’s led directly to a funding shortfall that has forced the group to slash spending on key programs, such as gun safety training and political campaigns, while pouring an unprecedented amount into controversial legal bills.

The group has continued to see declines in fundraising and will likely only be a shadow of its former self in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

LaPierre, who resigned in the middle of the trial, and the NRA have argued that downfall was AG James’s goal from the beginning. They noted she had promised to investigate the group during her campaign, which she said wasn’t a charity but a “terrorist organization.” Her initial complaint sought the total shutdown of the NRA.

“The fact is, Letitia James set out to destroy the NRA, and the best way to do that was to destroy Wayne LaPierre,” P. Kent Correll, who represents the former CEO, said in closing arguments.

However, Judge Cohen and an appellate court rejected the argument that the case was solely a political attack when the NRA sought to have it dismissed. However, Judge Cohen also removed dissolution as a potential remedy because he argued it would be detrimental to NRA members–the people James is tasked with protecting in the suit.

“In short, the Complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the ‘corporate death penalty,’” he wrote in his opinion. “Moreover, dissolving the NRA could impinge, at least indirectly, on the free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members.

But he let the case proceed because the allegations “tell a grim story of greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight at the highest levels of the National Rifle Association.”

In addition to the argument about James’s political motivations, the NRA focused much of its defense on the claim it had already instituted enough reforms to self-correct. It argued that many of the illicit expenses at issue in the case did happen, but the NRA had since fired some of those involved and established internal controls to address the problems. It also attacked as unreliable former insiders, including board members and executives, who testified against those claims in court.

“The NRA Board of Directors, which is the seat of the NRA’s corporate governance, acted in good faith and with ordinary care,” the NRA’s lawyer argued.

“Ladies and gentlemen, when you’re caught in the act, saying you’re sorry now, saying that you’ll do better, doesn’t mean you didn’t take the cookie,” the AG’s lawyer responded.

As has been the case with some current NRA insiders, the group’s current leadership failed to convince the jury they resolved the issues.

Neither the NRA nor the AG responded to requests for comment.

Judge Cohen will now schedule the next trial phase, where he will be responsible for determining the final settlement of the case.

Jury finds NRA and ex-CEO Wayne LaPierre liable in civil corruption trial

The jurors determined there was cause to remove LaPierre and that he owes the organization nearly $4 million.

Former National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre has been ordered to pay nearly $4 million to the nonprofit after a jury on Friday found him liable in a civil corruption trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The defendants, which included the NRA itself, the organization’s general counsel and corporate secretary John Frazer and former treasurer and chief financial officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips, were accused of using the nonprofit as a “personal piggy bank” in a civil lawsuit filed by James in 2020. James alleged that they violated nonprofit laws and misused tens of millions in NRA funds for personal gain.

After a week of deliberation, the jury agreed that the attorney general had proved her case, finding each of the defendants liable for violating their statutory obligations. The jury determined that LaPierre cost the organization more than $5 million but had already repaid $1.4 million. Phillips was held to have harmed the group to the tune of $2 million; the jury did not put a dollar amount on Frazer’s violation.

In their argument, attorneys for the NRA had sought to distance the organization from LaPierre, who announced his resignation as CEO just days before the trial began in January, after more than 30 years at the helm. Sarah Rogers, representing the organization, said in opening arguments that LaPierre, though a “valuable and visionary leader, was “not always a meticulous corporate executive” and questioned why the NRA was even a defendant in the case.

LaPierre’s attorneys, however, maintained that he used private jets not for personal gain, but to raise funds for the organization and for gun rights causes — even as LaPierre himself testified that he improperly expensed private flights and failed to disclose accepting luxury vacations from vendors.

“He was a visionary,” his lawyer P. Kent Correll said in closing arguments on Thursday. “He was a genius.”

NY vs. NRA: Statement by Former BOD Timothy Knight

The verdict in the NY vs. NRA case is due shortly.

Although I believe the case had some political motivations behind it based on the words of the New York Attorney General when she was running for office, I don’t think NRA members should dismiss the grave concerns revealed in what is now several court cases.

I, along with a few other directors, expressed concerns over the misappropriation of funds both internally and then later publicly in 2019.

We recognized who our boss actually was: our fellow members who were faithfully paying their dues.

We did not believe the NRA Board and management were holding to the mission of the Association, nor were they being transparent about expenses. Every NRA Director has a duty to the members, the law, and the NRA’s mission statement. Several of us were dismissed from our committees and accused of disloyalty towards the NRA for raising our financial concerns. Most Board members were too scared to stand up to Wayne and his cronies, especially Marion Hammer. Other Board members were part of the management cabal themselves and had no intention of changing a thing. So, the Board circled their wagons and remained silent. They were unwilling or unable to speak up or divided on where their loyalties lay.

The current NRA Board has failed in its duty to the NRA members, and I think that every single Board member who hasn’t openly spoken up about reform and responsibility should resign immediately.

Our Association deserves bold, honorable, and honest Board members focused on their legal responsibilities and on the members who elected them. No more should they focus on those who can dole out favors, vacations, car rides, consulting fees, and other grafts. We need to stop electing the silent, the complicit, or those who hope to be “trusted remainders” when this all blows over. Board members who are 2nd Amendment heroes, politicians, or captains of industry might once have been effective for our association. They are no longer effective and need to resign as well.

To fix our association, we need a much smaller board with term limits as well as a significant revision of the structure the board operates under. Strict disclosure rules for Board members and management need to be enforced and shared with NRA members during the annual meeting. This information should be disclosed to everyone during the main members’ business meeting, which is open to the public.

I trust the members who make up the association and in the mission statement that should always keep it focused. We need new leadership and a new board now. If both do not change, the slow degradation of our once great association will do more damage to our civil rights, hunting culture, gun safety education, and competitions that we can ill afford. My fellow members, if the court does not grant you the remedy you think is deserved, please stop supporting the do nothing, ne’er do wells, and the faded heroes.

I look forward to the day when the NRA, once again, through hard work and results, regains the trust of millions of law-abiding gun owners. We are stronger when we stand together as hunters, competitors, enthusiasts, advocates, and educators.

Timothy Knight
NRA Board of Directors 2015-2019

Analysis: Can the NRA Recover?

A jury is currently considering the fate of the charges against the NRA and its top leadership. Whatever they decide, it’s worth asking if the nation’s largest gun-rights group can ever reach its former heights under any outcome.

The NRA, former CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the other defendants offered up their closing arguments while the New York Attorney General’s office tried to counter them on Thursday. Judge Joel Cohen then read out his instructions to the jury on how to decide the dispute on Friday. The six New Yorkers then headed back to deliberate and didn’t return.

They’ll be back at it on Tuesday. It’s possible–perhaps probable–that they will find the NRA and its leadership didn’t properly administer the non-profit’s funds. They may then recommend the judge force LaPierre and the other individual defendants to repay tens of millions to the NRA as well as ban them from working at any non-profit again. After that, the judge could appoint an overseer to scrutinize the NRA’s governing structure and operations.

If that happens, the gun-rights group will undergo what’s likely to be a significant internal makeover. If, instead, the jury sides with the NRA and individual defendants, it will probably continue on with the strategy it has been pursuing since the controversy began.

Either way, it will be a huge challenge for the group to return to where it was before the corruption allegations surfaced. In 2018, before the scandal blew up, the NRA’s Form 990 shows it brought in over $350 million. The group’s revenue has shrunk every year since then and was down to just over $211 million in 2022.

Of course, it’s hard to know exactly what will happen. The NRA has lost millions of members, and it’s not clear how many it has left. Regaining their trust will probably be a taller task for the NRA than other groups who’ve found themselves in at least somewhat similar circumstances.

Most non-profit scandals don’t drag on this long or reach the point of a jury trial. NRA leadership would likely argue that’s because the AG’s political bias has motivated her to take this case further than others, and the AG would probably respond by saying the NRA refused to come into compliance with the law by making necessary reforms.

Whichever view you take, the bottom line is that perfect examples of what might happen to the NRA really don’t exist.

However, some recent high-profile scandals might still be instructive. Two examples provide some particularly interesting insight into the different paths the NRA might take and how that could work out.

In 2012, the Susan G. Komen Foundation became the center of a public relations firestorm after it dropped grants for breast cancer screening exams at Planned Parenthood (before later reversing itself). The decision alienated a substantial portion of the group’s donor base and subjected them to political attacks. It also increased scrutiny of how the organization was run.

The scrutiny led to numerous stories on founder and CEO Nancy Brinker’s lavish spending habits and questionable governing style. Critics questioned her $400,000 salary. They also raised concerns over her expensive travel habits.

Brinker, who had built Komen into a nationally recognized charity, eventually stepped down to make way for new leadership. But that decision took over a year to take effect and came after she received a 64 percent raise that only generated more controversy.

Komen’s Form 990 shows it brought in just under $200 million in 2012. It shrunk fast after that, and it’s never recovered. In 2023, the group brought in just over $100 million.

In January 2016, the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) came under fire for extravagant parties and luxury accommodations provided to its leadership and staff during retreats paid for by the veterans’ charity. By March, the group decided to fire its top executives. It cleaned the slate and moved forward under entirely new leadership from outside the organization.

The relatively quick action did not prevent tremendous donor backlash. The group’s 2016 990 shows it brought in over $320 million. It fell to about $225 million the next year and stayed under $300 million the next few years. However, the group has been able to recover its revenue. Last year, it brought in over $400 million.

So, what WWP did to respond to its spending controversy seems to have worked in the long term.

The accusations of misappropriation of funds in the NRA’s scandal eclipses the severity and duration of those for either Komen or WWP. Neither of the other groups ended up embroiled in a court case, and both ended up wiping away their leadership in an effort to win back donors.

The gun-rights group has experienced similar declines in membership and revenue to the other embattled charities. And it appears to still be shrinking.

To this point, the NRA has responded in a way closer to Komen than WWP. Given the makeup of current leadership, which includes LaPierre allies who approved the questionable spending that has them in court, it’s unlikely the group will change course if the judge and jury leave them in charge. If they’re ousted, there’s greater potential for the NRA to see a significant–though unpredictable–shift.

Swift and substantial reform appeared to work better for WWP than the slow and plodding path did for Komen.

It has already been five years since allegations that NRA leadership, especially LaPierre, diverted millions upon millions of the group’s funds toward private flights, five-star hotels, and luxury vacations or sweetheart deals with friends or family. The group is still run by largely the same people it was then, with LaPierre remaining in charge until this month and only stepping down of his own accord.

Even under the best-case scenario imaginable for the NRA, it will be challenging to win back the millions that have now abandoned the group. But it’s not an impossible task.

For your consideration.
I too, ‘sorta’ agree with Ms. Hammer.
And I totally agree with Mr. Richarson.


I Actually Agree With Marion On This

As weird as it may seem I find myself somewhat in agreement with Marion Hammer. I was forwarded an email from her to the NRA-EVP Search Committee.

She made the point that the committee needs to look outside the current NRA operations for the person that can be a success as the next CEO and EVP of the NRA.

Here is her email and the members of the committee:

TO: The Members of the NRA-EVP Search Committee:

Congressman Bob Barr – Chairman
Professor David Coy
Carol Frampton, Esq.
Curtis Jenkins, Esq.
Sheriff Jay Printz
Barbara Rumpel
Chief Blaine Wade

Friends,

At the risk of being redundant, I must say that these are tough times for the NRA.  The right leader or leaders is essential for NRA’s future.  I say leaders because I’m not sure that you can find one person who can do the job.

You might need someone to be the public face of NRA. To do the TV and all media coverage and essentially be the person out front representing NRA and the work we do.

You also might need to find someone to be the workhorse.  Someone to make the tough decisions about running the day to day operations who won’t be afraid to “break some eggs to make an omelet”  and who isn’t afraid to terminate people who are only interested in themselves and not the NRA and our cause.

I seriously doubt that anyone currently involved with NRA operations meets either need.  Don’t be afraid to look outside of NRA for fresh new leaders who care about NRA.  Our members are depending on you to find the right person or persons.

When I look at you, I see 2 current NRA Officers, 2 lawyers, 2 law enforcement representatives and one average person.  None of you is what I would consider a high end business person, yet we must look at the business perspective.

Whatever you decide, Is up to you.  I wouldn’t want to be in your position with the world watching me and expecting perfection.  Nonetheless, you must live in a “fishbowl” until the job is done, and then you must live with your decisions.

Please take your time and be thorough. Please be transparent with the NRA Board and don’t be afraid to reach out to Board members for information and advice. Always remember that there are good business people with incredible business knowledge on the Board who are there to serve.  Use them.

I wish you all the very best of luck as you embark on a mission that is essential for the future of NRA and our members.

Marion Hammer

Now as to what bothers me in all of this.

The committee is composed of the same old Board members who allowed Wayne to get away with his grifting, who didn’t object to Brewer’s billing, and who allowed a whole host of things that has led the NRA to be reduced to a shadow of its former self. Unless I am greatly mistaken and we the members get really lucky, anyone chosen by this bunch will not renovate nor reinvigorate the NRA. The organization will continue to muddle along with same old mindset appealing to an ever aging membership.

Interesting that Buz Mills was left off the list. Likewise, it is interesting Charles Cotton is off the list. Could this be so that Cotton could be their pick for the next EVP? God forbid!

NRA Board Elections: Support the Four for Reform Candidates

Four candidates dedicated to reforming the troubled NRA will be on the ballot for election to the NRA Board of Directors this year. Judge Phil Journey, Rocky MarshallDennis Fusaro, and me, Jeff Knox, all qualified for the ballot by petition of the members.

We are encouraging people to vote for only these four and no one else. This is called “Bullet Voting” and gives your votes more weight, increasing the odds of us winning seats.

Ballots are supposed to be in the March issue of NRA magazines for those members eligible to vote.

Winning a Board seat without the support of the current regime at the NRA is historically close to impossible.

Since only NRA Life Members, and those Annual Members who have been members for at least 5 consecutive years, without interruption, are eligible to vote, and since those eligible voters are only known to the NRA itself, and that information is not available to us, we have no choice but to use a shotgun approach in our attempts to get our message out. If we had access to the voter list, we’d reach out directly to those voters. If we had tens of thousands of dollars in our campaign coffers, we’d have placed ads in the various NRA magazines. But we don’t have access to the list, and we don’t have unlimited resources, so the best we can do is try to reach as many potential voters as we can through broad channels like AmmoLand News, email blasts, and asking others to help spread the word.

Each year, the NRA sends out around 2.5 million ballots to Voting Members, but only about 5% of those are ever returned, meaning that almost 2 million ballots are left on the shelf, taken to local libraries, relegated to the magazine rack next to the toilet, and eventually thrown away. Finding and activating those un-voted ballots this year could be the key to getting the reform candidates elected, so we need your help and the help of gun media nationwide.

  • He could order them to clean up their act and go forth to sin no more – which would leave the same people in charge who allowed this mess in the first place.
  • Or he could go so far as to dissolve the current board, throw out the current election, and order a new election, taking additional months.
  • He could also appoint a Special Master or overseer to take charge of reorganizing the NRA.

He has a lot of leeway and options, and we can only guess at what he might do, so we’re trying to position ourselves in the best position to participate in the resurrection of the Association, whatever the judge decides.

There’s also a good chance that the NRA will appeal any decision that goes against them, resulting in more delays and more NRA member money being poured into the pockets of lawyers. For the time being, our focus must be on getting our four reform candidates elected.

2024 NRA Board Election Reform Candidates Whos Who
2024 NRA Board Election Reform Candidates

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Financial Big Brother is Watching You
A brief note on an overlooked nightmare.

A few weeks ago, Ohio congressman and Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan’s office released a letter to Noah Bishoff, the former director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, an arm of the Treasury Department. Jordan’s team was asking Bishoff for answers about why FinCEN had “distributed slides, prepared by a financial institution,” detailing how other private companies might use MCC transaction codes to “detect customers whose transactions may reflect ‘potential active shooters.’” The slide suggested the “financial company” was sorting for terms like “Trump” and “MAGA,” and watching for purchases of small arms and sporting goods, or purchases in places like pawn shops or Cabela’s, to identify financial threats.

Jordan’s letter to Bishoff went on:

According to this analysis, FinCEN warned financial institutions of “extremism” indicators that include “transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel to areas with no apparent purpose,” or “the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.”

During the Twitter Files, we searched for snapshots of the company’s denylist algorithms, i.e. whatever rules the platform was using to deamplify or remove users. We knew they had them, because they were alluded to often in documents (a report on the denylist is_Russian, which included Jill Stein and Julian Assange, was one example). However, we never found anything like the snapshot Jordan’s team just published:

The highlighted portion shows how algorithmic analysis works in financial surveillance. First compile a list of naughty behaviors, in the form of MCC codes for guns, sporting goods, and pawn shops. Then, create rules: $2,500 worth of transactions in the forbidden codes, or a number showing that more than 50% of the customer’s transactions are the wrong kind, might trigger a response. The Committee wasn’t able to specify what the responses were in this instance, but from previous experience covering anti-money-laundering (AML) techniques at banks like HSBC, a good guess would be generation of something like Suspcious Activity Reports, which can lead to a customer being debanked.

If Facebook, Twitter, and Google have already shown a tendency toward wide-scale monitoring of speech and the use of subtle levers to apply pressure on attitudes, financial companies can use records of transactions to penetrate individual behaviors far more deeply. Especially if enhanced by AI, a financial history can give almost any institution an immediate, unpleasantly accurate outline of anyone’s life, habits, and secrets. Worse, they can couple that picture with a powerful disciplinary lever, in the form of the threat of closed accounts or reduced access to payment services or credit. Jordan’s slide is a picture of the birth of the political credit score.

There’s more coming on this, and other articles forthcoming (readers who’ve noticed it’s been quiet around here will soon find out why). While the world falls to pieces over Tucker, Putin, and Ukraine, don’t overlook this horror movie. If banks and the Treasury are playing the same domestic spy game that Twitter and Facebook have been playing with the FBI, tales like the frozen finances of protesting Canadian truckers won’t be novelties for long. As is the case with speech, where huge populations have learned to internalize censorship rules almost overnight, we may soon have to learn the hard way that even though some behaviors aren’t illegal, they can still be punished with great effectiveness, in a Terminator-like world where computers won’t miss anything that moves.

What a crazy time we live in! See you from the Nevada caucus, and watch this space for other news soon.

Alaska joins 28-states in urging Biden admin to not restrict ammunition sales

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor signed onto a 28-state letter to the Biden administration, responding to another letter that had urged the administration to restrict ammunition manufacturers who receive federal funds from selling ammunition to citizens.

“We Have seen this administration take full advantage of wordplay to restrict the rights of American citizens,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a Jan. 26 statement. “Politicians, ignorant of the tools and practices they fight to restrict, use catchphrases like ‘military grade’ to create the illusion that these rights are not meant for the average citizen. They hate that law-abiding citizens have these rights and will use these underhanded tactics to take them away if allowed. I will always fight to preserve those rights given to citizens at the time our nation was founded and the ability to exercise those rights. In this case, that means fighting to ensure that citizens who have the right to arms also have reasonable access to ammunition.”

The original letter, written by leaders of several Democrat-led states requests that the Biden administration investigate Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. The letter claims that ammunition manufacturers who receive federal funds should not be allowed to also sell ammunition to the general public, and states that the ammunition has been used by mass shooters to commit crimes.

The response letter, joined by Alaska, argues that this restriction would limit law-abiding citizens’ ability to obtain ammunition and to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

240125-Letter

US appeals court revives Mexico’s $10 billion lawsuit against gun makers

BOSTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Monday revived a $10 billion lawsuit by Mexico seeking to hold American gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the trafficking of weapons to drug cartels across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court judge’s decision dismissing the case on the grounds that a U.S. law barred Mexico from suing Smith & Wesson Brands, Sturm, Ruger & Co and others.

That law, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), provides the firearms industry broad protection from lawsuits over their products’ misuse.

Mexico’s lawyers argued the law only bars lawsuits over injuries that occur in the U.S. and does not shield the seven manufacturers and one distributor it sued from liability over the trafficking of guns to Mexican criminals.

U.S. Circuit Judge William Kayatta, writing for the three-judge panel, said that while the law can be applied to lawsuits by foreign governments, Mexico’s lawsuit “plausibly alleges a type of claim that is statutorily exempt from the PLCAA’s general prohibition.”
Lawyers for Mexico and the gun makers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mexico says over 500,000 guns are trafficked annually from the U.S. into Mexico, of which more than 68% are made by the companies it sued, which also include Beretta USA, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Colt’s Manufacturing Co and Glock Inc.

In its August 2021 complaint, Mexico estimated that 2.2% of the nearly 40 million guns made annually in the U.S. are smuggled into Mexico, including as many as 597,000 guns made by the defendants.

Mexico said the smuggling has been a key factor in its ranking third worldwide in the number of gun-related deaths. It also claimed to suffer many other harms, including declining investment and economic activity and a need to spend more on law enforcement and public safety.

The companies deny wrongdoing. Their lawyers say Mexico’s lawsuit is devoid of allegations the gun manufacturers’ gun sales themselves did anything that would create an exception to PLCAA’s broad protections.

Lawmakers propose 11 day sales tax holiday for Georgia gun purchases

The Georgia legislative session for 2024 is underway and Gov. Brian Kemp is aiming to give state residents relief on taxes.

While Kemp’s plan, according to his remarks at the State of the State address, were focused on lowering state income taxes, some lawmakers have an extra plan in mind.

A group of 21 state senators filed legislation on Jan. 11 to make guns, gun safes, accessories and ammunition tax free for 11 days each year.

According to the legislative text of Senate Bill 344, the bill would make firearms, ammunition, gun safes and related accessories exempt from state sales and use taxes from the second Friday of October to the fourth Monday of October each year.

Ford Slashes Production on EV F-150s Amid Low Consumer Demand

Ford Motors is reducing production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck and is increasing workforce at its gas-powered vehicle factories, citing weaker-than-anticipated demand for electric vehicles.

The Michigan automaker said on Friday that it would be moving 1,400 employees to its gas-powered factories, a sharp decrease from its 2,100 employee Lightning production team, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Shifts have been reduced from two to one, and some employees have decided to retire.

A key component of Ford’s electric vehicle strategy in recent years has been the electric truck, and President Biden visited the plant last year ahead of the vehicle’s release.

However, Ford and other traditional auto manufacturers, such as General Motors, have been forced to scale back certain investment initiatives due to the decrease in the rate of growth for electric vehicle sales in the United States since that time.

In October, Ford Motors announced in that it would postpone $12 billion in planned investments in electric vehicles (EVs), citing pricing pressure and concerns regarding consumer demand. In addition, the renovation of a major EV-truck assembly facility in Michigan by General Motors has been delayed by one year, to 2025.

Auto manufacturing employees have encountered persistent obstacles ever since the implementation of electric vehicle initiatives during the Biden administration.

Ford Motors has laid off more than 4,000 employees since it directed focus on EVs.

In June, Ford Motor Company announced these employees would be losing their jobs as a result of a significant loss of revenue due to electric vehicle investment efforts.

Additionally, the automaker said it was expected to lose $3 billion in electric vehicle operating profit in 2023. The company said its operating costs at that time were $7 billion to $8 billion, higher than any other competitor.

NRA Board Member Slams Leadership in Letter Calling for Immediate Change Amid Corruption Suit

A prominent member of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Board of Directors shamed Wayne LaPierre and the group’s current President in a letter sent this week.

Owen “Buz” Mills, owner of the Gunsite Academy in Arizona and longtime NRA board member, wrote to his colleagues on Wednesday decrying the state of the organization and plans to keep people he views as responsible for its decline in place. In the letter obtained by The Reload, he told the Board it needed to change how it governs the group because of the numerous admissions of wrongdoing by its top officials in the New York corruption case that began last week.

“The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is at a watershed moment in its 153rd year,” Mills wrote. “Our leadership has admitted in courts and depositions to misappropriation of donor’s funds and unauthorized use of assets. They have admitted condoning the misuse of donor funds by others employed by the NRA. The leadership has for years abused their position and trust placed in them by our members and benefactors. The Board of Directors (BOD) is solely responsible for this victimization of the members.”

The letter comes as the American institution faces potentially severe legal repercussions over decades of alleged financial maleficence by current and former officials, including Executive Vice President (EVP) Wayne LaPierre. He and others have been accused of diverting tens of millions of dollars in NRA money toward lavish personal expenses and cushy business deals with friends and families. LaPierre and the other named defendants could be forced to pay the NRA back any money they diverted to themselves. However, the NRA could also be forced to operate under a court-appointed overseer if the judge determines it still lacks the internal control necessary to avoid future mismanagement.

To that end, LaPierre’s recently announced resignation and the Board’s plan to replace him could significantly impact the judge’s decision-making. LaPierre’s leading confidants have been placed in positions to maintain control of the organization after he leaves. Former NRA spokesman and longtime LaPierre confidant Andrew Arulanandam was appointed head of General Operations last month, putting him in line to become the interim EVP. Additionally, the group’s bylaws were amended to give Charles Cotton, who chaired the audit committee that approved–even sometimes retroactively–many of LaPierre’s expenses at issue in the case, an extra term as NRA President.

Now, some insiders are raising concerns about where things are headed. A second NRA Board Member, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the internal fight over the group’s direction, told The Reload there was some concern about how the process for picking LaPierre’s replacement is unfolding. They said it was odd that no action had been taken at the group’s January board meeting in planning for a new EVP.

“Cotton didn’t call back the Executive Session,” the board member said. “He did not put together a committee. He didn’t put together a committee to put together a committee. Nothing.”

The board member also noted a recent change to the bylaws to allow for virtual board meetings. They said Cotton had made a comment during the most recent board meeting alluding to the potential of appointing a

“There’s speculation that there is going to be a virtual meeting to call for Cotton to be the EVP for two years,” they said. “Then Bob Barr would head up a committee to find a long-term replacement. I believe Cotton is going to call for a virtual meeting before the end of the trial. I believe we’re saving SHOT show next week, we get a call.”

Mills has heard similar rumors.

“There appears to be an effort to anoint Cotton EVP,” he told The Reload.

In his letter, Mills slammed the idea. He said Cotton should not be EVP, and the NRA should use a more formal hiring process before deciding on its next leader.

“The selected leadership wants a special election to install the enabler and facilitator of all the previous chicanery,” he wrote. “None other than our duly selected President, he is the man more responsible than any other for permitting our selected leadership to rampantly run roughshod over our membership and benefactors. As the chair of the Audit Committee for many years, Charles Cotton was responsible for holding our employees accountable and ensuring their conduct beyond reproach. Our chair and ‘moral compass’ approved every single act of malfeasance brought to the committee for decades, multiple acts approved retroactively, months and years after the fact.”

He accused Cotton, who he labeled “the facilitator,” of providing LaPierre, who he labeled “the miscreant,” with a special bonus to cover the nearly million dollars that LaPierre was forced to refund to the NRA for private flights and other expenses the organization classified as “excess benefits.”

“When restitution was mandated, a bonus was awarded the miscreants including enough money to pay the restitution,” Mills wrote. “This bonus also included enough for the miscreant to have the cash to pay the taxes on his misappropriation. Talk about rewarding bad behavior!! Again, I emphasize, it was not miscreant’s money, and it was not the facilitator’s money! It was the MONEY OF OUR MEMBERS and the MONEY provided by the BENEVOLENCE OF OUR DONORS.”

“There is something deeply wrong when you continually permit and encourage this serial abuse,” he said.

The NRA disputed some of the accusations included in the Mills letter.

“In many sections of the letter, it is not even clear to whom Mr. Mills is referring,” Billy McLaughlin, an NRA spokesman, told The Reload. “If he’s referring to Mr. LaPierre, the allegation is unfounded. Indeed, his compensation is reported every year in federal tax filings and is a matter of public record. In any event, the NRA strictly complies with its Bylaws and other internal policies and procedures. Any suggestion to the contrary is completely false.”

The NRA’s tax reports show that LaPierre’s total compensation rose by nearly $800,000 between 2017 and 2018, peaking at nearly $2.25 million. It dropped back down to just under $1.9 million in 2019, the year the NRA reported LaPierre had paid them back for nearly $300,000 in excess benefits. His compensation has continued to decline since that time and stood at under $1.2 million in the group’s 2022 tax filing.

Charles Cotton did not respond to a request for comment.

Mills further attacked any effort to make Cotton the EVP without a formal vetting process. He said appointing Cotton using other means would be akin to the NRA’s failed bankruptcy filing, which was undertaken before informing the Board or getting their approval (though, they did retroactively approve the move).

“Is the principal facilitator of the misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars (members and donors’ money) causing the hundreds of millions of dollars of legal fees (again members and donors’ money) really have any business with access to the treasury? Does he have any right to represent any moral, honest person or organization?” he asked in reference to Cotton. “NO!”

Instead, he advocated for a search process that would include a recruiting and interview process involving the entire NRA Board. He said the same should be done to “hire a celebrity ‘FACE’ of the NRA as a spokesperson with no access to funds.”

“This is how a professional Board of Directors of a world class not-for-profit begins to heal itself,” he wrote.

He argued this was the Board’s chance to reform and renew the organization in hopes of convincing the millions of members who’ve abandoned the group since the corruption allegations surfaced to come back. He wrote the EVP pick and the process used to make it is ultimately an “opportunity to recover the trust” and “respect” of “our most benevolent donors,” “our industry,” and the “American people.”

“The main point is the NRA is presented herewith the opportunity to rectify our sins of the past, to redeem ourselves,” he told The Reload. “Don’t mess it up.”

Buz Mills’ Open Letter To The Board

TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA 

So, now we are all looking towards New York and Justice Cohen’s courtroom. Our attention is diverted here while chicanery continues in Fairfax.

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is at a watershed moment in its 153rd year. Our leadership has admitted in courts and depositions to misappropriation of donor’s funds and unauthorized use of assets. They have admitted condoning the misuse of donor funds by others employed by the NRA. The leadership has for years abused their position and trust placed in them by our members and benefactors. The Board of Directors (BOD) is solely responsible for this victimization of the members.

Thanks to the New York Attorney General, we are halfway to fixing our organization, bringing the NRA up to par with other non-profit special interest groups.

The judge will hold the victimizers responsible, and they will have to account for their deeds.

Meanwhile, in Fairfax the selected leadership is scheming to continue the abuse suffered over the last few decades instead of following the bylaws for the succession of the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer (EVP). The selected leadership wants a special election to install the enabler and facilitator of all the previous chicanery. None other than our duly selected President, he is the man more responsible than any other for permitting our selected leadership to rampantly run roughshod over our membership and benefactors.

As the chair of the Audit Committee for many years, Charles Cotton was responsible for holding our employees accountable and ensuring their conduct beyond reproach. Our chair and “moral compass” approved every single act of malfeasance brought to the committee for decades, multiple acts approved retroactively, months and years after the fact.

When restitution was mandated, a bonus was awarded the miscreants including enough money to pay the restitution. This bonus also included enough for the miscreant to have the cash to pay the taxes on his misappropriation. Talk about rewarding bad behavior!!

Again, I emphasize, it was not miscreant’s money, and it was not the facilitator’s money! It was the MONEY OF OUR MEMBERS and the MONEY provided by the BENEVOLENCE OF OUR DONORS. There is something deeply wrong when you continually permit and encourage this serial abuse.

Also do not forget spearheading the deceit and lying to us about filing bankruptcy that the judge called “a fraud.” The BOD was never advised we needed to file for bankruptcy, nor was it ever justified to the board. We read it in the papers.

As we violate the bylaws again – accepting, justifying, and participating in some kind of sham election to make the selected president our EVP.

Is the principal facilitator of the misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars (members and donors’ money) causing the hundreds of millions of dollars of legal fees (again members and donors’ money) really have any business with access to the treasury?

Does he have any right to represent any moral, honest person or organization?

NO!

The normal, conventional way this type of business is conducted:

  1. Select a search committee of business professionals from the BOD, selected from the floor by the BOD,
  2. Retain professional employment agencies to recruit, screen and interview potential candidates,
  3. Committee shall interview candidates,
  4. BOD meet and greet,
  5. BOD votes to select a candidate,
  6. Committee sets forth terms and conditions of employment contract.

Now we have a professional to run the business of a world-class organization, in accordance with applicable laws, customs and traditions. Oversight will be provided by a professional BOD congruent with the by-laws in effect prior to ceding all monetary responsibility to the EVP. (circa 2015)

Next we hire a celebrity “FACE” of the NRA as a spokesperson with no access to funds. Using a similar process as finding an EVP.

This is how a professional Board of Directors of a world class not-for-profit begins to heal itself.

We have an opportunity to carefully choose to correct the path we are on. We have the opportunity to recover all of the membership that has abandoned us over these issues (2 million members +/-). We have the opportunity to recover the trust of our most benevolent donors. We have an opportunity to recover the respect of our industry and of the American people. There is no downside to doing this correctly.

Let’s not squander this opportunity, we must move forward smartly and with all the courage of the champions of freedom.

Owen Buz Mills

Director, National Rifle Association of America

January 17, 2024

BLUF
Our government is run by totalitarians who wish they were Chinese bureaucrats who could ban anybody from society whenever they want.
It will be interesting to see how the MSM covers this. I expect they will ignore it because, well, it was revealed by Jim Jordan and was aimed at Republicans.
Why let the Constitutional order get in the way of defending democracy?

Regulator Forced Financial Industry to Spy on Americans.

Do you shop at Cabela’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods?

Have you ever bought anything with MAGA on it or from anybody whose business includes the term?

Are you a hunter or a sports shooter?

If so, you will be happy to know that the federal government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network tasked financial institutions to spy on you and send your purchase and travel history to the feds.

This was, of course, entirely warrantless. No legal process at all–and why should there be one? After all, you are a domestic terrorist if you support Donald Trump or like sporting goods.

You are deplorable for sure.

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