Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Finally--a reply (well, sort of)

Back in mid-December, I (belatedly) followed the lead of Red's Trading Post and War on Guns in calling for gun rights activists to make some noise in blocking the confirmation of "Maximum Mike" Sullivan as head of the BATFE. I suggested trying to talk the NRA into joining Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Gun Owners of America, and Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership in opposing Sullivan's confirmation. War on Guns posted an open letter to the NRA to that effect.

To my annoyance, response from the NRA . . . left something to be desired. A couple weeks later, Snowflakes in Hell discovered the NRA's explanation--the NRA's web contact form, apparently, was not working, and we are instead to contact them by email here: ila-contact@nrahq.org--so I did.

Today, I received a response to my email:

Dear Mr. Hofmann,

Thank you for contacting us regarding the nomination of Michael Sullivan as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). We have very serious and long-standing concerns about some of the practices and enforcement activities of BATFE. NRA has a long history of exposing problems with BATFE, and you can be sure that we are doing everything we can to address these concerns.

NRA's history of questioning BATFE activities predates even the Bureau itself. It began with our coverage of the 1971 shooting of Kenyon Ballew by investigators with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, which became the BATF a year later. During the Clinton years, NRA was the driving force behind congressional hearings that exposed the countless missteps and outrageous decisions by federal agents, including BATF agents, that led to the tragedies at Ruby Ridge and Waco.

We remain focused on working to pass legislation to overhaul BATFE and ensure it complies with the law. For example, we worked with the last Congress to hold oversight hearings on BATFE policies and practices, and eventually to pass H.R. 5092 (the "BATFE Modernization and Reform Act of 2006") through the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation sought to rewrite the system of administrative penalties for licensed dealers, manufacturers, and importers of firearms, to prevent the all-too-common situations where BATFE has punished licensees for insignificant technical violations, such as improper use of abbreviations, or filing records in the wrong order.

In December 2007, that bill was modified and merged with legislation that makes technical changes to federal firearms laws, including rolling back unnecessary restrictions, correcting errors, and codifying longstanding congressional policies in the firearms arena, into H.R. 4900 (the "BATFE Modernization and Reform Act of 2007"). For information on H.R. 4900, please go to: http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Federal/Read.aspx?id=3327

Finally, it is important to note that as a direct result of NRA-ILA's lobbying efforts, the BATFE Director must now be confirmed by the Senate, rather than simply appointed to that position, allowing for a higher level of accountability for the agency.

Thank you for contacting us. For additional information, please see NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox's letter to Acting Director Michael Sullivan.

That letter, by the way, can be found (in pdf format) here.

Well, I appreciate the reply, but are they going to oppose "Maximum Mike's" confirmation, or not? It seems that on that little detail (the entire point of the correspondence), the response is still this.


Anonymous said...

I sent this letter to the NRA/ILA today:

Dear NRA/ILA Staff:

I write to you today because of the quiet position I see the NRA taking on the upcoming confirmation of Michael Sullivan as the new director of the BATF. I know the NRA/ILA lobbying staff has been involved at many levels of recent hearings and correspondence concerning the BATF, but I am hearing from more and more members about the overall “perceived lack of position” the NRA has taken.

As a small dealer, I have sat in dismay the past 18 months watching the U.S. gun industry imploding. Independent stocking dealers have much to say about the “state of the industry” but I fear that our voice is overshadowed and essentially discounted.

The BATF and Michael Sullivan are but one cog in the wheel of an imploding industry. We have a host of issues that appear to be all inter-related and it’s scary:

The escalating revocation of licenses across the nation;
The onerous BATF interpretations of the law and arrogance to free enterprise;
The “buying up” of U.S. firearms makers by private equity firms at a lightning pace (who are these people);
The upcoming Supreme Court hearing on gun ownership, the 2nd Amendment and Washington, D.C.;
Diminishing profits for dealers in the U.S. as guns become “commodities” of big box stores who will—without doubt—abandon the industry when the well runs dry;
Skyrocketing online sales of firearms at such minimal profits that it makes selling gun a fruitless effort;
BATF disorganization at hearings and their inability to keep track of their own paperwork and affairs in the face of license revocations for minor paperwork errors;

Now, more than ever, I firmly believe the industry is in need of a unified voice. Gun-makers are moving operations overseas; quality is probably at a low-point; profits are all but gone entirely; ammunition prices are curtailing (more like destroying) interest in the shooting sports; and now the BATF appears poised to put the nail in the coffin.

What is going on here? The U.S. firearms industry is indeed imploding. We can put a positive spin on it through surveys, etc. but the truth is prevailing and independent dealers are living the decline each and every day. It’s true that every industry experiences severe change from time to time; however, when it comes to firearms, it is much different when it comes to a potential rebound.

When dealers are down to just a few dozen per state (conceivably all big box stores) and ammunition prices are so restrictive that only the rich can shoot then we need not be concerned with legislative efforts or opponents to the 2nd Amendment. At that point it will be too late.

I can only speak from my personal perspective but I will leave you with this: We are at a critical juncture. We need the NRA to step up strong this spring. We need you to speak to not only the BATF, but also to the finer components of the industry itself. We need some rallying points and venues to build consensus and forge some new directions. We need everyone involved.

Kurt '45superman' Hofmann said...

Very well written letter, Anon--thanks for sharing.

I'll be interested in learning of any substantive reply (if you get one).