Background checks: inside the mind of Alan Gottlieb

Washington state gun owners are being smashed between a rock and a hard place. The disaster — which is bound to be bloody — will likely shape the gun-rights fight in states across the nation.

And the outcome for people far beyond Washington state may depend on Alan Gottlieb. Which terrifies me. And should terrify you.


I was talking the other day with another gun blogger who hoped that after last year’s JPFO debacle I would have insight into Gottlieb’s mind. I have none. I’ve had the same thought; I wish I knew what Gottlieb could possibly be thinking. I’ve said I wished I could be a fly on the wall of that man’s brain. OTOH, I fear that experiencing Gottlieb’s thinking from within would make me puke.

But there are so many mysteries about what that man is up to! Why would a gun-rights advocate — any gun-rights advocate, anywhere — want background checks? Why would he want the federal control, the de facto gun registration, and the risk of confiscation that inevitably follow? How could he be so clueless about rights? So clueless about the threat to gun ownership? So clueless about how gun owners think?

And beyond that … how could a man who wants background checks continue to present himself — and be widely accepted! — as a gun-rights leader?

Of course he continues to be widely accepted partially because of SAF’s several successful lawsuits and partially because too many people don’t look at what he’s really doing. Most followers are also unaware of his sordid history. But more recently (and I expect ultimately more tragically) Gottlieb’s leadership is being accepted by some primarily because he has forced Washington state gun owners to choose between that rock and that hard place — between him and activist rivals who are overtly, unabashedly radical.


Gottlieb has long ruled gun-rights activism in Washington state. He not only owns several major groups himself, but he’s on the board of others and serves as virtual puppet-master of yet more. Here’s just one example of how Gottlieb’s system works.

Many years ago, in the 1990s when it looked as if the antis were going to trample us all into the mud, I sat in on a legislative coordinating meeting of supposedly independent gun-rights groups in Washington state. The meeting was (no surprise) at Gottlieb’s headquarters and it was my first glimpse of what was going on.

There was no independence. There was one overriding mindset — don’t rock the boat. The one activist (a newcomer) who offered ideas that actually could have advanced gun rights (rather than merely holding the line) was repeatedly shot down. Not only shot down, but shot down with words I found mind-boggling and unforgettable: “Oh, we can’t ask the legislature for that. They’d never give us that.”

What kind of bargaining position can that be? Where would negotiators ever get if they started out only by asking for what their opponents are already known to be willing to give? That’s surrendering before the first battle!

But that was the state of Washington gun rights groups 20 years ago, designed and dominated by Alan Gottlieb. Matters appear to be worse now. After that, I always marveled that the state managed to have fairly decent gun laws, despite such wimpy “leadership.”

Well, I marvel no more. Since November — and thanks in large part to Gottlieb’s inexplicable “divide to lose” strategy — Washington has one of the most terrible state anti-gun laws. And the Billionaire Brigade is using I-594 as a battle plan to rampage through other states.


I-594 might have passed anyway since it was the product of an enormous, multi-billionaire propaganda campaign. But Gottlieb initially made matters worse by throwing all his efforts not against I-594, but into a competing initiative, I-591. That went down in flames (and $1 million+ that could have been used against I-594 went down with it). But now Gottlieb, via his many puppet organizations, is trying to set himself up as the leader of the anti-I-594 forces.

He has filed a lawsuit against the new law while explicitly stating that he’s not trying to stop background checks. Even as state Rep. Matthew Shea prepared a bill to completely repeal 594, Gottlieb ally/partner/front group WAFLAG was focusing on getting gun owners merely to ask for fixes. As activist Kit Lange observed, “[Shea’s repeal] bill has not even been submitted yet, and they have already given up.”

You can’t “fix” a law that’s evil from its inception. And you can’t win if you already side with Michael Bloomberg on the most important points.


Gun owners who are really aware of the issues and who understand that you can’t have freedom without standing firm on principles want nothing to do with Gottlieb or any of his front organizations. This means that some of the most angry, adamant, in-your-face activists have stepped forward. Gavin Seim’s armed, non-permitted “I Will Not Comply” rally in December outdrew Gottlieb’s January “legislative rally” by as much as 10-to-1. But when quite a few people with the “I will not comply” mindset also showed up at Gottlieb’s event, long-guns in hand, and carried their firearms into the House visitors’ chamber, it gave Gottlieb’s allies — and many inherently moderate gun-rights people — the excuse to call them all crazies and crowd closer to the false “safety” represented by Gottlieb.

Gottlieb has set things up so it’s either “side with me or side with the crazies” when it really just ought to be about getting I-594 declared dead. And getting the horrid monster buried at the crossroads with a stake through its heart so it can never rise again.

My heart and mind are with the “crazies.” But at the same time, I see how their tactics scare some activists away — and drive some activists right into the arms of Alan Gottlieb, despite his obvious, well-publicized sellout.

But as one activist from Graham, Washington, observes, the “crazies” are using those tactics as much to defy Gottlieb as to defy I-594. They are saying, “We will never allow you to ‘lead’ this battle. We won’t be polite and deferential as you sell us out. To hell with you.”

If Gottlieb had a clue about the rights of gun owners or the mindset of gun-rights activists, he would step out of the spotlight (and not just via the pretense that one of his puppets is really in charge). Being completely discredited on anything to do with background checks, he would recognize that he has no ability to lead (even from behind) on this issue. He would let somebody more principled unite the state’s gun owners. Instead, there he is, dividing — once again — so that our enemies can conquer.

Because Gottlieb stands in the way of any calm, strong, and principled leadership on gun rights in Washington state, he is helping Bloomberg win (just as he hoped to help Manchin, Toomey, and Schumer win at the federal level a year ago). Heartened by their victory in this first state, and strengthened by the lack of effective pro-gun leadership, the Bloombergians will rampage onward to the next state, which appears to be Nevada.

Good luck, Nevada. Good luck to us all. Except Mr. Gottlieb. May he choke on his own duplicity. May the power he so craves, the power he’ll stop at nothing to get, destroy him — before it destroys the rest of us.


74 thoughts on “Background checks: inside the mind of Alan Gottlieb”

  1. As much as I am tempted to butt-kick Mr. Gottlieb for the situation in Washington State, the seed of the larger problem lies in the troubling correlation between politically and socially conservative people and their acquiescence to, even active subservience to, authority.

    Critical readers will find the work of Dr. Bob Altemeyer, recently retired from the University of Manitoba at Winnipeg, on point. His e-book conveying the cumulative result of his entire career is especially useful.

    I believe that until we impact this phenomenon, we will be re-fighting these battles for individual liberty forever.

    1. Excellent link, Y.B.! I’ve been meaning to read that book for some time & will point out to anybody else interested that the author’s giving away FREE copies at that link (as well as selling paper copies and audiobooks).

      I agree the “conservative” servitude to authority is a huge problem. Other problems are obviously operating here, too, but that’s an intriguing one.

  2. The reason for Alan Gottlieb’s acceptance within the pro-2A crowd is simple: he’s provided the funding for the other Alan (Gura) to go on an impressive tear through the courts. …and I’m talking about much more than just Heller v DC and McDonald v Chicago. Gura has won a number of other major victories against municipal, county, and state authorities in IL and CA, that most gun people outside those states are probably unaware of. Heck, a lot of people in those states are probably unaware.

    This has bought him much credibility among the gun rights crowd, even among people who pay attention to a lot of the details, as they’re likely to be the ones aware of all the ass-beatings that SAF has been dishing out in Federal Appeals Court circuits across the land. Having spent no small amount of time in CA myself, I can tell you it made an impression. Alan Gura has pushed back the forces of darkness in multiple long fights, and has proven himself to be a tactician without equal, lining up incremental “baby step” precedents one after the other, to the point where he has essentially dragged the last two remaining “may-issue” holdout states (IL and CA), kicking and screaming all the way, into the era of CCW “shall issue”.

    For those who poo-poo CCW permits as a “victory” in our fight for our rights, I understand. I don’t have one myself. …but make no mistake, the present cold war is being fought on many fronts, one of which is a culture war. It is a war to push boundaries, establish social norms, and shape the experiences and opinions of the next generation. It is also pretty clear that increased CCW permits correspond directly to drops in crime. …and I’m still only scratching the surface of the numerous court cases Gura has fought.

    All this was enough to keep me on the fence for quite a while. I kept thinking the whole Manchin Toomey affair must be some horrible mistake. Even after having to face the horrifying reality of Gottlieb’s level of involvement, I still don’t understand how he can be either so jaw-droppingly daft with a close confidante like Gura, or so stone cold evil when he has won so much for the forces of good (even if was Gura who did the heavy lifting in the courtrooms, it was Gottlieb’s funding machine that fed and fueled him).

    …but then as I’ve noted before, if General Benedict Arnold was just Lieutenant Benedict Arnold when he turned, it’s unlikely history would remember or give a damn. It takes a noteworthy fighter to make a noteworthy traitor.

    My $0.02


  3. More than once in recent months I’ve referred to Gottlieb as a snake and a traitor. My logic was that I just couldn’t figure any way that a fellow as shrewd as he could think his serial attempts cut deals with the enemy over the issue of universal background checks were truly a good idea. Having eliminated stupidity, I presumed evil.

    Well, I found a blog post from Joe Huffman that changed my mind. I have some personal knowledge of Joe, I believe him to be a stand-up guy, and I don’t think he’s the sort to sugar-coat or be an apologist for anyone. In retrospect I should have been doing a better job of keeping up with his blog in the past couple of years.

    Hopefully he and Claire will each forgive the large cut-and-paste, but I think this is an important glimpse into the mind of Alan Gottlieb:

    More than anything I was struck by the event was in the offices of CCKBA which could only hold a few dozen people. At a similar event for I-676 in 1997 they rented a event hall and hundreds of people showed up. This time we probably had almost as many media people as we did supporters. This time I knew nearly all the non-media people attending.

    In many ways I-594 was identical to I-676. They both required paperwork and state involvement for simple, innocent, ordinary transfers of firearms. Both had deceptive and innocent sounding titles (“Mandatory background checks” versus “Mandatory safety training”). In both cases law enforcement were opposed. Yet we didn’t get the traction to come even close to defeating it.

    I had lunch with Ry today and discussed why this might have happened. Our conclusions were twofold:

    In 1997 we were outraged with the 1994 “assault weapon” ban and the follow-on attempts in congress to push us into extinction as well as similar efforts in the states. Today we have a lot more confidence the courts will protect us. We didn’t have our backs to the wall and in a win or die fight.
    This time most people, at some level, recognized it was a loosing battle and it wasn’t worth the effort. I know this was a significant component of my mindset. I had a lot of other things going on in my mind that took a higher priority. I was finishing up my divorce (and follow-on skirmishes), I had time sensitive Boomershoot 2015 details to attend to, and I had a relatively new relationship with Barb that was a lot more pleasant to focus on than something I knew was almost a certain loss.

    But how, beyond a simple gut feel, did I know it was certain loss?

    A year or two after I-676 went down in defeat I had lunch with Alan Gottlieb. He told me our opponents were planning a new initiative. This was an initiative mandating universal background checks. CCRKBA had done their homework and tried many different concepts in presenting our opposition to such a thing. They did focus group studies with various sound bites and slogans. Nothing worked. It appeared inevitable we would lose such a battle. He didn’t signal this to anyone but close insiders. Publically he pointed out how we had bloodied their noses in the I-676 battle and how the people were on our side and claimed we could do it again if we needed to. But behind the scenes we were scared. Very scared. We had no hope of winning the battle if they attacked again.

    I don’t know for certain why our opponents didn’t come back at us then but I’m glad they didn’t. As terrible as the passage of I-594 was yesterday it would have been much worse 10 or 15 years ago, before D.C. v. Heller. Today we have a decent hope of court protection. Then it would have been “a good first step” toward the massive restrictions they are so eager to inflict upon our specific enumerated rights that we could have today been in a situation like California or even Chicago is now.

    As Joe says, Gottlieb did his homework. I have no reason to doubt this, and it fits with the degree of intel gathering and careful planning that I’ve seen from SAF and Alan Gura.

    The problem is that for all his homework, I believe Gottlieb is missing some critical factors in this issue:
    Polls change, as we’ve been seeing recently. If the polls are unfavorable to us, then our job is to delay the enemy by every means possible while we move those polls in a favorable direction. Two approaches that come to mind are education and outreach from organizations like JPFO, and individual effort in taking liberals and children to the range.
    Outrageously-written laws like I-594 may be better than a “well-written” background check law that is more difficult to criticize. I-594 puts the agenda of the gun-haters out in plain view: all they want is for gun owners to go to prison, period. It may be a legislative defeat for us, but I question whether it will prove to be a PR defeat in the long run. Witness the noncompliance we are already seeing, and the fact that the turnout at the “I Will Not Comply” rally far outstripped Gottlieb’s “can’t we all just get along” rally.
    There is apparently much hand-wringing over the spectacle of open carriers. So much so that Gottlieb has even taken to referring to them as “extremists” (WTF Alan?). This reminds me of nothing else more than the “queer pride” movement of the 80s and 90s. Gay rights activists bemoaned the public spectacles being created by their more… let’s say “flamboyant”… compatriots, and the feared damage this would do to public acceptance of their cause. Oddly enough, it seemed to be the spectacle-makers that both got attention for the cause, and moved the Overton Window such that just a plain ol gay couple walking down the street nowadays is no big thing by most people’s standards.

    Hope this helps make some sense of things. I am somewhat comforted to think that Gottlieb is just badly mistaken rather than some sort of diabolical deep-cover Manchurian Candidate for the Brady Bunch. At least that holds the possibility of being corrected. Maybe someone who has his ear can talk some sense into the man and get him to see another way to win this fight.

    Happy Trails,


    1. Oregon HOBO, thanks for the very interesting & informative comments.

      “A year or two after I-676 went down in defeat I had lunch with Alan Gottlieb. He told me our opponents were planning a new initiative. This was an initiative mandating universal background checks. CCRKBA had done their homework and tried many different concepts in presenting our opposition to such a thing. They did focus group studies with various sound bites and slogans. Nothing worked. It appeared inevitable we would lose such a battle.”

      Well, I have to say that I have reasons not to trust Joe Huffman (but they are personal and nothing worth going into here). Whether I trust him or not, he’s clearly a Gottlieb partisan, for whatever reason.

      While it’s probable that Gottlieb has honestly (though mistakenly) concluded that background checks are inevitable, I find comments like the one I just quoted to be more useful for what they don’t say than what they do. I mean, seriously, you tried slogans on focus groups and they didn’t work. Ergo, background checks are inevitable? But what if something more than slogans is needed? What if people need to be educated? That’s the approach JPFO would have taken — loudly and in spades — before it got sold to Gottlieb. If focus groups (or ill-informed voter or people who respond to telephone pollsters) think background checks are a good idea, then find out why they think so and show them why it’s not!

      Apparently Gottlieb had many years in which to do that — and chose not to.

      I do realize you’re not defending Gottlieb, but offering a valuable insight into his thinking. Thanks for that. But this convinces me more than ever that Gottlieb is a sellout — and has been planning his sellout far longer than anyone but a few insiders knew.

      1. Claire sez:

        I mean, seriously, you tried slogans on focus groups and they didn’t work. Ergo, background checks are inevitable? But what if something more than slogans is needed? What if people need to be educated? That’s the approach JPFO would have taken — loudly and in spades — before it got sold to Gottlieb.

        Well, I’d be careful reading too much into Joe’s brief anecdote as to what Gottlieb did or didn’t try with his focus groups, though I do think it’s safe to say that clearly more needs to be done.

        …and on that note, yes, JPFO is exactly the sort of organization that is (was?) perfectly positioned to do the public outreach and education, to explain and document the path from universal background checks to universal registration to universal confiscation, and to start moving those poll numbers on this issue. Someone page Mr. Codrea… here’s our chance to see just how independent JPFO really is from its new owner. 😀

        Also, for those talking of trying to “fix” the excesses of I-594: NO! This is a mistake, not just because I’m opposed to the fundamental idea of background checks, but because the outrages of becoming a felon for handing your spouse/sibling/friend a firearm at the range force everyone to be reminded regularly that after all the lies and sweet talk of “common sense laws”, our enemies’ actions show that they just want us in jail, period.

        If this law does get “fixed”, the noncompliance will fade, the law will become accepted, and the gun haters will just “close the loophole” 5 or 15 years from now, by which time many will not feel the shock so sharply, and any resistance will be barely a whisper compared to what we’re seeing now. Every time our enemies have won, they’ve done it through gradualism. If our enemies were smarter they would have stuck with that winning strategy and resisted the urge to bite off too much at once.

        They aren’t, they didn’t, and we should not be “fixing” their mistake for them. Let them outrage and alienate the Fudds and the fence-sitters so utterly that noncompliance goes from the fringe to the norm. Let them force the police to publicly refuse enforcement of their fantasy-land edicts. Let them do our job for us of educating the public about their true intentions and moving those poll numbers. Let them, in their blind greed and overconfidence in fleeting poll numbers, try to boil the frog too fast.

        May the polls be ever in your favor,

        #OREGON HOBO#

        1. Good points again, Oregon Hobo.

          ” Someone page Mr. Codrea… here’s our chance to see just how independent JPFO really is from its new owner. :D”

          LOL, I must admit I’ve been waiting for that moment since the sellout. I think David, Kurt, and Chris (who stayed with JPFO when the rest of us left to form TZP) are wonderful people. I enjoyed working with them & they all had good reasons for staying. I know David has worked with Alan Gottlieb before, as has TZP comrade Nicki, and they personally like him and consider him a reasonable man.

          But I also know that David is a man of staunch principle who’s never hesitant to speak his mind. I expect one day that will lead to an “interesting” (as in the Chinese curse) situation.

    2. “Oddly enough, it seemed to be the spectacle-makers that both got attention for the cause, and moved the Overton Window such that just a plain ol gay couple walking down the street nowadays is no big thing by most people’s standards.”

      The “extremists” make the “insiders” appear reasonable. For example, the plain old gay couple needed those spectacle-makers. NRA needs GOA. And so forth.

      I think Gottlieb understands this, and he also clearly loves wheeling and dealing in the halls of power. Much like NRA. There is both good news and bad news that results from this.

      My own worry is that when the wheeling and dealing works in our favor (e.g. concealed carry permits), people forget there is that other more rowdy alternative, and get comfortable with accepting the setbacks that can also happen with wheeling and dealing (not to mention the examples of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” that have happened many times with NRA). I suspect a fair percentage of these pro-gun folks actually would turn their guns in if the order came down, just as in England.

      Perhaps I worry too much. There is also a very robust population of people who simply won’t be pushed too far, people willing to go to war if need be. This population was simply non-existent in England.

  4. “I’ve had the same thought; I wish I knew what Gottlieb could possibly be thinking.”

    From observation of his tactics over the years, and from correspondence with him, I think I can tell you what he’s thinking. He’s motivated by two things:

    1. Money. He discovered the same thing that the NRA learned; gun owners will donate to anything that claims to be fighting for RKBA (even when they have to create an RKBA problem to “fight”). It’s a financial cornucopia. Then figure in the bucks he makes from his direct marketing companies, both for the work he contracts “out” to himself, paid for by those donations. Don’t forget his DM outfit now has those address lists to sell to other customers. Ah, and rent: he creates those shell groups, rents them space in his building, and gets paid again from those donations.

    2. Ego. He wants to be famous. He wants to be the guy who navigated a compromising path on gun control and is thus loved by both clueless gun owners and the Bloomberg/Brady Brigade. He likes to see his name in print and onscreen, touted by the lamestream muddia as the voice of “reasonable” compromise. You saw this with the Manchin-Toomey amendment, when he came out of the blue to claim to have helped write it. (And since this would have provided a new infringement to profitable “fight”… see item 1.)

    “If Gottlieb had a clue about the rights of gun owners”

    His only concern with rights is how much he can get suckers to shell out for “protection” of those rights. He does understand them, but uses that knowledge for his personal financial gain. Anymore, any real good he accidentally accomplishes is just that: accidental (and probably to be regretted since it might cut down on donations).

    1. Excellent analysis. As I’ve commented in other venues, Gottlieb has taken several pages from the NRA playbook, mainly dealing with compromising our rights away, piecemeal, and enriching himself at our expense, even if it means creating the problem he “needs” money to fight.

      The NRA has helped write every significant piece of gun control legislation since at least 1934. And, in the earlier days, proudly trumpeted how good they were for being willing to compromise. As opposed to fighting for our rights.

      1. I’m ashamed to admit I was unaware Gottlieb bragged about helping to write the Toomey-Manchin bill. Looks like Gottlieb stole another page from the NRA playbook – helping to write gun control into law.

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  6. Gottlieb spoke to our Libertarian supper club a couple of times in the ’90s. At that time he was the radical and the NRA was the sellout. I read his 591 as a clever attempt to ratchet any background check legislation coming out of liberal WA state down to what would have to be more favorable legislation (if any) out of Congress, and voted for it. Claire, is there ANY tactic that you would find too extreme in this cause, and won’t you be denounced as a sellout if you don’t support it?

    1. ” Claire, is there ANY tactic that you would find too extreme in this cause, and won’t you be denounced as a sellout if you don’t support it?”

      I don’t call Gottlieb a sellout because I disagree with his tactics. I call Gottlieb a sellout because he is known to be in favor of background checks on all gun purchases and his tactics have to be viewed in light of that fact. He IS a sellout. His own statements, his own record (e.g. Manchin-Toomey) make that clear. So the only question about his tactics on this issue is “How is this helping Gottlieb achieve his goal of imposing background checks?”

      As to “denouncing” anybody else — I haven’t done that. Period. (ADDED: See my next comment; I may have misunderstood what you wrote.)

      In fact, if you read more carefully, you’ll see that while my heart is definitely with the radicals, I’ve questioned the tactic of open carry of long guns (in several places and several ways). While it’s clear to me that bad laws must be resisted, scorned, and actively disobeyed, I think there are at LOT of possible tactics for ensuring liberty in general and gun rights in particular. In fact, one of the points of the very piece you’re commenting on is that by trying to pose as an anti-I-594 leader when he has clearly compromised himself on the entire issue of background checks, Gottlieb is polarizing people and therefore preventing genuine, principled, but more measured resistance from rising to the fore.

      1. Ssemans — Re-reading your comment, I fear that I misunderstood what you said about being denounced. If so, I apologize. Looking at it again, it appears you’re asking if I would expect to be denounced as a sellout if I failed to support some super-radical tactic.

        Well, I might be. I’ve probably been denounced somewhere, sometime before for not supporting somebody’s cause or strategy. Anybody can denounce anybody they want for any reason. Any of us who are in the ‘Netly fray just have to shrug that off.

        But as I said, and as anybody who reads my stuff should know, I personally don’t lightly call people sellouts just because they choose a different approach to liberty than I do. I believe there are many roads. I repeat: I call Gottlieb a sellout because he IS one. Not because of his tactics, but because he’s posing an an anti-background check leader while actually favoring background checks. He just wants them on his own terms (and wants a seat at the table where the deals are made).

    2. Also (and then I’ll shut up):

      ” At that time he was the radical and the NRA was the sellout. I read his 591 as a clever attempt to ratchet any background check legislation coming out of liberal WA state down to what would have to be more favorable legislation (if any) out of Congress, and voted for it.”

      1. At that time, no matter what Gottlieb might have said at any supper club, he was working quite closely with NRA rep Brian Judy.

      2. The very fact that you (and Gottlieb) believe that any background checks imposed by Congress could be “more favorable” — when the very existence of forcibly mandated background checks is abhorrent to liberty — shows that you (and Gottlieb) and I inhabit different universes when it comes to issues of principle. There is NO forcibly mandated background check law that could ever be favorable in any way to gun rights.

  7. so what’s the next step here?
    let’s say i’m convinced: alan is bad. do not side with alan.

    now what?

    the crazies may operate purely on principle, but they also managed to ban open carry in the state capitol building in 1 day. how’s that for progress?

    is there any evidence that an alternative method/group has worked any cheaper, quicker and more efficient?

    bashing can only go so far being informative.

    1. KiA — I agree that bashing can only go so far (though informing people about danger can go farther). But as to evidence that an alternative “has worked any cheaper, quicker, and more efficient,” that’s not a question that applies here. It’s not a matter of cheaper, quicker, or more efficient. It’s a question of uniting gun owners against I-594. Since Gottlieb is in favor of background checks, he is simply not the person to do that. (Neither is Gavin Seim, probably, though he definitely has more principles and more support among anti-I-594 activists.)

      Your comment helps back up my assertion: The mess in Washington has become so polarized that people are tending to see future action in black or white, “either Gottlieb or the ‘crazies.'” This is a false dichotomy. While I believe that individual and group resistance — disobedience — to I-594 is needed for liberty, I’m also saying that Washington state needs effective opposition to its ghastly new law — principled, but not polarizing. There are other gun-rights voices that could be heard. Heck, even the normally wishy-washy NRA is fighting background checks these days; they just won’t do it with any enthusiasm in WA state … because Gottlieb is so polarizing.

    2. Take a look at what Mike has up at Sipsey Street on this.

      Evidently, the actions of the open carriers that day was not the initiating factor in this “ban.” And Gottlieb knew about it all along.

      Also, I’ve read reports by a good number of people who were there at the time, including Mike, and it is obvious that the “news” reporters have distorted what happened and even lied about it. See my shocked face…

  8. “principled, but not polarizing”

    I had to smile when I read that, Claire. Is it even possible? 🙂

    If my current attitudes on concealed carry were transported back in time to myself in 1980, I would be completely against such a compromise in rights. A permit from a bureaucrat to protect one’s own life? Completely outrageous!

    Yet, it turned out to be the correct strategy. Now despite the galling paperwork, CC is legal everywhere – and better yet, something I would not have predicted, permitless “constitutional carry” is now spreading.

    The older I get, the less I am certain I know. I’m pretty sure the average Joe sorta-prohibitionist got comfortable with the notion of his neighbor carrying a gun, because of those state permits. I’m also pretty sure that gun control in general has become so radioactive because average people have become aware that there ARE “crazies” out there who will NOT back down, so that gun control looks like a sure way to civil war – and who wants that?

    We clearly need the “crazies”. It’s hard for me to admit, but it’s possible we also need the “insiders”, the “wheelers and dealers” as well.

    1. “We clearly need the “crazies”. It’s hard for me to admit, but it’s possible we also need the “insiders”, the “wheelers and dealers” as well.”

      Oh, I agree (though there’s a persistent danger that “our” insiders quickly identify more with other insiders than they do with us). I don’t object to Gottlieb being, or wanting to be, an insider or a wheeler dealer.

      The issue is that, in this case, “our” insider, “our” wheeler dealer ISN’T ON OUR SIDE.

      He’s on Bloomberg’s side on the issue of background checks.

      1. But that’s the point of my bringing up the CC issue. Those who pushed CC in Florida were not on our side either. The correct position then was to carry no matter what the law said about it.

        Gottlieb has made the calculation that Bloomberg will succeed in spreading background checks. I think Bloomberg won’t get far with it, so I disagree with Gottlieb, but it’s just a matter of opinion, isn’t it?

        MANY bills passed in the legislature and in initiatives and referenda trample liberty. Yet life goes on. I like that saying by Thoreau, “It is not often that I live under a government.” We will get around this somehow or other. Maybe a war will start. Oh well!

        Somehow I just can’t get that upset with what is going on in Washington state:

        1) Nobody is going to be disarmed.
        2) Lots of people ignoring a law, including law enforcement – what’s not to like?
        3) We have background checks/registration already (in a somewhat half-assed form, but that is irrelevant). It’s called NICS. The government knows who the gun owners, especially the hard-core gun owners, are already (no, I don’t believe they purge their databases – only a fool would believe that). It doesn’t matter. If they try a confiscation they would lose. They know that, which is why they haven’t tried it.
        4) People being the ornery critters they are, all this fuss about guns may actually boost gun purchases in Washington state, including by first-time buyers.

        1. “But that’s the point of my bringing up the CC issue. Those who pushed CC in Florida were not on our side either. The correct position then was to carry no matter what the law said about it.”

          Paul — But there’s a HUGE difference. Only those who want ccw permits get them. Background checks will be forced on every gun purchaser (except, of course, the many who are willing to violate the law). I also disagree with you when you say nobody’s going to be disarmed. Background checks will inevitably create registries of gun owners and lay the groundwork for eventual confiscation. Heck, with the prohibited persons list always growing and subject to several varieties of political manipulation, it’s a certainty that many innocent people will be denied the ability to make legal firearm purchases. That’s already true with the “half-assed” system we have now.

          But yes, if background checks stand, a whole new contingent of American Outlaws will be added, and that’s not such a bad thing.

          1. Mike V. again. He puts the OC demonstration in the WA Capitol in some context:


            The OC protestors were not only defying Gottlieb, but also defying an authoritarian “representative.”

            BTW: Might as well clarify my position on OC demonstrations. Elsewhere I called some people fools for bringing their rifles into restaurants and making a big display of themselves. The restaurant managements weren’t necessarily pro-gun in principle, they were merely using state carry laws as their own guidelines. Those OC demonstrators pushed them into taking a stand — and that stand was usually, “Get lost and don’t come back with your guns.”

            Carrying guns into a state Capitol building as a demonstration is a different matter. I may agree or disagree with it (depends on context). But whether I think it’s a smart tactic or not, it’s a way of sending a message to people who are supposed to be our servants. Never mind that (as de Gaulle said) they pose as servants to become our masters.

            And “radical” or not, “extremist” or not, adamant public resistance beats the hell out of submitting to bad laws and eventually having to go to war to regain political freedoms.

          2. “Only those who want ccw permits get them.”

            Sorry, I don’t see ANY distinction. In both cases we are talking about defending our lives. If rights exist, what right could be more fundamental?

            “I also disagree with you when you say nobody’s going to be disarmed. ”

            I may have exaggerated here. Obviously if the point of gun control is to make gun owning difficult, some people will be deterred who otherwise would not have been. This won’t affect people like us, but will stop someone already on the hairy edge of buying or not buying. What percentage that is, is anybody’s guess.

            “Background checks will inevitably create registries of gun owners and lay the groundwork for eventual confiscation. ”

            Except when they don’t, as with our current situation.

            This is a bit of gun-rights dogma I have to question. Yes, it has worked out that way in the past, but in no case was that in a population as heavily armed and as hard core as we are.

            As I said before, WE ALREADY HAVE A REGISTRY – NICS. One does not go to war to stop a registry that already exists. One does not even go to war to stop the original creation of the registry (although it would be better if we did, but it’s against human nature). One goes to war when the confiscation order comes down.

            Now, if we are not prepared to go to war when the confiscation order comes down, all this worry about registries is moot, isn’t it? We might as well turn our guns in right now and be good little slaves.

            If we ARE prepared to go to war, and hang legislators and cops who attack us from the nearest lamp post, then this worry about registries is also moot. Let ’em register all they want. It matters not at all.

            “Heck, with the prohibited persons list always growing and subject to several varieties of political manipulation, it’s a certainty that many innocent people will be denied the ability to make legal firearm purchases. That’s already true with the “half-assed” system we have now.”

            Yes, they will try to nibble us to death, but one can go only so far in that direction. If they can unfairly disarm 1% of the population, that does not imply they can get away with using the same methods to disarm 80% of the population. The war will happen long before that. Anyway those “legally” disarmed still have recourse to the black market. And what could be more effective, in making people hate the state, than to be forced into the black market to defend your family? Gun control is not without costs to the ruling class.

          3. “Sorry, I don’t see ANY distinction. In both cases we are talking about defending our lives. If rights exist, what right could be more fundamental?”

            You make a lot of good points, with which I won’t argue. However, I would like to go back a comment or two and argue something related to what I just quoted.

            You said earlier that those who advocated ccw permits “weren’t on our side, either.” I’ll concede that. I didn’t at the time generally perceive ccw permit activists as being on the side of gun rights. (However, I was very close to one of them, a sincere freedomista, who told me at the time that ccw in his state was just a step toward constitutional carry — which in that state it actually turned out to be.)

            BUT. Several big differences between that and universal background checks.

            Yes, true, both ccw permits and background checks surrender a fundamental human right in favor of a government granted privilege. But ccw permits do not attempt to decrease gun use and ownership; they attempt (agree with permitting or not) to expand responsible firearm use and normalize firearms possession in society. And in that they’ve succeeded beyond what I ever imagined. Background checks, on the other hand, are intended to limit firearms ownership and give government control over who can and who can’t have guns. They’re also intended to create a database of gun owners for the government’s future use. In short, while some gun owners benefit from ccw permits, no gun owner gains anything with background checks. It’s a 100% loss for us.

            Also, although ccw permit activists may not have been “on our side” as far as tactics went, and they were surrendering principle — they were not joining forces with some existing anti-gun movement. No ccw permit advocate sat down with Charles Schumer and said, “How can I please you?” There were no anti-gunners spending millions to impose ccw laws. There were no anti-gunners rubbing their hands together and cackling, “Ha ha, we’ll get ccw laws passed as part of our Devious Plot to eliminate all guns.” Background checks, OTOH, are exactly that. They’re a scheme of elitist anti-gunners to harm gun owners and centralize control. They’re very handy because ill-informed people can be easily gotten to say, “Background checks? Oh yeah, I’m all for ’em!”

            In short, ccw permits (though I still disagree with the concept and would never get a government permit to carry a self-defense tool) were intended to help gun owners. Background checks? Entirely harmful. No benefit at all except to victim disarmers.

          4. Claire I love your articles . And you are correct it’s time for a new breed of conservative that breaks the law for sport . I live in Washington State and you can still buy a AR-15 without a background check . Most are simply ignoring the law . I took down my American flag when the people put Obozo in for the second term . I have flown a flag for 34 years but never again . You are also correct that law enforcement once that firearm goes on a computer file they will want it . They would much rather fight you with gigabits than Glocks .

  9. What’s the most effective argument a “wheeler and dealer” can make?

    “It’s one thing to pass a law, another thing to enforce it.” If Gottlieb has any sense, while whacking the crazies, he should be saying to legislators, “It’s a bad idea to pass a law that will be ignored by a significant fraction of the population, one that law enforcement will not enforce. It might even be dangerous. Watch out for those crazies…”

    In other words, Gottlieb needs the crazies he is criticizing…

    Politics is a big game, isn’t it? No wonder so many people get caught up in it.

  10. Claire,

    If you really wanted to know what is in my head, you should have just called me before you started demonizing and attacking me and making statements that do not help our mutual cause of defending freedom.

    You write very well but your content contains many extrapolations that are flat out false and not only hurt me (which is your intent) but hurt other people and organizations defending our rights as well.

    As a result, while your intentions are good you have done harm to our cause.


    1. Thank you for commenting, Alan. If you’d like to give detail about your position on background checks (or anything else gun-rights related), I’d be more than happy to have you comment here. Or, if you like, even give you a guest post.

      As to doing harm to the cause of freedom or gun rights, I’m just a little person with little power, little money, and small influence. Nothing I ever have done or ever could do could be as harmful as imposing background checks on American gun owners.

    2. Also, Alan, while I’m sorry if I hurt you, you can’t see into my mind and heart to know how it hurts and frightens me (and many other gun owners, I’m sure) to have a man with your position and influence being so willing to surrender basic rights in exchange for favors and privileges.

    3. Mr. Gottlieb,

      I’m sure you’re aware that more than a few out there are calling you worse things than a sellout.

      My own position has softened somewhat since the days I was referring to you as a snake, a collaborator and a traitor (up until I read an illuminating blog post from Joe Huffman just last night actually). I now believe you merely to be horribly mistaken and a danger to us all.

      As to hurting you or the cause, please correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that you did in fact:

      1) write all or most of the Toomey-Manchin bill for them,
      2) go out of your way in your I-591 proposition to specifically accommodate an anticipated federal universal background check law (presumably this is anticipated because you intend to help them accomplish it again?),
      3) declare specifically that your opposition to I-594 involves no intention of trying to repeal it, and
      4) call open carry advocates “extremists”. I’m sure you are aware what a loaded term this is that you are using against our own. Even the picture of that douche canoe in the trench coat and duct-taped drop holster carrying his AR in low ready didn’t damage us as much as that label coming from you.

      I once held you, Alan Gura, and SAF in very high regard (I still have immense respect for Mr. Gura). It is conceivable that I and many others could again. I suggest you worry less about poll numbers of those who despise us anyway, and worry more about us. Did it not make an impression that gun owners fiercely and near-unanimously opposed Manchin-Toomey even with your endorsement? Did it not make an impression that the “I Will Not Comply” rally, organized by some no-name new kid vastly outshowed your own? You’re on the wrong side of the fight here. Come back to us.

      Stop letting yourself be preemptively defeated by ominous polls and focus group studies. I can understand a hopeless attitude about all this 18 years ago, but hasn’t this movement learned and advanced since then? Haven’t the dramatic shifts in polls provided you any cause for optimism since then? Hasn’t the massive noncompliance in CT, CO, NY, and WA demonstrated how radically sentiment has shifted since the dark ages of the 1990s? Can’t you see how much we’ve lost already playing this “compromise” game for generations now? By “limiting the damage”, we’ve helped them achieve the gradualism that has allowed them to keep the ground they’ve won.

      We should be making them fight for every inch at every level: legislation, litigation, compliance, and enforcement. If they overextend themselves in their grasping arrogance as they did with I-594, let them! A bad law is easier to repeal than a not-so-bad law. Stop trying to fix their mistakes for them!

      We should be delaying them and pushing back with every means at our disposal to buy time for education and outreach to move those poll numbers in our favor, and for us to develop arguments that do work on those focus groups. This is what JPFO was made for. For God’s sake, use it to take control of the conversation! Make Aaron Zelman proud, and prove the naysayers wrong!

      Ok, I’ll stop here before I restate every one of the arguments I made in my earlier comments, and wrap this up.

      I’ve given more money than I care to think about in the past 2 years to guns rights organizations, both national and local. I joined JPFO and bought just about of every bit of JPFO shwag in their store right before the news came out that you were acquiring it. Hell, I was so desperate for someone to throw money at that I even joined the NRA. The irony is that SAF would have gotten the lion’s share of that money, if not for the horrifying revelations of your role in the Manchin-Toomey bill.

      If we leapt to embrace defeat like this every time we saw an unfavorable poll, we’d be the UK or Australia by now. After nearly a century of steadily losing ground with barely even a struggle we finally have the momentum now, and much of that we owe to you and the other Alan. Please, please please, stop trying so hard to throw it all away.

      …or failing that, I for one would very much like to hear your side of this.



    4. Sorry, but when folks contribute to the discussion they are not harming the cause. Those attempting to shut down the discussion are the ones harming the cause. The cause is Liberty, right?

      Knock it off, big fella, or continue to be a failure as a leader. Your choice. You could try this though – ENCOURAGE debate, encourage the FREE exchange of ideas and even tactics. You could TRY understanding that yours is not the only viewpoint, nor is it the only valid one. You are no kingmaker and you certainly are no arbiter of what is right or wrong, proper or improper.

      Hint – those confident in the substance and merit of their position are NEVER afraid to defend it on both accounts.

      So I ask you plainly – as you just offered the demand to do – would YOU, Sir, apply the very same things to other fundamental, enumerated rights that you openly support applying to the Second Amendment? Do you consider “background checks” proper for things like oohhh….choosing to buy and possess a bible, torah or other holy book? How about 3-D printers? is it governments decision who to allow exercise of these rights? What do YOU consider to be the difference? What say you to SCOTUS language saying clearly that the Second is no different than the First?

      You see, Sir, while you rub elbows with the big dogs, people out here in Citizenland are dying because they FEAR the government you argue we should compromise with. Dying because they fear penalties for running afoul of the “laws” so greatly that they do not arm themselves. Others end up in jail or totally disallowed from keeping, much less bearing, because they do run afoul of these “compromises” (see littering thrice in Illinois with cigarette butts being a FELONY).

      You can call us extremists all you like. But you know what? We are actually just blunt truth tellers who are willing to stand up to bovine excrementors such as yourself. I submit that you don’t have the courage- or the intellectual honesty- to take on straightforward questions much less respond to them with straight up answers. You say someone “should have just called you” except that none of us could do so AND YOU KNOW IT!!! Disingenuous much?
      The fact is, you would fold as badly as Dianne Feinstein did when Ted Cruz ask her the same kind of questions I just asked you. Her legislation died a quick death as a result – leaving gun controllers and media hacks hyping manchin Toomey AS IF it were the REAL gun control effort that failed. Your game would fall apart the same way – which is why you DONT and WONT answer directly.

      Some of us exercise our rights and encourage others to do the same. The rest of us try to usurp rights that belong to others, acting like it is our place to decide “what’s best”. I am among the former, with you ALAN a clear member of the latter. I’m proud of where I stand – are you?

    5. Then how, Mr. Gottleib, should I feel when you send Workman out into every gun forum in the state, as well as social media, and his Examiner articles, to blatantly trash and attempt to discredit anyone who disagrees with you?

      Including ME PERSONALLY Mr. Gottleib?

      Unfortunately for you and Mr. Workman, He’s more than met his match in me.

      YOU started this war of words with your slaps at other rallys and other gun owners. You and you alone have done more to tear apart the pro gun community in Washington in the last six weeks than anyone.

      You want to monopolize gun rights politics in this state all to yourself?

      Those days are OVER.

      It took me a long time to see it. What pushed me over the edge? SAF filing a suit, and offing to give it up, leaving the background check in place, and then you sending your hacks and the cardboard cutouts you have in charge of your front groups to attack gun owners who disagree with you.

      You could have simply said “I disagree” and walked away. But you sunk to the level of the SPLC and every major anti-gun group and politicianout there labeling fellow gun owners “KOOKS AND EXTREMISTS”.

      Those are the words they use when they seek to monitor, tack arrest, imprison and even MURDER us. Those words are TYRANNY. Those words are DEATH.

      Well, you now have permanent opposition inside the firearms community in this state. And YOU manufactured it. And you have done NOTHING to try and defuse it, to the contrary, you have done nothing but fan the flames. So I really cannot discount the idea that this is exactly what you want.

      Someone else you can attempt to make look bad, so you you can hold yourself up as the voice of reason, of moderation.

      Be oh so careful what you wish for.

    6. Gee Alan???

      I tried to contact you for several years and you never once returned a phone call or email……

      As I recall Claire, Aaron, and Larry, (and event the NRA to some degree) all raised alarm over a video that was made public.

      Where were you Alan?

      Just sayin”

      Len Savage
      Historic Arms LLC

  11. One more (series of related) question(s) that I’ve been wanting to ask you for a long time.

    After watching what just happened with the Gunwalker scandal (and not just the Phoenix-to-Sinaloa operation, but the countless others that never made wide coverage in the news, to various other countries in Latin America, as well as to domestic criminal gangs such as in Oregon), did you honestly believe that criminal penalties in the Manchin-Toomey bill for compiling background check data into a de facto registry would deter the DOJ/BATFE from doing it anyway?

    …or that any judge would ever give any one a single day of jail time, even if word of the registry did leak out, and even if the BATFE failed to find and crush the leaker(s) in a timely manner, and even if the Democrats were unable to sufficiently suppress a Congressional inquiry, and even if the talking bobbleheads on the nooz were finally forced to cover it, and even if any DOJ prosecutor was ever stupid enough to actually act on it and launch an honest-to-God prosecution?

    What Attorney General would allow this entire series of events to transpire without, among other things, shitcanning that hypothetical federal attorney fast enough to violate Einstein’s General Theory Of Relativity? Holder? His successor? Would the Republicans save us?

    If you truly do believe any portion of this, please explain how/why.


    1. Oregon Hobo — Superb questions and well put. I doubt that Gottlieb has been back here to read comments since he posted this morning. I hope he has. But if we don’t hear from him again by tomorrow morning, I’d like to email him and point him toward your latest two comments.

      1. Ms. Wolfe, thanks for the kind words, and if you were asking permission for something there, permission is granted.

        #OREGON HOBO#

      2. Please ask he why He hasn’t endorsed Rep Shea’s bill to repeal 594.
        I already know the answer.

        He wants universal background checks in Washington. And nationwide.

      1. I just emailed the following to Alan Gottlieb:


        I expect you haven’t returned since leaving your comment, so I’m emailing to let you know that I invited you to do a guest post at The Zelman Partisans.

        After I did, commenter Oregon Hobo asked you a series of questions that pretty well sum up what’s on everybody’s mind. If you’re willing, I hope you’ll focus on addressing Hobo’s questions. They are here:

        First group:

        Second group:

        You could either send your post to me (I’ll post it without alterations) or I could give you a temporary login for TZP so you could post it yourself.

        I’ll understand if you don’t want to do this. But if you can set people’s minds at ease about your history and your intentions on background checks, it would certainly help everybody who wants to defeat gun grabbers.

        Claire Wolfe

        1. Got a very quick response from Alan (surprising, given that he’s at the SHOT Show and that’s by all accounts an overwhelming experience). He says he’s willing to write a guest post here, but it’ll be a week or two.

          1. Hmmm. Determining the debate on his own terms eh? What a ego! Here’s how it should work – you ask questions and he answers them and you post the transcript – after all, he did challenge you to “call” him right?

            Dishonesty gets so many who engage in it into sooo much trouble. He should NOT be given a filibuster opportunity. Ok ok fair enough, he could offer written answers to written questions, but then, why would that take a couple weeks? One comfortable in their positions and familiar with WHY those positions are chosen ought to be able to answer a list of questions in a few DAYS at most….

            It’s not hard to answer questions HONESTLY, unless of course one fears honest answers.

    2. “. . . criminal penalties in the Manchin-Toomey bill for compiling background check data into a de facto registry would deter the DOJ/BATFE from doing it anyway? . . .” Good point.
      Another approach (quite independent of UBC) might be to impose documentary requirements for ATF (or any other official) to take or transcribe a 4473 form. Sort of like the form NYPD must fill out for a stop & frisk. In such a requirement the official would be obliged to state the particular pretext. A copy of the form would have to be given to the FFL.
      If the official has a legitimate pretext to suspect a violation evidenced by a particular 4473 form then it’s not too much to ask that he fill out a form documenting that pretext. Conversely, if he is abusing his power the FFL and the gun-owning community ought to have a cause of action based on the info in the form.

  12. Fascinating discussion. Excellent comments, Oregon Hobo. Nice to see another pro-gun Oregonian. There seem to be way too few of us in this state – especially on the west side of the Cascades! I too look forward to more from Mr. Gottlieb.

  13. I think that it is time to stop being on the defense.
    We need to rework the NICS system in the name of fairness,.
    1) make all of the data have an expiration date, say 5 years
    2) force there to be an easy method to get your gun rights restored, without involving the state you live, the state where you were involved in a disqualifying event and the federal government
    3) We need to remove the reasons for being denied to actual violent crimes not white collar crimes or drug crimes.
    (my suggestion is to tie gun ownership to voting rights, if you are allowed to vote you should be allowed to own and bear a gun)

    In 1993, a federal law was passed for the stated purpose of preventing our reducing access by criminals and the mentally ill to firearms. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 instituted, for the first time in our history, a compelled interrogation under penalty of perjury and a search of a citizen’s private papers and effects on public record as a precondition to receiving (or being denied) permission to exercise a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

    The purchase of a firearm is not probable cause of criminal conduct, yet this interrogation and search is compelled in violation of our Fourth Amendment right to be secure from search in the absence of probable cause of criminal conduct.

    A compelled written interrogation under penalty of perjury and a compelled search of otherwise private records on public databases is not due process, yet this interrogation and search is compelled in violation of our Fifth Amendment right to be secure from deprivation of rights in the absence of due process.

    The authority to violate our rights is not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States, and is prohibited to the states, by the 10th Amendment.

    1. I have trouble with your premise (several of them actually). Well, the premise (s) as they may not be “yours”.
      First, government isn’t empowered to “allow” gun ownership or carriage or even defensive uses.
      Second, government is no more empowered to keep track of who owns guns than it is who owns bibles. Indeed, it is specifically barred from both arenas. It’s simply not its business.
      Third, legislated efforts contrary to enumerated rights simply cannot stand on their merit (lack of it).
      Fourth, these are Second Amendment issues, not fourth, not fifth, not even seventh, much less tenth. Fair enough, those arguments can be brought into discussion but the truth is this- if those enumerations covered the right to keep and bear arms then the Second itself would be redundant. We already know nothing within is meaningless filler…that each word has specific purpose. The Framers of the Bill of Rights (and the rest of the Constitution) knew full well that every “base” had to be covered. So the right to keep and bear was enshrined all by itself BECAUSE it had to be specifically protected on its own- above and beyond protections enumerated “down the list”.

      I agree with you 100 percent on the going on offense thing. You are absolutely correct. I submit to you that one way we do so is by hammering each and every false premise foisted upon us. Due process incorporation doctrine is one such pathetic fabrication (this idea that the Second requires the 14th to “apply” is pure idiocy). State preemption is another (the Second itself is federal preemption on behalf of the PEOPLE). It’s like “assault rifle” and “machine gun”… It’s time we go on offense to destroy these false premise creators, exposing them as the nefarious snake oil salesmen that they are. And yes, background check folks are just one example of those snake oil salesman…

  14. People trying to take away rights and freedoms,Seems to be never ending.
    I learned from history. My parents watched as One nazi soldier could march many unarmed people to the death trains in Holland.
    Our nation having armed citizens,I believe, helps keep us free.
    Tyrants love an unarmed populace.

  15. Gun permits, whether for open or concealed carry, gun registration,
    and background checks are all unconstitutional. Having your name
    on file with some
    government agency in order to own or carry a gun is immoral.
    We will NOT comply !
    BTW, Barak Obama has been the best gun salesman in history !
    Always shop at Blackmart, where we
    don’t KNOW you.
    BlackMart’s policy is to never ask you for ID, never make you fill out a
    “background check”, or run a credit check on you. Your cash is good enough for them, and they are located EVERYWHERE. Just ask around.
    The law concerning weapons is clear. Anything that “infringes” our rights to keep and bear arms is unconstitutional.

  16. Just a note, not an excuse or an apology. I detest the Brady law as much as anyone, but people use it as an excuse: “What are you getting exercised about, we already have a registry, in NICS!”

    We do not have a registry in NICS, and it’s important to prevent it from becoming one. While the 4473 form lists detailed information about the firearm(s) purchased, the only question NICS asks is, “Type of firearm?” The available answers are Handgun, Long Gun, and Other. That’s all. NICS has no idea what you bought, or how many, or even if the sale was completed at all.

    The only way the Government finds out what guns you bought is if they request a copy of your 4473 for that transaction, and speaking as a former gun retailer, that doesn’t happen that often, and even then it’s the gun they’re tracing to find the owner, not the owner to find the guns.

    The registry question is not a battle already lost (at the federal level), and it’s one we can win without having to repeal existing law.

  17. Rusty, you are very much mistaken, registration has been here for some time. As a former ffl holder, when I decided not to renew, I had a letter within a few days that my bound book records had to be sent to the computer center in Martinsburg WV immediately or the usual list of penalties. There have been several reports recently of agents going to shops and copying records. Keeping the records are supposedly illegal but it has never bothered ftroop and friends. There is no doubt in my mind that records are kept in contravention of the law. During the DC sniper event, purchasers of AR15 type rifles in the area were contacted by feds that supposedly had not kept the info. A good reason not to buy from a dealer if you don’t wish to be on the list. Most places a private sale, gift, or inheritance is not tracked(registered). Universal checks would limit and/or prohibit, not to mention register every private sale, gift, or inheritance, which in time means eliminate. Support of universal checks is treason, no less. The registration battle is lost but only at the retail store level, that should be eliminated too but don’t expect it.

    1. RW, I’d wanted to talk about this side of the problem in more detail. Thanks for reminding me.

      The law addressing those mass collections of FFL records is the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, which included a ban not only on using FFL records to construct a registry, but it prohibits any new rules or regulations that even require those records to be given into the custody of the federal or a state government*:

      18 USC §926(a)(2) No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act [5/19/86] may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation

      It could potentially be argued that violations of the ban on collecting firearms ownership information in the 1986 FOPA act occur merely because FOPA fails to provide for criminal penalties. This was why I previously noted the Gunwalker operations as an example of BATFE’s willingness to engage not merely to violate laws, but to violate laws that carry significant criminal penalties. Just like Ruby Ridge and Waco before it, they are still literally getting away with murder. I bet that threat of 15 years in Manchin-Toomey had them shaking in their jackboots.

      So now let’s get into the BATFE’s well-established history of mass collection of firearms ownership information in blatant violation of 18 USC §926(a)(2).

      Just so we’re not relying on the word of some guy in a forum (no offense intended, RW), let me corroborate his claims by pointing to two FFLs who went public with reports of BATFE efforts to perform mass recording or outright confiscation of their books, as well as the subsequent threats escalating to vicious retaliation when they objected:
      Pac N Arms, Sanford, ME (you have to be a High Road member to view the PDF)
      Great Northern Guns, Anchorage, AK

      Considering what these FFLs are still going through, how many more do we suppose opted not to anger the most infamously spiteful, retaliatory, murderous and untouchable federal bureau in this country, which just happens to hold the power to end their livelihoods with ease? How did crossing the BATFE work out for Len Savage and his “Economic Waco”?

      As RW also points out, there is the chilling fact that all FFLs closing up shop must surrender their books in entirety to the BATFE. This part is actually legal, but given the above, can there be any doubt as to what happens to those books that fall into their tender care in this manner? Regardless of whether they are being entered into a text-based database, it is an openly discussed fact that they are being scanned.

      Running those preexisting images through OCR is a task that is as simple as it gets, and one that can be done at any time. This has the advantage of not violating any laws against compiling a registry until someone decides it’s “go time”.

      This leads me to one more example that RW didn’t mention: the BATFE’s 2011 demand letter to FFLs in southern border states requiring reporting of sales of multiple long guns. There are 2 things worth noting about the rationale offered by the BATFE for this new requirement:

      1. This invention of the DOJ and BATFE accomplishes a nearly identical function to the multiple handgun reporting requirement, the difference of course being the type of firearm subject to reporting:

      18 USC §923(g)(3)(A) Each licensee shall prepare a report of multiple sales or other dispositions whenever the licensee sells or otherwise disposes of, at one time or during any five consecutive business days, two or more pistols, or revolvers, or any combination of pistols and revolvers totalling two or more, to an unlicensed person. The report shall be prepared on a form specified by the Attorney General and forwarded to the office specified thereon and to the department of State police or State law enforcement agency of the State or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction in which the sale or other disposition took place, not later than the close of business on the day that the multiple sale or other disposition occurs.

      The DOJ/BATFE claim their authority for this letter from the following:

      18 USC §923(g)(5)(A) Each licensee shall, when required by letter issued by the Attorney General, and until notified to the contrary in writing by the Attorney General, submit on a form specified by the Attorney General, for periods and at the times specified in such letter, all record information required to be kept by this chapter or such lesser record information as the Attorney General in such letter may specify.

      To summarize, in 18 USC §926(a)(2), Congress prohibited any government body from creating new rules or regulations to acquire FFL records outside of the requirements of the existing legislation. The BATFE claimed that 18 USC §923(g)(5)(A) gave them the authority to demand records for long guns not required by existing law, forming a requirement nearly identical to the multiple handgun reporting requirement in 18 USC §923(g)(3)(A), which Congress manifestly believed required explicit legislation, and in which they explicitly chose to include only handguns.

      2. The BATFE justified their need for this new reporting requirement based on the straw purchasing and gun smuggling to Mexico that the BATFE perpetrated itself, a year after they had already been caught doing it. CBS even released BATFE memos specifically mentioning their intent to use the resulting murders to push for “Demand Letter 3”.

      The BATFE of course got what they wanted in the DC District Court, in a breathtakingly credulous summary judgement no less, issued a month+ after the CBS report. WARNING: reasons for judgement may be NSFW if hurling things or yelling at your screen is frowned upon at your place of employment.

      True to the tried-and-true incrementalist strategy, a mere 2 years later came the inevitable attempt to expand the long gun reporting requirement to all 50 states. Astonishingly, it failed… this time.

      This brings us back to that nagging question: why on earth would we believe that any law would deter the BATFE from gathering FFL records into a registry or a redi-mix-just-add-OCR registry, and why on earth would we believe that they would ever suffer any consequences for doing so?

      Regardless of guarantees of protection from the government (boy, now there’s a worn-out cliche) or whatever other fleeting benefits we might temporarily gain back, they’re just not worth it. This isn’t the gun haters’ new Holy Grail for no particular reason. If we think it’s too tough a fight now, how do we suppose it will be when our enemies have all their targeting info gathered into tidy rows and columns? If our enemies take this hill (or if we surrender/compromise/trade it to them), we lose, period, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pass that inheritance to my children.


      * The text of federal gun laws, USC 18 §921-931, can be found starting here:

    2. It’s not much of a registry if it doesn’t encompass everyone. FFLs keep records for 20 years then can legally destroy them, so anything sold more than 20 years ago is off the radar. In most states anything resold by the original purchaser is off the radar. If turning in the records when you hang up your license is supposed to be facilitating a registration scheme, it’s a half-arsed and badly designed one, and there’s a perfectly legitimate (from ATF’s viewpoint) reason to collect the records: facilitating traces when the retail dealer is out of business.

      Seriously, you can either argue that the Justice department can’t do better than a kludgy, incomplete and poorly-built registry based on NICS, or that they are so hyperefficient that they do all this without a word ever leaking out, but not both.

      1. RustyGunner — You could also say, as Paul Bonneau did, that the DoJ has a half-assed registry — but they would love to have a better one.

        As to no word ever leaking out … plenty of “word” has leaked out, here and there, over the years.

        But I don’t think anybody ever accused America’s gun bureaucracy of being hyperefficient. 🙂

      2. iMr. Gunner, are you referring to the registry they’re building right now, or the registry they would build after universal registration?

        If the former, of course it’s badly incomplete. That’s why they keep grasping for more, however they think they can get it.

        If the latter, the most politically undesirable people can reasonably be expected to have a sufficiently high rate of market activity that they’d show up as either a seller or buyer at least once within a few years. I don’t think there’s nearly as much interest in the Fudd that bought one bolt decades ago that has seen about as many rounds as it has deer seasons, nor the son that he passed it onto.

        So what the BATFE would have within a few years may be missing a large portion of the guns, but I expect that it would contain a very high proportion of persons of interest. Good enough for some purposes, depending how patient our enemies are feeling.

        …and after a few decades, it will also contain most of the guns. Perhaps I’ll take comfort in having foisted the impending confiscation onto my children’s generation?

        Of course, these timelines will shorten further when our “wheelers and dealers” negotiate away universal background checks for ammunition, reloading components, and presses as well.

        Either way I’m not sure what the point is supposed to be.

        #OREGON HOBO#

  18. Hi,

    Claire, I am honored to be living in this generation. We all have a chance to right all the wrongs that have been committed since the Revolutionary War. The offenses are way too many to try to name, but y’all know what they are. I am a nobody that Has been in the militia scene for 20 years now, and served my time in combat during the “war on drugs”. I was embedded in Honduras and Panama as specops USAF. I witnessed the takeover of many compounds. It seemed that it didn’t matter how numerous the “enemy” casualty was, we were to protect the product and set it aside in a specific place and not destroy it. It was picked up later, by black, unmarked helicopters and taken away. They didn’t need to tell any of us that were smart, what was going on. If you are at war with drugs, why not destroy the “product”. Now you probably are thinking, what does all this have to do with the current conversation? Well, quite a lot. I don’t know for sure, but I am reasonably sure, that the government was commandeering the product and supplying people in our own country with the product they demanded and actually had a right to, and a freedom for. You see they, through their outlawing drugs, created a market for those very same drugs, through the back channels, just the way our very same government did during prohibition. They want to create the very same atmosphere with guns. Make them illegal, create a backchannel, inject themselves into the middle, and you have a very lucrative network. Now they want to control who has access to the network. Next they will need background checks, registration, and eventually confiscation, so they know who has the “legal” guns, and those can be illuminated. Anyone caught with a gun can be sent to the “for profit” prison system and the “right” people can start receiving their shipments. You see it doesn’t matter what the “product” is, as long as there is a demand for it, there will always be a supply. The only variable is who makes the profits. And who has the so called freedoms. What we need to do is continue along this “I will not comply” campaign and mindset. It will eventually lead to a civil war, that is inevitable. I don’t want a war, you don’t want a war. Hell, George Washington didn’t want a war, but, war IS inevitable. For that I’m sorry. But we need to get rid of all the people that consider their profit margins more important than their moral obligations and their duty to their country, and ALL our Freedom.

    . Thank You Claire
    . Very Sincerely,
    . Paul A Paver Jr.
    . Capt. PALG

  19. I can’t believe there are still people who think a government prohibition on gun databases is actually preventing one! Some people are not paying attention. Guess what folks, there are even prohibitions right there in the Constitution. If the highest law of the land is ignored, you can reasonably assume ordinary statutes are as well. The law is for the peons, not the rulers. In fact a reasonable description of the ruling class, is those persons for whom the law does not apply.

    As to NICS and 4473’s and all that, yeah, a perfect gun registry does not exist, and even if the law was passed at the federal level, and even if people paid attention to it, it still would not exist. THAT DOES NOT MATTER. The government will never know where all 300 million guns are. IT DOESN’T NEED TO KNOW THAT. It just needs (for tyrannical purposes) to know WHO the gun owners are. That it already has, to high reliability, with NICS. It already has what it needs to do a confiscation.

    So why does it not go ahead? It clearly does not care about morality, or constitutionality, or law, or efficiency. Some factor other than these is deterring them.

    The deterrent is self interest. They don’t want to die. And they don’t want to start a war with an uncertain ending. That’s the only thing stopping them.

    1. Hobo — Saw that and blogged that over at Living Freedom. Can’t help but note the extreme wishy-washiness of the language (along with the claim that Gottlieb has been a leader against I-594). Fellow TZP blogger Y.B. had an interesting comment on that over at LF.

  20. Soooo where’s that guest post from Mr. Gottlieb?

    …or was that half-hearted reversal on the repeal I-594 an attempt to defuse this controversy without having to directly address it or the questions it has raised about his intentions?

    I’ve been looking forward to hearing his side of this for a month now. I’d hate to think we’ve been led on in the hope that we’ll just lose interest.

    Perhaps this is a winning strategy against the attention spans of some, but personally the waiting just leaves me with more questions and less benefit of the doubt remaining to ration out. Primarily: is there any significant action that Mr. Gottlieb has undertaken pursuant to his new stance on I-594 other than to cease overtly hindering its repeal and other than blacklisting Mr. Vanderboegh?

    Happy trails,


    1. I was wondering the same thing. I guess he is still nursing a hangover after that Texas “win” about handgun transfers to residents of other states. Funny how the court seemed enamored with the efficacy of Brady checks. Good to know they are confident in their system, right? Well, off to get new velvet for my leg chains. B’bye!

    2. Hobo — I’ve been going to post an update. I invited Gottlieb on January 23 to do a guest post answering your questions. He said he’s do that in a week or two. Last week I reminded him that the invitation was still open. On 2/17 he responded, “Thanks for the reminder. Life is real busy right now with Congress and legislatures back in session along with 30 plus active court cases that we have going on at the same time. In addition, I am getting booked on 3 or more TV and radio shows a day. I will try to get to it as soon as I can.”

      That’s all I’ve got. If he hasn’t submitted a guest post by mid-March, I’ll assume that he has decided to indirectly decline to answer your points. For now, I’m still hoping to see something from him.

  21. It seems Mr. Gottlieb has forgotten about us. Claire, do you suppose sufficient time has passed that it might be appropriate to resend your invitation? 😉


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