The big news went somewhat under the radar this week. There wasn’t much coverage of it in major media, but a new estimate puts the number of new gun owners thus far in 2021 well into the millions. Put that together with the 8.4 million Americans estimated to have bought a gun for the first time last year, and the potential effects begin to snowball.
This week also saw the remainder of our interview with gun-rights activist Rob Pincus about his against-the-grain style of advocacy and what reforms he thinks should come out of the NRA’s recent turmoil.
Plus, a collection of Politicos discuss just how vital The Reload’s reporting was in President Joe Biden’s decision to pull his ATF Director nominee. And we have VCDL President Philip Van Cleave on the podcast to discuss his group’s defamation lawsuit against a gun-control group as well as the fast-approaching Virginia elections.
Industry Survey Finds Millions More First-Time Gun Buyers in 2021
By Jake Fogleman
Millions of Americans have already become new gun owners this year, according to a new survey.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms industry trade group, released its latest retailer survey on Thursday. Dealers reported in the survey that roughly 3.2 million people purchased a gun for the first time during the first half of 2021.
“We are encouraged by the sustained interest in lawful and responsible gun ownership as well as by the manufacturing base which has been challenged to meet this remarkable demand,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO, said in a statement.
The survey findings suggest that increased demand among first-time buyers has continued following last year’s record-breaking estimates. The continuation of this trend could have notable political effects when public support for new gun laws has started to decline. The survey found that Americans aged 30 and under were the most represented age group among first-time gun buyers this year. That same age group has also shown the sharpest decline in support for new gun-control measures, according to polling data.
There’s a simple addition equation at the core of the most significant single factor in the future of gun politics: 8.4 + 3.2 = 11.6.
That’s how many millions of Americans the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates were added to the gun-owning community over the past year and a half. The firearms industry trade group reported late last week its latest dealer survey found 3.2 million first-time buyers were created in the first half of 2021. That’s after it estimated there were 8.4 million first-time buyers in 2020 based on its previous survey.
If this number is accurate, and there is some question over whether or not it is, it could have monumental impacts in the short and long term.
One of the long-term effects is likely to be a shift in American gun politics. As you might imagine, gun owners have historically been less supportive of restrictions on gun ownership and use. With millions more adults (and, therefore, voters) owning guns, it may have an impact on the level of support gun-control measures can expect moving forward.
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Just a few short months after its launch, The Reload is receiving a flood of praise for the impact of its journalism.
Commentators, Hill staffers, and activist groups alike spotlighted The Reload‘s exclusive reporting on questions about President Joe Biden’s ATF director nominee over the past week for making “a world of difference” in Biden’s decision to drop his nomination. The Reload recently published a series of stories on allegations that nominee David Chipman made racist remarks and, separately, attempted to torpedo a Black agent’s career over a false claim of cheating the agent claims was racially motivated. The stories also featured former and current ATF agents warning Chipman’s history as a paid gun-control activist would hinder the agency’s ability to work with the firearms industry on criminal cases.
A source with knowledge of the fight over Chipman’s appointment in the Senate told The Reload its reporting dug up questions not previously known to the Senators who ultimately blocked him.
“The Reload‘s meticulously reported stories made a world of difference,” the source said. “The Dems knew what they were getting with Chipman on the gun issues. Public anger over Chipman’s views on gun control and confiscation wouldn’t sink his nom because Dems were ready to pay that price to get the most extreme gun-control advocates off their backs. But the Reload stories on Chipman’s history of racism, as well as other stories on his bashing America on behalf of Chinese propagandists, raised the political cost way higher than Dems were willing to pay.”
The source said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. Ky.), who called for Chipman’s withdrawal while citing a Reload story, used the newly uncovered information to pressure Democratic moderates on the vote.
“Leader McConnell was able to use those stories to hit the Dems on two issues that they’re really sensitive about—race relations and weakness on China,” they said. “And it probably killed the nom.”
In Part 1 of an expansive interview with The Reload‘s founder Stephen Gutowski, gun-rights advocate Rob Pincus took aim at dogmas he considers misguided in the gun community. He opined on matters of gun training and gun politics, and the second part of the interview gets into the details of what he thinks is wrong with the NRA and how he wants to solve it. As a board member of Save the Second, he has a diagnosis and a prescription for the gun-advocacy giant.
Before that, though, Pincus told Gutowski about his vision for 3D printing and homemade guns as a front in the campaign for securing gun rights in the future. Pincus sees immense room for growth in this area and argues it is crucial to the full meaning of the Second Amendment.
The following is the second segment of Gutowski’s conversation with Pincus, lightly edited for clarity:
In this final section of his interview with Stephen Gutowski, gun-rights advocate Rob Pincus makes the case that he’s helping by being a gadfly in the gun community. He argues the responsibility of gun owners goes hand-in-hand with their rights, and so it’s critical that gun advocates address tough issues such as negligence. But he also defends himself against the idea that he’s courted controversy or actively tried to irritate others in the gun-rights movement. Rather, he says it’s about policing his own side in order to get results.
Pincus has high hopes for what can be accomplished in the cause of gun rights. He says his goal is to push gun control far enough to the fringes that neither major party can maintain an anti-gun agenda. He thinks that will take serious self-policing and a heavy dose of influence but it’s a goal worth having. The intentions he has for his activism are where we begin.
The following is the last section of Gutowski’s conversation with Pincus, lightly edited for clarity and exclusive for members:
Reload members can get the whole interview here. If you’re not yet a member, join now to access this and other exclusive posts!
Podcast: VCDL’s Philip Van Cleave on the Upcoming Virginia Elections
By Stephen Gutowski
On this episode, Virginia Citizen Defense League’s (VCDL) president Philip Van Cleave joins the show to discuss his group’s defamation suit against the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV).
He talks about why the group feels CSGV falsely labeling them a “domestic terror organization” is actionable and why VCDL believes it can reach the high bar to win a defamation case. He also discusses the upcoming elections in Virginia, what VCDL is doing to elect pro-gun candidates, and why they haven’t endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Younkin.
I also talk to contributing writer Jake Fogleman about President Biden’s decision to withdraw his ATF nominee after a series of exclusive reports from The Reload uncovered his questionable background.
Plus, I interview Reload Member John Mcadams about what got him into big game hunting and how the pandemic has driven new people to hunting.
You can listen to the full podcast on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.
You can also watch the video podcast on our YouTube channel.
Gutowski on Fox: Moderate Democratic Senators Stopped Biden’s ATF Nomination
By The Reload Staff
Founder of The Reload Stephen Gutowski joined LiveNow from Fox to discuss the withdrawal of David Chipman’s nomination to lead the ATF.
“Essentially they couldn’t get the 50 votes needed to push him through the Senate,” Gutowski said. “It came down to getting all 50 of the Senators who caucus with the Democrats to vote for him, and they simply couldn’t secure enough votes to make it happen.”
Anchor Andrew Craft read the White House’s statement on Chipman’s withdrawal, in which the President blamed Republicans for sinking the nomination, and asked about the difficulty of confirming an ATF director.
“The White House is being a little bit disingenuous there because they didn’t need Republican support to get his nomination through,” Gutowski said. “They only needed 50 votes plus the tiebreaker from the Vice President. Certainly there was united Republican opposition, but the real key here was Democratic opposition to his nomination.”
Watch the full interview below:
Training Event for Thousands of Black Women in Detroit Highlighted in NRA Ad
By Stephen Gutowski
The National Rifle Association shined the spotlight on an event one of its members put on in Detroit, Michigan.
The NRA released an ad on Thursday featuring Rick Ector, one of the group’s certified instructors, talking about why he organized a free training for more than 4,000 Black women at the end of August. Ector explains what led him to gun ownership and why he is motivated to train others in armed self-defense.
“I was raised my entire life brainwashed that guns were bad and only bad people would need a gun. Until one night when I was robbed at gunpoint in my own driveway,” he said in the ad. “I was staring down the barrel of a gun with my family in the house behind me. The only reason they didn’t ransack my house was because I told a whopping lie that my house was filled with guns and trained users. They fled. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would never look down the barrel or be defenseless ever again, and I would use my experience to help others.”
He argued gun ownership, rather than gun control, is the solution to violence in the city.
“If simply having guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens was the answer, Detroit would be the safest place on earth,” Ector said. “Instead, it’s seen a 53% increase in shootings in 2020 alone.”
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.