By Ben Langlotz | December 12, 2016 | Firearms | 0 Comments
On November 3, 2016, President-Elect Trump announced the appointment of a 62-member advisory panel called the Second Amendment Coalition. I quickly scanned the list (to see the full list, go to the end) to see who I knew, and to get a feel for the crowd.
Some I knew from my years in the industry, and I’ve gotten patents for one on the list. Others I recognized for their fame as competition shooters. Most I had never heard of…
With the announcement, gun rights activists and industry players inspected the list, nodding approval at some appointments and silently wondering why their favorite firearms figures—maybe even themselves—weren’t appointed. With help from industry writer Eve Flanigan to research and report, I set out to answer the question: Who did Trump pick, and Why? With space limitations, we can only report on a fraction this month. I’ll welcome any input on others from readers (confidentiality will be respected). Maybe upcoming newsletters will include others.
Donald Trump, Jr. co-chairs the coalition and is a well-known gun nut and hunter. Manhattan-based Donald Jr. took his eldest son on a Montana adventure, including rifle practice, after the election. About parenting, he says “get them outside early and often.” He has revealed the President Elect’s core thinking on guns: “with my father, it’s all about self-defense,” and comments referencing his wife’s need for gun protection in his absence. So he doesn’t need to be reminded that the Second Amendment isn’t about deer hunting. Yet he doesn’t go as far as Democrat Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey did in 1960 when he wrote that: “the right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”
If President Trump listens to his son on gun issues, I’m most encouraged by Donald Jr.’s support for sound suppressor rights, as evidenced by his visit and video interview with SilencerCo’s CEO. This gives me hope that President Trump might not just sign, but advocate on behalf of the Hearing Protection Act.
Chris Cox is the other co-chair. He’s the Executive Director of NRA’s DC-based Institute for Legislative Action He has been the NRA’s chief lobbyist since 2002. In a pre-election speech, Cox laid
out a vision of America’s guns under Hilary Clinton:
Here’s what will happen if she’s elected. She’ll put a radical, anti-gun activist in Scalia’s seat as soon as she can. The gun-control groups will take a Second Amendment case to the Supreme Court, where five justices will overturn what millions of Americans have fought and died to defend — the basic human right of self-defense.
And as soon as the ruling clears, states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will ban the manufacture and ownership of entire classes of firearms overnight.
Every gun store in those states will be out of business. Every gun range, shuttered. Hundreds of thousands of people in the firearms business will lose their jobs. And as bad as that sounds, it’s just the beginning.
It ends with no right to own a gun in your own home, anywhere in America, period.
The NRA isn’t the darling of every gun owner. Some are put out by the organization’s aggressive fundraising tactics. Other lobbying groups are openly critical of what they describe as the NRA’s record of compromise. Nevertheless, they do great work. The NRA is a lightning rod of sorts, an enemy against which anti-gunners galvanize and ultimately reveal their own agendas. With a Republican-controlled Congress, Cox should have a smoother road than ever before in pushing for reform. It will be interesting to see whether the next two years see more division or more unity between the work of NRA and groups like Gun Owners of American and the National Association of Gun Rights.
John Boch is a civilian firearms instructor and Executive Director of the non-profit, Guns Save Life. His organization has been active in the Illinois legislature, fighting for RKBA issues. They also do novel public education efforts, i.e. Burma Shave-style signs against gun control. Boch has already been doing homework for the Coalition. The Trace recently reported on his list of actions he wants to see implemented by the Trump Administration, including:
Eli Bremer is a former Olympic Pentathlete, with means he competed in pistol shooting along with fencing, swimming, show-jumping (presumably with a horse) and running. A Colorado native
and USAF Academy grad, he appears to be a loyal Republican. In 2009, when he attended a Bush/Cheney campaign event, and pictures from that era with George W. Bush and the Bush twin daughters, are on his public Facebook page.
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN). Emmer’s district includes St. Cloud, where the Crossroads Mall terror attack occurred in September. He’s been outspoken in support of the individual, who used a concealed handgun to stop the event. He is equally vocal about his support for law enforcement around the country.
Emmer was a staunch supporter of the failed SAFE Act, which would’ve expanded background checks on Iraqi and Syrian refugees. The Act passed the House with ease, but was voted down by cloture in the Senate—and even so, the President had promised a veto.
The NRA praised Emmer’s introduction of a bill aiming to remedy the issue of wrongly denied firearms sales due to errors in the criminal background check system. Under it the FBI would be required to maintain a maximum 60-day appeal and resolution process.
Dennis Feldpusch. What’s a Presidential list without a little mystery? Some rigorous online sleuthing and a follow-up with a Maryland gun rights advocate turned up nothing but some random facts about a septuagenarian who lives in Carroll County and works on cars. Perhaps Dennis Feldpusch is an alias for a Coalition member so important, they’d have to kill us if they told us. Somebody email Julian Assange?
Casey Flack was educated at New Mexico Military Institute as a young man, Flack had an 18-year law enforcement career in the Lenexa, Kansas Police Department, where he was selected for their leadership track. Before becoming the US sales manager for UMB guns, and later the law enforcement division chief for IWI US. In 2016, he was promoted to CEO of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based company. Flack is also a tournament bass fisherman.
Jesse James. Iconic names seem to come naturally to Jesse James, founder and CEO of Jesse James Firearms Unlimited (JJFU). The gun business represents his second career, having first bootstrapped himself from garage-shop welder to fame as the founder of West Coast Choppers, a California-based motorcycle muffler company. James moved West Coast Choppers a bit east when he relocated to Austin, where he launched JJFU, complete with a garage shop, in 2012. Using techniques that brought him success with muffler manufacturing, James designed and patented a radically new interpretation of suppressors. These sound wave-shaped silencers have ventilating holes along their length. JJFU also builds a line of artisan AR- platform rifles and 1911 pistols.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO). We didn’t interview Rep. Luetkemeyer, but his support of Second Amendment freedoms is clear from his record. He’s fought to end the Department of Justice Operation Chokepoint, an insidious form of gun control that prevented banks from dealing with businesses that sell firearms. He also was a proponent of keeping his state government’s nose out of the way for families who wanted to give other family members a firearm.
James G. McDonald, III is a specialist in family, estate, municipal, and corporate law with a practice in Princeton, Indiana, so it’s not immediately clear what his association with gun concerns may be. He was in a client meeting when the cold call for this interview came. His receptionist indicated he’d call back if he was so inclined—so far, he hasn’t been.
Reinhard Seipp is General Manager of optics manufacturer, Meopta USA, Inc, based in Hauppauge, New York. He responded to questions by email as follows:
– It’s obvious you’re a mover and shaker in the industry. Are there other reasons the Trump team singled you out for membership?
In addition to our Sports Optics involvement we are a defense contractor and supply optics for various weapon systems. I am frequently in Washington and well connected to individuals in the Military and the Government.
– What do you plan on accomplishing as part of the Coalition?
Protect 2A above all and educate the uneducated as to the importance of 2A.
– Care to share a bit about your personal experience with gun ownership/hunting?
I am not affiliated with either political party. As a (fierce) independent I interpret the 2nd amendment as an independent right. Freedom from oppression is in our DNA and we must push back at any attempt made to infringe on our rights.
Theresa Vail might be the youngest member of the Coalition at 26. Definitely the first visibly tattooed contestant in the Miss America pageant. This 2013 Miss Kansas is also a Sergeant in the US Army Reserve. She hosted the Outdoor Channel hunting show Limitless with Theresa Vail, and is currently a host of NRA All Access.
Vail actively promotes education about the Hearing Protection Act, veterans’ causes, and tactical casualty care. She also promotes women’s involvement in firearms and hunting.
In 2015, Vail was charged with two misdemeanors subsequent to the illegal killing of two Alaskan grizzly bears during the production of her TV show when she was licensed to take only one. In a public statement, she blamed “poor advice” for the cover-up that included back-dating a bear tag. Vail says her second shot, intended for the bear she legitimately tagged, mistakenly killed the second bear. She entered a guilty plea for one of the charges; the second was dismissed. The regrettable hunt episode never aired.
Linda Walker is a firearms instructor, NRA director, and Chair of the Central Ohio chapter of the Buckeye Firearms Association. On December 28, Walker answered her phone around noon central time, somewhat harried. “There’s an active killer incident going on at OSU right now,” she said, “and it’s prime time to remind certain legislators that campus carry is something we need now.” Clearly, no moss gathers under Walker’s feet.
Walker’s volunteer lobbying work has developed long-term relationships with Ohio lawmakers. Her successes as part of BFA include the establishment and refinement of concealed carry laws, broader recognition and reciprocity for Ohio concealed carry, and the establishment of castle doctrine-type statutes for the state.
As for how she got involved in the Coalition, Walker said, “Natalie Davis of California was Trump’s boots-on-the-ground person in Ohio. She, I later came to know, established the Trump campaign’s Second Amendment steering committee in Ohio. I don’t know if all states had one, or only swing states. We were doing all we could to reach out to other Second Amendment and sportsmen’s groups, anyone who had an interest, to rally support.”
Walker’s long history of volunteerism and knowledge of key players seems to have made her an automatic, and surely wise, selection for the Coalition. “Our current Secretary of State is John Houston. His son Clayton worked with the Trump campaign—he called and asked me to be a part of this group.”
That kind of grass roots gun activist is the type I’m especially glad to see advising Trump. Much more to come on the rest of the committee.