S.H. Blannelberry: Adam Kraut is hoping to become a member of the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors. To do so, he needs your help. Specifically, he needs lifetime NRA members and those who have been members for five consecutive years to check his name on the ballot box.
The obvious question is, why Adam? Why should you vote for him over some of the other qualified candidates on the ballot?
Well, let’s ask him. Why should NRA members vote for you?
Adam Kraut: Members should consider voting for me because I am an individual actively engaged in working to expand Second Amendment Rights at the state and federal levels through litigation. I host a weekly show, The Legal Brief, on YouTube that is designed to dispel the various legal myths and misinformation about our gun laws so that gun owners can go out armed with the proper knowledge of the law. Additionally, I have worked behind the counter of a gun store for the past three years, so I know the burdens that both the industry members and those purchasing firearms have to deal with.
While I may be a younger candidate, I’ve invested a great deal of my time and career into furthering gun rights. I try to be as connected to others in the community and even on a national level as possible. One of the things I want to do, if I am elected, is be easily accessible to members for questions, concerns, etc. I have an email account where I’ve been corresponding with individuals since I announced I was seeking signatures for the petition to be placed on the ballot, I have a Facebook page where I regularly communicate with followers and I have a newsletter list that I’ll utilize to keep members up to date on important issues they should know about.
S.H. Blannelberry: As mentioned, you may know Adam from his educational and informative Youtube videos on TheGunCollective. See, Adam is an attorney who specializes in 2A issues. More often than not, when you have a question on some pesky issue with respect to one’s right to keep and bear arms (SSA Gun Bans, Will HPA Become law? Ins and Outs of AOWs), you can watch Adam dissect the issue in layman’s terms. He is very helpful. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.
On that note, let’s put his legal acumen to the challenge and inquire about a recent decision by the 4th Circuit Court that intimated (I’m paraphrasing) that when one carries a firearm in public one may be subject to a search by law enforcement irrespective of whether one has a concealed carry permit. Basically, if you’re armed, your not only armed but also dangerous in the eyes of the law, and you may be treated accordingly.
What are your thoughts on this case?
Adam Kraut: Let me preface this by saying that I think that one should not need a permit to carry a firearm and that all of the constitutional carry bills being passed in various states are a step in the right direction. The other thing people need to be aware of is that this is a 4th Circuit decision, meaning it is only binding in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. That being said, I am not sure how many people have read the decision versus some of the headlines that have been floating around.
I think the facts of the case are important to understand in order to see how it actually may affect lawful gun owners. The gentleman who was involved was handling a firearm in his car in a parking lot that was notorious for drug deals. He was not carrying the firearm lawfully and was not able to procure a permit to carry a firearm even if he wanted to due to his previous criminal history (although this part was unknown to the police at the time of the call). The police pulled over the vehicle Robinson was in as a result of an anonymous tip that was rather specific in nature to what the individual had seen (which is consistent with prior case law from the Supreme Court). After stopping the car and asking Robinson to exit the vehicle, the officer asked if he had any weapons on him. Robinson did not respond verbally but rather made a face that indicated to the officer that he had one but was not going to say anything. As a result, the officer frisked Robinson and found the firearm.
The decision goes on to cite to prior Supreme Court precedent that a frisk may be conducted if two criteria are met. The investigatory stop is lawful and there is a reasonable suspicion the person is armed and dangerous. The part of the decision that I think has upset most firearms owners is that the Court said that it did not matter if you were carrying the firearm lawfully, if you are armed, you are therefore dangerous. That part of the decision I take issue with from a personal standpoint, as I’m sure most of the readers who carry a firearm take more precautions than most to ensure that they are behaving in a lawful manner.
While I think there are other arguments that could have been made which may have resulted in a different decision by the court, they were not. As such, this is the case law we are now left with.
S.H. Blannelberry: Here’s a hypothetical situation for residents who fall within 4th Circuit jurisdiction: You’re pulled over for a routine traffic stop. In addition to giving the officer your license, registration, you notify him that you are a lawful CCW holder and that you are currently carrying a firearm. Based on this ruling, the presumption is (a) you’re dangerous because you are armed and (b) the officer can lawfully frisk you because you are dangerous.
That is not to say that that will be the norm, but by the letter of the ruling, is that a reasonable extrapolation?
Adam Kraut: I cannot say definitively that it is a reasonable extrapolation. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? It is going to depend on the officer and the context. I do not know which of those states (if any) require you notify the officer that you are carrying a firearm. If you are not required to notify the officer and you are not being removed from your car, why would you notify them? If you are required to notify them, they may thank you and that be the end of it. Just because the decision allows an officer to frisk an individual because they have stopped them lawfully and have a reasonable belief they may be armed does not mean that a frisk will occur, just that one would be lawful.
S.H. Blannelberry: Yes, I couldn’t resist the urge to ask him a legal question. Not every day that you get to talk to an attorney who specializes in 2A rights.
Anyways, back to questions about his goal of joining the NRA board of directors.
What one thing would you like to change about the National Rifle Association?
Adam Kraut: The image. Most of America believes the NRA is an evil gun lobby. It has been and still is an educational institution first and foremost. I want to see the NRA pushing an educational message. I think that would help its image amongst the general public and even some gun owners. One of the things I would like the see NRA members and clubs do is invite the public for a day at the range to teach them about basic firearms safety and allow them to shoot some guns in order to get a real life experience. I think that would do a world of wonder for the public image of the organization. That positive one on one contact will do more than any marketing campaign could ever do. However, that is not to say the NRA should not continue to engage in lobbying or donating to political campaigns.
S.H. Blannelberry: In my own personal opinion, I see the NRA as being a bit old-fashioned and a bit stodgy in terms of its appeals to millennials. In recent years the NRA has made attempts to broaden its appeal to spread the gospel of guns to people who fall outside the existing NRA base of old fat white guys. LOL.
I’m wondering if you (a) believe the NRA has been successful at diversifying its membership and (b) what you would do to address the millennial gap in the NRA?
Adam Kraut: To some degree I think it has. I think the NRA has to find a way to get into the cities and show people there why gun rights are important. But the NRA has certainly done a better job of diversifying its membership than in the past. As far as millennials, that is a tough one. Let me be clear, I am not a millennial. That said, I joined the NRA because I cared about the Second Amendment and gun rights. It was not because the NRA was edgy or relatable to me but more so that it would protect my rights. I think the NRA is headed down the right path to attracting millennials with some of the younger commentators and getting on board with NFA firearms. The easiest thing to do might be to ask millennials what would get you to join the NRA now instead of later in life.
S.H. Blannelberry: I’m also curious to know your thoughts about the NRA’s apparent conflation with GOP politics and politicians, which has seem to really pick up over the past decade or so. Do you see this as a good thing? Do you believe in alienates liberal and left-leaning gun owners?
Adam Kraut: I do not know if it is a bad thing as they tend to share similar views. That said, I do think blanket statements as to politics and politicians can be dangerous. Instead of looking at solely the party, the questions being asked should be “Do you support the Second Amendment?” and “What does that individual’s voting record show?” I suppose it is possible that it could alienate liberal and left-leaning gun owners to some degree, but if they are members of the NRA, it should be because they are concerned about the Second Amendment, not about other social or fiscal issues.
What the NRA should be doing is backing the candidate who is pro-Second Amendment.
S.H. Blannelberry: Lastly, although, I’m including the video on how folks can vote for you (see video above), but can you just quickly remind them?
Adam Kraut: Ballots have been arriving in the February issue of the NRA magazine to which you are subscribed. You must be a Life Member or an annual member of the past 5 consecutive years to vote. You will want to be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use the enclosed envelope to return the ballot. The method to employ when voting is to vote for only the candidates you wish to see elected to the board. The fewer people you cast votes for, the better chance they have of being elected. As for the suggested by-law change, there is a video on my Facebook page where I explain what the proposed changes are. Rather than telling you how to vote, I hope that you will look at the proposed changes, consider how they may affect the organization and cast a vote accordingly.
Well, NRA members, it’s now up to you. If you like Adam, vote for him. If you have questions or concerns or just want to post a comment, visit his Facebook page.
Remember: Ballots must be received by April 9th in order to be valid.