Take nothing for granted in politics. The good people of Nebraska reinforced that lesson last Friday, when a town hall meeting on gun owners’ rights was scrapped because no one bothered to show up. That’s a shame, too, because the evening could have been entertaining as well as informative. (More about that in a moment.)
Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who is seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, was host of the meeting that wasn’t in Grand Island. The event was sponsored by the Gun Owners of America, and the topic was to have been the Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that has so embarrassed the Department of Justice.
Stenberg had hoped to gain traction against his main primary opponent, State Attorney General Jon Bruning, by reminding folks of Bruning’s support for the nomination of Attorney General Eric Holder, according to an account in The Hill, which credited a report in the Grand Island Independent. (The other candidate in the GOP primary is State Sen. Deb Fischer. Whoever wins on May 15 will face former Sen. Bob Kerrey for the seat of retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat.)
Gun control, or the lack thereof, is one of those issues that is supposed to be “hot button,” according to the conventional wisdom. So why did no one show up at the meeting, where John Velleco, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, was to have discussed Fast and Furious, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost track of hundreds of guns it had been tracking across the border in the hope of following them to Mexican gangsters?
Perhaps the people were still reeling from the cancellation of the University of Nebraska’s spring football game on April 14 because of bad weather.
The Gun Owners of America is considered to be to the right of the National Rifle Association (note to liberals: yes, it’s possible to be to the right of the NRA). The organization’s website advertises books offering good, practical advice for everyday living: “After You Shoot: Your gun’s hot. The perp’s not. Now what?” Another book by Gun Owners Executive Director Larry Pratt, “Safeguarding Liberty,” extolling the virtues of citizen militias, has a chapter on Biblical justifications for gun rights.
The Gun Owners website further tells us that its founder and chairman is H. L. Richardson, a former state senator from California who looks like an affable enough man, but one into whose cross hairs you dare not venture. He is described as a man whose “rich background has given him an understanding of how politics works that is unparalleled by any public figure today.” (Move over, Bill Clinton, Karl Rove and David Axelrod.)
Richardson himself seems to be quite a raconteur. In an article in 2010, he wrote of an 1874 battle in which a small group of white buffalo hunters routed Indian attackers who had fallen under the spell of Ishatai, a Comanche medicine man “whose name by the way, translated into English, means Coyote Droppings or Wolf’s Rear End.”
And Richardson knows why this stirring episode hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves from historians. It’s because too many Americans are “still gullibly swallowing the newest ’spin’ dished out by the medicine man living in the white tepee along the Potomac river.”
“The medicine man is aided by the smoke signals of the warriors from the tribes of the Washington Post, CNN and The New York Times,” Richardson says. Keep your powder dry, H.L.