By Dean Weingarten
Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Todd Rathner is a talented freedom fighter. I have been impressed with his abilities for several years. I met him again at the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Tampa. Todd is the lobbyist for Knife Rights. The accomplishments of Knife Rights for the last decade has been tremendous, impressive, a tiny organization fighting far above its weight class. Knife Rights says they have opened a second front in the war to restore the Second Amendment. They are correct, and they are winning significant victories every year. I have written about Knife Rights before. Doug Ritter is one of the founding stars of the Knife Rights success story, but Todd Rathner is another. It seems to be a near magical combination that has produced incredibly effective results.
Part of the reason is the knife laws are so stupid and indefensible that a talented persuader like Todd Rathner can easily show state legislators reforms are needed, are obvious, and have no political downside.
Todd is continuing with his role as the lobbyist for Knife Rights. I expect more great things from him in the future.
He has seen another opportunity that dovetails nicely with his current lobbying on the Knife Rights front in the war for restoring the Second Amendment.
He has opened another front. It has many similarities to Knife Rights. It is a unified lobbying approach to reform and ultimately repeal the National Firearms Act (NFA). It is why he started the NFA Freedom Alliance.
The NFA restrictions at the state level are just as stupid and indefensible as the knife laws are. In the last legislative session in Texas (2015), Todd lobbied both for Knife Rights and the NFA Freedom Alliance. A strong statewide knife preemption bill was passed. Reform of the archaic Texas knife laws against carry of any knife with a more than 5.5″ blade was narrowly defeated by a Democrat committee chairman, who voted for the bill, then killed it by refusing to do the administrative action he had promised.
On the NFA front, Texas had a weird old law that allowed the ownership of NFA items; silencers, short barreled rifles and shotguns, automatic firearms and destructive devices. But ownership was only allowed if the items were registered under the NFA.
You could own an item, but you could be arrested for owning the item. Then you would be given the opportunity to prove that you had it registered with the NFA in a court of law. This is called a “defense to prosecution”. It is the opposite of innocent until proven guilty.
If a police officer and/or a prosecutor wanted to punish you, you could spend many thousands of dollars just to show that you were innocent. It happened. Todd changed that.
The first time at bat for the NFAFA, he hit a home run, and reversed the “defense to prosecution” for NFA in Texas. NFA owners in Texas are now innocent until proven guilty.
Legislatures are complex organizations. Learning how to “read” them, determine pressure points, personalities, and pathways through the labyrinthine legislative procedures to pass bills is an acquired skill.
It takes talent, intelligence, and exemplary persuasive abilities. Todd Rathner has shown he is a master of the craft. The skill set is the same for a Knife Rights bill or an NFA bill on the state level. Supporting Todd is a force multiplier for both efforts.
Knife Rights and the NFA Freedom Alliance are small but agile organizations. They obtain tremendous bang for the buck. They have virtually no bureaucratic “tail” to drag them down, slow decision making to a stand still, and cause them to miss opportunities.
The problem that goes with this advantage is a lack of resources. When they spend their time raising funds, it is time not spent working legislatures. It is not much money, but there has to be money for travel, minimal supportive structure, and research. We are not talking hundreds of millions of dollars like Bloomberg, or tens of millions of dollars like the NRA. We are talking tens of thousands. In a video, Todd Rathner off handily remarked that one million dollars would likely insure victory, nationwide, in a few years. I do not think he was joking.
Knife Rights and The NFA Freedom Alliance are the “Skunk Works” of the political world. They accomplish what many claim to be impossible, on starvation budgets.
They depend on things like the gun culture equivalent of the bake sale.
The NFA Freedom Alliance is running a raffle to raise funds to keep them in the fight. The prize is an AK short barreled rifle with an AK optimized suppressor. It is based on a Romanian parts kit with a side folder stock. It is a semi-auto short barreled rifle with a suppressor, so it has two tax stamps.
I have no connection to the NFAFA administratively or monetarily.
Knife Rights and the NFAFA are using the strategy pioneered by the concealed carry permit movement and grass roots Second Amendment supporters.
Educate the state legislators to pass reforms. Use those reforms as a base to build more reforms. Eventually peel back federal infringements, as was done with the ban on guns in federal parks.
As the state legislators climb the ladder to Congress, the Senate, and governorships, build on their education to pass more reforms.
It can be done. it is a winning strategy, and Todd Rathner has proven that he has the knowledge and skills to make it work.
Todd started his lobbying career as a lobbyist for the NRA. He found he could be a more effective lobbyist for Knife Rights.
The NRA membership elected Todd to the NRA board of directors. He has an intimate knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the NRA. He is up for election again next year. The ballot will be in the February, 2017 edition of each of the NRA magazines.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.