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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Insider's Look at the Gun Rights Debate
In 1986 I was fortunate to have had a front row seat watching Richie Feldman fight against the forces of darkness in the person of the anti-gun Sheriff of Suffolk County (NY), who was refusing to allow civilians to own the then new Glock pistols.

NRA-ILA sent Feldman who had two conversations with the Sheriff, the first explaining that his decision was based on...
Published on October 27, 2007 by Dean Speir

versus
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bile flows generously, but inconsistently
I wrote this review for my column in Shotgun News almost two years ago. I'm pleased to say that it still holds. I had a long chat with Richard a couple of years ago and, as he said to me then, this book reflects his thinking at a particular point in time. His views have since evolved, particularly on the topic of my father, Neal Knox. He noted to me (and has since...
Published on February 1, 2010 by Christopher Knox


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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Insider's Look at the Gun Rights Debate, October 27, 2007
By 
Dean Speir (Westhampton Beach, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
In 1986 I was fortunate to have had a front row seat watching Richie Feldman fight against the forces of darkness in the person of the anti-gun Sheriff of Suffolk County (NY), who was refusing to allow civilians to own the then new Glock pistols.

NRA-ILA sent Feldman who had two conversations with the Sheriff, the first explaining that his decision was based on demonstrably erroneous information. When the official did nothing, several months later Feldman told him very directly: stop the foolishness about Glocks, or we're going to take you to court and pull your pants down.

The Sheriff folded within the month!

I've followed Feldman's career ever since, the savvy (dare I say "pushy?") self-described Jewish-kid-from-the-Five-Towns. I think the "pushy" is what I like the most in his defense of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. That, and one of his credos: "You fight fire with napalm!"

"Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist" is an insider's view from the trenches, and if anyone is concerned that it's an "NRA puff piece," that organization (of which I am a Life Member) will undoubtedly be more antagonistic toward the book than say the anti-gun "Brady Bunch." Feldman chronicles the evolution of the venerable organization from a collection of shooting sports enthusiasts into, under the formidible leadership of Harlon Carter, a dedicated group of Second Amendment stalwarts, and then after Carter's death, the NRA's transformation into a cynical fund-raising machine with Wayne LaPierre and the PR firm of Ackerman-McQueen running things irrespective of Members' wishes.

Along the way Feldman discusses the machinations involved in gaining passage of the McClure-Volkmer bill in 1986, the behind-the-scenes wrangling on the Bernie Goetz "subway vigilante" event, and how the newest threat to firearms ownership rose with the filing of municipal lawsuits against the gun industry.

"Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist" is a fascinating and well-told chronicle of the past quarter of a century of the conflict between gun rights activists and firearms prohibitionists. (See [...] for a fuller discission.)
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bile flows generously, but inconsistently, February 1, 2010
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This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
I wrote this review for my column in Shotgun News almost two years ago. I'm pleased to say that it still holds. I had a long chat with Richard a couple of years ago and, as he said to me then, this book reflects his thinking at a particular point in time. His views have since evolved, particularly on the topic of my father, Neal Knox. He noted to me (and has since stated publicly) that time has proven Neal Knox right more often than it has proven him wrong.

Much of what Richard says in this book is dead on. The scene he describes in the opening pages of walking through an NRA gathering as a pariah was all too familiar. Dad and the rest of our family experienced exactly the same cold shoulder.

This is an important book to have in your library if you are interested in the inside details of the gun rights war. It's not a bad read, and, with internal pressures building within the NRA headquarters, can give some insight into the next internal fight when it breaks out.

--

Chris Knox
Editor of Neal Knox - The Gun Rights War

Richard Feldman, former lobbyist for NRA and various firearms industry groups in the 1980's and 1990's, has created a fair stir with his book Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist. The book has the appearance of a turncoat insider dishing up hot gossip from the bowels of the gun lobby. But despite its cover - and despite some angry reviews - Feldman has not joined the anti-gun side.

He has staked out a pro-gun, but anti-NRA position.

Feldman's thesis is that the National Rifle Association's High Command has cultivated "a cynical, mercenary political cult" that it is "obsessed with wielding power while relentlessly squeezing contributions from its members." Those intemperate words appear on the second page. He expands on the theme over the next couple of hundred pages finally arriving at the conclusion that NRA has been co-opted by, and is run for the benefit of, its hired guns. He singles out in particular the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen.

My father, Neal Knox said much the same thing some twenty years ago. Wanting to keep internal problems internal, Knox worked from the inside. In retrospect, maybe he should have gone public. For those interested enough to dig into it, I've collected a generous helping of Dad's writing into a single volume, Neal Knox - The Gun Rights War

The bile flows generously from Feldman's pen, but inconsistently. He attacks NRA with relish for cynically milking its membership and playing on fears of politicians who want to take away their guns. Those of us who can read find those fears quite justified, yet we are also familiar with the sensation of being milked. Then, in virtually the next breath, Feldman directs a generous stream of invective toward the "fanatics," among whom he numbers former ILA head Tanya Metaksa and, of course, Neal Knox.

Feldman's inconsistencies affect his strategic view. He criticizes NRA for standing firm against the Clinton gun ban and fanning members' perfectly reasonable fears that the ban would spread to all semi-automatics. But then he reports the success of that hard-line position. He has to. It's history.
The tactical loss of the Clinton ban led directly to the strategic victory of the 1994 Congressional landslide that swept the Democrats out of power, even unseating Speaker of the House Tom Foley. Ten years later, the other shoe dropped. The ban expired as Congress, loath to face another up-or-down gun vote, quietly looked the other way.

As Executive Director of ILA, Tanya Metaksa was under tremendous pressure to help write the Clinton ban "in order to keep worse from being rammed down our throats." That's what happened with both the 1934 National Firearms Act, and the 1968 Gun Control Act. Had Metaksa succumbed to that pressure, we would likely still have "thumbhole" stocks on our AR-15 rifles - if we had AR-15's at all - and there would have been no chance of the ban ever expiring.

Feldman apparently wants to take a "moderate" position in the gun debate. He expresses the view that if we could just get everyone together and form relationships, we could create effective programs, such as the National Institutes of Justice-funded "Boston Gun Project" which he credits with reducing gang violence in Boston. That project, with its east coast think tank funding and initial emphasis on the "supply side," stirred less than enthusiastic reactions at NRA. Significantly, a major component of the Project's success was the aggressive prosecution and jailing of "Armed Career Criminals," a policy that "hard-liners" like Neal Knox advocated for many years. But Feldman suggests that programs like the Boston Project don't interest NRA because they don't stoke the fund-raising engines.

Although there's much to dislike about Feldman's book - the personal sniping detracts - it is well worth a read. He is definitely onto something when he describes how "Ack-Mac" burrowed into NRA headquarters, and got fat triple-dipping on retainer fees, mailing contracts, and billed creative work.

Some thirty years ago, following the tumultuous 1977 NRA meetings in Cincinnati where the members took control of the organization, Harlon Carter told his protege Neal Knox, "Revolution begets revolution. The NRA runs on a ten-year cycle." He then ran off a litany of internal fights, revolutions and counter-revolutions that had occurred with surprising regularity in years ending in seven or eight.

That cycle continued from 1977 when the members took control of the organization to 1987 when the Board of Directors successfully took back the power to hire the EVP, the last of the Cincinnati reforms. In 1997 staff and vendors mutinied against a Board-directed management audit that investigated how contracts were assigned. That revolution resulted in Neal Knox being bumped on a razor thin-vote, from the First Vice-President chair and the path to the presidency of the Association by Board new-comer Charlton Heston. Heston just happened to be represented by Mercury Group, a fully owned subsidiary of Ackerman McQueen.

Now with Heston's stabilizing influence gone, Feldman's book making waves, and the term "fiduciary responsibility" in vogue, it's just possible that an independent-minded Board coalition might stage another revolution and put the NRA's advertising and public relations accounts out for bid. When that happens there's going to be one heck of a fight.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating behind the scenes view of the life in the gun lobby, December 11, 2007
By 
Kyle Cassidy (philadelphia, pa USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
I wasn't sure what I was going to get when I picked up "Ricochet" but it turned out to be a page turner.

Richard Feldman is a skillful writer and an engaging story teller. His prose is easily approachable, passionate, and at the same time, avoids emotional extremes and bumper sticker slogans -- it's easy to see how he has been such a successful lobbiest.

The "confessions" aren't ideological regrets, but rather the kiss-and-tell story of internecine warfare at one of America's largest and most powerful lobbying groups. Feldman presents the National Rifle Association to be not exactly the 800 lb gorilla many people had always assumed -- but rather a pack of 80 lb chimpanzees that sometimes work together towards a common goal but also spend a lot of time poking one another in the eyes.

At the book's core, divergent factions in the NRA (one spearheaded by Feldman) disagree fundamentally on the best way to bring their cause forward -- the reader can decide which (if either) seems more practical. A fascinating read, whatever your position on guns. "Ricochet" seems to tell a universal tale -- one assumes that the very same types of arguments are going on in the back rooms of Greenpeace or any other lobbying group staffed by passionate and dedicated idealists.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fine book on ins and outs of lobbying, December 18, 2007
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This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
Sorta like old home week for me...

I'd quite agree you can't judge this book by its press or blog reviews. The press naturally picked up on Richard's criticism of NRA fundraising and expenditures, and the bloggers (except me, who refused to blog without reading it) reacted to that. Both made the book seem antigun, when it's very far from that. As I would have guessed, because I last saw the author at the private ceremony to dedicate the bronze of Harlon Carter: Harlon's family would not have singled him out for invitation unless he was respected by them.

The book is exceptionally clearly written, and definitely a page turner. I think I took one break from reading its 300+ pages. If anyone wants to see what it's like to be a lobbyist, this is the book for them. Just one episode: at one point NY Gov. Mario Cuomo holds a tense meeting with the author and others, and tries to break the ice by deliberately sitting on a whoopee cushion. It didn't go over very well...
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the Reviews...Decide for Yourself, October 31, 2007
This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
Bloggers who never read the book but hold ideological biases against "liberal" mainstream media reviews would do themselves a favor by purchasing a copy and reading for themselves what Feldman has to say. He's not anti-NRA or anti-Second Amendment. Quite the contrary. He's one of the most skillful lobbyists gun owners ever had and his detailed explanation of how he operated in defense of gun ownership is worth the price of the book itself. His criticism of NRA is not that of a disgruntled anything. It's on the money. Want proof of his credibility? Harlon B. Carter was the epitome of NRA's steadfast defense of the Second Amendment. Standing shoulder to shoulder with him was his wife, Maryann. Mrs. Carter was an honored guest at his book debut. No one is as staunchly pro-NRA as she and she's proud to call Richard Feldman a friend. So am I. Read the book. - John Aquilino, former Director NRA Public Education Division.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening but...., May 23, 2008
By 
Dog Doc (Near Philadelphia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
I heard an interview with Mr. Feldman on the radio and this piqued my interest in reading the book. I am the owner of 2 Glocks, possess a concealed carry permit and am not an NRA member nor do I have any interest in joining the organization. I think reading the book confirmed my disdain with the lobbying organization as well as pointing out the weakness in the case made by many on the gun control side of the debate.

If I am disappointed in any way with the book it is in the fact that Mr. Feldman should have, in my opinion, offered some insight into what he thinks would be tangible ways to bridge the gap between gun control advocates and gun enthusiasts. He spends a fair amount of time criticizing both sides but does not really touch on what he thinks would be more effective ways of squelching the conflict and doing more to keep guns out of the hands of those who are more likely to use them to commit acts of violence. But maybe that's the point: the NRA exists to generate the donations that sustain it and it does so by promoting fear in the gun owning community. ("Don't let the government take your guns!") I was hoping for more constructive insight but this book did not provide it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who would have guessed., June 23, 2013
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This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
While it is a little slow reading, it does give an insiders account of what goes on a huge lobbying organization. The NRA has always been after the money!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And I thought it was a book about guns..., April 19, 2012
By 
Ronald J. Hunsicker (Wyomissing, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
Ricochet is a fascinating look at the work of lobbyists and the National Rifle Association. Equating the NRA with an organized religion bent on generating contributions is an excellent insight.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware of your champion, September 21, 2009
This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
Feldman writes a semi-autobiographical account of the gun controversy in the context of politics. He does not illuminate the lightning rod issues of Second Amendment rights, gun violence, or guns as commerce to any great degree.

The main value of this story is his first-hand account of the sick symbiosis between the NRA and anti-gun groups under the disguise of an adversarial relationship. To further their causes, both sides grovel to influence public opinion by manipulating the rawest emotions in the name of serving their members. It is no coincidence that the memberships of their organizations increase in tandem when they campaign based upon fear of their opponents rather than solutions to issues. Feldman questions whether their stated missions are displaced by greed and self-perpetuation.

As most autobiographers do, he claims the high ground in this unholy alliance. We wonder whether he is repelled by their motives, or is seeking revenge for the NRA's sabotage of his career.

As a recommendation to the average person, I gave this three stars because this dynamic is more common than we realize. (For example, look at the fund-raising tactics of environmental advocacy groups and business and industry trade organizations.) On the other hand, if you have deep convictions that you are right about gun issues, this should be a five star read.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was there!, November 9, 2007
By 
This review is from: Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (Hardcover)
As an NRA Life Member and Republican Member of the New York State Assembly (1975-1992), I served in one of the most anti-gun legislative bodies in the country. When Richie Feldman was representing the NRA in NY, I saw first hand how extremely effective and resourceful he is. We did some good work together!

I've followed his career and read his book. This is the story of arguably the country's most politically effective lobbying organization losing its way and getting diverted from the primary objective.

Whether you love the NRA or you hate it, if you're at all interested in the issue of 'guns' this book is a must read.
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Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist
Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist by Richard Feldman (Hardcover - October 1, 2007)
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