For the first time in several years, the Second Amendment Foundation has an executive director — 36-year-old attorney Adam Kraut of Pennsylvania, a self-confessed “gun guy” with a passion for shooting and fighting for the rights of shooters.

Stepping in to take some of the load off SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb at a time the foundation is beginning to expand its activities and its footprint in the litigation arena, Kraut spent a few minutes in a telephone conversation with Insider Online. A Keystone State native, he officially came aboard early in November and has spent the past few weeks getting his feet on the ground.

His arrival could not have been better timed. SAF, at this writing, was preparing for battle against a new gun control law in Oregon that is viewed as the most restrictive in the nation. More on that below.

Having been hired to be part of the Foundation’s key leadership, Kraut has chatted with SAF board members and staff, “getting a sense of the organization (and) seeing what works and what might need improvement.”

He spent the past couple of years working with the California-based Firearms Policy Coalition, where he has worked on several cases when FPC partnered with SAF, all over the American landscape. In the process, he’s been involved in some important gun rights court victories.

Gottlieb is not stepping down so much as stepping back, allowing Kraut to take on the legal activities for which SAF has lately gained much attention for being on the cutting edge of gun rights litigation.

Looming Challenges

Kraut attended law school in Delaware, and he got some important experience, working and managing a federal firearms licensee. It sharpened his perspective about the challenges gun retailers and gun owners have been facing, and will continue to face.

He secured an internship with a law firm and handled various kinds of gun-related legal actions, including industry-related things, gun trusts and even some game law.

Among the major challenges he sees on the horizon — and possibly looming fast — are efforts by anti-gunners to tamper with state preemption laws, and a case, or cases, that will determine whether the Second Amendment protects so-called “semi-automatic assault rifles.” The firearms community believes that is the case, but it may require a Supreme Court ruling to make it official.

“I think the next natural step will be to talk about commonly possessed arms,” Kraut said.

This definition should cover not only semi-auto rifles, but the full capacity magazines designed for these firearms.

He sees a lot of federal litigation over the horizon, but it may be a little easier now in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the case striking down the Empire State’s century-old requirement to provide “good cause” in order to get a handgun carry license.

Kraut said the genesis of gun rights case law over the past 14 years has followed something of a natural course. First, the Supreme Court ruled that handguns in the home for personal defense are protected. That was reinforced with the McDonald ruling in 2010, a case brought to the high court by SAF and the Illinois State Rifle Association.

It took 12 years, but the Bruen case brought Second Amendment rights up another rung on the ladder, addressing and affirming the right to bear arms outside the home, in public. The next logical step could be the semi-auto rifle question.

Kraut acknowledged “this could go on forever” as gun prohibitionists continue trying different strategies to “see how they can limit rights.”

He Pulls Triggers

The “gun rights” movement draws all sorts of people, some more interested in the political and philosophical questions, and others interested in hunting, shooting and personal protection.

Kraut is clearly in both camps. He’s devoted to protecting and expanding Second Amendment rights, and he is also a serious shooter.

“I’m a pretty active shooter,” he says, running off a list of his noisy activities.

He enjoys shooting trap and sporting clays, he has trained in various shooting disciplines including the use of night vision equipment, and he looks at the experience as “the best way to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

About the only thing he hasn’t tried is cowboy action shooting, but one gets the impression he’ll one day strap on a sixgun and give it a whirl.

He owns more than one AR-type rifle, and he acknowledges having discovered some of the accessories people think they need, they really don’t.

When it comes to understanding why so many Americans enjoy the various shooting endeavors, Kraut simply says, “I get it, because I’m one of the people who do that stuff.”

Looks like SAF has found the right guy to take the organization forward in the 21st Century.

Classic Snake

I had the recent opportunity to shake hands with a true classic, a Colt Diamondback chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge — a double-action revolver one certainly doesn’t encounter every day. As it turned out, I hadn’t “encountered” this gun in more than a decade.

This one belongs to SAF’s Alan Gottlieb, and as one might expect, it’s a particularly accurate wheelgun as a little range time proved. The Diamondback is more widely known for its chambering in .38 Special — I own one with a 4-inch barrel I wrote about earlier this year (link to ‘Vindicated by Skeeter’) — but in .22 LR with a 6-inch barrel, it is a formidable small game handgun and could easily be a hole-punching target gun.

This particular specimen still rests in its original box. We did a little research and discovered Gottlieb’s gun was manufactured in 1981. The Diamondback was discontinued in 1988, and judging from the finish on Alan’s revolver, it enjoyed some top-notch factory work and has spent most of its life in the original box.

It has an adjustable rear sight, the trademark vent rib and full underlug barrel, target style checkered grips and a beautiful deep blue finish.

I was in for a surprise when I opened the somewhat battered box, which contains the original factory letter, an application for NRA membership, and an instruction booklet. Stuck into the pages of that little pamphlet was one of my old business cards, personally signed in July 2007, noting that I had cleaned and lubricated Alan’s revolver, which he had obtained as part of a gun collection he had purchased from a neighbor.

That was definitely a surprising blast from the past. I had forgotten all about it.

Gottlieb’s rimfire Diamondback shot a bit high and right at 15 yards using standard 40-grain round nose lead ammunition, but that’s what the adjustable rear sight can easily fix — which I did. Capable of shooting groups off a sandbag rest that can be covered by a 25-cent piece, I can say without fear of contradiction the Diamondback in .22 LR could be a cottontail’s worst nightmare.

I’ve seen such revolvers go for upwards of $1,500 at gun shows, and Alan’s shows no sign of being fired much. At the time I cleaned it 15 years ago, there was some powder residue around the forcing cone and in the bore, but it came out with a single oiled patch. Before we put this prize safely back in its box, I added a drop of oil here and there, in the action and on the crane.

Any revolver properly cleaned and maintained should last a lifetime. This one already has.

Oregon Law in Crosshairs

Following passage by Oregon voters of Measure 114, the ultra-restrictive gun control initiative that could literally prohibit gun sales in the Beaver State when it takes effect in January, the Second Amendment Foundation and its allies began working on a federal court challenge.

At this writing, a federal complaint was in the works and a reliable source indicated two key components of the anti-gun measure are in the crosshairs: the permit/training mandate and the ban on so-called “high-capacity magazines.”

Name another constitutional right that requires a police permit and training prior to exercising the right.

The Oregon Firearms Federation insists on its website that “114 is clearly unconstitutional.” The grassroots gun rights organization is “all in” to fight the new law.

According to their website, “Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation will use every resource at our disposal to overturn this mean spirited, evil attack on our rights in court. Period. But we have to act fast to save the many small businesses that the “people of faith” in Portland have been working to destroy.”

With SAF warming up a federal lawsuit, the battle lines are clearly drawn. Perhaps by the time you read this, SAF — headquartered in neighboring Washington — will have filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.

SAF has become the foremost legal powerhouse in the Second Amendment fight, with about 40 cases currently in progress. The group has lined up some of the best legal talent in the country, and they play to win.

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