Confronting State Lawmakers – GUNS Magazine – Guns Magazine


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Across the country this month, state legislatures will be opening for business and by now grassroots gun rights activists should know who their local representatives are, how to reach them and someone on their staff to contact.

It’s not rocket science and you can bet the farm people in the gun prohibition movement already have this information. They will be using it to support their anti-gun-rights friends in state capitols and to browbeat, bully, harass and scare lawmakers they see as the enemy. Pro-rights state senators and representatives or assembly members on their enemies lists will be branded as tools of the “gun lobby,” child-haters and bigots. Name-calling begins the moment anti-gunners have lost the argument but that’s really all the gun control movement has left.

You may be able to testify at hearings. You may be asked to simply show up in an effort to display solidarity, or just provide force of numbers. The critical thing is to be there. The numbers count and the mere image of numbers people can’t count accurately can be impressive.

Remember this: Nothing so dreadfully sends a wrong message to politicians as a sparse turnout at a demonstration/rally. Stage an event on the Capitol steps with only a few dozen or maybe a couple of hundred people and your cause will get laughed out of town. Politics is a game of numbers and if you can’t rally the troops to take a day out of their lives to show up, legislators are going to be less-than-impressed. Eventually, they will wonder why they’re expending political capital for people who can’t be bothered to get in the game.

The message they perceive — “These people don’t care enough to show up, so they’re not going to do anything but complain on social media when we add more restrictions.”

They might reach one more conclusion — “People who don’t show up to protect their rights are also people who won’t vote me out of office.”

Your ‘To-Do’ List

Every state legislature has a website, with links to the names of each state lawmaker, governor and secretary of state.

In my home state of Washington, activists have created a Facebook page called “Washington Legislative Action Group.” You should be able to do likewise for any state, just set it up and start inviting your friends to join. Tell them to invite their friends to join. Pretty soon, you’ll have a core legion of activists; maybe an army of activists.

Figure out a way to raise money. Money is the life’s blood of politics, whether you like it or not. About every three or four days, groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and its subsidiary Moms Demand Action are blitzing large email lists for donations. They raise small fortunes to pay for lobbying, election campaigns, whatever it takes. Instead of buying an extra box of ammunition “just in case,” start a war chest to support the Second Amendment. Ten months from now, this money could become important to help elect the right people to office and remove the deadwood.

The same legislative websites should have links to allow voters to see the text of submitted bills. Say somebody introduces House Bill 101, described as “a bill to regulate high capacity revolvers.” (Trust me, somewhere, some anti-gun lawmaker is dumb enough to author such a bill because his supporters are dumb enough to believe such things exist!) Look it up, forward the link to your “legislative action” group, and publicly rip it apart. Be ready to testify during any public hearing.

Important point — If you start a legislative action group, be sure to add as a member every lawmaker, regardless of party. Be sure to identify caucus leadership. Anybody who asks to be dropped is signaling their opposition to your issue and your concerns. Make a note of that and make it public.

Equally important — Do everything by the book. Follow all the requirements of a PAC and be scrupulous about filing reports and keeping track of contributions and expenditures.

Set Up A Legislative Shoot

Some years ago, a former Washington State senator set up an annual “Legislative Shoot” at a gun range near the state capitol in Olympia.

It was a great opportunity for activists to meet state lawmakers, share concerns and — most importantly — work on strategies to pass good bills and stop bad ones. Such an event was also an opportunity to find out who is running for re-election this fall and now’s the time to offer help with their campaign. It’s also good for a local media photo-op and maybe a television news story.

These events usually occur in February, so there is still time to set up such a gathering if you have a facility and a handful of volunteers to serve as range safety officers. If not this year, start the advance work to hold one next year. In the interim, put together a gun safety workshop and invite lawmakers. The money you’ve been raising will pay for food and beverages, and rent for the facility.

If there is a Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop or some other large “hook-and-bullet” retailer in the vicinity of the state capital, contact the management right now to see if they have a conference room or would be interested in hosting such an event.

Such a workshop is a way to send a message to the media you are the genuine “gun safety” experts, not that bunch of twerps who disguise gun prohibition as “safety.”

Nothing is Impossible

None of these suggestions is impossible. All it takes to make this stuff happen is you, and your friends if they want to come along.

See, it’s not enough just to get angry and frustrated, then blow off steam on social media. All this accomplishes is high blood pressure. It’s imperative to channel the anger and frustration into action, and January is the month to do it when most Legislatures convene. If you wait until spring to rally at the state capitol, nobody’s going to be there.

The history of the Second Amendment movement is filled with people for whom the fight was all-important. Wouldn’t you just like to win and be done with it?

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