In the dark days of the Clinton (and let’s not forget, Clinton-D/Dole-R) gun bans, a local activist-leader gave me a copy of the Brady Bunch’s organizing manual.
Where he had come by it I don’t know and he wouldn’t tell. But his idea was that a young man and I should use it as a model to write an organizing manual for gun activists.
We eventually did write that manual (for print only and now long gone, far as I know). I wrote under a nom de plume I occasionally used back then.
But it took only minutes after opening the Brady’s book to realize that there was no freaking way we could base a gun-rights activist manual on it.
The reason: Everything in the Brady manual was directed toward getting corporate money and corporate media support. There was virtually nothing — nada, zip, zero — about grassroots organizing. Starting local chapters? Recruiting members? Forget it. Just get money and opinions from top of the hierarchy. Period. End of effort. That’s all you need to do if you’re a gun-banner.
Who cares what individuals think or want? Use the media to buffalo them into believing that there’s “widespread support” for “common sense gun control” and — ta da! — they’ll put up with whatever you want.
Eventually (to my surprise) we won the gun-rights battle. I’d hoped we wouldn’t have to fight the same old rights fight all over again … facing the same old proposals … the same old lies … the same old ignorance about firearms … and the same old limp-wristed compromising cowardice from organizations and well-placed individuals that claim to be “Second Amendment supporters, but ….”
Here we are, anyhow.
But times have changed (thank you, Internet). The grassroots now has a powerful medium of its own — and knows how to use it.
Here’s a fantastic example of what happens when gun-banners try to pretend to have grassroots support: “Northern Illinois gun control event blows up in the faces of sponsors”:
It was a bad Sunday for sponsors of an meeting to create a grassroots chapter of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence at the Glenview, IL Police Station Auditorium failed miserably as supporters of the Constitution and civil rights took part in the event.
In the end, unsubstantiated assertions by the gun control advocates were challenged by a boisterous audience.
And it seems that even some members of the formerly wishy-washy corporate gun crowd have gotten the message that gun owners are both united behind a solid concept of their rights and not to be trifled with.
Reader F. alerts me to an ongoing “situation” on the east coast. Reed Exhibitions announced just a few weeks before the big Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania that all ugly guns would be banned from the event.
Perhaps UK-based Reed believed the hype about “widespread consensus.” They shoulda done a reality check first. No sooner had they announced their crippling of the show when exhibitors started walking out en masse.
Most of the drop-outs are small businesses — many of them with little or no relationship to ugly guns. They make duck blinds. Boats. Camping gear. Spices. Archery equipment. Knives. But out they went — even though, for many of them, the ESOS show can make or break their profits for the year.
Big boys went, too. Cabelas — a full sponsor of the show — was among the first to pull out. Then went Ruger and Smith & Wesson. TV show hosts said, “No thanks!” The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said goodbye. Even the NRA, never known (except in the MSM) for its hardline attitude, dropped out. (Reportedly both the NRA and the NSSF had worked pretty hard to get Reed to change its tightly knotted little corporate mind.)
One after one, the exhibitors and sponsors stated, “We must be united in our support of the Second Amendment.” No more divides between the engraved-shotgun/sporting clays crowd and we more grubby gun owners. We’re all in — or we are OUT.
More are joining the boycott. It’s going to be interesting watching ticket sales plummet.
The show, which opens February 2, has now lost well over 10 percent of its 1,200 exhibitors. And boycotters have announced an online virtual show to compete with it.
No doubt some of the companies dropping out would be perfectly happy to support anti-gun compromises under other circumstances. (Ahem, Ruger …) Maybe some have just decided — given what gun owners did to Jim Zumbo, KMart, and S&W itself — that being firmly pro-gun is better than being wishy washy.
But no matter what their motives … they’ve learned the lesson. Do not mess with the millions of ordinary gun owners who care not only about their firearms, but about their inborn rights. Do not mess with individual, ordinary gun owners — who are powerful.