Starting At The Bottom

Getting to the roots of “grassroots” gun-rights politics
16

We’re going to have a conversation here, and before going any further, nothing you are about to read is meant to offend you, nor should you be offended.

If it does light your fuse, we’re in trouble already. You see, it’s one thing to read something infuriating but inciting fury is only part of the process. You’ve got to channel this energy into activism and for that you’ll need a plan.

And before you can create a plan, you need intel.

Get Started

The proverbial “long winter of discontent” is fading into spring, and with the changing of the season will come the end of most state legislative sessions, more disagreeable rhetoric along the presidential campaign trail and an opportunity for gun owners to clearly identify the differences between the Good Guys and Bad Guys.

This fall’s elections for state and federal offices may well be the most important elections in your lifetime. Doubt this at your own peril.

Therefore, here are some questions you need to answer right now and if you don’t know the answers, start “hitting the books” because the final exam comes in November and it carries a straight pass-fail grade.

Here’s the square of it — regardless your opinion about any other subject, if you’re going to protect your Second Amendment rights in 2020, all other considerations must take a distant back seat in November. Understand this: The majority party sets the agenda, names committee chairs and controls the discussion. Forget what your senior citizen group, your union, the PTA or some other group says about voting for those interests. If you own firearms and want to keep them, get busy now.

If your vote allows some anti-Second Amendment pol into office, your rights aren’t just in jeopardy, they could be toast and there is no walking it back.

Do You Know?

Who are your two U.S. Senators and what do you know about them? C’mon, this should be easy. Every state has two United States Senators. This fact, along with the creation of the Electoral College, may well be the smartest thing those Founding Fathers really did.

But do you know their interests? What’s their most important issue? Veterans? Health care? Transportation? Education?

Are either of your senators up for election this year? If one of them is running for re-election, now is the time to be researching their gun rights voting record. Check online at a couple of places such as votesmart.org or OnTheIssues.org.

In which Congressional District do you live? You don’t know or aren’t sure? This you should know like your home address, because in effect, it is your home.

Who is your congressional representative? This is important because they are up for election in the fall. If this individual is a solid Second Amendment vote in Congress, work hard to help get him/her re-elected. On the other hand, if you’re represented by someone willing to step on your rights, support his/her opponent, volunteer for them, ring doorbells, put up yard signs, recruit other voters. Above all, educate them.

On A State Level

In which legislative district do you live? This is not the same as your congressional district. This is your state legislative district, typically smaller than your congressional district. But it’s where you have a big voice. Make sure you are registered to vote in your current district.

Who is your state senator, and what do you know about him or her? He or she may be up for election in November. See our advice about voting for your congressional representative. You need to know this person’s name and contact information, whether they are running for re-election or not.

Who is your state representative/assemblyman, and what do you know about them? Ditto on the advice about your congressional representative. You might be shocked to learn just how many gun owners do not know who represents them in the state capitol. They should all be up for re-election this year. If you’re not happy about your state’s gun laws, change the people who passed these laws, then work to change the laws.

County Counts

In which county do you live? This may seem trivial, but it’s not. The county is an important political environment. County councils or commissions are the government and you need to know who you’re voting for because anti-gun council members or commissioners can go to state capitols and testify as elected officials, even if they are not officially representing the county.

Who is your Mayor, and what do you know about him/her? If you live in an incorporated town or city, there’s a council and mayor. It is imperative from a grassroots perspective to know who this person is and be acquainted. Ideally, this individual may actually call on you for advice about gun-related issues.

Do you attend meetings? Do you even know the schedule? Gun control activists show up at council meetings all the time, even if it’s just to sit in back and listen, or engage elected representatives one-on-one. You need to be there to counter any of their erroneous information, and learn to be diplomatic about it. Instead of blurting, “That’s a &*#$!! Lie,” you can get much further in a conversation with observations such as, “Well, you know that’s not quite accurate,” then explain what’s wrong and have facts at hand to prove it.

Look The Part

Do you dress appropriately for meetings? When attending a city council meeting or legislative session, it is incumbent upon the grassroots activist to consider his or her appearance, especially if planning to testify. Leave the camo and “message” T-shirts at home. Case in point: Years ago this correspondent was in a meeting with a local member of congress. Several other gun owners were in the room, but the guy who made the lasting impression was the fellow who showed up in bib overalls and rubber boots with a rather ratty-looking beard who said he could just as easily kill someone with a bolt-action rifle as he could with a semi-auto. Don’t be that guy.

You need to learn the art of conversation. We didn’t say “compromise.” Be willing to listen, and give some thought to what you say in response, before you say it. Be the reasonable adult in the room when some official is looking for such a person. Too many activists start off with a chip on their shoulder and clearly look for trouble. Leave it to the opposition to come off as a bunch of extremist loons, and rest assured they’re capable of doing it. Then, when you explain how it’s impossible to agree with your opponent because his or her idea is not only nuts, it will not pass constitutional muster, you will have better odds of prevailing.

And prevailing is what this battle is all about.

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