Wanted: 20K Gun Owners to March

Virginia should be the example, not the end
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You read the headline right, 20,000 frustrated, furious, fed-up and energized gun owners in each state needed to coordinate with one another and plan something significant — something to make headlines and leave an impression.

Last year, Virginia activists got about 22,000 of their friends and neighbors to descend on Richmond. Considering there are three or four times as many gun owners in each state, by working together — setting aside personal differences and egos — you really should be able to get this done.

If Virginia Could Do It, So Can You

Last spring, the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms jointly hired Glen Caroline, a veteran grassroots coordinator who spent 29 years with the National Rifle Association, as their Director of External Affairs. He immediately put together an online webinar program tailored to building grassroots.

SAF’s Alan Gottlieb was hoping for good participation and what he got was better, more than twice what was expected. Some of you were probably tuned in as the webinar unfolded in three different time zones at the same hour each evening.

Why 20,000? Because it’s a number the media cannot possibly ignore or deliberately underestimate, and because it has already been proven possible. No reporter will be able to look at a crowd and estimate the size to be in the “hundreds.”


Take A Lesson In Activism

Last spring, marchers angry over the death of a man in Minneapolis turned out by the tens of thousands. This went on for weeks.

Where does it say thousands of gun owners can’t also exercise their First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances? Nobody has to agree with last year’s marchers, but you can learn from them. March or rally for a day, and you get noticed. Do it every day for a week, and you’ll never get overlooked again.

The other side has mastered social media. So can you. The other side has learned how to work with reporters. So can you. The other side raises money. So can you. The other side channels their energy into accomplishing their mission. So can you.

Every movement begins with the first step. Research your state’s laws regarding fundraising and political action committees, because these laws are not all the same. When (not “if”) you set up such a group, you must actually start doing things, don’t just announce your existence and expect everyone to come running and everything to fall automatically in place.

Thanks to email and social media, it’s easier than ever before to accomplish this. It’s also a way to separate the talkers from the doers. Anybody can talk a good game on Facebook or some other platform. Leaders inspire others to get away from the keyboard and get themselves to the capitol steps.


Set A Date, Take Action

Select a date for action while your legislators are in session; let them know you’re coming and you expect to meet with them face-to-face. The Illinois State Rifle Association has been doing this for several years and it works. It’s called “IGOLD” and thousands of gun owners show up wearing gold T-shirts. Learn about this at isra.org, under “Events.”

Make it a weekday and those with jobs should take the day off. Certainly, one day is worth protecting your rights, isn’t it? Set up car pools; share the cost of gas and food. Rent buses or vans — but be there.

By now rights activists should know, or have a pretty good idea, of who the good guys and bad guys are. The ones on our side need to know what you expect for helping to put them in the capitol. The list of proposals might include Constitutional Carry legislation, repeal of “justifiable need” requirements to obtain carry permits/licenses if they exist in your state and prohibition or repeal of gun registration requirements.



And don’t be impatient — be prepared to accomplish your desired goals in steps. This year, pass one bill, and next year, pass another, and in the process, find candidates who agree with these goals and help get them elected.

Regardless whether state lawmakers insist such legislation can’t pass, they should introduce it anyway. The reason is simple: Get the idea out there, and find out who supports or opposes it — and why. Some people may have legitimate concerns and it’s up to you to educate them with facts. It may require politicians to take uncomfortable positions. Too bad; politicians declare they “support the Second Amendment” without ever having to prove it. Make them prove it.

Here’s another suggestion sure to raise eyebrows and smoke out anti-gun-rights sheriffs, police chiefs and state legislators. Remember last month we suggested legislation to prohibit sheriffs and police departments from suspending the application process for concealed carry licenses or permits? To balance it out, ask your lawmakers to introduce a “full funding” measure to provide adequate funds to each agency for the hiring and training of dedicated staff whose only job will be to process new applications and renewals for concealed carry permits/licenses. This legislation must include a provision to prohibit police and sheriff’s agencies from requiring people to make appointments days or weeks in advance for this purpose.

“How Can We Help?”

Some states now notify concealed carry licensees several weeks in advance their license is about to expire, giving them time to renew. If your state doesn’t do this, work with friendly legislators to make it happen. With legislatures opening up across the country, this is the time to introduce such bills.

Grassroots activism is a gift of our Bill of Rights. The First Amendment makes it possible. Like the Second, it protects rights, rather than grants them. And, as with the Second, rights activists must exercise their rights of free speech and assembly with care, caution and responsibility.

You don’t flaunt your rights. You don’t march up and get in someone’s face, especially if you’re visibly armed. Be calm and cordial. Ask how they think the session is shaping up, and what they hope to accomplish, and ask how you might be able to help.

When you find lawmakers who agree to introduce your legislation, be sure to say “Thank you” and then ask, “Now, what can we do for you?”

If you’ve just appeared at the capitol with 20,000 companions, rest assured, the politicians you’re talking to are going to listen. With such a show, they can’t afford not to.

This is how doors open and things get accomplished.

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