Editor’s Note: We’ve expanded the size of “Rights Watch” from now through the fall as the all-important 2014 Midterm Elections heat up. Stay tuned!
Time was citizen disarmament zealots didn’t feel the need to hide their intentions. The goals of The National Coalition to Ban Handguns and Handgun Control, Inc. were pretty clear just by their names. That they now bill themselves respectively as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says much about their perceived need to mask what they’re really after. And nowhere is the need to disguise intent more apparent than the way the term “gun control” is being replaced with another term, “gun safety.” Who could be against that?
Likewise, Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns touts a name that could resonate, providing there wasn’t overwhelming evidence to show what they really want is to expand what’s declared “illegal,” including guns now owned and enjoyed by millions of Americans. And the Bloomberg-affiliated Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense for America is relying on people not understanding that when they use words like “sense,” what they really mean is they want total bans against ownership, something unmistakably demonstrated by their tantrum over a January federal court ruling that Chicago’s ordinance prohibiting gun stores was unconstitutional.
The problem for such groups is they’ve already established solid records of being flat-out anti-gun, and despite what Joe Biden calls “legitimate media” doing its best to help out with PR masked as “news,” they can’t distance themselves from their past and present allies and advocacy. Gun-grabbers, though, are nothing if not resourceful, at least in terms of being able to count on resources from foundations and elites to make up for their lack of grassroots support, and plenty of attempts to create Astroturf alternatives with the appearance of popular demand have been made.
One prominent failure was the American Hunters and Shooters Association (See Rights Watch “Beware of Moles, Jan. 2006), which billed itself as “a national grassroots organization committed to safe and responsible gun ownership” and “… a mainstream group … looking to belong to [an] association that doesn’t have a radical agenda.” Translated, that meant founding member John Rosenthal, also founder of the radically anti-gun Stop Handgun Violence, was free to posture as a voice for gun owners while pushing for increased restrictions and endorsing Barack Obama. Interestingly, despite public claims that the group had “25,000 members” (and then admitting in a 2005 deposition it “had fewer than 150 dues-paying individual members”), the AHSA website was taken down in 2010 and its president, former footballer Ray Schoenke, admitted they disbanded because of lack of membership.
A similar effort, the American Rifle and Pistol Association, also attempted to become an influence in 2013, but, per US News and World Report, gun owners took a close look and branded it a “false flag.” A quick look shows their website domain name expired in January, and they stopped updating their Facebook page in November of last year.
Still, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and that’s precisely what those who want to con us out of our right to keep and bear arms would do when all else has failed. Enter Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly with Americans for Responsible Solutions, promising “commonsense solutions to protect our communities from gun violence.”
What Americans aren’t for responsible solutions? Besides, Capt. Kelly is a decorated former US Navy aviator and astronaut, and a self-proclaimed gun owner to boot, albeit one who stages gun purchases in an attempt to demonstrate existing laws are insufficient, and one who demands that we need to end private sales, ban standard capacity magazines, restrict locations for lawful carry and more.
Clearly what’s needed is a group that doesn’t carry such baggage, at least openly, and conveniently, one is rising to the fore, enjoying publicity from such disinterested parties as Piers Morgan and The New York Times. They call themselves Evolve Together, Inc., and they represent themselves as the “third voice … in the gun debate.” That alone should raise red flags, as the “third way” movement has its roots in “social democracy.” In other words, “compromise” means ceding to the left.
The group says it started around a kitchen table, founded after Newtown by Rebecca and Jon Bond of Greenwich Village, a “branding expert” who worked as a marketing consultant and an “advertising executive” respectively. They admit they knew nothing about guns, so who better to presume to lecture the rest of us?
It’s curious that a familiar pattern is repeating itself. Million Mom March founder Donna Dees-Thomases represented herself as just a mom who got involved, despite being a CBS publicist and the sister-in-law of a close friend and advisor to Hillary Clinton. Similarly “stay-at-home mom” Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action “had a 15-year career as a communications executive for both public relations agencies and Fortune 500 corporations.” Likewise, Brady Campaign President Dan Gross “was the youngest-ever partner at the JWT advertising agency.”
Similarly curious is Evolve’s advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, especially considering Edward Saatchi, the “scion … of the famed advertising family” was an ardent Obama volunteer and developed the management software used by the Democratic National Committee.
Still, what’s the beef with Evolve? After all, they say they do “not address legislative issues,” but then go on to say they “use the same tactics utilized by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.” For starters, MADD stumps for all kinds of enforcement legislation. Not to mention checkpoints.
Perhaps the problem is the message. Evolve’s core campaign revolves around an ad where the Founding Fathers consider adding “as long as people aren’t being dumba**es” to the text of the Second Amendment. Perhaps it’s that they devote so much of their effort showcasing negative examples of unsafe and criminal gun handling instead of providing qualified examples and lessons about safe and responsible gun ownership. Perhaps it’s the presumptuousness of people who know nothing about guns lecturing the rest of us on their responsible use and handling.
In fairness, “The Code,” a list of statements they ask gun owners to sign on to, lists many things all gun owners can agree with, most of which are hardly original and are indeed “common sense.” Valid criticisms are that it leaves out Jeff Cooper’s essential four rules of gun safety and provides a “one size fits all” admonition to keep unused guns locked away and unloaded, something those who anticipate a potential need for quick access may wish to determine for themselves and for the educated minors they care for based on their own circumstances and training levels.
As for actual knowledgeable gun ownership, that requires training and practice, not slogans and platitudes, and for that, Evolve falls short, both in programs and personnel qualified to conduct them. About the closest they come is through their affiliation with Ware, Ma., gun shop owner Mike Weisser, who does have professional credentials and certificates. He blogs as “Mike the Gun Guy” over at the “liberal/left” The Huffington Post, and he’s known for penning such proclamations of trust in his customers and fellow gun owners as, “I’m beginning to wonder whether we have any idea about what’s at stake when we give civilians the right to walk around with a gun.”
That’s some “third voice” that’s evolved.
By David Codrea