John Boch for TTAG

Guns Save Life hosts six (soon to be seven) meetings across Illinois each and every month. The Illinois grassroots gun rights organization works hard to educate the public and politicians alike, while keeping gun owners up to date, too. All the while GSL has a good time doing it at well-attended monthly meetings.

The two gents above aren’t holding the GSL Sangamon County Regional Director Dale Lock hostage. Instead, they’re proudly showing off the new pistols they won at the March 4, 2019 meeting at SCHEELS in Springfield.

All in all, about 120 showed up for Monday night’s meeting. It made for a full house.

TTAG/GSL Photo by Boch.

Richard Pearson, the Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, served as our main speaker.  GSL and ISRA have grown closer in the past couple of years. Frankly, with new Democrat Governor JB Pritzker and Democrat super-majorities in the General Assembly, we need to work cooperatively.

ISRA Executive Director Rich Pearson (TTAG/GSL Photo by Boch.)

Pearson gave us an update on some things ISRA, like Guns Save Life, is doing to advance the cause of gun rights in a very difficult time. Something new at ISRA’s website is a real-time listing of legislation of interest to gun owners along with the last status of the bills.

For our Technical presentation – “Tech Time” – world renowned exhibition shooter and master gunsmith “Badlands” Bill Oglesby gave us a primer on tearing down a 1911.

Bill Oglesby. TTAG/GSL Photo by Boch.

Oglesby has dazzled crowds for decades with his exhibition shooting, dazzling audiences with one incredible, seemingly impossible shot after another. He’ll play golf with his revolver, calling his shots every time (hook, slice, pull, etc.). He can shoot five balloons with five shots so fast it sounds like a single shot.

He has also appeared on a number of TV shows. Here’s a clip from the History Channel.

And one for the Discovery network.

The group also heard from Hannah Chapman, the Suicide Prevention Case Manager from the VA hospital in Peoria. She reminded folks that the VA has a hotline for those having issues. Calling it, she assured the crowd, doesn’t mean the automatic loss of an Illinois Firearms Owner ID card.

TTAG/GSL Photo by Boch.

We rounded out the evening with drawings, including those two .22 revolvers.

Even if your state doesn’t have a Guns Save Life chapter, get involved in the gun rights fight. Because Michael Bloomberg’s money has bought a lot of influence in state legislatures nationwide. Just because you don’t have an interest in politics doesn’t mean the politicians who have been bought and paid for by Bloomberg won’t take an interest in you and your gun rights.

104 COMMENTS

  1. Them winning the revolvers explains those safety zip ties.

    Not going to lie here though. Those pictures explain, in a way that a lot of words cannot, some of the problems the 2A community has.

    • How many younger 2a advocates did u see under 40?? That is a huge problem when democrats have all 3 branches. Every freedom loving pro American….. needs to recruit some new blood that that can keep up the fight!

      But, Apathy will just drown gun owners and they will tote their gun collection to the king and bow and receive a kick in the ass and have their house raided 4 more guns with the Registration they will have after they pass Universal Registration Signup

      https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/432441-gun-advocate-says-universal-background-checks-are-a-prelude-to-national-gun

      https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/432447-gun-rights-advocate-quite-possible-that-a-dem-president-would-declare-national

      • Kind of my point. Kind of not.

        Ether way, unless you’re advertising a diabetes clinic/medication those kind of pictures are not helpful.

        This is exactly the kind of advertising we do not need. It’s counter productive.

        • I almost didn’t come back after my first visit because of that. I came back because everyone was so nice and friendly….and I love the Illinois news. Other shooting clubs try not to be political…discourage that sort of talk. I spread the word every chance I get, especially to young people and other women.

        • “I came back because everyone was so nice and friendly…”

          A great fact that can be readily shown in video. Pictures… not so much. You actually touch this with a pin quite well Victoria.

          The problem here isn’t that the images are untruthful or even “bad”. It’s that they play into a stereotype that is both subconscious and conscious as well as intentionally reinforced constantly by the other side.

          If you have no previous experience with these people no matter how much you try to see “good” in those pictures what your mind focuses on is the unhealthy appearance of a lot of the people. We generally associate this with a negative feeling which means that for people first being introduced to this group the initial feeling is bad. That’s bad for us because it makes our job harder. Now, those of us already in the gun community ignore this. Not so for the uninitiated, as you point out in your comment about being hesitant.

          We can’t get to the “We’re nice and friendly” stage when we don’t get to talk to people. We can’t talk to people who avoid us and when you show images like this people automatically see unhealthy people who “don’t care enough about their own health and certainly don’t care about yours” and therefore “only want to keep their dangerous toys at the expense of everyone else”. When that’s the first glance people get we’re losing potential converts before we even get the chance to open our mouths.

          We’re depicted as uncaring monsters who have no feelings about, say, school shootings. If the first images a fence sitter sees is a bunch of people who can be rationally argued to not care about their own health… how much do you think that person thinks we care about kids? How receptive do you think they’ll be to our message?

        • The only lives saved by guns in that room are in the fantasies of elderly obese white men.

          However it’s a much better crowd than the youthful overly tacticool mall ninja open-carry-AR15 battle monsters that scare the crap out of the Second Amendment.

        • don’t forget the occasional obese insecure white woman tagging along to feel some belonging

          Gun control at the pace of funerals.

        • Age discrimination is quite a real thin in America. If you are old you’re social worth is simply not valued.

        • “unless you’re advertising a diabetes clinic/medication those kind of pictures are not helpful.”

          Yup. We need pictures of YBMs with their pants on the ground holding High Points if we expect to make an impact on modern America.

        • So we are disparaging older patriots now? Maybe I’m different, but I see 2 things in the pictures that a lot of you don’t see. #1, I see older guys, many of whom have fought for your rights. Actually fought! Believe it or not, we OFWGs will be the crowd fighting for your rights, probably more than a lot of you do. Granted, we can’t run a 15 minute mile without being winded, but we know our limitations and we know our strengths. We will do all we can to defend your rights, including getting up from behind our keyboards and actually doing something. #2, I see no younger generation. Zip! It’s one thing to be a keyboard monkey and pretend you will fight for your rights, but getting out there and actually doing something, like these older guys, seems to be beneath a lot of you. Don’t disparage the older supporters of our God-given rights, stand beside them! I applaud all of you who write your politicians, attend events, etc. But to the under-50 crowd, you have the energy and ability to do way more than the older generation, so do it! But disparaging and alienating your older supports does no good at all.

      • My daughter is 27. She was married last Saturday. She keeps a vintage Colt Detective Special at hand. Chuck is an avid turkey hunter and is equally well heeled. My son, John, is 23. He owns multiple firearms. Rifles, handguns and shotguns. Raise ’em right. They’ll be okay.

  2. Pro 2A organizations should set an example. How many of the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety are they violating in the top photograph?

    C’mon guys! You should know better!

    This just gives ammunition (no pun intended) to the anti-gunners.

  3. Goddamn, if the lack of safety rule violations doesn’t kill them, give it a few hours, most of them are going to have a heartattack getting out of their chairs.

    • What’s the wager on the average a1c for that room?

      Fuck, talk about counter productive. Jesus. Can we get pictures of ANYTHING other than a room full of OFWG’s and a morbidly obese chick?

      • What pro gun meetings have you seen with the uber fit and young? For better or worse the ofwg is carrying the load for the pro 2a crowd.

        I would love to see it different. But minorities and the young and the gay and……. are no doubt turned away by the attitude and comments made by the classic ofwg’s. Look at the comments here at ttag. We are our own worst enemies. We have the holocaust deniers, the ‘all crime is black crime’ and ‘God meant for it to be Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ crowd.

        And if we get an all fit and young crowd at a meeting? Pretty much can bet it’ll still be mostly or all white.

        • I’ll be honest: I don’t go to gun meetings for exactly the reasons you outline here. That doesn’t mean anything.

          Advertising sells something. It doesn’t have to tell the 100% unvarnished truth. In fact, if it was it wouldn’t work.

          Look at gun/outdoor/hunting advertising. Hot, fit people enjoying themselves. Jacked muscular dudes in tactical clothing with the advertised gun looking dangerous and elite with their [insert product here]. Look at beer advertising. Same thing.

          Is every hunter a hot, fit chick or a muscular dude? Obviously not. Every beer drinker? Definitely not. Does having an HK pistol make you an operator? Fuck no. Does having that RMR and TLR slapped on your SIG make you jacked? No.

          But both sets of advertising go out of their way to make the product sexy. Budweiser doesn’t make you fat and stupid, it makes you cool and gets you laid! DRINK MOAR!

          The Left sells their ideas this way too. We can play that game. We choose not to and we make that choice to our own detriment.

      • “Can we get pictures of ANYTHING other than a room full of OFWG’s and a morbidly obese chick?”

        Sure. Because we all hate old white people.

        • “Sure. Because we all hate old white people.”

          No hate. I just know that if you took that crowd and put them in a Sandals commercial you wouldn’t rent out very many rooms.

          “Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, complimentary beverages, all inclusive amenities and obesity as far as the eye can see” isn’t exactly a winning tag line.

          It’s not a knock on the people at this meeting. But, as much as we don’t like it, perception becomes reality. Especially when we play into preconceived notions that have been built by the media.

          I saw more diversity in age, body type, health, race and ethnicity as well as in shooting interest in the nine people at the range on Tuesday than I do in those pictures. That’s not exactly helpful to selling the message.

      • Average? Double digits, for sure. I’d bet dollars (to donuts! Ha, ZING!) that they had donuts and coffee too.

  4. Please forgive me for being Debbie Downer:
    (1) I could only see one person who might have been under the age of 50 in those photos. Where are your supporters between the ages of 18 and 49?!?!?!?
    (2) All of those meetings do not seem to be accomplishing anything since the Governor is an ardent gun-grabber, ardent gun-grabbers have a super-majority in the legislature, and there is no end in sight to the number of repressive anti-firearm laws that Illinois is rolling out.

    What can Guns Save Life and Illinois State Rifle Association do differently that is actually effective in securing your rights? I encourage your next few meetings to center all discussion on that topic. Why? Because “tech time presentations”, “work[ing] hard to educate the public and politicians alike, while keeping gun owners up to date” and maintaining a “website [with] a real-time listing of legislation of interest to gun owners along with the last status of the bills.” is spectacularly failing to secure your rights.

    Again, my apologies for being harsh. What I stated above, like it or not, is the reality of the situation.

    • “Where are your supporters between the ages of 18 and 49?!?!?!?”

      They were probably smoking a blunt somewhere and thus unavailable for photographs.

      • 40-somethings smoke blunts?

        Damn, iron lungs. I’d have thought they were on to vaporizers or at least a bong by that age.

  5. Okay, at least four of us independently and unknowingly all recognized the same problem and stated it under this article independently: virtually no one under the age of 50 and no minorities seems to attend meetings/rallies for organizing, developing, and implementing strategies to secure our right to keep and bear arms.

    WE HAVE TO FIX THIS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!!

    Suggestions?

    • First suggestion:

      Instead of spending money on gun rights organization memberships and gun-friendly candidates’ election campaigns, would we be far better off spending that money on ammunition and bringing newbies to the range for the first time at no cost to them? It seems like I have heard countless instances where people who disparaged firearm ownership became supporters after someone took them to a shooting range.

      Think about it: for just $28 you can purchase 100 rounds of .22 LR ($5), 100 rounds of 9mm Luger ($20), and 10 shotshells in 20 gauge ($3). That would provide a nice base of experience and hopefully a lot of fun for a first time shooter. How many newbies would embrace firearm ownership after that outing? Experience seems to indicate that a LOT of them would.

      Almost all of us here could afford to spend $27 at least three times a year to initiate new people at a range. Think of how that would work in our favor in just five years if 5 million of us 100+ million firearm owners did that. In that scenario those 5 million firearm owners would expose 15 million people every year to firearms — thus exposing 75 million people to firearms in five years. If only 25% of those people become favorable to firearm ownership, that would still add almost 19 million supporters to our side. That should have a big impact on the national level at the very least. And I have to wonder if closer to 50% of newbies become supporters of firearm ownership after someone takes them to a range for the first time.

      • That’s something I’ve gotten out of the habit of, in my case. My ‘target audience’ was exhausted after about 2 years. (folks I worked with) I can correct that deficiency…

    • They need the right PR. Being where I live, I see alot of diversity daily, and quite a few of you commented on the lack of it in the photos, which is great. Nevermind the 4 safety rules for the moment. Ever notice those Trump group photos with a few folks “maybe added” in to show diversity? When GSL has their March meeting, and they take photos, they MUST put these folk up front: women, anyone looking younger that 30, a Black/Hispanic/Asian/Middle-Eastern, even people wearing clothes with more color. So what if it’s staged. The left media have been doing it forever. If the GSL folks can do this, they will “appear” more inviting to the diverse 2A crowd. Take it from an Asian guy living behind enemy lines.

      • SoCalJack,

        And, it looks like you and the commenter Strych9 are also converging on the same solution that we need better marketing/public relations.

        Your simple AND ZERO COST suggestion that organizations put minorities, women, and people under the age of 30 UP FRONT for photos is also magic.

        As I said to Victoria Illinois below, please share more ideas from your perspective!

        Also, how can we get people of Asian background to go to a shooting range for the first time? While I do not live in California, I actually know a few families of Asian background and there seems to be a cultural barrier that prevents them from accepting my invitations to a shooting range. They do not come across as opposed to firearm ownership. Rather, they simply seem like they want no part of it.

        • My experience of Asians at ranges in CA is different. They are well represented here in the bay area and tend to have high end and modern firearms. The last time I fired an MForgery it was owned by a chinese dude that was a buddy of my son.

          Also here I see women attending the ranges on their own.

        • Being married to an Asian chick I randomly notice that the Asians I see at the range seem to have a real affinity for technical shooting.

          Tuesday this kid was shooting a Glock and adjusting his sights with a tool to shoot the smallest pattern he could off a bag at those little 1.5″ orange circles. He was doing damn well at it too.

    • “no minorities seems to attend meetings/rallies for organizing, developing, and implementing strategies to secure our right to keep and bear arms.”

      Ridiculous. Crips, Bloods and MS-13 hold meetings all the time.

  6. Pheasants Forever may have the answer. They hold free ‘learn to shoot’ events. My first time with a shotgun was there. The instructors were 30 & 40 & 50 year olds. There was a nice mix of kids (12-15 yr old) and women. The key is getting the moms involved. No mom= no kid. Feed the mom and kid and you’re half way there. (Moms don’t care if dad takes them fishing…what can happen? Shooting is scary. Those guns can self explode, don’t sh’know.)

    • Victoria Illinois,

      I see that you and I are converging on the same possible solution.

      I really like your perspective that we absolutely MUST get moms and their children involved. And I never thought about hosting a group event and providing a meal. That is magic.

      Please share more thoughts!

    • Victoria Illinois,

      I have also heard some women claim that only women should be teaching women about firearms or taking them to the range for the first time? What is your position?

      Personally, I would think that anyone would be happy to go with any teacher (male or female) who was patient, respectful, and not condescending — in other words a good teacher.

      • I took a few lessons from a guy at the range. He was great. Few words spoken…..like most guys. I had a lesson from a woman. Too chatty, it was distracting. Just like when a mom yells at her kid all they hear is: “Come, blah blah blah blah, sit, blah blah blah blah, did you hear me? blah blah blah blah.

    • This right here is a stellar idea (I had no idea Pheasants did this). One of many out there that need to be combined for maximum effect.

      With a fishing analogy, it’s like long line fishing. More hooks, different bait, more stuff gets caught but instead of swordfish and flounder you get hipsters and soccer moms. Or if you prefer fly fishing, it’s like a tandem nymphing set up.

  7. GOOD LORD ALMIGHTY!

    That picture is not only terrifying because of the BLATANT ‘4 rules’ violations (old guy on the left has got his chubby little booger hook FULLY ON THE TRIGGER!) but it’s also gobsmackingly stupid (and ironic) from a group that calls themselves ‘Guns Save Lives’.

  8. It was brought up in discussions recently on TTAG articles about the 3 million of the nations 100 million or so gun owners who would actually rise up to fight a tyrannical government…..those 3 million would be unevenly dispersed all across the country and mostly rag tag groups and single individuals…….if those in attendance at grass roots pro gun groups are any indication of the demographic of the 3 million fighting for our freedom than we are in some serious trouble…..nothing against these fine older gentlemen and many are former combat veterans willing to go to battle for their country once again……but we will have our hands full if we don’t have much younger men and women fighting along side our older patriots……like uncommon_sense said “WE HAVE TO FIX THIS LADIES AND GENTLEMAN”.

    • “we will have our hands full if we don’t have much younger men and women fighting along side our older patriots”

      No problem. Just visit the local “safe spaces” and you’ll find lots of young people cowering there. You can tempt them out with a cookie and a coloring book.

  9. Geez ragging on the crowd over their age. Or waistline. We vote. We pay the bills. Boomer’s STILL rule. Trump is over 70 and seems to have the energy of 10. I have NO FAITH the younger hipper crowd will get “involved”. Whiny wussy winky women. I don’t care either…ILLinois will never be fixed unless we ban leftards and demoscum. Rabble rousers won’t help either…I will not comply!

    • And like it or not, here’s the political reality, as evident in every single national, and most state, elections over the last, oh since the country was founded.
      Ignore everyone who is under 25 completely. Ignore all but 20% of women, and 10% of minorities. Ignore the bottom 20% of wage earners. Primarily focus your efforts on middle age, middle income white men. Everyone else you get is gravy.
      And you’ll win ever single election. Because these are the people who actually make political donations and vote every single time.

      • jwtaylor,

        That strategy (focusing efforts on older white men) is turning into a losing strategy for two simple reasons:
        (1) Older white men are a bubble that is literally dying off.
        (2) Minority birthrates absolutely dwarf white birth rates.

        If we fail to get young people, women, and minorities in our pipeline, we will fail in the next 10 to 30 years.

        • Except it hasn’t, and there’s no data that says it will. Just the opposite. In fact, there’s lots of evidence that says the longer minorities stay in the US, the more they vote like the middle class white men around them.

        • jwtaylor,

          I believe these facts refute your claim:
          (1) Minorities continue to become a larger and larger percentage of the population in California and California is trending ever farther and farther left — with no indication that it will ever trend back to the right.
          (2) Minorities are a very small percentage of population — and middle age white men are a very large percentage of the population — in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and yet Democrat candidates for President of the U.S. and U.S. Senate almost always win those states.
          (3) About 90% of black voters vote for Democrats their entire lives.
          (4) Well over half of all women vote for Democrat candidates for President of the U.S. and nothing is indicating that this will trend to the right.

          While a small percentage of minorities may eventually start voting for conservative candidates, by far and away most minorities across the U.S. continue to vote for leftists. As minorities comprise an ever larger percentage of our population — which is guaranteed unless white people start averaging three+ children per family (and there is no evidence for that) — leftist candidates will become ever more entrenched.

          And women are voting in record numbers. I believe we are foolhardy to ignore women voters.

          As for dismissing young people, have you ever considered that a lot of conservative young voters often fail to vote for conservative candidates because the candidates are old, stodgy white guys? How do we stand to gain when we ignore this voting bloc?

        • Uncommon_Sense, I didn’t say anything about middle class whites men voting conservative or Republican. Almost half of them don’t. The longer they are around the middle class white dude, the more likely the surrounding minority populations tends to vote with the middle class white dude, and the same goes for female voters.
          Get the middle class white dude on your side, and parts of the other demographics go along too, and you win. Don’t get the middle class white dude on your side and you lose him and everyone else. Our last national election was a perfect example of this, as have been the recent statewide elections in California.
          On the gun rights side, it is a massive generational failure to assume that middle class white dudes vote on the side of strong 2nd Amendment protections. That assumption, and lack of attention, has led to most of the infringements we have today.

  10. Jesus H. Christ.

    These people are actually doing something to preserve, protect and defend their rights and a lot of commenters here knit-pick about about A1c, BMI and age.

    The meetings are open to all, and at no charge. We draw good crowds in an era with service clubs are folding left and right because the young folks in America too often seem too busy or self-centered to give of their time and energy. We make things happen and influence legislators and legislation, unlike so many keyboard warriors.

    Christ, sometimes I wonder if POTG are our own worst enemy.

    As for uncommon_sense: “What can Guns Save Life and Illinois State Rifle Association do differently that is actually effective in securing your rights? I encourage your next few meetings to center all discussion on that topic. ” Maybe you can share some great ideas over and above the things we’re already doing ranging from lobby work, litigation, public education, and so forth. I’m listening… Seriously, I welcome constructive criticism.

    For all the harsh critics in the above comments, I ask: What have you done this week to promote or advance the cause of freedom?

    (crickets)

    And therein lies the problem. It takes effort to get off the couch and actually do something meaningful. These people did it. And many of them do it every month. Too bad even a few tens of thousands more gun owners don’t do the same as regularly as these folks.

    • “These people are actually doing something to preserve, protect and defend their rights and a lot of commenters here knit-pick about about A1c, BMI and age.”

      I get it. I do. However, I’m going to play this a bit rougher than I normally would and say this:

      So fucking what? Got feelz? No one cares. The Catholic Church spent more money on charity this week than many countries have GDP. No one cares. What makes the news is that some priests fuck kids. The organization’s good actions are often outweighed in the public eye by a negative perception of the Church as being riddled with child molesters.

      Is that fair? Probably not. Is it real? Hell yes it is. Does it have a real impact on the Church? Absolutely. Does that same thing happen here? Damn straight.

      No offense here John, but you suck at advertising and you’re playing right into the caricature of your members. Don’t get me wrong, the product is great, you’re just not selling it very well.

      You want to sell 2A rights to people who don’t currently want them. That’s what you want to do. So, just like convincing some mom that she needs to ditch the sedan for an SUV you need to advertise and advertising makes things appealing. You want people to feel like they kind of want to go to your meeting without having a strong previous feeling that they should. You’ve got an ambivalent (or not) person and you want them to develop that feeling.

      Pictures that make your group look like they’re in the waiting room for a gastric bypass center don’t help you. You just don’t see that because you already have a positive feeling, which btw is rightly deserved, towards this group. I’m sure they’re great and I’m sure video interviews with them would show that. These pictures don’t.

      The problem with the 2A community generally isn’t that we have a bad product or bad arguments. We have shitty packaging for the item we’re selling and we play right-the-fuck into the hands of the antis with our crappy messaging.

      I’m not saying you have to be Bernie Madoff but, yikes man, think about how those pictures look to someone who just heard of your group and might want to see what it’s about. Do those pictures present a “Hey, we’re friendly and awesome and you should totally check us out!” message or do they present a “Oh, man, those folks have let themselves go” sort of message?

      If you have someone who’s being introduced to the idea of GSL for the very first time you want to maximize the chance they have a positive emotional reaction to what they are exposed to. Otherwise you’re significantly reducing the chances that you get a good reaction out of them at all.

      “For all the harsh critics in the above comments, I ask: What have you done this week to promote or advance the cause of freedom?”

      Took two noobs shooting for the first time.

      • See, John, don’t take pictures of these old farts and you’re good to go. Clearly they are too ugly for the discerning readers of TTAG!

        • If you can’t take what I, playing a devil’s advocate, dish out then the antis are going to eat you alive.

          Seems pretty common around these parts lately. I hope that trend doesn’t continue.

      • God bless you for taking those new shooters out and introducing them to the fun and excitement of shooting.

    • “Christ, sometimes I wonder if POTG are our own worst enemy.”

      That’s the diff between us, John. I don’t wonder at all. I just read the comments and I know.

    • I interact with, on a given week, close to 10,000 people in a retail store. Anyone who walks in, anyone who works there, and anyone who just started working will soon know, that I’m the raging pro-gun guy. I don’t hide it, I have zero qualms about it. Did I mention that I’m a member of a massively socialist workers union in the state? The president of our local is the international VP. I come in to ACTUAL contact with more anti-gun, psychotic lefties (and convert, mind you) than the next closest one of your writers even thought they talk to.

      The difference is human interaction. Internet is not interaction. Yeah, we can post comments and articles and blogs about how open and loving and open-armed we are about guns, but people don’t physically see it. People need visuals. The fence post people you’re trying to convince aren’t reading anything. The readers are already on this side, or they’re on the complete opposite side.

      Optics, my friend. Plain and simple.

    • I don’t think you’re going to reach this guy. Just last week he tells us he has diabetes, this week he’s bitching about OFWGs that he thinks might share his condition. And after he lists his reasons why he will not attend such meetings with those he deems unsuitable he then proceeds to lecture us at length on proper public relations and how to win people over to our cause.

    • John Boch,

      First and foremost, I commend your deep desire — including your willingness to work hard — to advance our cause. I share an equally deep desire and willingness to work hard. I am a member of a gun-rights group in my state that also educates the public and our state policy makers. I donate to the lawsuits that my gun-rights group files in our state. I go to every rally at our capital, dressed impeccably and carrying a handgun, rifle, and very provocative signs. (My signs are so provocative that lots of people, including the press, go out of their way to take my picture or engage me and I oblige them with respectful and intelligent dialogue.) And I take my children to those rallies as often as possible. I often open carry (while dressed impeccably) and engage in respectful and intelligent dialogue when people inquire. I extend the offer to take new people shooting — especially women and young people — and have done so on multiple occasions at my own expense. And, I spend an inordinate amount of time on this website providing what I believe are intelligent, insightful, truthful, and helpful ideas and facts that advance our cause. In summary I am an active ambassador for our cause.

      The truth of the matter is that a deep desire to advance our cause and a deep willingness to work hard also requires a winning strategy to be successful. And the facts on the ground in Illinois — the spate of anti-gun laws recently passed and in the legislative pipeline — tells me that your strategy is not a winning strategy. I am sorry if that hurts. I am not saying this to “beat you up”. Rather, I am saying this because I want you to succeed, momentum looks like it is in the wrong direction, and your strategy does not seem to be effective by the simple objective measure of gun laws in your state.

      As for suggestions, I already suggested one strategy (a serious, wide-scale, and sustained/concerted effort to take newbies shooting at no expense to them). Another commenter expanded on that strategy. (Make sure we include moms and their children — and teacher gender doesn’t matter.) Other commenters noted that we seem to have ZERO acumen with respect to marketing and public relations — especially our optics and recruiting — and suggested how we can improve in that respect.

      In the course of about half a day, with suggestions from only five people if I counted correctly, we developed a new and updated strategy that sounds like the beginnings of a winning strategy. In my world, that is a good thing.

      I encourage you to build upon that simple foundation. And, in the process, I also encourage you to consider what is paying dividends and what is not. Then, apply your limited resources on what actually pays dividends.

      My point is, if we don’t periodically review what we are doing for its effectiveness, we are almost guaranteed to lose this battle for our rights. And the most important aspect of that review is declaring painful truths and asking difficult questions.

      • “Usually” you make sense Uncommon. Not today…you have a grand ignorance about ILLinois. The Dumbocrats control everything. They won. Our so-called “right’s” rest on a razors edge. EVERYTHING we have is the result of lawsuits and court decisions. All I can do is leave
        or break the law. I applaud Boch et all. I contribute as best I can. May wherever you live go to hell likewise. Strych9 too. It’s coming to EVERYONE!

        • former water walker,

          EVERYTHING we have is the result of lawsuits and court decisions.

          That simply confirms my point that Guns Save Lives and similar advocacy groups are expending their limited resources on the wrong strategy (education campaigns and such). Thus, their short term strategy should be carefully selected lawsuits in carefully selected courts and appropriate fund-raising efforts to support that litigation.

          Their long term strategy should be determining if it is possible to change the tide, and if it is, developing a specific plan to accomplish that.

          For the record I do not profess to know the demographic and political situation in Illinois. What I do profess is that gun laws in Illinois are trending HARD in the wrong direction and I do not see anything that stands to reverse that trend. That is why I sounded the alarm to Mr. Boch: not because I derive some sort of satisfaction busting his chops but because I want him to succeed.

  11. I don’t live in Illinois. I spend my time in VA and NC. I see diverse ages, ethnicities, and a reasonable proportion of women at the gun ranges here. Women being taught by both male and female instructors. Husbands and wives. Solo women who can take the center out of the target. One of the best things I have seen was a pair of very hot black girls (no racism intended or implied. They were Halle Berry hot.) being introduced to the charms of an AK 47 by a young black guy. The young ladies were having a great time. He was accurate, a good teacher, and I am sure one happy dude. I, as the OWG, was shooting an SKS in a tie and sport jacket partly for the surreal experience of being dressed like that at a gun range, shooting a semi-auto rifle. The young white guys in camo next to me were sighting in AR’s (not doing too well, I am sad to say.) We all could have used lessons from the AK guy in more ways than one. Perhaps it’s just this local area, being semi-rural and definitely gun-owning. I wish there could have been a picture of this rainbow coalition, all with evil black rifles and harming absolutely no-one. This is not the only time around here that I have been to a very diverse range, with everyone having a good time, and everyone being safe with their firearms.

  12. Tough crowd! JB took the effort to write this, did a bit of reporting, maybe expected a pat on the back, and BOOM! his entire world view gets bodyslammed. To be sure, the optics in these photos are not good. Too white. Too old. Too cavalier with the weapons. No beards of consequence. Only one of which is their fault. I’m sure they’d accept more diversity if the opportunity presented itself. “What have YOU done lately”?” doesn’t change the fact that these photos play into every stereotype the antis believe. Plus “Guns Save Life” is a terrible name for several reasons. But dayum! Brutal.

    • RidgeRunner,

      I’m sure [Guns Save Lives would] accept more diversity if the opportunity presented itself.

      Therein lies the problem: that most/all gun rights advocacy organizations are waiting for an opportunity to present itself RATHER THAN MAKING THE OPPORTUNITY.

      That was a fundamental point in my initial comment: the entire crowd at the meeting appeared to be old white men and I did not see any strategy to change that fact. Rather than organizing meetings in such a way that is basically guaranteed to only attract old white men, I want to see Gun Save Lives organize meetings that are guaranteed to also attract young people, women, and minorities.

      • I’m sure that sort of proacdtive outreach is what it would take; I doubt anyone not in that demo would look at these photos and think, “that’s something i want to join.” So, yeah. Agree.

  13. Pants On Fire says:
    March 6, 2019 at 21:10
    The only lives saved by guns in that room are in the fantasies of elderly obese white men.

    However it’s a much better crowd than the youthful overly tacticool mall ninja open-carry-AR15 battle monsters that scare the crap out of the Second Amendment.

    It depends on your definition of “elderly”, but I was there and I’m far from obese even though I’m a white male. I also don’t have fantasies about saving anyone with a gun. Be careful of your wild generalities and characterizations.

  14. Springfield Il. Roosia? I’ve never heard of that place? The gums to the head was my tip off. “You like Puten? , Click click, Dah you like Puten.”

    • Ditto. John is one of the hardest working pro-gun movement person in Illinois. He deserves far more credit than he is given.

      As to “Guns Save Lives” as the identifier of the organization being a poor choice. What people from outside Illinois may not know is that one of first efforts of the organization was to place Burma Shave types of road signs along the Interstates and other highways with doggerel that told a story of someone who either had a gun when needed or someone who didn’t, with the message that when people had guns available to them when problems arose often were able to save their own lives. This organization started at a time when Illinois did not allow the ordinary person to carry a firearm for self protection legally and much of the effort was intended to put forth the idea that ordinary citizens both deserved and needed the right to carry a firearm for personal protection. Hence, the organizational name came from the mission. It is worth noting that this happened long before John assumed the leadership mantle.

      In full disclosure, I am a white male over the age of 70, who is also a proud Life Member of GSL. I am, however, not overweight, and am fairly fit by most standards, and exceptionally fit for my age. My wife is a very active gun owner who actually helped with a presentation at GSL two meeting ago. Women do attend the meetings but they are outnumbered by men. Unless one is at a Well Armed Women meeting this is pretty typical of gun owner meetings. Rarely are there blacks at these meetings which is also no different than Friends of the NRA meetings, or Pheasant Forever meetings, or Whitetails Unlimited meetings. GSL meetings are no better or worse than most gun owner groups. When the iGold rally is held at the state capitol later this month there will be a larger percentage of women, blacks and gays there, but that is a somewhat different situation as at least five gun owner groups are pushing this rally, including Well Armed Women and several Chicago organizations that are predominately black.

      Now, for my rant. I actually put this off last night because I wanted to think about what I was going to write and not go off half-cocked. Here it is:

      I am very disappointed in the posters who chose to focus on the age, sex and weight of some of the attendees. The idea that “old, fat, white men” and overweight women have negative value is revolting to me. It is as revolting as demeaning blacks or gays or Jews, as some gun owners might be prone to do. Where do these posters get off? One poster labeled one of the women in the picture as “morbidly obese” and unworthy of representing gun owners. This sounds like grade school bullies, rather than adults.

      I happen to know the woman I think was being referred to in the picture. She is a very dedicated lady who works three jobs, one of which is part-time in a local gun shop. Her long-time boyfriend was once a champion trap shooter in high school and is a very well-trained defensive handgun and rifle shooter, who spends considerable money and time with trainers. He is also very involved in reenactment events and, as a former high school history teacher, is very knowledgeable and very involved in teaching people about older firearms in a manner that gets people engaged and interested. He also works several jobs because of large medical expenses which is why he cannot make most of these meetings. These are good people who certainly do not deserve to be shamed because of their appearance.

      Shame on any and all of you who chose to criticize the meeting and organization in this way. Shame on any and all of you who spent time tearing John down. He works very long hours for the cause – do you? Dale, the local leader spends hours putting together these Springfield meetings and hours more planning and putting up the road signs all as a volunteer. If you can see a way to improve things, email them privately instead of tearing them down in public, and volunteer to help. Otherwise – shut up.

      • He didn’t say “Guns Save Lives,” which is an excellent name. Looks like they call the org. “Guns Save Life,” which is terrible. Many game animals would disagree.

      • Chance McCall,

        I also think it is counterproductive when people draw attention to the health/overweight status of gun-rights advocates, which I did not do.

        As for the rest of your comment, you and many others are saying that advocates like John Boch should get a participation award even though they are failing and there are literally life-and-death consequences on the line.

        As I stated in a reply above, I commend advocates like John Boch for their deep desire to preserve our rights and for their willingness to work hard at it. What I will not do is commend someone’s misplaced efforts and failure. Rather, I sounded the alarm and encouraged his organization to develop an effective strategy. And I even attempted to start that process by providing a suggestion of my own and soliciting suggestions from everyone else.

  15. I’ll take the smiling Pro gun, 2a minded, mid western countrymen carrying extra weight, imho tis better than a bevy of svelte slender bodied boot licking serfs sporting the gaze of a hoplophobe.

  16. I’m glad to see anyone organize get together and have a second amendment meeting about their civil rights. I don’t care how fat they are. I don’t care what color they are. I don’t care what kind of sex they have.

    I don’t believe every 2A meeting needs to have the correct ethnic balance of people. If you think about it young people are simply not going to be interested to attend some of these 2A meetings. Teenagers and folks in their early twenties want to go shooting. They’re not interested in sitting around a briefing room for several hours listening to “old” people talk.

    I believe NRA News has already done a segment on a black 2A meeting in chiraq. The MSM won’t cover them. But they will cover you.

    I would suggest this group and the black 2A groups in and around Chiraq, plan a visit together at city hall to demonstrate for 2A rights in the city.

    Or the 2A groups can plan a range day. And then invite the Press. But take your own pictures. And post them. The 2A Community needs to control its own press. Don’t let the MSM “Covington” you. Because that’s what they’re going to do.

    This is Information Warfare. And all 2A groups need to be prepared for it.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

    • Chris T in KY,

      If you think about it young people are simply not going to be interested to attend some of these 2A meetings. Teenagers and folks in their early twenties want to go shooting. They’re not interested in sitting around a briefing room for several hours listening to “old” people talk.

      Once again, another commenter is confirming my statement that Guns Save Life (and almost all other gun-rights advocacy groups) are employing a losing strategy. Another commenter is also confirming my strategy that getting young people out to shoot is a winning strategy.

      While it may very well be “old white guys” who do the heavy lifting to manage their organizations (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that), they darn well better start managing them in a way that brings hordes of young people, women, and minorities into the fold. Because what they are doing right now is NOT it.

      I urge, in the strongest terms, all gun-rights organizations to reconsider their strategies and find ways to get young people, women, and minorities into the fold. Start asking actual young people, women, and minorities what it would take to get their support. And then start doing it!

      • Hit ’em where they live, Instagram!
        There’s a movement toward hunting and self-sufficiency among Millennials and GenZ, it’s not that far a reach from that to 2A issues. Go where they are. I have several 20-somethings on staff just for that purpose. I look forward to turning it all over to them in a few years and i’ll just stay in the woods. Yeah, these kids have lots of issues but they also have a lot going for them, and many are open-minded.
        I guess that i have to agree that taking shots at people for being old and overweight is a cheap shot. If i did that i apologize.

        • RidgeRunner,

          Thank you for providing yet another important suggestion for a winning strategy: reaching young people WHERE THEY ACTUALLY ARE.

          Are gun-rights advocacy groups crafting effective optics and messaging for young people and disseminating those optics and messaging on Instagram, Twitter, and who knows what else? Not that I have ever seen. We should be!

          Wake up fellow supporters! We have to reach the public where they are. We do not reach anyone if we do not advertise. We do not reach anyone if we advertise in the middle of a forest. We do not reach anyone if our advertising is not crafted to reach our target audience. And even if our advertising is crafted to reach our target audience, we do not achieve “sales” if our product/service does not appeal to our target audience. We can do this. We just have to admit that we have to do this — and then set out to do it.

      • I don’t disagree we need more young people of every sex, every color, and every economic background. Getting all of that is complicated.

        First of all, even in downstate, many young people know little or nothing about firearms except that “bad guys” use them. They have no desire to hunt and wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do so if they did want to learn and actually hunt. This is a major change from the 1950s (old white guys) where many boys received their first guns before they had any real interest in girls and had harvested some squirrels or rabbits before they went on their first date. High schools had rifle teams. The Boy Scouts had merit badges in that covered rifles and target shooting and their summer camps had rifle ranges. The interested scouts could even get a shotgun merit badge. They schemed to get invited along on their father’s or uncle’s deer hunt. Society did not look down on boys owning guns.

        Given those changes, it isn’t hard to understand why many young people have little or no interest in owning guns, let alone fighting to protect gun rights. Plus, all of what surrounds the gun culture is often viewed as rural and “uncool” compared to joining the Parkland crew and pushing to ban guns.

        One of the lights I see is that many gun clubs are teaming up with FFA, 4-H, Boy Scouts, or other school organizations to sponsor high school trap shooting teams. This is making a difference, albeit slowly. All of this costs real money so it takes an cooperative and ongoing effort to raise that money and to coordinate the efforts. That requires old white men’s money and time to make that happen.

        Money and real time volunteering is required and that is often hard to come by. What percentage of gun owners belong to the NRA, or 2nd Amendment Foundation, or their state gun group, or other groups like GSL? We all know the percentage is painfully small of people that will even give a small amount of money to any of these groups. The ones willing to volunteer are even smaller, in part because of criticisms like we have seen on this thread and in part because they expect someone else to do it.

        Yes the NRA raises a lot of money, but spread over 50 states the money they raise is a drop in the bucket to what would be needed to really do the job. The same is true in spades for the state gun groups. And, it takes money to get to the levels of professionalism we need.

        As to the problems in Illinois, we all understand that the Chicago Democrats control Illinois state government. Since their leaders are anti-gun we have real problems. In this last election some of us worked very hard among the gun community to reelect the Republican Governor. Despite our work, far too many gun owners voted for a more conservative independent thus effectively voting for the anti-gun Democrat. That gave the Chicago anti-gun Democrats all the control.

        Getting more young people and more diversity is critical – you are correct. What detailed plan of action do you have to do that? Failing that, would you be willing to sit down with John, Richard, Valerie, and others to spend a couple of days at a retreat to develop a plan and help locate the people and money needed to execute it?

        • Chance McCall,

          First of all, even in downstate, many young people know little or nothing about firearms except that “bad guys” use them. They have no desire to hunt and wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do so if they did want to learn and actually hunt.

          I agree completely and that sounds like an incredible opportunity for a winning strategy. Years ago there was a Big Brother / Big Sister program. Where is that today? Why not create a similar program that is exclusively focused on teaching young people responsible and enjoyable ownership and use of firearms, including recreational opportunities?

          One of the lights I see is that many gun clubs are teaming up with FFA, 4-H, Boy Scouts, or other school organizations to sponsor high school trap shooting teams. This is making a difference, albeit slowly.

          Great! Let’s keep supporting this and, more importantly, determine how to EXPAND it!

          All of this costs real money so it takes an cooperative and ongoing effort to raise that money and to coordinate the efforts. That requires old white men’s money and time to make that happen.

          Okay. Let’s identify potential donors and make sure they understand this. More importantly, let’s demonstrate that we have a winning strategy so that those potential donors will want to support us.

          What percentage of gun owners belong to the NRA, or 2nd Amendment Foundation, or their state gun group, or other groups like GSL? We all know the percentage is painfully small of people that will even give a small amount of money to any of these groups. The ones willing to volunteer are even smaller, in part because of criticisms like we have seen on this thread and in part because they expect someone else to do it.

          Relatively few people donate to and volunteer for pro-rights organizations because their optics, messaging, and strategy are awful and ineffective. A LOT more people would donate and volunteer for organizations which demonstrate that they are achieving results. Hence why I am sounding the alarm.

          And, it takes money to get to the levels of professionalism we need.

          Not anywhere near as much as you would think. Rather, it takes skilled people who are willing to determine effective solutions and implement them. With something like one out of every three adults in the U.S. owning firearms, that is a gargantuan talent pool that is sure to have the right people with the right skills.

          Getting more young people and more diversity is critical – you are correct. What detailed plan of action do you have to do that? Failing that, would you be willing to sit down with John, Richard, Valerie, and others to spend a couple of days at a retreat to develop a plan and help locate the people and money needed to execute it?

          My detailed plan of action is a work in progress:
          (1) Admit that current strategies (conventional wisdom) are failing.
          (2) Admit that expanding our base of support is paramount.
          (3) Solicit solutions that will expand our base of support.
          (4) Acquire necessary human and financial resources.
          (5) Refine those solutions.
          (6) Implement those solutions.
          (7) Review solutions for effectiveness and change as required.

          And yes, I am willing to spend a weekend developing that plan of action. The much more relevant question: are the existing gun-rights advocacy organizations willing to retool? Or are they going to sneer at me and double-down on their failing strategies?

  17. The emotional responses to my comments and Strych9’s comments reinforce our points. The simple facts are:
    (1) Guns Save Life and similar groups work to advance our rights.
    (2) Illinois has passed and will pass more laws that infringe on our rights.
    (3) Ipso facto gun-rights advocacy groups have failed.
    (4) I pointed out these facts.
    (5) Strych9, myself, and others provided suggestions for improvement.
    (6) People disparage Strych9 and myself.

    Why? All Strych9 and I did was point out a failing and try to offer improvements. And the response from people is derision. Thank you for making Strych9’s point that many people are far more emotional than rational. And thank you for making my point that advocacy groups, who are ignoring this fundamental aspect of human nature, are employing a losing strategy.

    Can we move forward now and work on actually winning?

    • Uncommon_Sense:

      I don’t see a lot of sense in what you say. You say we are failing, but you don’t specify the metric. You say we have a losing strategy, but you fail to offer a winning strategy.

      Here’s my suggestion if you don’t want to join GSL, or ISRA or the NRA because of our appearances: Start your own gun rights org with your magic formula for success.

      Get back to me when you’ve got monthly meetings in six or seven cities across your state… (whether or not they are attended by the right mix of young, hot models, buff guys, and your ideal mix of minorities). And a highway sign program with pro-gun messages seen by a half-million people each and every day. And landmark civil rights lawsuits underway. A monthly printed journal with a circulation of 17,000 or more – along with thousands of dues-paying members.

      And have garnered both national and international publicity for your activism.

      You get to work on that.

      I won’t hold my breath waiting. But if it does happen, I’ll be happy to join.

      ETA: You write, “I go to every rally at our capital, dressed impeccably and carrying a handgun, rifle, and very provocative signs”…

      So you open carry a RIFLE at your state capital and you talk to me about optics and a winning message? Okay then. I see what we’re doing wrong. We just have to dress impeccably and carry a rifle to the IL state capital building! (just kidding)

      • John Boch,

        I don’t see a lot of sense in what you say. You say we are failing, but you don’t specify the metric.

        I sure did. The metric is firearm laws in Illinois. Are they getting better or getting worse? The obvious answer is that they are getting worse — and accelerating in the wrong direction. In fact the momentum is so negative that your organization now feels compelled to cooperate with Illinois State Rifle Association.

        You say we have a losing strategy, but you fail to offer a winning strategy.

        I laid the foundation for a winning strategy in the several comments above. The first element of that winning strategy is declaring an appropriate metric: firearm laws in Illinois. The second element is admitting that the current strategies are failing. The third element is looking for a winning strategy. And so on.

        [Guns Save Life has] monthly meetings in six or seven cities across [Illinois] … And a highway sign program with pro-gun messages seen by a half-million people each and every day. And have garnered both national and international publicity for your activism. A monthly printed journal with a circulation of 17,000 or more – along with thousands of dues-paying members.

        All of that certainly entails a huge amount of effort and may feel absolutely wonderful. And it does not change the simple fact that firearm laws are heading in the wrong direction — and accelerating in the wrong direction — in Illinois. While you and your organization may be incredibly busy, you do not appear to be incredibly effective. I assume that you want to be effective and that is why I am sounding the alarm.

        And landmark civil rights lawsuits underway.

        Now THAT sounds very effective. Keep up the good work! And consider prioritizing that strategy over other strategies which appear to be ineffective.

        So you open carry a RIFLE at your state capital and you talk to me about optics and a winning message? Okay then. I see what we’re doing wrong. We just have to dress impeccably and carry a rifle to the IL state capital building! (just kidding)

        My strategy is simple, purposeful, and carefully planned: an armed person who is impeccably groomed, well-dressed, intelligent, respectful, polite, articulate, responsible, and calm absolutely SHATTERS the meme that gun-grabbers rabidly promote — that firearm owners are backwoods, redneck, ignorant, intolerant, uneducated, rude, dangerous, and deplorable slobs who go off on people at the slightest insult or provocation. Of equal importance, our rallies are hands down the calmest, cleanest, and least violent rallies that occur at our state capital, which is drawing positive attention to our plight.

        And while we have achieved modest improvements in firearms court rulings and laws in my state over the last 10 years, we still have a LOT of room for improvement. Believe me, I will be lobbying my state gun-rights groups to implement the changes that myself and others suggested in the comments of this article.

        I will close with a simple question to emphasize my concern: how many women, minorities, and people between the ages of 18 and 28 are on the board of directors (or equivalent) and taken seriously at Guns Save Life and other gun-rights advocacy organizations?

        • So, because I/we cannot part the Red Sea, I/we are a failure. And we should abandon efforts to influence the outcome of events in other smaller, less glamorous ways. Right, gotcha.

          Illinois has voted deep, deep blue. I do not count the votes on Election Day. I can count votes in the legislature though. And I know what nuances get me enough votes to stop the worst of the worst.

          As for a rifle at the state capital, all people see in a newspaper still photo is some lunatic carrying a rifle at the state capital. Ditto for the local news broadcast where they get a two second clip of you walking, impeccably dressed, carrying a rifle.

          You surely act as though you’re invested in this post. Trying to figure out what your ax is. You’ve certainly got a pile of grindings at your feet.

        • I think the thing to remember here is that, I hope, all of the contributors to this thread are both pro gun and concerned about the way gun laws are going all over the country.

          To the critics of established pro-gun organizations including GSL and others:

          Are there reasons to be concerned that the established organizations are not holding back the tide? Sure. That does not mean, however, that all or most of the blame should be shifted to, take your pick, the 2nd Amendment Foundation, the NRA, its state affiliate, or state or national specialized groups like GSL or DRGO, or JPFO. The real blame has to be clearly laid on the doors of those gun owners who do not get involved with these organizations both as volunteers and as donors.

          A number of years ago JPFO made two films that are very powerful tools for persuading non gun owners of the importance of the 2nd Amendment. They could be a very important organization in clogging up the anti gun movement except they have not been able to attract many members. The same could be said of DRGO. Both of these organizations exist in the heart of the anti gun movement – Jews and Doctors. These organizations could be a powerful education force in the anti gun community because of their “halo effect”, if they could grow their membership. If one has marketing expertise, why not help them?

          At the same time numerous small black pro-gun organizations exist all over the country. They seem do be able to attract members locally, but they have a serious lack of funds to grow their organizations. How many people with the ability to do so have considered giving them some money and some advisory help?

          Many times people disparage the leadership of pro-gun groups. I would be the first to say that sometimes this is justified, but most of the time it is an excuse for not getting involved. Only by getting involved as a member willing to put up time and money can changes really be made.

          I know. Nine years ago, I was approached by worried business friends about a trade association. They said it was in serious trouble and it was. It was leaking an average of $8,000.00 per month in expenditures that exceeded income and they were getting very little done. They had less than 50 dues paying members in the state. A group of us joined that had not been involved for years, ran for election to the Board, and three years later controlled the Board. We went from quarterly conference call Board Meetings to monthly in person Board Meetings that ran from 9-5 with weekly conference calls for the newly reconstituted committees. Every Board member had hours and hours of outside work to accomplish, and many of us donated some of our employees’ time to certain tasks. Today, that same organization has over 800 members and has over $400,000.00 in the bank, while running plus money each month. The PAC Fund that had $283.00 in it now has over $60,000.00 in it after spending over $500,000.00 in the last election and will be well over $150,000 in May.

          You want to make an organization better? Put your time and your money where your mouth is. In some cases you will find that “ineffective leadership” somehow became very effective. In a few cases, like the trade association mentioned above, the leadership will need changing but, be warned, that is a huge job.

          As I said earlier, email John and other folks with detailed suggestions and plans for accomplishing those suggestions. I’m sure they will welcome them. But, it isn’t enough to write: come up with a plan to attract younger people and more diverse people. If you think it is important, you do the research and the validity studies and then write a detailed plan for accomplishing it. Most of these groups have very few paid employees, and some none as the person you are mad at is a dedicated volunteer.

        • John and Chance,

          I have no ax to grind. I am not mad at anyone. It is not my intention to insult anyone. I am not questioning anyone’s honor or good character.

          I am simply stating what I see, asking difficult questions, encouraging you to look at new strategies, and explaining why I think some strategies are winning strategies. I am doing this because I really want to see firearm laws go in the right direction in Illinois, in my state, in all states. And I know first hand how easy it is to be so focused on the task at hand that we fail to consider whether that is even the right play in the first place.

          If you want to dismiss everything that I and other commenters said, go right ahead.

          As for going forward, I committed today to interviewing middle school students, high school students, moms with children living at home, and minority groups to find out if it is possible to win their support and, if that is indeed possible, what that requires.

          As for carrying openly visible firearms, it is called normalization. When parents see me playing with my children next to their children at a public park, they realize that armed citizens are not monsters, but everyday people just like them. In fact, more and more of those parents are happy to see me armed in the park because they know that I am able to stop any vicious attack, which is actually comforting to them. That is winning people over.

          As recently as 20 years ago, many people in my state would call police if they saw a visibly armed, nicely dressed person walking down the street and police would show up heavy handed. Today, very few people call police when they see a visibly armed person walking down the street. And in the rare event that someone does call police, the dispatcher asks what the armed person is doing: if the armed person is not obviously involved in criminal activity, the dispatcher informs the caller that open carry is legal and will not send police. In just 20 short years, the public now perceives bearing arms in public to be a normal condition, which means the public at large no longer sees armed citizens as a giant threat to public safety. Maybe, just maybe, that is part of the reason that gun laws have improved ever so slightly over the last 20 years in my state. And maybe, just maybe, that is part of the reason that gun-grabbers viscerally oppose proposals for open carry in states that only allow concealed carry.

        • ChanceMcCall,

          Kudos on your success with your trade association!

          I am compelled to direct your attention to these simple observations:
          (1) You acknowledged that your trade association was trending in the wrong direction.
          (2) You changed course after that realization rather than continuing with the same operational model.

          Now, how do we get gun-rights organizations to do that?

  18. For what it’s worth, our local garden club had the same problem. Old white women who are comfortable sitting and talking or going on field trips involving a lunch stopover. I invited some younger women a few times. They never joined. As past president, I tried to liven up the program/speakers and shorten the meetings, (they were 3+ hrs long!). Some things are hard to change. The club folded 3 years later.

  19. Well you convinced me to join GSL John. NRA already joined. ILL State Rifle too. I’m frankly pizzed off at a few regulars. CLUELESS on how evil ILLinois IS. My income may be meager but I’m joining. I know you have meeting in Matteson occasionally. I’ll try to make one…

    • former water walker,

      The firearm laws that Illinois government has passed and is promising to pass amply demonstrates the level of evil in Illinois. I don’t doubt it for a second. And I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences.

      For what it is worth, my state’s firearm laws are only marginally better and I am quite frustrated with the lack of significant progress in my state — and seriously concerned about our future prospects. That is why I have devoted a lot of my resources to trying to improve the situation in my state as well as other states.

      If we truly want improvement then we have to be honest with ourselves and each other. And the truth of the matter is that Illinois’ gun-rights organizations are not achieving results on Illinois firearm laws. That being the case, why would the gun-rights organizations in Illinois keep doing the same thing and not look at radical new strategies? If there is a way to achieve results, I certainly hope that the gun-rights groups in Illinois would want to discover those strategies and implement them. Who knows, maybe improving firearm laws in Illinois is impossible. If that is indeed the case, better to learn that now and stop wasting resources.

      • >>>uncommon_sense says:
        March 7, 2019 at 18:00
        ChanceMcCall,

        Kudos on your success with your trade association!

        I am compelled to direct your attention to these simple observations:
        (1) You acknowledged that your trade association was trending in the wrong direction.
        (2) You changed course after that realization rather than continuing with the same operational model.

        Now, how do we get gun-rights organizations to do that?<<<

        There are some differences between pro-gun groups and the state trade association I referenced that need to be understood first before using both for comparison.

        First – The trade association was responsible for representing the best interests of very affluent individuals and companies worth millions of dollars. These people and their companies had their very economic future entrusted to the association when it came to legislation. The aggregate value at stake would be in the billions.

        Second – When a number of us determined that the association was no longer effective legislatively and was likely to end up broke in another year, we had the money and resources to actively get involved. We were, as former members of the association to rejoin and instantly (by paying dues) able to more than double the associations income. We also knew all of the major players personally who needed to also rejoin.

        Third – We collectively had considerable personal expertise in a variety of areas vital to fixing the association that would have cost considerable money if people being elected to the Board were not throwing that expertise into the ring as part of their Board responsibilities. We had forensic and high level planning accounting done quickly and for free because of one member. Another member used (and paid) a marketing consulting company that was doing work for their own company to put together a member recruitment program and then used a number of their own employees to implement it. I contributed time and staff to rebuilt the associations political efforts and their PAC fund, as well as engineering the actual take over of the association itself. I would guess that at least 1/2 the " new" board member each contributed more than a million dollars of their own (or their companies) money in expenses, time, etc. in the first three years it took to wrest control of the association away from the "old" board members who were basically running an old boy's club instead of a trade association.

        The problem in the comparison is money. Pro gun activists have their hobbies and passions at stake but not usually their lifeblood. The majority of pro gun activists are not affluent, and the ones who are are normally busy running their own businesses. Most affluent gun owners would rather just contribute money to the organizations than get involved in the workings of the group. You could count me there as well until very recently and then only because I am old and semi retired. I still would rather just let the gun groups take care of it. I went for years sending money to the ILA and giving money to GSL without them even knowing who I was. Every gun show that GSL was at, I walked up without introducing myself and handed them money on gun raffles without taking a ticket. I have only recently joined the ISRA and GSL as a life member and only because, like you I am concerned, despite having given both far more money than a membership cost each and every year. (The NRA is a somewhat different story.)

        So why did I relate this story in the first place?

        To make sure that people playing "internet commando" understood how much real work it takes to make the changes they are advocating.

        BTW It can be worth it. I was part of the NRA coup many, many years ago when we went from a mostly educational and competition organization to a politically active organization. It was so worth it!

        It is time for the younger blood, and I count John as part of that younger blood, to assume the responsibility for gun rights in this country. They just need to stop talking and start putting their time and money where their mouth is.

        • ChanceMcCall,

          Great comment and I believe/agree with every word of it.

          Just in case it isn’t crystal clear (more so to other readers than you), I posed all of my questions and shared all of my insights because certain states like Illinois are passing ever more firearm laws, increasing in speed and severity no less, that are eroding our rights. That means our gun-rights organizations — which claim to exist to protect our rights — are failing. I don’t want those organizations to fail — I don’t want states to continue eroding our rights. And it is not my fault if that requires facing painful truths.

  20. You have truly lost an ally in any comment you will ever make on TTAG…don’t take my name in vain. I’m with Boch. Anyone open carrying a rifle at the state capital(illegal in ILL) is patently INSANE.

  21. Been a member of GSL for several years now and been to countless monthly meetings. The comradery in the room is always awesome, many veterans, young and old gun enthusiasts of both sexes, and good folks that are working hard for everybody’s gun rights. This organization is well worth my time and money and I’m proud to be a member. Keep up the excellent work John and don’t waste your breath on those that are jealous of you and all that you do for us.

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