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Jeff Knox wrote an interesting piece the other day titled Attention Lamestream Media: I am the ‘gun lobby’. It was positively cheerworthy. I, too, get irritated with the way the nefarious “Gun Lobby” is portrayed in the media. I personally know several of the people in the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance (GOCRA) who were instrumental in getting the Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection Act (our “shall-issue” law) passed, and I met some of the opposition, including Heather Martens, the Executive Director of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota (CSM)…

There were a couple of big differences between the GOCRA folks and Heather, the primary one being that Heather was supported by a nice salary from CSM, thanks to her sugar-daddy, the Joyce Foundation. The GOCRA folks had to take time off work to speak to legislators. CSM was funded to the tune of $122,000 by the Joyce Foundation in 2004, the year the PPA was being challenged in court. I, however, worked the tables at the gun shows. I saw the $1s and $5s in the basket being given to support GOCRA.

Another major difference between CSM and GOCRA; when the Minnesota Court of Appeals threw out the 2003 PPA, outraged gun-owners (not lobbyists, not paid press flacks, but everyday men and women) flooded the Legislature with so many calls that staffers literally could get no other work done. Inside one and a half months, a virtually identical bill was passed (breakneck speed as anyone who’s been worked on legislation knows). This is the major difference between grass-roots groups and AstroTurf® groups; when push comes to shove, grass-roots groups can put large numbers of feet on the ground while the best AstroTurf® groups can do is throw money around and hire the occasional professional protestor.

Another stark difference is in what I would call moral courage. The willingness to stand up for your beliefs, even when it is not convenient or comfortable. When the PPA first passed, the antis talked about boycotting anyplace that didn’t post a sign banning guns. Until, that is, they realized that a lot of places weren’t posting the signs and it would be kinda inconvenient for them to stick to their principles. So their campaign changed from the hardline “No sign, not a dime!” to a decidedly more squishy “Please post.”

We gun-nuts, however, mostly have the courage of our convictions and are perfectly willing to go out of our way to avoid a posted business. Or an unposted business, for that matter. My wife and I had just spent an hour and a half shopping at a warehouse store. We paid a few hundred dollars for our goods, but as we were leaving, the manager said that it was their policy to ban guns, so he would appreciate it if I would leave my (legally, openly carried) weapon in my car in the future.

I asked if there was a sign that I hadn’t seen and was told there was not, but that it was corporate policy, and the manager even provided me with a copy of the policy which contained the interesting statement that “guns do not add to the HugeCo shopping experience.” So I smiled, thanked him for the information and asked if we could please get our money back. He tried to demur, saying that my business was welcome even if my gun was not, but I pointed out that he had just told me that he thought I was a danger to him and his customers, and I would never ask him to compromise his principles by accepting my filthy lucre.

So we got our money back, cancelled our membership and started shopping at a different company. It was a less convenient location and there were some products we could no longer get, but if a company tells me they don’t want my business I will be happy to honor their wishes.

A similar thing happened with my college (except I was done with it so I didn’t have to switch schools). I read in an article that they banned guns on campus, so I contacted them and asked if that was just for students or if it included alumni as well. I was told that the policy applied to everyone, so I wrote a nice letter to the alumni office explaining that since they had such a low opinion of either my integrity or my stability I would no longer donate to the Alumni Fund (as I tried to do every year even if I could only afford a few dollars, because participation counts a lot).

It took a few rounds of letters before they finally accepted that I took their distrust personally, and that I don’t give money to people who insult me. Family get-togethers were a little sticky for a while, since all four of my siblings and three of my six nieces all went or are going to this school and my siblings (like the alumni office) had a hard time figuring out why I felt the policy was insulting. Eventually they accepted it, though.

Another illustration of the vast difference between us and the antis was the Jim Zumbo affair. Briefly, Mr. Zumbo referred to AR and AK rifles as terrorist rifles and said they had no place in hunting. Within 36 hours he had lost most of his sponsors, his TV show and his job with Outdoor Life.

Many media outlets and anti groups laid the blame for this at the NRA’s doorstep, saying that the NRA had “blacklisted” Mr. Zumbo and destroyed his career. But Mr. Zumbo’s experience was only an example of the purest form of grassroots activism. Tens of thousands of people – individuals – thinking for themselves, decided that Mr. Zumbo’s gaffe could not go unchallenged,  So, individually and thinking for themselves, they contacted his employers and sponsors to express their displeasure. The AstroTurf®ers just could not fathom the idea that this happened spontaneously because in their world, these things just don’t happen spontaneously. They take coordination and phone-banks and auto-dialers.

Jeff is absolutely correct that I am the ‘gun lobby’, and as long as we don’t lose track of that we cann’t lose in the long run.

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  1. Excellent again, Bruce. Thankfully, avoiding posted businesses here in central MN is no longer difficult. Most of the remaining businesses that do post are in the Twin Cities, and are thus easily avoided. For some reason the Mall of America still seems to think it can ban weapons from its’ common areas. Maybe I should do a piece on that…

  2. I have yet to see a gun store big enough to require a lobby entrance.If the Brady people are to be believed, this retailer must have some powerful influences on every facet of society. Including the press and the internet because I have never heard of this all powerful gun retailer.

    More’s the pity, as finding a S&W 5906 shoulder rig is proving to be difficult. Any store large enough to pass its own laws MUST carry one,methinks.

  3. Great article Bruce. You’ve really been hitting them out of the park over the last couple of days!

    One of Sun Tzu’s biggest key’s to victory was to “know thy enemy, and know thy self”. Let the various anti-gun coalitions refer to us as the “gun lobby”. The longer they continue to strategize against us as if we were one over-arching corporation, the longer we will continue to have victories.

  4. Very good article.

    I believe moral conviction and its tendency to flourish amongst 2A groups is not by chance; to be a responsible, legal gun owner, and carrier, takes a certain amount of confidence, personal responsibility, and conviction. So naturally, these characteristics would surface when defending one’s rights. Given the comparative lack of such qualities in gun-grabbers, their causes thus lack true conviction.

  5. Bruce, You certainly have a following here on TTAG, but I often have the sense that you’re conning people a little bit. You’re good at it though, and combined with the overkill (prolixity) it’s quite effective.

    What occured to me today reading this post is a question: what do we mean by “gun lobby?” Speaking for myself, what comes to my mind is not those gun-rights organizations that you seemed to limit the term to, but rather the NRA and the gun manufacturers. I picture nefarious back room deals by cigar smoking oppostunists who, like the tobacco lobby before them, have no concern at all for the good of the country but are only concerned with furthering the profits of their clients.

    What comes to mind with the NRA part is the 40 million of your dollars they spent (wasted) trying to oppose the election of Obama. You remember when you and all your friends still believed he was the anti-christ for gun rights, don’t you?

    You know better than I do what the true meaning of “gun lobby” is, I’m just sharing my thoughts.

    • The NRA has the second largest membership of any lobbying organization. Only the generational thieving AARP is bigger. That is 4,000,000* people shelling out $20-$30 per year for a decent monthly magazine and a lot of political clout. There are quite a few other organizations at the local and national level, such as JPFO, GOA, and Isaak Walton clubs.

      *even if you don’t believe this number it is still in the millions.

    • mikeb – Still don’t get, eh? No matter what you or the “mainstream media” try to define the “gun lobby” as, Mr. Kraft hits it right on the head. I personally took on several cities in Ohio after they tried to ban lawful concealed carry upon the passage of Ohio’s “shall issue” CCW laws. I may have lost a battle or 2, but the legistalure ultimately took the snubbing of state general laws seriously, passed pre-emption, and deprived local municipalities of their ability to pass firearms laws more restrictive than state law once and for all, thus doing away with racially motivated “Saturday Night Special” and “Assault Weapon” bans, local licensing, registration, purchase limits, normal capacity magazine bans, handgun owner I.D. cards, bans on public possession of a firearm (STRICTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL), etc. ad nauseum. Smoke that, my friend (along with whatever it is that you currently smoke).

      Google search “Bruce Beatty Concealed Carry Ohio” and see for yourself. I, and millions of others like me, ARE THE GUN LOBBY. Simply because you are apparently incapable of independent thought, and seem to have no sense of realism, does not mean we must even consider bowing to your ludicrous demands that we surrender our Rights. Period.

      Sometimes, I come very close to regretting serving this Great Nation for 2 decades, defending YOUR RIGHT to be an idiot. However, I still shall, as I believe in FREEDOM. Try it sometime.

  6. “What comes to mind with the NRA part is the 40 million of your dollars they spent (wasted) trying to oppose the election of Obama.”

    Wasted? I say it was money well spent. Look, he may have still gotten elected anyway, but I think the message sent by the NRA’s members was heard loud and clear. Since the election Barack has not publically made any moves towards gun control initiatives. Quite the change in that regard from the candidate you thought you were electing, no?

    • You’re right about that Ruff. But Obama’s lack of anti-gun activity is the least of his sins. He lost me with the broken promise about Guantanamo, and the continuation of all the wars. Then, not that I needed any more convincing, this Patriot-Act-type legislation allowing “terrorists” to be locked up indefinitely without a trial, is too much. If you had any balls you’d move to Canada or Brazil.

      • Don’t forget extra-judicial killings of US citizens! I certainly don’t give a crap about Al-Walaki the anchor baby, but it seems like you might.

      • mikeb – If you, sir, had any balls, you’d be preparing to restore this nation to one of Rule by Law & Constitution, not diktat from this tinhorn, self-centered embarrassment in the Oval Office.

      • So isn’t the gun control another broken promise? Were we being paranoid for believing what he said during his campaign and his prior voting record? You’re right that he hasn’t made much of an overt move against the 2nd Amendment, but he still said what he said. You can’t can’t call us crazy for believing it, it’s not like it was imagined.

        (Note that I’m not counting the Fast and Furious scandal, which he may have had knowledge in but we don’t have proof of one way or another.)

  7. When debating anti-gun people on the net it only takes a few posts before one of them declares that we are “paid shills” for the NRA. I take delight in pointing out that their believe in freedom is so weak that they actually believe that others have to be paid for defending it. The concept that someone will take their own time and effort to defend our freedoms is beyond them.

    Mocking is not always fair play, but it does have its place in showing people the truth.

  8. “If you had any balls you’d move to Canada or Brazil.”

    No thanks. Through thick or thin, I’m staying with my country. It’s up to all of us Americans to make the country a better place through whichever means they can, no matter how small the contribution. What kind of coward would I be if I just ran off to live in some foreign country whenever the going got rough?


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