Too Slick By Half

The (anti-gun) cult of personality known as Giffords has produced a Concealed Carry Reciprocity Toolkit for all their uninformed followers. It provides talking points, phone scripts, email templates, pre-written tweets, ready-to-use graphics, and loaded (pun intended) town hall questions.

Here are some of their talking points:

TALKING POINTS

  • This bill would make it legal for dangerous and untrained people to carry loaded, hidden guns in more public places. If this bill passes, people who are prohibited from getting a concealed carry permit in a state with strong gun laws will be allowed to apply for a permit in a state with weaker laws. This includes convicted stalkers, domestic abusers, people convicted of violent crimes, and people with no training or experience firing a gun.

  • This bill fails to create a national standard for who should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon and undermines states rights by forcing states with strong concealed carry laws to honor permits from states with weak or non-existent concealed carry laws. Right now, states have the right to choose which states’ concealed carry permits they recognize, which is important because the requirement to carry hidden, loaded guns in public vary drastically from state to state. If this bill passes, that will no longer be the case.
  • Concealed carry reciprocity will make it nearly impossible for law enforcement officers to quickly and easily verify that people carrying a hidden, loaded weapon are doing so legally. Nearly every major law enforcement association OPPOSES this bill because of its disastrous consequences for public safety.
  • Concealed carry reciprocity will threaten the safety of victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking by enabling domestic violence offenders to follow their victims across state lines with loaded, concealed firearms. Preliminary data from the National Domestic Violence Hotline shows that 23% of victims reported that their abuser crossed state lines in an attempt to further assault their victims.
  • Weakening gun laws will increase violent crime in our communities. Recent research found that violent crime increased in states that loosened concealed carry laws, with 10% more murders and up to 14% more violent crime.

You can examine the entire document here.

What I think this illustrates is just how much of a top-down, Astro-turf organization that the group formerly known as Americans for Responsible Solutions really is. This was obviously created for them by public relations and media professionals. It assumes that the Know Nothings who feel that “something has to be done” are too uninformed to write their own letters or say something more than “I’m against this” when calling Congressional offices.

I find it highly ironic that a group so closely associated with the Democrats would go full “states’ rights” in their opposition to carry reciprocity. While it is now the rallying cry of the progressives on this issue, it was the rallying cry for racist Democrats in the 1950s and 60s in their opposition to integration and civil rights.

One Of The Pro-Gun Extremists Behind The Recall? Not Quite

Given that the gun prohibitionists don’t know astroturf from the real grassroots, it is not surprising that the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is proclaiming Dudley Brown as “one of the pro-gun extremists behind the recall of CO State Senate President John Morse.” The Dudley Brown in question is the head of the National Association for Gun Rights and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

One of the men behind the recall of Morse and Giron? Not quite.

From the Denver Post in April when talk of a recall first surfaced:

Dudley Brown, director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, thinks the time and money would be better spent taking out Democrats in swing districts in the 2014 election.

From the Colorado politics website, Colorado Peak Politics, which posted this yesterday:

Neither the NRA nor Rocky Mountain Gun Owners did diddly squat to get the recalls on the ballot. These recalls, and most especially the Giron effort, were grassroots at their most raw.

 From the Denver Post’s The Spot blog which said this of Brown yesterday:

In April, as two recall efforts were already underway and there was talk of recalling Gov. John Hickenlooper and other Democrats, Brown said he wasn’t so sure recalling the politicians was the best strategy. He told The Denver Post then he thought the money would be better spent taking out Democrats in swing districts in the 2014 election.

From The Gazette of Colorado Springs in a feature on the grassroots organizers behind the recalls:

The four men behind the Colorado State Senate recalls on Friday laughed sardonically at the suggestion that outside interests – namely the GOP and NRA – are driving their campaigns to unseat four Democratic lawmakers.

“I think some people clamored for some help at the beginning,” said Victor Head, who led the successful campaign to force a recall election of Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo. “They said ‘where’s the heavy hitters, where is the big interest in this, this has national implications’ and they never showed up.”

 Have Dudley Brown and NAGR finally stepped up for the recall fight? Yes, they have as of late yesterday when they began running a 30 second spot seen here in the Colorado Springs TV market.

I’m glad to see Dudley Brown finally step up to the plate. However, to call him one of the people behind the recall is to totally diminish the hard work done on the ground by the actual grassroots activists like Victor Head of Pueblo, Tim Knight of Durango, Anthony Garcia of Brighton and Grand Junction attorney Erik Groves who organized the Basic Freedom Defense Fund.

Astroturf Organizations And The Real Thing

There are organizations that really are grassroots based and then there are those that could most charitably be called astroturf organizations. Nowhere is this more evident than in gun rights.

Let’s compare the various gun prohibitionist organizations with the 800-pound “gorilla” aka the National Rifle Association. To do this, I suggest using as a proxy for grassroots support the number of “likes” an organization has on Facebook. With 845 million members worldwide, Facebook provides an easy way to signal your support of an organization through its “like” mechanism.

Starting with the Violence Policy Center, we find that they have 290 likes. With just a fraction more at 296, comes the Legal Community Against Violence. Then there is that new group who tried to organize a boycott of Starbucks Coffee called the National Gun Victims Action Council. I guess with only 304 likes, it is no wonder their boycott fizzled.

What about everyone’s favorite grassroots group – the Coalition Against Gun Violence.? Surely they have a lot more and they do. That is, if you count 4,244 as a lot. To put this into perspective, the Complementary Spouse’s nephew who is a pro gamer has over 4,900 friends on Facebook. Maybe CSGV’s numbers aren’t all that hot after all.

How about the Brady Campaign? I mean they must have a lot as they are the leading gun prohibitionist organization out there as well as having merged the Million Moms March into their organization. They must have hundreds of thousands of likes. Unfortunately for them, their numbers come in at only 15,766 likes. You have to wonder what happened to all those million moms.

So that’s it for the gun prohibitionists.

And that 800-pound gorilla of gun rights – the National Rifle Association? How does 1,402,274 sound? It sounds like real grassroots to me.

Numbers don’t lie. The NRA really is a grassroots organization and the gun prohibitionists are merely astroturf.

(These numbers are as of 10pm EDT, Monday March 12th)

UPDATE: As SayUncle noted, Kevin is encouraging people to “like” the Second Amendment Foundation as well. SAF is behind the Bradys by about 5,000 likes. It would be nice to see them overtake the Bradys in short order. After all, they continually beat them in court.

Astroturfing In Syracuse?

A letter appeared in the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard’s Opinion Blog Reader’s Page today concerning Operation Fast and Furious. The letter was signed by a “J. Wagner” of Solvay, New York which is a suburb of Syracuse. The letter accused the Republicans of being hypocrites and said Obama inherited Operation Fast and Furious from George W. Bush.

To the Editor:

The Grand Old Party should change its name to the Grand Old Party of Hypocrisy, and I was a Republican.

The Grand Old Party’s attack on Operation Fast and Furious shows their hypocrisy. It was started by George W. Bush and his attorney general as Operation Rolling Thunder. Every Republican on the hill supported it. They don’t want the hard-core supporters to know they started it. The Republicans and their attorney general are responsible for Fast and Furious; Obama inherited it, just like the war, the bad economy and the cost of the two wars they didn’t carry on the books.

I was a registered Republican for 40 years; no more. I’m changing my registration to Independent.

Operation Rolling Thunder? Even Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the Minority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee never found an “Operation Rolling Thunder” in their attempt to blame gunwalking on the Bush Administration. The only Operation Rolling Thunder than I am familiar with is the bombing campaign over North Vietnam during the 1960s. A Internet search finds the local law enforcement agencies in Syracuse did have a program called Rolling Thunder that was aimed at area criminals with open warrants for their arrest.

As to whether “J. Wagner” is really a Republican, I don’t know. However, he or she does have a number of letters to the editor over the past year that were scathing in their condemnation of Republicans. For example in a letter from June 2011, he or she says “I’m sick of the Republicans in Congress lying about the president’s stimulus plan.” In another letter from August 2011, he or she says “The GOP wants to destroy our democracy and replace it with a country run by oligarchs, like the Koch brothers.” Finally, in a letter from March 2011, he or she writes “If you voted Republican, you have no business complaining about gas prices. You got what you voted for.”

I’m sorry but these are not the statements one would make if he or she were really a “registered Republican for 40 years” as J. Wagner claims. It makes you wonder if the Carrier Dome is missing some of its Astroturf.

Astroturfing

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is making a big deal out of a letter to The Oregonian purported to be from “a former Army officer, gunsmith, member of the NRA and a competitive marksman”. Their tweet on this – sent both last week and today – says “A gunsmith takes on the extreme, militia-based ideology of the NRA in a memorable piece.”

The only problem with this “memorable piece” is that it does not read like anything a modern-day gunsmith might write. It refers to “extended clips” as one example. Excuse me but I don’t think a gunsmith would call a magazine an “extended clip”.

I have searched all gunsmiths in the Portland area that hold an FFL and I don’t find any “Charles Ford”. I have also Googled Mr. Ford and again, I don’t find any gunsmith in Portland by the name of “Charles Ford”. Finally, I asked the members of the Oregon Hometown Forum on ar15.com if anyone had ever heard of a gunsmith in the Portland area by this name. No luck there either.

I believe a Charles Ford might exist but I doubt he is a real gunsmith. Real gunsmiths know the difference between a magazine and a clip. Moreover, real gunsmiths and actual NRA members don’t usually go spouting off about a “1,000 armed hate groups” – a number more usually associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Here is the letter. Go to the link above to read the comments. They don’t think much of Mr. Ford either.

Regarding Mayor Adams’ proposals for gun control, I must add my perspective. As a former Army officer, gunsmith, member of the NRA and a competitive marksman, I see no reason why citizens, other than law enforcement, should have free access to armor-piercing rounds, military or automatic weapons, extended clips or undocumented purchases at gun shows.

Is this about hunting rights and self-protection or homegrown militias? There are currently more than 1,000 armed hate groups with their own agendas in the United States, all claiming the Constitution for their protection.

The creators of this magnificent document that protects us all never envisioned the effects of slavery, homegrown terrorists or crazies with a checkbook. So much of the rhetoric from the National Rifle Association sounds like “keep your hand off my junk,” testosterone-fueled hysteria, as if they’re about to be neutered by some tree-huggers.

The NRA has put its position forward that it is the last bastion of protection for America, as if an army that defeated the U.S. military would wither under fire from the unlicensed Uzis flooding our neighborhoods and taking the lives of thousands of young Americans. This might have made sense back in Colonial or Old West days, but now it’s just an anachronistic leftover, like chamber pots and the horseshoe smith on the corner.

When the U.S. faced the most egregious assault on our constitutional rights in its modern history, the NRA sat silently while George W. Bush emasculated the rights of us all. The NRA offers only the empty promise of protection and irrational justification for rendering us the most lethal country on Earth. It’s time to put reason back in the saddle.

CHARLES FORD
Southeast Portland

UPDATE: Sebastian at Snow Flakes in Hell has checked the list of all FFL’s in the state of Oregon and there is no one by the name of Ford listed. 

And according to BATFE, a person must be licensed if one holds him or herself out to be a gunsmith:

Q: Is a license needed to engage in the business of engraving, customizing, refinishing or repairing firearms?
Yes. A person conducting such activities as a business is considered to be a gunsmith within the definition of a dealer.

[27 CFR 478.11]

I wonder if Mr. Smith is one of those “unlicensed dealers” that gun control advocates love to talk about.