Schrödinger’s NRA

Normally I would call this post “Tweet of the Day”. However, I found the title in Rob Romano’s tweet too good not to use.

Rob is the creator of the invaluable Gun Case Tracker which follows virtually every 2A related case at the Federal and state level. He is also the Community Communications Director for the Firearms Policy Coalition.

For those of us in the gun rights community, the acronym NRA means the National Rifle Association. For anti-gun politicians and the media, it is shorthand for both the National Rifle Association and every other gun rights group. Given their top-down approach, it is hard for them to conceive that the largest organization doesn’t control everything. It is also hard for them to conceive that the grassroots can actually make their voice heard without a lot of prodding from the folks in Fairfax.

Here are the pair of great tweets from Rob:

An Offer We Can’t Refuse? Not Quite.

New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) thinks she has an offer that gun owners can’t refuse. I think she has been watching too many re-runs of The Sopranos.

In an exclusive interview with MSNBC (which should tell you something right there), Weinberg said she will introduce legislation to repeal New Jersey’s so-called “smart gun” law if the National Rifle Association will agree to not stand in the way of the technology.

Weinberg said that if opposition to the New Jersey law is stopping smart guns from being sold, she will seek to have it changed – if the NRA agrees to stop standing in the way of smart gun technology.

“If, in fact, the NRA will make a public commitment to not stand in the way of the manufacture, distribution or sale of any gun that is limited by technology to the use of only its owner,” Weinberg said, “then I will ask the New Jersey legislature to amend the law.”

Weinberg said she was taking the position in an attempt to meet smart gun opponents “right on their own ground,” since “whatever goalposts they set for you, they move them.”

“I have never been involved in an issue that results in the kind of vitriolic pushback that I get both personally and professionally when I’m involved in something as simple as gun safety,” she added.

Weinberg makes the same mistake that many in the gun prohibitionist community makes. She assumes that the NRA is a monolithic organization that merely needs to snap its fingers for gun right supporters to fall into line. That may be the case with the astroturf organizations that support gun control but it doesn’t work in a movement where you have genuine grassroots. The NRA is led as much by the grassroots as the grassroots is led by the NRA. In other words, they both exert influence.

As to Weinberg’s comments about the pushback she gets on “something as simple as gun safety”, it is because it isn’t about gun safety. It is about control and interfering with an enumerated Constitutional right. If it was really about safety, then the first group to have so-called smart guns would be cops as so many of them have been shot with their own firearms. That said, the New Jersey law specifically exempts law enforcement and the military. Their new handguns are not required to be “personalized handguns” as they are called in the bill.

So Loretta, thanks for the offer but no thanks. It is an offer that we can refuse.

Five More Groups Join The Firearms Policy Coalition

The Firearms Policy Coalition is a joint effort by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Second Amendment Foundation, CalGuns Foundation, and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees. It is intended to be an agile, effective, and scalable vehicle for advocacy, education, and grassroots action to advance Second Amendment civil rights. From my perspective, I see the FPC as using the CalGuns model of agility and guerrilla activism and bringing it to the national scene.

They announced yesterday that five more groups have joined their effort. They are Florida Carry, Illinois Carry, Commonwealth Second Amendment, Hawaii Defense Foundation, and the Lone Star Shooting Association.

BELLEVUE, WA (January 25, 2013) – As the debate over new gun control laws continues to take top billing in state and national news, organizations representing gun owners and Second Amendment rights in five U.S. states have recently joined Firearms Policy Coalition, noted managing director Brandon Combs.

New FPC members include Commonwealth Second Amendment (of Massachusetts), Florida Carry, IllinoisCarry, Hawaii Defense Foundation, and Lone Star Shooting Association (of Texas).

“In the midst of one proposed gun ban after another, the addition of these outstanding organizations to our Coalition means that those working hard to secure our Second Amendment rights are coming together to tell President Obama and our state legislatures that enough is enough,” remarked CCRKBA founder Alan Gottlieb. “The millions of law-abiding American gun owners have had it with being scapegoated for the crimes of the evil and insane.”

“There’s never been a more critical time for all of us fighting for the advancement of Second Amendment rights to work together,” observed Brent Carlton, president of Comm2A. “Our litigation efforts are critically important, but it’s equally important that gun owners be informed and take action every day to oppose those laws which infringe on their rights.” Continued Carlton, “FPC provides an opportunity for Massachusetts gun owners to have an impactful and far-reaching effect, both in terms of their own state’s laws as well as proud Americans who value their federal Constitutional rights.”

“This partnership brings Florida Carry to the forefront of the national public policy debate on private firearms ownership,” said Sean Caranna, Executive Director of Florida Carry, Inc. “As Florida’s largest and most active Second Amendment rights organization, we’re proud to be a part of this coalition and through it extend our grassroots efforts to combat gun control laws in Florida and everywhere.”

IllinoisCarry spokesperson Valinda Rowe added, “IllinoisCarry is pleased to join efforts with the Firearm Policy Coalition. Not only must we actively work toward beating back irrational gun control laws in our home state of Illinois but we must also work toward protecting and preserving our rights on a national level. This would be a daunting task if not for a nationwide coalition of Second Amendment groups like the FPC. We thank the FPC for creating this opportunity to work together, coast to coast across the nation. Together, we can stand up to those who would strip us of our Constitutional rights and insure the Second Amendment remains strong for many generations to come.”

“Over the past two decades, many states have used common sense and protected the civil liberties of their residents, such as through permit-less and accessible shall-issue firearm carry laws,” said Chris Baker, president of Hawaii Defense Foundation. “However, some states just can’t seem to grasp the plain meaning of the Constitution. To those states, we say this: we will fight hard together, we will fight smart together, and we will win together. That is exactly what we and the Firearms Policy Coalition will do.”

“While Texas residents may not face the same gun law challenges as those in Massachusetts, California, or Illinois, all Texans are Americans first and know that gun control laws anywhere are an affront to liberty everywhere,” commented Gary Burris, president of Lone Star Shooting Association. “We’re proud to join with FPC and work cooperatively to secure our fundamental rights so that law-abiding gun owners can exercise their rights across our great state and country, in Texas and in Toledo.”

“Firearms Policy Coalition has reached millions of Americans since launching in December and we’re looking forward to reaching millions more,” said FPC’s Combs. “The overwhelmingly positive reaction to our message of civil rights and the facts about gun control really drives home how much Americans value their freedom. These new FPC member organizations are key to ensuring that the Second Amendment means what it says.”

“While some power-hungry politicians want nothing more than to undermine the Second Amendment and important legal decisions like Heller and McDonald, we’re confident that the Constitution provides the best policy: the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not – and must not – be infringed.”

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.