"I'd like to start a pro-gun organization like BFA in my state" - A How-To Guide
by Joe Eaton
"I would like to know how you started the association, because our state could use such an association."
"We need an organization such as the BFA for WA. can you give me any pointers on starting such an organization?"
"Do you know if there is a similar organization to BFA in Michigan?"
"This a great site is there something like this for Connecticut people?"
As a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association, I help field some of the questions that supporters send to us via the website. As you can imagine, there is a wide variety, but the four quoted above have all arrived in the past two weeks. Over the past ten years as a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association, I have sent many replies to this question, but never this many back to back, so something is certainly stirring up supporters across the nation. As I answered each email, I finally started to realize that there is no one answer to what makes BFA successful. The only common theme was that we have managed to find a group of passionate supporters who are stupid enough to put the cause before everything else!
But what if you are not able to find others like yourself in your state, what then?
Let's first look back at how Buckeye Firearms Association started and how we have grown.
Buckeye Firearms Association's roots go back to 2002, when two volunteers for a state organization focused on concealed carry, which operates as a non-profit - and thus by necessity a non-political - 501(c)3, saw the need for direct political action to help bring concealed carry to Ohio. Originally, the political action committee (PAC), operated with the 501(c)3 under a designation known in state law as a corporate-sponsored PAC. The PAC was formed with Jim Irvine as chairman, Chad Baus as vice chairman, and Mary Friscone as treasurer. About five other political junkies started volunteering with them. In 2005, the PAC shed their corporate sponsorship, changed the name and broadened the mission statement beyond CCW. This was the birth of Buckeye Firearms Association as it is today.
Since that time, we have grown to about 15 'Region Leaders' and about 30 'Minutemen' who make up our core team of recruiters and volunteers. This group of 50 or so volunteers donates tens of thousands of hours each year to gun rights. This massive effort has drawn in hundreds and hundreds of other volunteers, who are actually where our success comes from. They are the backbone of Buckeye Firearms Association who work gun shows, work campaigns, distribute literature, write letters to editors, meet with elected officials, etc.
Also since 2005, we have grown our email Newsletter list to over 34,000 subscribers, have grown the website to rank second only to the NRA among gun right groups in the United States, helped move the Ohio legislature from an adversary to an asset, started the non-profit 501(c)3 Buckeye Firearms Foundation, and participated in two U.S. Supreme Court cases and numerous state cases.
Given all off this, the one thing that we can find that helped make this happen was simply the people. It just so happened that the initial group of people were tireless workers who held an unshakeable passion for gun rights. This group has somehow stayed mainly intact and searched out others who share the passion. This has allowed us to continue to grow and expand all while staying 100% volunteer. This has been key since it means that every person involved continues to put the organization's goals before any personal gain. And true passion is contagious.
So this brings us back to the question, "What if you can't locate others who share your passion?"
Simple, keep at it yourself, don't wait on others to do it first.
1. Check out Buckeye Firearm Association's "Web Link" here: http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/Web-Links and see if we have any group listed in your state.
- If so find out what they are doing and what you can do to help.
- If they don't have something for you to do, read on!
- If you know of groups that are active that we don't have listed, let us know!
2. Volunteer to be the NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator in your area, and then work like a madman to support pro-gun candidates.
- If the EVC position is filled, give the poor quy/gal a hand.
- Find a candidate who truly supports the Second Amendment. Then make it your goal to work two hours per week and tell ten people per week why they should vote for them from now until election time.
3. Shame your shooting buddies into becoming members of NRA/SAF/BFA/etc.
- We still are a grassroots group that survives primarily on $5/month donations from hundreds of people.
- If a gun owner can't spare $5 a month to help, then as Lt. Col. Grossman says, tell them 'Baaaahh' and go on to the next one. They are sheep and not worth spinning your wheels on.
4. Find a 'Friends of the NRA', 'Pheasants Forever', 'United States Sportsmans Alliance' event, volunteer and work like a mad man to make it successful.
- Every event needs workers, they need donations, they need help!
5. Find out who your state Rep and Senator is and schedule at least a quarterly meeting with them.
- Let them know that the laws are effecting their voters.
- Become their go-to resource on gun issues.
- Provide them with facts to make them look good when they are blind sided by silly anti-gun claims or issues.
6. Be a good ambassador for shooters wherever you are.
- When you hear anti-gun nonsense being spread, politely offer up the facts either via direct conversation, radio call-ins or letters to the editor.
- Stay professional and know when to 'walk away' from a closed-minded adversary.
Lastly, prepare yourself to get all of your satisfaction, not from 'thank yous' or even from seeing progress, but from the simple fact that you know at the end of the day, you did all you possibly could to make your state a better place for our children.
Then steel yourself to get up tomorrow and do the same thing again.
Joe Eaton is the Buckeye Firearms Association Southwest Ohio Region Leader.