Activating the Second Amendment Grassroots Movement
by Joel Friedman
I, like most of you, have been watching and reading about the events of our country over the last several years and again, like most of you, I have been thinking about what it all means. I have read some really fantastic articles and posts and have thought about them as they relate to our firearms rights, the elections, the Supreme Court nominations and the next 20 years.
I am reminded of a story I heard a few years ago. It was a story someone related to me about the old "Rosie O'Donnell Show" in which she attacked Tom Selleck like he was the Antichrist because of his firearm rights stance, even though he only appeared on her show to promote his then-new movie, "The Love Letter."
While I am told she apologized to him later, the apology means nothing. What does matter is that she actually lost control. This is a professional television personality who could not control her mouth and made herself look like a mentally deranged person over the issue of firearms. While this was an easy example, we are now facing the hate and stonewalling from the administration via "Fast and Furious." We are being given a glimpse into the future if things don't change.
I am reminded of something that a dear friend said and wrote about a very long time ago: "winning the hearts and minds of the uncommitted." My friend asked (in my opinion) the single most important question concerning winning: "Who have you talked to and tried to convince that gun control is wrong?"
We activists are always talking about "action items": Things we need to do and things we need to get others to do. With the elections quickly approaching, it is time we start preparing ourselves. If we are to keep the right we all think is the most important, then we are going to have to go out and fight for our right or lose it. This will be without a doubt the single most important election of our time and we must win.
The same friend also said that "the gun rights movement" is really a war of words. There are two ways that words are used: They can be written (such as this article) or they can be spoken. Like it or not, most of us are not speaking enough. I don't mean to each other; I mean going out among the general population at gatherings, clubs, etc., and getting those who are not committed to realize the importance of this election and our firearm rights.
While I know this is not a new idea, I know that many of you who read this post will think that although it is a good idea, it is not you. My response is: it needs to become you. We need to get out there and explain to people that this election is about our cause. To carry this message, our cause needs evangelists. Even if you think you can't do this, you had better take a moment and have a real heart-to-heart talk with the person in the mirror because if it is not you, then who is it? If it is not now, then when will it be? Or will there be a next time?
The NRA has a spokesman program. While you may not think it is the greatest, I can assure you it is head and shoulders above anything else out there at this time. Don't think about it; just phone 703-267-1000 and add your name. Don't want to do this in conjunction with the NRA, or want to do more, then do it as an individual and/or as a group of individuals. Get together with others and have practice sessions where you can improve your skills. Will it be perfect? No! Will there be room for improvement? Definitely!
Would you like to have professional help to learn how to do this effectively? Absolutely! Well, sadly, you are on your own. I am no expert, but what I have learned is that you only get better with practice. Remember, you are trying to win the hearts and minds of people who know very little about firearms rights and do not realize how the up and coming elections will affect those rights, as well as many other rights, for the next 20 years. The next president will choose between three and four Supreme Court justices. You need to convince the people you're going to be talking with to also get involved. We need to be using words like "safety," "responsibility" and "freedom" and not scare people with words like, "from my cold dead hands" no matter how strongly any of us may feel.
This is going to have to be a grassroots program. None of the organizations are able to spend the time and money necessary to whip a bunch of activists into a lean, mean, missionary machine. They can help, but it's up to each of us to get out and do this.
Stop worrying about should you hide, should you do this, could you do that. Go to the mirror and tell the person you see to do this and start doing it now. This is the only way we can all make a difference over the long haul.
Your choice: Get with the program or watch your rights disappear within your lifetime.
Joel Friedman is an NRA Board of Directors member up for re-election and has fought hard to stop further erosion of Californians' gun rights.