Grassroots education: Bloomberg's "Everytown" launched on Facebook - by pro-gun rights advocates
Last week, anti-gun rights billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced that he was rebranding his gun control lobby apparatus under a new moniker, "Everytown for Gun Safety." Announcing plans to deploy staff in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington, Bloomberg told the New York Times the goal of his group is to "make [state and local legislators] afraid of us."
While his millions afford him the finest public relations experts, and while he enjoys the support of the establishment media, the fact that Bloomberg's groups have always been a top-down, smoke-and-mirrors affair that has no real, mass grassroots membership. That fact was exposed last year when Bloomberg staged a gun control rally in Columbus, and no one showed up but the opposition. And it was exposed again this week when a pro-gun rights activist noticed that the people running Bloomberg's $50 million "Everytown" campaign had forgotten to secure a Facebook page - and created one himself, using it to show what REAL gun safety is. The page accumulated more than 20,000 fans in just a couple of days.
“I took the Bloomberg name because I wanted this page to remain open to debate, unlike his group at Moms Demand Action that block anyone with alternative views,” the page admin told BuzzFeed. “Gun owners are getting a bad rep nation wide from their anti gun propaganda. As to who I am, I am your average citizen that believes the Second Amendment ‘shall not be infringed.’”
As anti-gun extremists often do, Bloomberg employee Mark Glaze suggested to BuzzFeed that an armed confrontation could solve the problem:
“Maybe they’d like to duel for it,” said Mark Glaze, the executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety. “I hear every person on our staff of 85 is a better shot than Wayne LaPierre. Or maybe a bidding war!”
Glaze initially suggested that it would be a few weeks before he would ask Facebook to pull the page down - saying the move would come once they had acquired trademark protection - but it appears Bloomberg's laywers for the job done sooner than Glaze expected.
According to Examiner.com, the page was pulled by its creator on Saturday evening after he received a legal threat.
But Facebook did not pull the original pro-gun page, according to Eric Reed, one of those responsible for launching the pro-gun grassroots effort to grab the “Everytown” presence on the social media site. Late Saturday evening, Reed told Examiner via telephone that “The page was not yanked by Facebook, it was pulled on our end.”
Reed said he was still trying to get information on exactly what led to the decision to take down the page. A commercial pilot, he was in the air most of Saturday and was trying to catch-up on all of the details. However, he indicated that there had apparently been some kind of legal threat, but because of the late hour, he was having difficulty gathering information. The decision apparently only involved the main pro-gun “Everytown” page, not the scores of off-shoots.
The "off-shoots" Reed is referring to are state-level pages that have begun popping up all over the country (a search of "everytown for gun safety ohio" turns up at least six such groups). Again from Examiner.com:
“There are so many ‘Everytown’ pages that have already been created,” he said. “They’re going to have a time (getting them all).”
Reed gave the impression that this issue is not entirely settled. He told this column that the pro-gun “Everytown” Facebook page is “temporarily on hiatus.”
“They say their $50 million effort is grassroots,” he said. “They have no idea what grassroots is. They will never, ever stop the grassroots movement. Wherever Bloomberg is, whatever mission or task he is taking on, I will be there.”
“I smacked a hornet’s nest,” Reed acknowledged. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
"They have no idea what grassroots is." Indeed. That fact has long-been observed on this website. Back in 2005, I wrote about this very same issue with a state-level group called the "Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence." At the time, the OGACV's Toby Hoover was busy trying to downplay the large number of people who had obtained concealed handgun licenses in the first year of the new law, and claiming that anyone who did not get a license was therefore, like her, opposed to the law. The subject of this Ohio gun ban lobbyists' claims of an abstract, invisible "majority" received new focus at the NRA's 2005 Annual Meeting and Convention when, during a roundtable discussion about the media broadcast on NRANews.com, University of Toledo Professor and author Brian Patrick referred to gun ban extremist Toby Hoover's Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (OCAGV) as a "coalition of two".
Patrick observed: "Last Spring I read a news media piece in which Hoover criticized the Ohio CCW law on its first anniversary because only 45,000 or so people had obtained permits in the first year. This, said Hoover, indicated that the law was bad because such a small portion of the public was thereby represented. However even this 45,000 dwarfs OCAGV--which appears to have no tangible, mass membership at all--even though it claims to speak for millions."
I met with Patrick in preparation for an article on OCAGV's tax records, and asked him to elaborate on the "coalition of two". He told me that he met with the OCAGV's executive director, Toby Hoover, in her Toledo office while preparing for an upcoming book. He said: "When I asked about membership Toby Hoover answered the question by asking another question--how does one define membership? Well, apparently they do it by fiat--claiming to speak for an abstract public."
Professor Patrick then cited J.M. Sproule's Propaganda and Democracy. "Sproule has an interesting discussion of these abstract publics--made up by interpreting attitudinal survey data and constructing these interpretations as a "public" when in fact no such public may exist. My impression is that the coalition is made up of several religious/neighborhood organizations that are similar in make up--a small paid professional staff that claims to speak for an abstract, invisible public. It's a social work missionary model. Overall the coalition seems a top-down affair, functioning more or less in the model of missionary or social work, than any kind of mass membership grassroots citizens group."
"I don't know if OCAGV has only two members," Patrick told me, "but its primary, perhaps sole manifestation as an organization or coalition seems to be two professional staff members in the basement of a church in downtown Toledo: Toby Hoover, the executive director and a secretary/receptionist."
Much like the OCAGV, Michael Bloomberg's gun ban groups are nothing but smoke and mirrors. As Buckeye Firearms Association's Communications Director Dean Rieck observes, "they have lots of money and they're PR geniuses. But they have almost no support from REAL gun owners or from the general population. There is no grassroots behind them. Take away the money and the news releases and what's left? Nothing...
"On the other hand, Buckeye Firearms Association, the NRA, and the thousands of other gun rights groups across America represent REAL gun owners. The NRA has 5 million REAL members. Buckeye Firearms Association has 44,000 REAL supporters. The 80 million or so gun owners in the U.S. are REAL people. Take away our money and what few news releases the media is willing to publish and what's left? 80 million REAL people who value their rights and hold their political representatives accountable."
Yes, we're all that, and, it seems, a bunch of people with our own pro-gun "Everytown" Facebook pages!
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor.