"Student-led" anti-gun march is just another Bloomberg astroturf show
Gun rights advocates have long-maintained that there is a vast difference between groups such as the National Rifle Association or Buckeye Firearms Association, made up of millions of individual paid members, and groups which espouse a gun control point of view and claim to represent a majority of the country, but which have very few, if any, actual paid members.
In 2005, I was priviledged to sit down with University of Toledo Professor and author Brian Anse Patrick to discuss this abstract, invisible "majority" anti-Second Amendment groups claim to represent.
Patrick, who I am sad to report passed away in December of 2016, had also recently met with the OCAGV's executive director, Toby Hoover, in her Toledo office while preparing for an upcoming book.
"When I asked about membership," Patrick said, "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.
"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."
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."
I was reminded of this conversation as I read news of a "student-led" plan to march on Washington D.C. to demand gun control. The anti-gun news media are obviously awash with excitement over the prospect of this spectacle, primarily because of how many advertisements for Tide Pods and Viagra they can sell during the broadcast of the event, but also because it fits their anti-gun, blame-the-NRA narrative.
A very slick-looking, clearly professional website called #MarchForOurLives cropped up almost immediately after the mass murder at a high school in Parkland, FL.
The domain name is listed as private, but as BFA Executive Director Dean Rieck observed to me, "I don't know who's behind this. It sure isn't high school kids." Dean went on to express his suspicions that the group is actually yet another Michael Bloomberg astroturf group - not a real grassroots affair, but yet another of J.M. Sproule's propped up "publics." And, lo and behold, thanks to a little slip by the BBC, that is exactly what this is:
[Students] have announced the March for Our Lives to take place on 24 March, in conjunction with the Everytown for Gun Safety, calling for the prioritisation of children's lives in the gun control debate.
Once again we see billionaire Michael Bloomberg performing as the Great Oz behind the curtain.
And there is no doubt students will participate in the charade. After all, what high school student wouldn't want a few days off school, or a free trip to the state or national capital? Indeed, the Associated Press is reporting that 400 students will be bussed to Tallahassee next week to demand various gun control measures. There is, of course, no mention of whose busses are being used or who is paying for fuel and drivers.
Sen. Bill Galvano, a Republican and the incoming Florida senate president, said the state Senate was preparing a package that would include raising the age to purchase any firearm to 21, creating a waiting period for purchasing any type of firearm, banning bump stocks that can allow semi-automatic guns to spray bullets quickly and creating gun-violence restraining orders.
The Senate is also considering boosting spending on mental health programs for schools and giving law-enforcement greater power to involuntarily hold someone considered a danger to themselves.
Democrats believe raising the age limit and creating a waiting period to buy rifles isn’t enough.
“That’s unacceptable. That’s a joke,” said Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer of Broward County. “I don’t see that as a restriction. It never should have been that an 18-year-old could buy an assault weapon. No Floridians should be able to buy an assault weapon.”
These students are being used - used by Michael Bloomberg and used by anti-Second Amendment politicians - to promote a legislative agenda that they know would not have stopped the Parkland, FL school killer, and will not stop the next one. But finding solutions that might actually work isn't what the wizards behind the curtain are after.
"It's really simple, says Rieck. "I can sum up the gun control movement in one word: ICKY.
"The left thinks guns are icky. They don't like them. They don't like us. And they want to scrub away the icky the way they'd wipe up grease on the stove top. They don't care about safety, health, enforcing laws, or anything else of relevance. Remember, the gun control groups driving this recent March for your Lives nonsense are the SAME people who work on every other left wing cause. The same people march. The same people tweet. And the liberal media pushes their liberal message because they think guns are icky too. There's no such thing as a gun control constituency. It's all smoke and mirrors, driven top-down by Bloomberg, Soros, and Everytown.
"Those calling for gun control have little interest in taking real steps to promote public safety and well-being," Rieck observes. "Instead, they use gun control as a political hammer to bash Republicans, bash Conservatives, and bash the NRA and organizations like ours. It's a disengenous tactic to do fundraising. But they are doing nothing at all to address real-world problems.
"We stopped falling for this misleading tactic long ago. We're addressing these problems and putting our money where our mouth is. What are gun control activists doing?
"We provide training to deter or stop mass murderers in schools. Do they? We work with the Ohio Department of Mental Health to promote suicide awareness and prevention. Do they? We support efforts to teach gun safety to kids and adults. Do they? We support the hiring of more police, strictly enforcing current laws, and keeping violent criminal locked up. Do they?
"Those of us fighting for gun rights have all the same advantages we've always had. Real people. Lots of people. Cultural traditions. Patience. And to top it all off, we have practical, proven solutions. Those who want to do something that will actually help reduce the bloodshed should be listening to us."
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.