Top Ten Threats to Gun Rights in 2015
After years of being treated like political outcasts, gun advocacy groups are now entrenched as powerful political insiders, putting gun-rights in Ohio, and in America, at a crossroads as we enter 2015. By earning a “seat at the table” through hard work, an unflinching willingness to see the truth win out, and dedication to the cause, pro-gun leaders have been able to pick off much of the low-hanging gun reform fruit.
That means each new pro-gun law enacted in Ohio is a new high water mark for gun rights, but there are still far too many places for improvement. For the first time in recent history, the lack of a relevant gun control group combined with a string of pro-gun laws passing in every legislative session means that the only meaningful threat to gun ownership comes from inside the pro-gun movement.
If we accept one or two meaningless political or electoral defeats, however, it will embolden anti-gun leaders who are looking for any little foothold that will make them relevant once again. It will also give anti-gun advocates a morale boost and give the misguided souls hope for the future.
That is a situation gun owners need to keep from happening at all costs.
So, this year, instead of looking at external threats to the right to keep and bear arms, the focus is falling squarely on gun owners, gun lobbying groups and pro-gun politicians. Some might consider this year’s list unfair to a wide-ranging number of gun owners.
The only appropriate answer to that is: too bad.
Unless we can look at ourselves with a harsh and unblinking focus we will never reach our goals. For some, this is uncomfortable, but those who truly understand what it takes to succeed will understand.
With that as a backdrop, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek in one or two instances, here are my Top Ten Threats to Gun Rights in 2015.
10. A Desperate Establishment Media: The establishment media is always a threat to gun ownership, but as the debate over guns in America continues to overwhelmingly favor permissive gun laws, a desperate leftist elite will surely use its place among media outlets in a frenzied attempt to even the score. That makes them of particular interest to gun owners over the next year and means we can no longer accept that most people ignore traditional news sources.
We need to look no further than the George Zimmerman case, the Michael Brown shooting and the Sandy Hook tragedy to see the impact that established media outlets have on public opinion to justify putting them on the list this year. Granted, they failed to rally support for more gun control in the wake of the most recent spree killings, but that only served to make them even more desperate. Add in the credibility they give to the likes of Al Sharpton and it is easy to see that they will try anything to change the current pro-gun political climate.
You can bet the leftist members of the establishment media aren’t happy with the continued thrashing they take at the hands of grassroots groups like Buckeye Firearms Association. Considering that the elitists believe the gun owner stereotype they’ve utilized to sell newspapers and drive up ratings over the years, it must gall them to be beaten by a group of paranoid, barely literate, narrow-minded nobodies.
A desperate and angry enemy is one that requires our full attention. Sure, it’s fun to look back on the long string of pro-gun victories, but we need to do so quickly, and then get back to work.
9. Ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Many consider Bloomberg’s bottomless bank account and political connections the biggest threat to gun rights in the next five to ten years. While that might ultimately prove to be true, his failures in Colorado and during the 2014 Congressional mid-term elections mean he can’t be placed any higher on this year’s list. By year’s end, there might be a different perspective based on Bloomberg’s actions over the next 12 months.
The best indicator of future success is previous performance. Based on that, Bloomberg is expected to fail.
However, you don’t become mayor of New York and rich beyond measure by continuing to make the same mistakes. Instead, we need to assume Bloomberg will learn from his embarrassing string of losses and change tactics.
Until he does, he will remain at the bottom of the threat list. But, when he does, that is likely to change in a hurry.
8. President Barack Obama/Vice-President Joe Biden: The president’s abysmal approval ratings as of December 2014 caused him to drop from number 3 on last year’s list to number 8 this year. The threat of a lame duck anti-gun president is hard to ignore. However, Barack Obama knows the actions he takes in the waning years of his presidency will have an effect on the Democrats’ electoral success moving forward. President Obama remains the most politically corrupt president in recent memory, and ignores presidential precedent, political agreements and even common decency in his quest to gain, and retain, ultimate power. A man with his penchant for political revenge, gamesmanship and willingness to push his belief system without regard to the needs or wants of the American people is always a threat to gun ownership.
Simply stated, President Barack Obama sees the presidency as a chance to inflict his vision of America on Americans – whether they like it or not.
7. Anti-gun Gun Owners: This threat is mentioned every year as one of the biggest dangers facing the private ownership of firearms. Yet, every year there is someone who stands out as a glaring example. Last year, we had the horribly misguided comments of Dick Metcalf, the former gun writer turned anti-gun mouthpiece. By trying to play the middle-ground on the gun issue, Mr. Metcalf only succeeded in alienating modern sporting rifle owners, and the growing number of self-defense-driven gun owners among us.
This year, the anti-gun gun owner contingent was led by a small but vocal group of Ohio concealed carry instructors. The problem started when the proposal to lower training hour requirements for getting an Ohio concealed carry license was introduced in the state legislature. When that happened, a small but vocal number of concealed carry instructors took a page from the anti-gun playbook by claiming blood will run in the streets if less training were mandated.
By putting their own financial well-being ahead of the rest of Ohio’s gun owners, the instructors in question went from gun advocates to anti-gun mouthpieces.
Adding to an already sad situation is the fact that lowering the hourly requirement will prove to be much ado about nothing – just like every other recent pro-gun reform. That is unless you believe that people from Indiana, Alaska, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Vermont, where there is almost no training requirement, are better able to handle carrying a gun than people in Ohio. To believe Ohioans need 12 hours of training when people in Vermont, Indiana and Pennsylvania need far less can only work logically if you also believe people in those states are smarter, calmer and more trustworthy than Ohioans.
There is also a distinct difference between believing in the benefits of training, and believing the state should mandate training before a fundamental right is exercised. Every member of the Buckeye Firearms Association leadership has not only taken the required training prior to obtaining a CHL, but has gone above and beyond the standard.
Responsible gun owners train, train a lot and make sure they are ready if the balloon goes up. That is the difference between a true concealed carry practitioner and a concealed carry poser. Posers argue about whether 9mm or 45ACP is a better choice for a carry gun, practitioners choose their caliber wisely and then practice because they know there is no replacement for shot placement.
(OK, practitioners get in caliber wars too; after all they are fun, but only after leaving the practice range.)
6. Establishment Pro-Gun Organizations: Now that many pro-gun advocacy groups, the Buckeye Firearms Association included, are on the “inside” politically, it becomes vitally important to remember that our role is getting better gun laws, not getting better photo-ops with the famous and powerful. Ironically, we don’t have to look far to see how being close to the powerful and famous can derail a political movement.
The minute Sarah Brady and her band of acolytes became political insiders, it also made them political compromisers. By dangling a “seat at the table” in front of her, the political leadership driven by President Bill Clinton turned the anti-gun group endorsement into another political commodity.
As soon as that happened, it turned a powerful, albeit misguided, lobby into a pawn – and we all know that the primary job of a pawn is to be sacrificed.
Over the years, gun advocacy groups managed to avoid being trapped by the same tactics because of perennial political outsider status. At times, even pro-gun stalwarts in politics refused to be seen with National Rifle Association leadership, or even holding a gun. As that changed, so too did the relationship between powerful gun groups and politicians.
Twenty years ago, the thought of the National Rifle Association endorsing a candidate with John McCain’s (R-AZ) anti-gun record was unthinkable. Yet, it happened in 2008.
It’s also important to understand that politicians don’t become true power players through stupidity. Instead, it takes a shrewd, adaptable and tactically adept mind to become Speaker of the Ohio House, Senate President or governor. People who can climb the often slime-covered political ladder to achieve such lofty heights aren’t used to being controlled, and will look for ways to break free. The anti-gun leadership and countless other once-vital political lobbies never learned that lesson.
Let’s hope the bulk of gun advocacy groups have, and let’s hope instead of being relegated to commodity status, they remain independent and free-
thinking, and zealously guard the right to keep and bear arms.
We also need to remember that in politics all success is fleeting.
5. Gun-Ignorant Masses: Most Americans get their education about guns from the most recent Hollywood shoot-em-up, where the good guy blows evil henchmen off their feet with one 9mm bullet. In the same movies, the good guy can also snatch the gun out of an attacker’s hand without getting shot, use a warning shot to convince a bad guy to stop fighting, and choose to shoot people in the leg to avoid taking the killing shot.
In real life, the felon who attacks you might absorb nine, ten or twenty 9mm bullets before there is a noticeable effect -- a situation foreign to the couch potato who learned about guns during the New Year’s Day Lethal Weapon marathon on cable television. That makes it easy for an anti-
gun prosecutor, the establishment media, or Al Sharpton and others of his misguided ilk, to convince people that a good shoot which required three or four shots to stop the threat was actually murder.
There are far too many law-abiding citizens in prison because someone preyed on gun-ignorant jurors and convinced them that the mere act of carrying a legally concealed handgun implies malicious intent. Honest people have also been convicted when prosecutors claimed the mere act of carrying a spare magazine showed murderous intent.
Sadly, as long as a significant percentage of Americans remain ignorant on the gun issue, law-abiding citizens will end up in prison because they were forced to use a gun in self-defense.
At some point in Ohio, a law-abiding citizen who chose not to carry because of the risk will end up as a victim. As long as that is possible, the gun-ignorant masses, and those who prey on them, will remain a mortal threat to gun rights.
4. Reactionary Gun Owner: When guns and ammo became absurdly expensive after Barack Obama’s reelection and the Sandy Hook tragedy, it hurt the rank and file gun owner. Far too many shooters were forced to drop out of their local shooting league, or stop plinking because they couldn’t afford to pay $45.00 for 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Sure, more guns were sold than at any other time in history, but how many new owners actually went out and shot their new gun? The answer is very few. That means many of the newly bought guns were stuck in a sock drawer and remain there, unused because of the high cost of ammunition.
Another way the reactionary gun owner hurts the gun movement is by overreacting to every crazy anti-gun story making the rounds on gun web forums, in email threads, and via word of mouth. Far too often, legitimate gun groups are forced to stop the insanity when some ridiculous story surfaces, or resurfaces via the Internet. People need to investigate claims that President Obama is going to use a mythical presidential power to inflict a mortal wound to gun-rights before accepting everything as fact.
The situation gets worse when less scrupulous, or irrelevant, gun groups feed the kitty. In a recent case, a gun group created a conflict by trying to kill a provision in an Ohio gun bill that they were apparently unaware had already been removed. They only succeeded in confusing pro-gun legislators who almost derailed a good gun bill based on the misunderstanding.
In other instances, less honest groups feed the reactionary gun owner to help raise funds when mainstream gun owners stop supporting them.
The truth remains that President Obama can’t use his executive power to ban all 9mm ammunition, or create a federal law that requires gun owners to list their firearms on personal income tax returns.
To be honest, the crazy thing some gun owners believe no longer borders on the insane, it is insane.
So, please make sure you get gun-related information from a reliable, reputable gun group - not your unmarried brother-in-law who sleeps in the hollow tree in his backyard that he lined with aluminum foil to keep the government from reading his mind, the guy down the street who insists someone implanted a computer chip is his brain while he was on a covert mission for the CIA, or the supposed Ex-Navy Seal with a booth at the local gun show who “knows a guy in the government” with a super-duper top secret clearance.
3. Trojan Horse Gun Groups: There is a distinction between the incompetent gun groups and those who are set-up by gun control advocates. Trojan Horse groups are designed to trick people by claiming to be pro-gun while actually being led, funded and supported by gun control advocates. They get away with their duplicity by using the establishment media to tout their pro-gun credentials. Over the years, several groups have come to the forefront at the state or national level and then faded away. One current group is the National Association for Gun Rights, and there are others.
These groups usually attack legitimate gun groups for being too extreme, or for pushing an unreasonable gun rights agenda. They also sow dissention between gun owners and the gun community by taking donations without trying to get results. When people feel like they are being conned, they are unlikely to donate money in the future.
Chad Baus with Buckeye Firearms Association is usually the first to expose the Trojan Horse groups, and over the years has become an expert on the subject. Despite Chad’s unwavering dedication, these groups get national attention before they are finally caught and exposed as frauds.
Once they get quoted as a pro-gun group attacking a permissive gun bill it’s impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube. That quote will live forever on the Internet and will be fodder for the establishment media to argue that reasonable gun groups disagree with the National Rifle Association and the Buckeye Firearms Association.
Oddly enough, gun advocates rarely, if ever, stoop to this level. It’s yet another example of the lengths our adversaries will go to destroy the private ownership of firearms.
In their twisted minds, the end justifies the means.
2. Bandwagon Politicians: The three prongs of the Ohio government are full of politicians who vote pro-gun because that is the direction today’s wind is blowing. If you want names, simply look at the National Rifle Association grading website. There, you can find far too many politicians who earned D, or even F grades during the 1990s and are now rated a C, or even B due to votes of more recent vintage.
Politicians of this ilk are a threat because when the political winds change, they will change with them. Granted, the pro-gun dominance among the electorate doesn’t seem to be about to fade anytime soon, but that is what Sarah Brady thought after the 1994 Clinton Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Just prior to the bill passing, she famously said “...as you know, our campaign to enact a national Gun Policy to combat gun violence doesn’t end with the Brady Bill – it just begins.”
In her mind, and the minds of the most prominent gun control leaders, the Clinton AWB was their first step in banning all private ownership of firearms.
Before we move on to the number one threat to gun-rights in 2015, it’s time for a quick current events quiz.
In the last year, what political group was directly responsible for more gun bans in 2014 than any other? Here’s a clue, the group succeeded in getting guns banned at the following locations:
Washington State Statehouse
1. Open Carry Extremists: Before we get into the reason why Open Carry Extremists are number one on this year’s list, it’s important for everyone to understand specifically who I am taking to task for doing irreparable damage to the right to bear arms.
I'm not talking about the open carry practitioner that goes about his, or her, day in a quiet businesslike manner. There are countless excellent pro-gun groups that advocate open carry through meaningful, aggressive and unyielding tactics without provoking law enforcement, or the business community, and I'm not at odds with them, either.
I am at odds with open carry gangs who antagonize law enforcement in a misguided attempt to create a confrontation. The same holds true for the open carry groups that purposefully try to create a scene at the local Target, or other store, without a political goal in mind.
A perfect example of this sad phenomenon took place recently during a statehouse rally in Washington State. Most of the open carry protesters at the event were respectfully exercising their First and Second Amendment rights. But, a few brazen and aggressive fools not only tried to provoke law enforcement into an unnecessary confrontation, but were also shockingly disrespectful to an elected official and his staff.
The truth is, they were closer to open carry terrorists than open carry advocates.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, it can be found here, (http://www.guns.com/2015/01/19/gun-rights-rally-at-washington-senate-gal...).
In the end, the few bad apples succeeded in getting open carry banned at the Washington State statehouse. Just as other open carry extremists had already succeeded in getting Target, Starbucks and several other large retailers to ban legally carried guns, or ask that people don’t brings guns into their stores.
Without any doubt, open carry thugs succeeded where anti-gun activists failed and were only successful in tarnishing the reputation of gun owners everywhere. Even being confronted with the consequence of their misguided actions wasn’t enough to teach open carry gangs a lesson. Instead, they continued their brazen and damaging crusade.
Unless the few open carry extremists - who are responsible for more gun bans than Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sarah Brady, or the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence - get themselves under control, they are likely to remain the number one threat to gun rights for the foreseeable future --- and that is sad.
Gerard Valentino is a former military intelligence analyst and is a co-founder of Buckeye Firearms Association.