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What’s a Tennessee Gunnie to Do?

With this report from Uncle that several gubernatorial candidates on both sides of the aisle seem to be lining up against a major gun bill, what on earth can a gun owner do to make a difference and change this rhetoric?

There’s a problem of timing for the election.  Unlike New Jersey and Virginia which have elections this year, Tennessee gun owners are still a year and a half out from the next election.  It’s not like it’s time to start phone banking or doing precinct walks for candidates yet.  It’s hard to step up and give the manpower to sink or promote a campaign in response to these statements against concealed carry access.

The problem is that this early on, candidates have to be thinking about what the editorials will say about them if they come out against members of their own party or other political issues.  Voters aren’t paying that much attention, and even most activists haven’t quite tuned in yet.  They are fighting for donors, endorsements, and positive press to raise their name recognition.

But, this early in the game there are a few steps I would suggest:

  1. Let the candidates who are coming out against the right-to-carry improvements know that you are a gun owner who is upset by this and they have not only lost your vote, but you will volunteer for pro-gun campaigns.
  2. Write letters to the editor to call out these candidates for their stances.  Keep it polite, keep it short, and keep it on topic.  Take away the “benefit” of not causing a stir in the media and make one for them.  Remember that you’re writing for an audience that won’t likely know the issue, so emphasize that license holders go through multiple background checks and are the kinds of people who can be trusted to not cause problems.  Stick with a responsibility message to defeat their talking points.
  3. Find the candidate(s) who support the bill and throw a little money their way if you have it.  It doesn’t have to be a huge donation.  In fact, if you can’t give a big amount, then do a pledge of small amounts that will ultimately add up.  See if they do need help with sorting mailers or other low key outreach right now and volunteer.  If they do have projects that could use a little assistance, they will definitely remember you this early on, especially if you’re specific about why you are there to help.
  4. Most importantly, live up to anything you say.  Don’t tell a campaign you won’t support them and then send a check 6 months later because you forgot.  If you’re paying attention this early on, stay involved.

It’s really not a fun situation to be in.  It’s also not something most Tennessee gun owners expect.  Sure New Jersey gun owners are used to being election punching bags, but not most red state gun owners.  It’s a situation that’s going to evolve.

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