Today is the 7th Annual Rally held in Harrisburg. Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row I haven’t been there, and the past couple times before that turnout has been nothing to write home about. This year, is looks to be about 100 people. I’m probably going to get raked over the coals for this, but I question the value of continuing to do a rally like this on an annual basis if it can’t draw the kinds of numbers it needs to really make a big impression on politicians.
For example, yesterday there was a rally for property tax reform that looks to have drawn a similar sized crowd compared to some of our low years. How many do you have to draw before it’s just another day, with another crowd at the capitol, with another interest they are lobbying for? I don’t think it’s in our interests to be, well, just another interest. We’re the gun lobby, and when we turn out, it ought to be with enough numbers put the fear of god into politicians. Is the rally turning out the numbers needed to accomplish that? I have seem some pretty good turnout in Harrisburg on rally day, but it’s pretty variable from year to year, from what I’ve been able to tell from my own experience.
But that’s not to say I think nothing works with 2A Rally Day. I believe breaking up into groups and having everyone go visit their legislators and key committee people who are sitting on whatever bill we want that year, is quite valuable. I also believe there needs to be more activities that benefit gun owners, to inform them, and teach them how to be better activists for the issue. It would be beneficial to them to hear how the political process works, so they can understand how they fit into that picture. I believe that would be more beneficial than listening to political speeches for several hours. In short, I think the rally needs to be more about the gun owners than the politicians, and in my several years of attending the rally, I’ve felt that the reverse was more true.
Should it be annual? Or should it only happen when we have a bill we need moved? I’m not sure I have an opinion on this. But I think it’s a tough sell to get gun owners to take a day off work every year, drive to Harrisburg at the crack of dawn to be there in time, just to listen to political speeches for several hours. That’s a lot to ask of people every year.
That said, I don’t particularly think I have all the answers on this topic, so if anyone has suggestions or criticism, I’m all ears in the comments. I’m particularly interested in hearing from Illinoisans who are involved with planning iGOLD, which has never, in any of the pictures I’ve seen, had problems with low turnout.