Reader Chris from Alaska pointed us to the local angle on the Mark Kelly anti-gun tour of pro-gun states and how an Alaskan gun club is coming under fire when it was disclosed that they hosted Kelly with his anti-gun media entourage.
Although, it turns out that hosted may not quite be accurate. It turns out that the club member who invited the gun control group to his range to use for their media tour lied to the staff and members of the range and told half-truths at best when challenged. Unfortunately for the club, there were reports that named the club and the perception that they invited an anti-gun group to use their ranges for their photo ops that hit gun communities.
It would be interesting to know if the PR firm hired to run this tour* by Giffords & Kelly actually asked the club member to purposefully misrepresent their names and purpose or if the member took such misrepresentations on himself. It’s not out of the question that the Kelly-Giffords group may be specifically asking local organizers to keep the mention of Mark Kelly’s full name and media attendance with the rest of the entourage out of such requests in an effort to keep their requests for range use secret. (Of course, even if they ask the local contacts not to mention the nature of the visit in terms of the message they’ll be pushing, they may not mean they actually expect them to misrepresent their party to the degree as may have happened in Alaska in a way that violates range rules.)
Grassroots North Carolina tried to find out more about the supposed shooting events and “roundtables” with gun owners that Kelly claimed to have scheduled in North Carolina after the press highlighted that the tour events were being kept secret, but it’s not clear they ever discovered what range they supposedly visited. In fact, keeping the media narrative focused on the fact that Kelly refuses to meet with actual local gun owners when he makes these stops proved fruitful in North Carolina. By making that the message, even sympathetic coverage for Giffords still had to highlight that their supposed roundtables were with handpicked volunteers already on their side and were closed off to members of the public and other gun owners. It takes the wind out of their sails when that becomes the story of their trips.
Back to the issue of gun clubs being used for these handpicked media photo ops. If a club or gun range doesn’t already have a policy in place to ban these kinds of dog and pony shows without prior approval of the board, then they need to get one fast. Now I realize that in Alaska, Mark Kelly’s local contact may have lied to the on-duty management in order to gain access to the club according to the online remarks. There’s not much you can do to actually stop that other than to have a strict guest policy that’s applied the same way regardless of who the guest is or what title they might hold. However, having a rule in place about dealing with such press events does mean you have grounds to kick that member out and cut off their access to the club.
I’ve mentioned before how we have these resources for fast grassroots organizing, and they don’t have “anti-gun ranges.” Because they are without such resources, these new anti-gun groups are trying to use our ranges and resources to give themselves false legitimacy for the media who don’t know that they are there without invitation or approval. Their experience in North Carolina now demonstrates that if the media are informed that they are only receiving their “invitations” to shoot by misrepresenting who they are or that not a single attendee to their roundtable isn’t someone handpicked because they already agree with the message, then they will be outed. The media may not turn hostile, but it will undermine their narrative that pretends gun owners love their policy proposals.
*A commenter on one of the local threads discussing the club’s actions who attended the “round table” said he was contacted by a PR firm arranging the events. He also verified that everyone is handpicked.