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Currently Browsing: 2014 Election

Washington Ballot Initiative Fight Phone Banks

The Brady Campaign has started a system of organizing phone banks from across the country to get people out to vote in the Washington ballot initiative fight.

BradyPhoneBank

This is the kind of election work that so very few of our people are willing to do. It is unfortunate because, as annoying as those phone calls can be, the personal calls are among the best way to encourage someone to get out to vote and to find out if someone already has voted or plans to vote.*

This is the period before an election where the grassroots becomes vital. If you’re a Washington gun owner and you want to stand any chance of beating the cash Bloomberg, Gates, and Ballmer are throwing obscene amounts of money at this gun control initiative, you have to be working hard to inspire other gun owners to show up and vote your way.

In 1976, Massachusetts gun owners defeated a ballot initiative through tough grassroots work. Gun owners bothered to show up (about 18,000 of them) to county-wide meetings. Of those, about 2,000 became active volunteers. They spent Election Day standing outside of polls with literature and signs. They spoke out in their communities. These last few days are the days to pull votes away with a campaign to inform the people who only pay attention to the ballot in the last couple of weeks.

I know when I posted about this type of grassroots work before, people complained that they weren’t involved because they didn’t see anything personally. Well, go look for it. NRA’s involvement (and I know there’s more on the ground, too) has been highlighted on a Facebook page with local events and they put 2 full-time staffers on the ground who have been listed on their elections-related page for months. This is on top of the volunteer network that has already been in place there. The resources are there, now it’s time for local gun owners to use them if they want to stand any chance at all.

*Here’s a tip: Let a live caller know that you’ve a) already made up your mind for issues or a candidate, or b) already voted (if early voting is allowed), and you’ll end up dropped from most future call lists for that election. Phone calls are pretty much only get out the vote or know who plans to get out and vote activities. Letting either candidate know you’ve made up your mind or already cast a ballot means they don’t want to waste time on you anymore.

Attacking I-594: WA State’s Phony “Background Check” Initiative

There’s a long way to go, but I-594, the Washington State initiative than would ban private transfers, even handing a gun to someone else on a private range, for instance, to teach them to shoot, is losing public support. These next few weeks will be critical for reaching low information voters. Without reaching those people, we don’t stand of a chance of winning. Both sides will be vying for their votes. Hopefully this ad will help:

I used to hate class warfare until certain classes started to think they were entitled to rule. I think the jab at Seattle billionaires who are backing this measure will resonate.

Boosting Pro-2A Candidates without Mentioning Guns

This weekend, I was tied up helping out a solidly pro-gun candidate here in Pennsylvania. He happens to be an area state representative, and he knows both Sebastian and I are vocal advocates of the Second Amendment. As a Republican with a female challenger and the whole “War on Women” theme that’s used against all GOPers nationally, I lined him up as a speaker at my local women’s group meeting.

He earned several votes there according to what women told me later. He also connected with several women who are active in other groups and want to talk more about the topics he handles. He inspired women who don’t live in his district to want to help him out so he stays in office. He left a mark with a large group of women who vote, who participate in civic life in many areas of the community, and who will help spread the word to other voters about what a great guy he is to have in the office.

Yet, not once did he utter anything about his campaign. Not once did he say anything about guns. Not once did he even get into any form of politics. He earned those votes and positive associations just because he has other areas of expertise in his work with the community that were the highlights of his talk.

So, this is just a handy reminder that sometimes a candidate doesn’t have to walk around screaming “shall not be infringed” at every event. The lawmaker knows who lined up the invitation for him, and he knows the issues I care about that make me want to get his name out there in front of voters. If he had mentioned guns, I would have been mortified because it would have been so out of place in the context and wouldn’t have been the best way for him to take advantage of the type of audience he had in front of him. Not every voter needs to hear the same message that you do, and this was a great chance for me to offer up a resource for a different kind of message to different types of voters.

It’s also a reminder that even if you’re not the kind to go knock on doors and make phone calls, there are other ways you can boost a candidate’s name recognition. Are you a member of any kind of community group that has a need for speakers? Do you go to church and have groups there that do any kind of community service that could use a boost?

Look up the kinds of committees your lawmakers serve on or get a list of the types of community groups a candidate has served with to get an idea of their “expertise” topics that aren’t just guns. If you can’t find a common thread, then think any group you’re part of that might warrant some kind of proclamation that the lawmaker can secure and read/publicize that announcement. See how you can help them out in these more creative ways.

Pennsylvania Preemption & Pigeons

I like alliteration, and it seems that the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee might, too. Word has been spreading that the Committee might actually meet to move a pro-gun bill today. Of course, it comes with a word of warning that they might try to move the pigeon shooting ban out, too.

The Senate GOP has been the blockade to pretty much everything in Pennsylvania the last few years. On the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Stewart Greenleaf, has an ever worsening NRA grade as he constantly blocks pro-gun bills with opening doors to poison pill amendments. If you believe in free market wine, you can thank Chuck McIlhinney for blocking privatization.

I’ll be honest, even with an election year, I didn’t think that preemption had any chance to move at all in the Senate given how much they have gotten in the way of other reforms on our issue and others in the last couple of years. This is great news, and I’ll be calling my non-Judiciary Committee senator to let him know that if he wants my help this year, there better be a vote. I know my senator needs visible support from women based on the ads he’s running. I’m going to let him know that I’m happy to help, but only if there’s a vote and he votes for stronger preemption. Play the cards you’ve got – and helping a campaign is something everyone can do.

Tracking the Judicial Nominees

John Richardson has a great post outlining his research on a North Carolina judicial candidate whose name sounded a little familiar. It turns out that it’s because of his anti-gun statements in legal proceedings during his previous jobs.

Being an informed voter is vital to protecting your rights. For a quick guide, NRA has already released at least some of their grades for this year.

In Pennsylvania, we’re still waiting on some votes to take place on preemption (though it did just pass the House for the last time today, now it goes to the Senate), so we only have Congressional grades at this point.

Gun Control Off the Voter Radar

In this profile of planned gun control group election spending, there’s a key nugget of information quite relevant for the gun control crowd:

The subject barely registers in polling that shows voters far more focused on the economy and terrorism. This week’s Associated Press-GfK poll showed less than 1 percent of likely voters named guns as the nation’s top issue — a view that many House and Senate contests reflect.

It’s not completely surprising given headlines that make it appear like the new normal includes workplace beheadings and organ-liquifying diseases around the country.

That said, that also means our people also aren’t that engaged on the political front, or they are more motivated by other issues than guns. If something else is pissing them off to get engaged for our candidates, that’s still great. Though, if that description fits you, make sure campaigns and politicians know that you’re also motivated by gun rights. Telling a campaign coordinator that you’re motivated by Second Amendment issues goes much father than telling a pollster.

More Female-Oriented Political Advertising

Speaking of reaching out to more women, this is one of the first ads I’ve seen from NRA that really tries to hit at female voters.

It’s message is much closer to that of other female-centered general political advertising. It’s personal and has a specific story, which is a refreshing change from many of the ads running from the NRA commentators which are general “the world sucks and the sky is falling” kind of themes.

The fact is that advertising like this is much easier to identify with, even if someone has never been in that situation. A similar humanizing ad from Sen. Mitch McConnell is getting attention specifically because of how much it makes him seem like a real human instead of just some robot in Washington.

Just like a candidate isn’t likely to jump all over a sexual assault victim, they aren’t likely going to try and attack this woman who obviously believes that McConnell was key to her daughter’s return. These are ads that make lower information voters feel good and make them think, “Yeah, I can identify with that person if I was ever in that situation. If I can identify with them, then maybe I should consider the candidate they are backing.”

The only concern I have about NRA’s ad is that it may be assuming too much in that lower information voters have any idea who Bloomberg is backing. He’s a great guy to demonize because few people like wealthy billionaires who haven’t lived their lives telling them what to do, but that doesn’t mean they know which candidates he’s backing or exactly how he’s involved in their local races. It would be most effective if the ad was shared by local folks along with a message of which area candidates are anti-Bloomberg. Maybe that’s what we’ll see happen. With about an hour on Facebook, it’s already nearing 700 shares.

Pennsylvania Pre-Emption Became a Gun Control Battle

There were dueling amendments proposed in the Pennsylvania House this week, and yesterday afternoon, the votes came down.

Gun owners should definitely say a word of thanks to the state representatives who voted to support pre-emption reforms and thanks to those who voted against the Bloomberg-backed effort to add more restrictions (and expenses) to long gun sales. In fact, an election year is a great time to remind our lawmakers that we’re watching their votes. Even better, if they voted with us on the bills, track down their campaign and get a yard sign or volunteer to lend a hand. That’s a huge thank you that will be remembered.

NRA is asking folks to pester their senators about getting this bill moving in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Polling & Results

With Washington ready for a ballot initiative fight this November and the accompanying debate over who is and isn’t showing up, I thought it would be important to look at a couple of historical votes relevant to the subject of ballot initiatives.

One is recent history. Very recent. As in, yesterday. There were were many polls showing that the Yes and No votes on Scottish Independence were in a dead heat, and even some showing that Yes was taking the lead in the days prior to the vote. The real result was a 10 point vote against independence with massive turnout.

Another, more relevant example, is from Massachusetts in 1976. I’ve posted about how important it is for gun owners to read about and learn from this example before. It shows why we keep fighting, even in sometimes clearly uphill fights. From Dave Kopel’s article on the ballot initiative fight:

Early polling suggested that a handgun ban would pass handily. Further, in the 1974 election, voters in several state legislative districts had overwhelmingly supported measures instructing their state legislators to vote for strict anti-gun legislation. …

The final poll, a few days before, had showed Question 5 with a 10-point lead. Everyone anticipated a long night waiting for the election results. Everyone was wrong.

Handgun confiscation was crushed by a vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. Of the approximately 500 towns in Massachusetts, only about a dozen (including Cambridge, Brookline, Newton and Amherst) voted for the ban. Even Boston rejected the ban by a wide margin.

There are notable differences in that it was certainly a far more extreme policy than Washington. However, it still shows that what people feel they “should” tell a pollster may not match how they vote in a closed voting booth. That’s the kind of tendency that Washington activists need to appeal to there.

Now, NRA cannot, even if they empty their entire campaign war chest into Washington State and completely ignore the rest of the country, outspend Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They can’t. Just accept it right now that you cannot look at this situation strictly through the lens of campaign finance reports. I’m not in Washington, but I do see some evidence of NRA work. There’s a Facebook page they’ve created that partially documents some of their work, and I can also say that from the moment I met our new EVC coordinator back in March, she’s been aware of this and trying to work with local activists to make sure they have what they need and help them out. Even in our Friends of NRA program that isn’t political, we saw record turnout for people showing up to participate, even though they couldn’t quite open their wallets as much as last year. Fights like this aren’t accurately portrayed in financial reports.

These issues are complex, and there’s a chance that we may lose. However, if gun owners study their history on ballot initiatives, they’ll know these things are won with volunteers on the ground and that sometimes polls on policy efforts to support more gun control are very, very wrong when you actually stick a ballot with that issue in front of someone’s face.

Republicans Pushing Gun Issues

It looks like the Republican Governors Association thinks that pushing gun control is going to be a worthwhile attack on John Hickenlooper out in Colorado.

There’s quite a bit of fair criticism that it appears as though Republicans often tend to only turn to our issue when they can attack Democrats for it rather than doing very much in the way of positive work to advance the cause. I suspect the truth in that statement, like any issue dealing with politics, varies wildly depending on your state and region. However, I can at least say this about our GOP governor in Pennsylvania – he’s the reason that controversial gun control is not an issue in this year’s state elections, and I think that’s under appreciated by many gun owners.

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