Jobs are a Problem

SayUncle asks what could go wrong with a million gun owner march rally.  The main that will likely go wrong is you get, if you’re really lucky, a thousand or so to show up.  Even in this lousy economy, most gun owners have a job, and have families, which means they have better things to do than to attend protests.

PA gun rights groups organize a rally every spring in Harrisburg, and if it get enough people to fill the Capitol Rotunda, it’s a good turn out.  Now the rally would really be more aptly called a lobby day, where people come and lobby legislators in groups of concerned citizens.  So we’re talking something more than a protest really.

I am not very sanguine about the prospects of protests being an effective tool of pro-gun activism.  To be honest, I don’t even think it’s a remarkably effective tool for the left, even though they tend to generate better turnout and media attention since their causes tend to energize young people who have more free time and are willing to take greater risks.  But it’s because protests tend to bring out the worst in people, and the media pays the most attention to the worst protests have to offer, that I don’t think they are an effective tool for promoting gun rights, or really any cause.

Far better activism would include writing Members of Congress, meeting with your Congressman, writing letters to the editor of the local paper when they run anti-gun editorials or articles, volunteering for pro-gun politicians, and building relationships with local cubs, ranges and gun owners.  Now, if we could get a million people involved in doing that, we’d really have something.

24 thoughts on “Jobs are a Problem”

  1. The absolute PSH that would occur in D.C if a million gun owners descended on the National Mall would be worth the price of a plane ticket…

  2. If you can restate that with a bit more politeness, Tom, I’ll let the next comment stay. I explained what I thought effective activism was. I explained why I don’t think protests work well for us. Try explaining why that isn’t the case without yelling and nastiness.

  3. “What’s “sanguine” mean? ”
    “Sanguine. Hopeful. Plus, point of interest, it also means ‘bloody’. ”
    “Well, that pretty much covers all the options, don’t it?”

  4. I see what you’re saying, and I especially agree that turnout among employed, productive citizens is harder to get.

    The one thing that might redeem it is if participating got people fired up to do the other things you mention in the future. (Perhaps after a specific appeal to do so.) I know that in political fundraising, one tactic is to ask for a modest gift from new donors, say $20. Once people have given something, they feel invested, and they’re more likely to give again.

    I have to think there’s some benefit in getting people to do _something_, and then hitting them up for your preferred strategy or action later. That’s also one reason I’m skeptical of the “hold your fire” approach to political activism. Your political capitol argument regarding legislators is persuasive; the argument that doing something this week is going to sap the will of activists and keep them from doing something next week is less persuasive.

  5. I’m sorry, but I think we’ve tried writing to legislators and editors… so far to no avail. At some point the heat has to be turned up and I can’t see how more of the same-old same-old is going to accomplish that.

    My second wife was a pretty neat lady but she did tend to lose her cool once in awhile. The only time I ever struck her was in the bottom of a cave when she was screaming about not ever getting out again. I got her attention with that slap and – together – we got out safely.

    I’d like to get through the coming years safely too and if it takes a collective slap on the cheek of congress to get their attention… then so be it. Better that than dying in a hole.

  6. The one thing that might redeem it is if participating got people fired up to do the other things you mention in the future.

    It can have that effect for people attending. The downside risk, though, is if you tell the media your cause is going to bring a million people to the mall, and you only turn out 20,000. The Million Mom March largely failed in this way, but the media was happy to ignore they didn’t come anywhere close to the numbers they claimed. The other downside risk is that you’re going to attract certain kinds of people the media will love to talk to. Any protest is going to bring out the crazies (and no, I don’t necessarily mean threepers. I mean people who are really out there. Like objectivists (kidding)).

    the argument that doing something this week is going to sap the will of activists and keep them from doing something next week is less persuasive.

    I would agree that’s a weaker argument. Some people will always write when you ask them to. Others will only write when it’s something that effects them. Still others will do it every once in a while and feel they have already had their say, and may not again for some time.

    I’m not really all that full of ideas when it comes to how to make activists. I probably shouldn’t even make it sound like I think the folks organizing this event shouldn’t do it. But there will be the inevitable cries that everyone get on board, and the groups and activists who don’t will be branded as not caring, rather than not wanting to take the downside risk that the numbers way under deliver. You can bet that if NRA asked a 1/4 of its members to turn up on the Washington Mall, and only 20,000 did, the press, the Brady’s and the anti-gun politicians in Congress would be all over that claiming more evidence that the NRA’s clout is diminishing, and they are increasingly irrelevant.

  7. There would have to be a catalyst to inspire large enough numbers. We don’t have the kind of organization geared to pull off high turnout to that kind of thing without motivation. Or organization is good, but not of that kind of flavor.

  8. I’m sorry, but I think we’ve tried writing to legislators and editors… so far to no avail. At some point the heat has to be turned up and I can’t see how more of the same-old same-old is going to accomplish that.

    The problem is, not enough of us have tried. We need more people doing smart activism, and recruiting others to do it. What we have been doing was working for the last decade and a half, and all I’m really looking to do with Obama and this Congress is not to get run over. I’ll be happy to hold the line.

  9. I would love to say that something like this would work. All going well, it would, but “all going well” are three tricky words. In any case, there are two issues that must be addressed:

    1. Sebastian sort of made the point with his “young people” comment, the point being that the other side, in effect, can use rent-a-mobs to assemble their DeMillesque spectacles.

    2. Given the nature of the issue, the Provocateur Problem is not to be dismissed out of hand.

    This is not to say the idea is bad or shouldn’t be tried. I’ve said before that something like this could work, provided the two issues I’ve raised above can be addressed adequately. I’m not a schmott enough guy to figure it out on my own, but I would be happy — thrilled — to work with like-minded liberty-loving individuals to try to figure it out together.

  10. I’m skeptical about what the turnout would be as well.

    I mean, if I can’t get more than a handful to contact Dem Majority Leader Sweeney(NJ), and support him in his decision to sit on the *One Gun a Month* Bill, I don’t know.

    I think it would take quite a bit to actually get people together like this.

  11. PS–just to be sure we all understand one another, by “provocateur” I mean infiltrator. If I were on the other side, I would look at this and think to myself, “Instant AWB–just add incident.”

  12. I’ll be honest J.T., I’m not even certain the threat of a renewed assault weapons ban would turn out a million people to the mall. It’s take something really big to accomplish that, like a handgun ban. A million people is all the hunters in Pennsylvania. It would be 1/2 of 1/3 of all concealed carry holders in the US. It would be the entire population of the state of Montana. It’s a really astronomical number.

    And unfortunately, by D.C. standards, that’s about what you have to turn out to be considered a blockbuster event. Obama got about 1.8 million. Earth day in 1990 got a million and a half. Even the million man march fell short to 400,000, but that’s still nearly the population of Wyoming.

    A better number, and what would be considered a pretty successful protest, and decent turnout, would be 100,000. That would put us up there with some of the Iraq war protests DC experienced. The fact that this group is touting a million tells me they have no clue what they are doing.

  13. “You may make your case passionately, but civility is expected.”

    I expressed why I thought you were dead wrong, as usual. You found my opinion “unpleasant” and deleted it Brady style. There was indeed anger because you are simply ignoring one form of redress of grievances, dismissing it without a second thought and presenting pointless “alternatives” that will do nothing productive. There was more FRUSTRATION in it then anything.

    I didn’t attack YOU, I attacked your position, as always.

    To sum up what was censored:

    All the garbage you mention does nothing. paper readership down, horrible in the areas where new gun owners will come from. meeting and writing letters to congress clowns (oh, calling them clowns must have been what got me censored) is NOT visible and will NEVER encourage any more folks to get involved or to “come out of the closet” meeting with gun owners, same behavior as the other side as well, only talk to folks who share your opinion (insofar as guns in general, as your embracing of the do nothing NRA and frowning on something that COULD be a visible event if only prags wouldn’t take a steaming dump on it before hand and put their money where their mouths are)

    Perhaps this is what you really found offensive:

    Yes, with gun owners like you we would indeed be lucky to get 1000 people to show up.

    Explain to me how that is in any way “nastiness, vitriol, or excessively snippy snarkiness” You are dismissing an idea because you do not like it. You claim some omnipotent power to know “how many of us” have done something. Look at the comments and see the same money, job, productive members of society racist BS as always. LAZY APATHETIC GUN OWNERS! Is the reason prags hate 3pers because they know that some people WILL do what they say and they know that some people just leach off of what others will do? Do you question what you COULD do if it came down to it or if you could live with yourself afterwards? Honestly, why do you hate people with different opinions? I’m not questioning your manhood or anything besides asking the question. That is a hand to god honest question with no “Tam-ness” added.

    You’re throwing away a pistol during a gunfight because you don’t like the caliber. QUIT DOING THAT or you’re going to end up with the Holt bill or proving the 3per option to be the only feasible one dammit! WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT? Do you really think those who lean towards that side of the fence want that? Here’s an opportunity to DO SOMETHING VISIBLE and you shout it down.


    Look around and see what the hell is going on in this country right now and connect the dots to where all Obama’s crap is leading us. Instead of telling folks the glass is half empty tell them about a chance to get involved in something that has just as much chance as any of your “alternatives” to make a difference with these damn people.

    I ask again, why is it that “your side” is the ones to constantly throw ideas out and limit the peaceful options when you’re supposed to be the pragmatists, the ones who expect to be able to work within a rigged system that doesn’t give a damn what a few letters they never see say to prevent bloodshed and all the line drawing of folks who will not give up their guns and submit to a government that they have no say in?

    There are allegedly 80 million gun owners in this country. This is going to have a long notice. Schedule your vacation and take your family to DC, spend a day at a rally and a few days looking at the history of the nation.

    I’m glad I only skimmed the comments after seeing mine deleted, otherwise I’d be really angry. I’m not even going to bother wasting my pixels. Gun owners are too afraid to do anything visible

    “instant AWB, just add incident” Really? So in the months UNTIL THIS you’re saying they couldn’t manipulate an event at a school or some series of bleeding heart “children” like they did last time?

    If you’re going to delete this at least have the courtesy to address why you think you know what other people have done and how much. Why you dismiss another tool in a fight just because you think it can’t ever happen here after witnessing a 5-4 ruling in a court, confiscations in NO and folks being required to show proof of ownership in Kansas after a tornado has wiped out everything they owned and scattered guns across the countryside. Why gun owners can’t be bothered to DO anything even with advance notice. Why you try to shoot down options that could avoid waco type incidents and the 3per option that you despise. Why you put so much faith in the NRA to do your work as a citizen of standing up for your own rights, and in this case peaceable assembling.

    As someone said “I don’t like you because you’re going to get me killed!” My best friends are those I fought with for years, who I argue with and passionately disagree with on many issues. I’d probably get along with you fine in the offline world. I’ve really got no problem with you beyond your narrow views on what is and isn’t good and your outright dismissal of things like that, given your position that drawing a line is no good yet given chances for other options you simply seek the ones you’re comfortable with. The people who fought to guarantee us these rights knew they were signing their warrants and death sentences. Read how many of them lost EVERYTHING then think about how nowadays gun owners can’t even take a day off work to go show that they have rights and the founders meant what they said.

    Yes, this was probably a bit “jumpy” but I’m going on 23 hours without sleep, angry, and frustrated with the levels of “talk talk talk” from gun owners and apologists for the horrible involvement rate in political activism among them beyond giving a few bucks or voting for the lesser of two evils or making some phone calls. If we as a group can’t bother to do anything more then that maybe we DON’T deserve the right because we’re not capable of standing up and showing the responsibility that it comes with.

    It’s your house and you’re free to delete this and have some “reasoned discourse” with all those who agree with you, but don’t expect the cause to grow when you sit in a room talking to yourselves and excluding the opinions of others. I’ve saved a copy this time and will post it elsewhere if need be.

  14. I think part of the problem the rest of us have with Threepers is that they don’t understand that not everything can be solved through brute force. “Leave me alone or I’ll kill you” isn’t as effective among civilized people as one might think. To most civilized people, the natural response to that is “You’re dangerous, and we’re going to make sure you’re locked up or killed first.” This ends up in the other side lumping all gun owners together when it comes to whether they’re perceived as a danger to society.

    Those who want to ban guns aren’t zombies, aliens, or our sworn enemies; they’re other human beings, other Americans. They’re afraid, and given the misinformation most of them have, they have good reason to be. Until not too long ago I had never seen any real need for self-defense, and if you’d wanted to put forth a bill that would have prevented people from having semi-automatic weapons I probably wouldn’t really have cared that much.

    Threepers have come up with a grand mythology, jargon, and even photoshopped flag for themselves, but in the end they’re fighting (or rather, talking about fighting) a fantasy opponent. Watch various Threepers come in and call everyone else cowards from the safety of their cubicles or roadie gigs, then pontificate about the Battle of the Bulge or somesuch. They sure talk and act like they’d rather shoot people than talk sense into them, with their idea of talking sense being waving guns and threatening to be like IRA terrorists. Other gun owners can be excused for not wishing to be associated with these views.

    RKBA issues are on a winning streak lately. All sorts of pro-CC laws have been passed, the AWB wasn’t renewed, Heller, Park Carry, and various anti-RKBA bills are getting shot down left and right. That’s change you can believe in. “Pragmatism” works, and it’s not because politicians are afraid of some militia-types in the Upper Midwest starting a revolt.

  15. Once again you overlook the fact that 3pers ARE involved and do all of the prag activities. You assume they’re holed up in compounds and decommissioned missile silos filled with stockpiles of ammo and food.

    “photoshopped flags” GASP. That’s got to be the single most idiotic comment I’ve seen. Some people in the past went so far as to make flags too. They went on to give their lives and secure our freedoms.

    Yes antis are people, ignorant vocal active people and gun owners, prag, 3per, and fudd alike aren’t anywhere near as active or creative when it comes to countering them.

  16. I will address the first one. I won’t address the second one because I don’t have time to read it right now:


    Shouting. I don’t have a problem with it occasionally, but you make a habit of it.

    That’s the same kind of retarded thinking as comes out of the cesspool on the potomac.


    Check your wheelbarrow full of cash. Does it say NRA or JOYCE? I really have to wonder about you sometimes.

    Insult. Questioning my integrity. This is what got the comment deleted.

    The one thing you;re right about here is that to get 1000 lazy ass gun owners to turn out WOULD be a miracle when we have folks with your attitude.


    You asked me to spell it out for you, so there it is.

  17. I general, Tom, you’re pretty tweaked up to 11 most of the time. Turn it down to, say 7 or so, and I won’t have much of a problem.

  18. OK, I guess the joyce was a bit of a personal attack, but wasn’t entirely directed at you, just the position of dismissing things like this. It’s a little more fleshed out in the other.

    Jesus Christ is something people shout in desperation. Also, since I can’t add bold I capitalize. I understand that is net for screaming, but not always what I intend. It’s sometimes emphasis.

    Retarded comment, are you going to say that the “logic” of those in DC is not generally retarded?

    “your attitude” of “why try this, it’ll just make us look bad if this or that…” is part of the problem with gunnies. If you deny that I have no choice but to call you a liar.

    Yeah, I probably went up to an 8 or 9, but in no way was I at 11. I’ll try to keep it down a little and not post things that could be easily construed as personal attacks. If only to try to talk sense into you prags. ;)

  19. Ken beat me to it.

    This situation would be absoutely perfect, and probably more than a little unresistable, for anti-rights activists and organizations to create their own little “crisis” – and, as we all know, no crisis should ever go unexploited. All it would take would be the presence of a firearm, even just one, and the situation would go to gos-se in a heartbeat. Sure, there would be cameras and everything there – except every last channel of the mainstream media would be painting the situation as a group of extremists leading a charge on D.C. Oh, sure, the real story would come out on weblogs and the such, but the public opinion war would already be over, and we would have lost.

    Hell, I am not even sure I would trust my fellow gunnies not to bring a firearm to the shindig themselves, given some of their attitudes towards life.

    I do not know… This is one of those things that sounds absolutely perfect on first flush, but when you start actually sitting down and thinking about it, you start to realize all the different routes it could go wrong. Furthermore, you start to realize how it owuld be perceived by those people we are interested in convincing… Just think of the lawmakers on the Hill, with their “all gun-owners are nutcases” mentality, hearing that a crowd of a few thousand such folks are going to be protesting outside today. There is “scaring the white folks”, and then there is just stupid.

    Our campaign is one that is not going to be won by bullets, it is not going to be won by firearms, it is not going to be won by confrontation, and it is not going to be won by shock impact (and a lot of people would do well to finally grow up and realize that). This is a war of public opinion, and I can see very few end results of this kind of march where the public’s opinion of firearm owners would be, in any way, enhanced…. and I can see a whole frakking lot of results that would go straight to the hot place. The cost-benefit analysis fails in this case, and while I wish the organizers and attendees the best of luck, I (probably) will not count myself amongst their number.

  20. I trust my fellow gunnies right down the line. It’s the other side that would try to take advantage. Probably two is all it would take.

    That’s not a reason not to do it, by itself. What I am saying is be aware of the possibility, and know in advance how you’ll deal with it if it happens. Everything is risky; if this is worth doing, it’s worth planning for contingencies.

  21. I definitely don’t trust other gun owners completely; no more than I trust other Toyota owners completely or Christians completely. People will do dumb things, especially when they’re passionate about something. This isn’t like protesting against abortion or the war in Iraq; all it takes is for people to go in front of cameras and say “Yeah, I definitely saw folks sneaking around with guns they were trying to keep hidden.” All it takes is one negligent discharge by some guy who thinks DC is rougher than Mogadishu and can’t stand to be without his Sigma for the day (surrounded by thousands of other men and also the police), let alone an agent provacateur.

    For the moment, we’re stymied. DC is the symbolic place, but you also can’t really have guns there. Fix either condition and things become a lot easier. The DC laws aren’t going to be fixed enough, soon enough, so that leaves the place. Here are some suggestions of places where people could legally carry:

    Yorktown, VA: where we effectively threw off British colonialism
    New Orleans, LA: same as Yorktown, but later
    Blacksburg, VA: in recognition of the need for people to be able to defend themselves
    Shanksville, PA: where Flight 93 fought back
    Austin, TX: where people fired back at Charles Whitman
    Ogden, UT: birthplace of JMB

    What would have been very nice would have been to have so many people converge on Williamsburg, VA, as Pres. Obama vacations there this weekend.

  22. (Wolfwood said)”it’s not because politicians are afraid of some militia-types in the Upper Midwest starting a revolt.”

    I live in the Upper Midwest, ND, Every gun owner I have ever seen is a “milita type”, fudd gunner or not, because thats what the 2A says armed citizens are suppose to be. THE MILITA!
    I always have and always will debate respectfully, and realistically with gun haters,radio hosts and politicians. Until, God help us, it’s time to not be respectful anymore. If you wanna call me a militia type Woofwood go ahead, I’m damn proud to say I AM ONE.

    I think a march on DC is worth it. You never know till you try. I’m pretty sure I could get 4-5 people to go and I’m one man.

  23. Linoge said:
    “Our campaign is one that is not going to be won by bullets, it is not going to be won by firearms, it is not going to be won by confrontation, and it is not going to be won by shock impact…”

    Frankly, I hope you’re right. I’m old but I still have no particular desire to either get shot ot to shoot anyone else. I’d like nothing better than to see about half of the 20,000 or so gun laws rolled back peacefully but I also know that government never peacefully gives up power it has gained. The only way to take those powers back is to do just that — or at least make government believe you are ready, willing and able to do so.

    I have no idea how many people (besides myself) will show up for such a demonstration — but then neither does anybody else. All any of us has is semi-educated guesses based on what has happened before. And this has never happened before. We have never made a concerted effort to gather gunowners together in this fashion. What we are doing now is extrapolating from previous failed campaigns and predicting more failure. If this is how we do business we might as well turn ’em all in right now for smelting and avoid the last minute rush.

    Maybe we can’t get more than a couple of thousand people to turn out. Maybe the media will make us look bad. Maybe some infiltrator will flash an AK47 at a television camera. Maybe none of these things will happen and we’ll still lose ground with public opinion. Not trying though, is being ruled by fear.

    Whether the pragmatists like it or not, there are 3pers out there who will fight if attacked. They don’t really want to fight but they don’t want to be attacked either. For them — and everybody else — this just might be the next-to-last-chance. Let’s not blow it out of fear.

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