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More on Earlier Rumors

So it’s the end of the week, and the rumor that was spreading about an amendment being attached to the FAA Authorization Bill now being debated in the Senate has yet to materialize. Gun Owners of America is has now issued an alert on this rumor, but says “GOA’s sources inside the Senate indicate that gun amendments to the FAA bill are unlikely at this point.”

The problem goading people to act on rumors is that you can create a “the boy who cried wolf” problem among our base. Most gun owners do not have a remarkably high sense of dedication to the cause. If you can get them to contact a lawmaker once a year, that would be their contribution. Even that small contribution is more than 90% of gun owners are willing to do. It’s with an activist base of a few million people that we drive this movement, and that activist base can get worn out. The question is, do you wear them out on real threats, or do you wear them out on rumor and innuendo? When I say groups like NAGR and GOA hurt the movement when they do this, this is why.

Now, in addition to that, there have been a lot of accusations flying around the blogosphere I’d also like to address. Howard Nemerov has clearly has enough of groups who build themselves up by tearing other groups on the same side of the issue down. He mentions NAGR has no PAC to speak of. Up to the 2010 cycle, this would appear to have been true, however if you check the FEC themselves, they do have a very small PAC, which donated $1000 each to Sharron Angle, Paul Broun, Ken Buck, Cory Gardner, and Rand Paul. Their PAC has yet to show up on Center for Responsive Politics radar, which is why it doesn’t show up on OpenSecrets.org.

Truth About Guns seems to have had some correspondence with NAGR, where Dudley Brown told him that Durbin was the source of the threat to add anti-gun amendments to the FAA bill. As TTAG noted, “Huh. Yesterday, Brown told us Senator Reid was the man behind the plan.” So the story keeps changing. Naturally since nothing has yet happened, NAGR is suggesting that is because “Whenever you shine lights on rats, they scurry away…”

You see, this is a no lose situation for them. If an amendment indeed happens, they can take credit for alerting people before anyone else. If it doesn’t happen, they can take credit for that too, because their alerts made the rats scurry away. There’s nothing to lose from their point of view, but from our point of view, the razors edge of our grassroots political power gets just a little more dull.

But apparently Brown doesn’t like being called into question, and followed up to TTAG with a ranting e-mail, saying, among other things, they’d never employ a “Gucci-loafered K Street lobbyist,” which makes you wonder how they’d expect to know what’s going on in the respective legislative bodies without having people on the ground, actively talking to staffers and lawmakers. I know NAGR’s strategy focuses heavily on grassroots, at least I think, their statement of strategy is an article written by Michael Rothfeld, which contains a lot of truth, but it’s an article, not a strategy. I’ll write later about why NAGR’s approach to this issue is fundamentally flawed.

14 Responses to “More on Earlier Rumors”

  1. Jacob says:

    I have little doubt that the antis in the House & Senate have been contemplating ways of trying to sneak gun control into the legislative agenda. The question is, have any of those efforts advanced to the point where it is necessary to start sending out alerts? I don’t believe so.

  2. Bitter says:

    There’s certainly not a lick of evidence for it, Jacob. As I’ve said on the other posts, I have no doubt they would stick it on something if they could, but there’s no evidence that it was ever this bill. The fact that the source of the rumor changes their story, they’ve refused all opportunities to come forward with their supposed information, and even the other rock-throwing groups are saying they’ve never heard anything about it tells me that this was absolutely not a time to send out alerts.

  3. Jacob says:

    I’m not referring to the FAA bill or McCarthy’s mag ban specifically, but in general I believe antis in Congress have been searching for ways to put something on the table.

  4. Mike From Philly says:

    A local gun group in my state hired a gucci shoed lobbyist firm and it was worth every dollar. The inside information and direction was invaluable. We knew things before anyone else did and we could adjust our strategy to get the most from our one shot. Advancing gun rights is taking tiny little bites at the apple and hoping not to bite off so much that we are forced to return the bites we took.

    I’ll bet that the Kenyan doesn’t want to see a gun bill on his desk. He’ll do his dirty work through the bureaucracy, like he is doing with the EPA, HHS, TSA, etc. The bills in congress are meant to make George Soros feel good but not meant to see a vote.

  5. Phil D. says:

    Dismiss NAGR’s strategies at your peril.

    While you are probably correct in your analysis of the “FAA amendment” story, there is an additional purpose for creating these kinds of hysterias, beyond mere fund raising. Getting thousands of people to respond to their alerts — which they do — by contacting their legislators, even or especially about a nonsense story the legislators know isn’t true, advertises to the legislators their power to guide opinions at the drop of a rumor. That is a guerrilla tactic that accomplishes more than any lobbyist can, since only the ability to sway the voting public is respected in elected circles. Credibility as we think of it has little to do with anything.

    The above is not a defense of NAGR, just a warning that as these under-the-radar political networks proliferate, you are going to have to think outside the NRA’s familiar box.

    • Bitter says:

      I’ll admit, my experience working with Congressional offices is limited to the requisite internship and via outside groups that worked closely with members. However, I can assure you that people who called up in arms over legislative action that was not happening were not taken seriously. If you do it very many times, you’ll probably be flagged as a crazy and they won’t listen to you when it matters. Believe me, if you cry wolf enough times, both the politicians and the voters who actually show up to the polls with their little orange cards (or other voter guides) will start to ignore you. That’s not a winning strategy with an unfriendly Administration & the media working overtime to boost the efforts of the gun controllers left in Congress.

  6. Sebastian says:

    But what happens when you send people on a wild goose chase a half dozen times, and then they don’t bother to call when the real threat comes up because they figured they’ve already made their opinion known?

    Lawmakers also tend to ignore constituents who contact them repeatedly with half-baked rumors. Maybe that’s not right, but that’s just a fact.

    All this does is waste people’s energy and blow credibility.

  7. Jacob says:

    If there was more creditability to this rumor I could understand Phil’s argument, but this looks more like pro-gun PSH and acting upon that is not helpful.

  8. After all of the crap alerts that I received the last Congress about H.R.45, I take all of these things with a large amount of salt.

  9. Kathy says:

    I’ve hit the point that I mostly ignore the NRA-action alerts as well. It’s a lot of “okay, whatever” when I see stuff about the PA Legislation is going to include some amendment that will be awful. Of course I later get the e-mail that it was defeated or never materialized.

    The more hype included in the e-mail, the more likely I am to ignore it. PSH is PSH regardless of which side is doing it.

  10. Sebastian says:

    NRA is generally pretty careful about alerting on rumor. But I would also point out that Kathy is probably more dedicated than 90% of NRA members for even reading the alerts.

  11. Phil D. says:

    Sebastian, Bitter:

    We are still not quite on the same wavelength here.

    These BS alerts have two primary purposes: To raise money, of course, and to serve as contact and email list gathering tools. The people doing this know what works. They know what brings in the bucks, and they know what gets people to sign petitions and pre-written letters to legislators. If I may guess, they are not really reaching out to the kind of people who hang out here. If the numbers didn’t support what they were doing, they wouldn’t be expanding how much they are doing it, which they are. They frankly don’t care whether some percentage of their contacts get sick of it and stop responding, as long as they see their net numbers increasing.

    And it is not just them. Several days ago identical or nearly identical messages signed by Rand Paul went out from at least three different sources, of which NAGR was only one. Everybody “on the right” isn’t utilizing the same tactics and the same resources, because it isn’t working for them.

    Not intending to be catty, but what they are doing is achieving their ends much more effectively than your reasoned chat blog is achieving yours. Arguably even the NRA is starting to emulate them at some levels.

    I’m only saying, don’t dismiss them, just because you don’t agree with them, or their tactics don’t appeal to you. Like it ot not, you’re not the market.

  12. svi says:

    this reminds me of an excellent quote from the wire:

    “A guy says if you pay him, he can make it rain. You pay him. If and when it rains, he takes the credit. If and when it doesn’t, he comes up with reasons for you to pay more. “

  13. countertop says:

    Just for the record, I don’t own anything by Gucci, though I do drink a fair bit (and on my expense account too).

    But in all seriousness, the idea that Durbin – a shrewed Illinois Politician who will do whatever it takes to keep Obama (and therefore himself) in power – would be the one floating this amendment is ludicrous in the extreme and all you need to know about the reliability of this outfits intelligence or political know how.

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