National Gun Appreciation Day

SAF is promoting a National Gun Appreciation Day on January 19. Like NRA’s School Shield Program, this is something that is helping drive the narrative. I’ve seen several media outlets covering this. From that standpoint, I think this is started out well. But much like NRA’s pitch on School Shield, I have some concerns, or really, two concerns.

The first concern is that this seems to trying to recreate the same kind of buzz that happened with the Chick-fil-a appreciation that happened last year. I think there are some distinctions here worth considering. The first is that Chick-fil-a appreciation was effectively an organic phenomena. It started with a Facebook statement from Mike Huckabee, and went viral from there. The day after the media story hit about the Cathy family views, cars were lined up at the drive-thru of every Chick-fil-a in the country. That could happen easily because Chick-fil-a is a mass market product that people are familiar with, and a lot of people tend to go to somewhat regularly. It’s fairly easy to suggest “Let’s go grab some lunch at Chick-fil-a,” if you’re a conservative minded person and want to throw some support. Our issue is a bit different, in that we’re not a mass market product, given that the vast majority of gun owners buy a few guns in a lifetime and aren’t frequent range goers. That said, there is an impressive array of center-right groups behind the effort, so this has some potential to broaden our support, but it also raises the stakes. But I’m very wary of top down efforts to affect a mass demonstration. The right does much better with organic efforts. The gun show lines snaking around the corner are an organic phenomena. The shelves stripped bare at gun shops across the country are an organic phenomena. When top down approaches are used, there’s always a risk of the event flopping, which the media will happily report. That’s going to leave the groups who got behind it diminished, and leave gun owners diminished heading into the fight of our lives. Some will probably be calling NRA wanting to know why they aren’t on this effort, but you probably have your answer in what I’m writing here. You can use a top-down approach for mass demonstration, but there are risks to doing it in a very public way. When the left does it, and they do it effectively, the organizing tends to happen out of the public view. You generally don’t notice until you have, like NRA did the Monday after Newtown, a hundred or so people standing outside your office waving Creedo signs in your face.

The second concern, and perhaps the greater concern reflects something I heard last night on Cam & Company. In his weekly roundtable with Mike McCarville. Cam was getting feedback from Mike about what gun show attendees were thinking and doing, in terms of whether they were writing their lawmakers and making their voice heard. The unfortunate response was that many of them felt very strongly that by going to the gun show, or by buying guns and some ammunition, they were making a statement. Folks, if this belief becomes widespread, we’re going to lose. Communicating with lawmakers is crucial at a time like this. Last night I got a call from NRA’s lobbyist in Illinois, and he mentioned that everyone’s phone calls, faxes, and e-mails were absolutely crucial to helping defeat those bills (for now). If we can’t repeat that play everywhere else in the country we are screwed. More importantly, if Obama turns his machine against us, and most of our people are feeling like panic buying equals doing something, we’re not going to know what hit us. You’ll feel the same way you felt when you went to bed on election night or woke up the next day and wondered how this could happen. A lot of people who participate in something like this are going to feel like they did something, and if this event scores big time positive media, they will have. If it doesn’t, we may send off a lot satiated people, who feel good that they did something, who in fact, did not. Something right now is communicating with lawmakers. It’s what we just saw in Illinois. It’s what the other side is desperately trying to encourage their people to do, because they know that’s what works.

So am I saying don’t participate? No. I’m not saying that at all. The stakes are very high for an event like this to fail. My purpose is to try to get people to understand how I think about activism, and make a case for my concerns. If you can clear off your schedule on Saturday the 19th, you should. I will be donning my Second Amendment t-shirt and trying to find people in lines waiting to get in ranges and shops. I’m going to try to help people contact their lawmakers, and to convince them of the necessity of doing so. I would encourage everyone else who can make the time to do the same. I would like this event to be a success, because if it is, not only will there be a media payoff, but it’ll help get gun owners in one place so I can try out the plan I’m developing to help our people more easily communicate with lawmakers in my local district.

37 thoughts on “National Gun Appreciation Day”

  1. While it’s true that guns aren’t a mass market item like chicken sandwiches, it’s also true that some of us were planning on buying a new one some time in the immediate future and will gladly put it off another week and a half if it helps make a statement. My cynical side is just worried that retailers will circle 1/19 on the calendar as the day they think they can jack up prices.

    1. I will be participating in the ” National Gun Appreciation Day ”
      by buying an assualt rifle if I can find one for sale at my local gun store……I don’t even want one but I wish to exercise my right to keep and bear arms as a lawful citizen . Having served my country in the U.S.M.C. I am ashamed that a country founded on freedom and one of them being the right to keep and bear arms that the U.S. Gov’t
      would even considering taking away that right or infringe upon it .
      Banning any type of weapon will only do one thing…..make it almost impossible for a lawful citizen to get one and a new criminal enterprise . And when it comes down to it if you really want something you will be able to get it….lawfully or unlawfully .
      As a gun owner I would prefer lawfully…….

  2. My first thought was, “What is the purpose of waving your American flag inside a largely stripped of ammo & firearms gun shop?” My second, slightly more relevant to this post thought, was that if those gun shops aren’t set up to follow these steps (or something else with the same result in letters/phone calls) that day, then there’s really no point in going to wave tiny American flags inside the gun shop beyond beating your own chest to feel tough in a fight that you’re not even engaged in.

    I’m not trying to be too critical of it or dismissing the idea outright. I just worry that there’s not really a point to doing any of it if there’s not a documented result at the end of the day of more people actually engaging in the legislative fight rather than just a bunch of people standing around a gun shop and looking bored – unless, of course, they are also chowing down on some Chick-fil-a. It’s also worth noting, that unlike gun shops that simply can’t get more product on the shelves, Chick-fil-a actually had food ready to serve and you only heard about a few locations running out of their product at the very end of the day.

    (Anyone who spots a subtle reference to my favorite Simpson’s episode wins my appreciation for the hour.)

  3. I’ll somewhat echo what Sebastian said, in that this looks too uncoordinated, and too short notice to be coordinated, to be very successful. If some of us go to our clubs, and some of us go to gun shops, and some of us go God knows where, no single event is going to be very successful, and the media will feature the worst turnout on the 6:00 News.

    I’m glad AndyN beat me to cynicism today, because I was also thinking it sounded a little like an SAF commercial stunt to get people to visit their gun shops, where they might as well buy something while they’re there. I don’t know if two cynical Andy’s are a good thing.

    And on that note, I’ll stop short of expressing my doubts about how much legislators are impressed by staged turnouts.

    1. Eh, there’s plenty of room for cynicism here, and we all bow to your superiority in it anyway ^_^.

      The SAF lost my nominal, $25?/year or so plain membership support that I started when my finances straightened out in 2007 after I realized they were spending more money on begging snail mail than I’d sent them. Worth being a member if you’re going to give them more money to e.g. fund their very productive lawsuits (hmmm, that was just before Heller) or conference, something I wasn’t in a position to do at the time (the tornado ironically has given me a lot more disposable income while I stay with my father, so I’m sending big bucks to the NRA-ILA for the time being).

      On the other hand, if this ends up being a little noticed stunt, it still could do some good by getting some number of politically inclined gun owners together for a while. You never know what might grow organically from that.

      1. Not exactly to defend SAF, but never believe any of these groups waste money, i.e., spend a red cent that they don’t know is going to bring in two red cents, collectively speaking.

        Now, having associated with other people who were professional RKBA fund raisers (and thus were biased competitors with SAF) I can report that in their opinion, SAF was among the most conscienceless of fund raisers. They faulted them for using frivolous or even dangerous legal challenges as fund raising tools.

        I would not be surprised if SAF is just trying to unilaterally curry favor with dealers (who are often generous contributors) by getting people to come to their shops that day. Other than that, the scheme seems very poorly planned.

  4. I wouldn’t hit the panic button on political participation until there are bills with language in the Congress and they start to move (DiFi’s is delayed until the 22nd because of the Senate’s schedule). I.e. just what happened in Illinois.

    Right now the threat, at least at the national level, is inchoate, e.g. the usual suspects have introduced the usual bills they do every year. We wouldn’t even be paying any attention to them if the Newtown shooting hadn’t just occurred and changed the Zeitgeist by an amount that remains to be seen.

    1. I think when bills start moving, flooding switchboards is a good move. This is prepping the ground for the phone calls which will come when specific bills move.

  5. I’ve already sent out messages to politicians, and am planning to send out more as the date approaches. Politicians only give a crap if you actually contact them. Buying guns and ammo in a buying spree won’t send any message because they won’t care since no one is actually talking to them.

  6. Don’t u feel as if the momentum has shifted a bit? If they could not get something passed in a solid blue state like Illinois we should feel encouraged, no? Of course keep up the pressure, be ready to act, but I am not nearly as nervous as I was in the first hours and days following the school shootings.

    1. The Illinois Senate possession bans (don’t know about the House) were so extreme, all semi-autos, all pump long guns, I’m not sure we can draw that much from the example other than that it was overreach. I mean, forcing the owners of an estimated 80% of the state’s handguns and a very large fraction of long guns, certainly extremely large for shotguns, to surrender their guns or move them out of state … that’s a lot more extreme than anything being seriously proposed at the national level.

      1. I could be naive, but not so worried about the national level, the House will act as a firewall I believe. The states are where our opponents will have success

        1. I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s naïve. There are many GOP folks in the House who just barely held on to their seats this last year, or who already know that they will have giant targets on their backs from left-wing groups. They are very prone to being convinced to compromise on something that doesn’t sound “so bad” to them, as people who don’t own or use firearms.

          Is the House our opportunity to hold back something? Yes. Is that likely? I won’t venture to make any predictions on that at the moment. The only House members we’re hearing from in the press who are speaking out for us are in nice, safe districts.

          I also think it’s naïve to just assume our real threats are at the state level. I think we’re going to be eaten alive by Executive Order and other changes from the White House. The list of 40 gun controls that don’t require Congress from Bloomberg were just a preview of what they thought they could get away with in a first time when they still had to be held accountable to voters and not based on a reaction to an incident like Newtown. Now? The White House isn’t accountable to anyone. They don’t have to worry about voters – even the mid-terms are still nearly 2 years off – and they have many people motivated by the tragedy.

          1. Always with the negative waves Moriarty, always with the negative waves.

            Oddball as played by Donald Sutherland in the surprisingly excellent Kelly’s Heroes.

            I’m worried, but not quite at your level. The House, I don’t count on at all, and you’ve provided even more details … although one would think focused opposition from your district’s gun owners would also come into play. They might not be able to vote for your Democratic opponent, but you might make yourself too toxic for them to vote for you.

            The list of 40 gun controls that don’t require Congress from Bloomberg….

            Could you point me at this list? My Google Fu despite two tries has not been up to the task. I also wonder why Clinton wouldn’t have done any of these, he sure was looking for something, anything he could do in his second term. All I can think of is the VA’s abuses plus of course his PRC import ban. The GCA of ’68 gives the executive wide latitude there, but that wouldn’t even come close to crippling us. E.g. the AR-15 is of course our indigenous assault rifle.

            1. You can search on the blog, as they were linked and discussed when they were released under the FOIA request back in, I think, 2009.

                1. Yeah, it’s old news in many regards. The only use it provides now is to know what they’ve already had 3+ years to plan with this in hand. They seem to be lining up to reach for far more.

    1. That may be the case. But, I think the concern is that if a PR stunt by any group can make gun owners use up all the energy they are willing to dedicate to the cause, it’s up to us who know more about legislative action to actually make something meaningful come out of that little bit of energy those people are willing to give.

  7. We need coordination. One of the reasons that Georgia Carry has been so effective in pushing good legislation and stopping bad legislation in Georgia is coordination. When there is a committee hearing they tell their members when it is, where it is, where to park, what to wear, what the talking points are, who the key players are, etc. And members show up in significant numbers to the committee meetings. When a bill is bottled up in a committee they tell their members who to contact and why (with real and specific information like that a certain legislator is on the fence and exactly why they are on the fence) to get the bill moving. They have even broken it down and given specific dates that specific members should contact specific legislators so that the legislators get calls, emails, and faxes every day for a week. Those are just a few examples. This approach works and works well. The biggest obstacle to pro-gun legislation in Georgia is the NRA (and I am NOT an NRA basher, I am an Endowment Life member of the NRA, I am just telling it like it is).

    I certainly hope that the NRA brain trust is working on a plan. Like organizing 50 demonstrations for gun rights, one in every state capitol, on the same day by the end of January. Like coming up with a plan for members to mail a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with a simple note of “No new gun control legislation. Period.” to specifically targeted congressmen on a certain day. Or a list of Republicans venerable to losing in a primary that members can contact with a polite note that now is the time to show us their true colors so we can decide who to support in the primary. Or including a perforated letter and addressed envelope in the next edition of EVERY NRA magazine where the letter and envelope is pre-printed with the person’s congressman’s name and address so that all the person has to do is tear the letter and envelope out of the middle of the magazine, sign the letter and add a personal note if desired, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail.

    So far I have not heard anything out of the NRA with specific information and a plan. Hopefully it is just above my pay grade and it is coming very soon. With an action plan from the NRA we can stop anything.

  8. I’ve made a decision. The 19th is the Saturday of the Indy 1500 gun show.

    I’ll be there with contact fliers with phone numbers of Indiana Sens and Reps and urls for letters. And a couple breif talking points.

    I’m also thinking of carrying a poster with that information in breif like “Have you called your Senators and Reps? It’s quicker than standing in line.”

        1. If you want to try a little more coordinated effort, you should see if the EVC for the area has a table at the show for political purposes. The EVC from the area seems to be Robert Lusk, and you can contact him on this form.

          I don’t know that there’s any kind of presence there, but it might be helpful to ask. I’m not trying to dissuade you from anything like what you described in your comment above, but I thought I would suggest contacting others just in case they already have some materials on this very issue and you don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Or, they might need your help developing good materials, who knows?

  9. It’s been gunshop appreciation day pretty much every day for the last 4 years.

  10. The hard part is knowing where to go. Walmart sells a lot of gun — should I just go hang out in the Walmart parking lot?

    1. The last place I bought a gun was Big 5 Sporting Goods.

      But to reply to my own post … I think I will find my way to a shooting range.

    2. Don’t forget to wave your flag or “hands off my gun” sign in your car!

      In our area, one of the most popular gun stores is in an industrial park area that has basically no traffic on a weekend. So, I guess the proposal says we should just all hang out and wave our signs at each other. Talk about taking the phrase preaching to the choir to a new extreme.

  11. Two reports from LA- my town of 400k had one guy at one gun store, not identifiably dressed. I went to do business and “support” the store, and as checked out asked where the appreciation day was…It was the one guy taking names to turn in to our Congressman (who is very much on our side).

    In the town where my wife works, about a hundred miles away, there was apparently a sizable demonstration in a seemingly random, non-gun store location along a major highway. My wife saw it, called me, and asked why I’d not already signed her up for NRA. Done!

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