Opposing the Sandy Hook Riders

From March 8-11, 26 cyclists will pedal from Sandy Hook, Connecticut to Washington DC, and their route will take them through my county. There is a rally planned in Doylestown for this Sunday to protest. I gave some thought about whether or not I will attend, but I am of mixed feelings on the best way to deal with this situation, and I have some reservations about the organizers.

One the one hand, the Sandy Hook riders don’t seem to be getting much attention. They currently rank 5063 “likes” on Facebook, with 632 “talking about this.” Hardly a movement. They also aren’t really pulling down much news coverage, at least as of now. There does come a point where all you’re accomplishing by protesting is helping them make a story and get in the news, when they might otherwise be ignored.

On the other hand, I also think they shouldn’t ever be allowed to occupy the field without being opposed if our side still retains the energy for opposition. They should know they are wading into controversy, and that there are fellow citizens who oppose their political agenda. They shouldn’t be able to get away with making their positions look non-controversial, or trying to pass off an obvious political statement as a memorial ride.

So I’m torn on whether a counter-protest is even the right tactic at all, but if protesting is the right thing, the deciding factor turns on what is the best protesting tactic. In my opinion passive opposition is the way to go here. I don’t think passive opposition is always the correct tactic, but I think it is in this particular circumstance it is. The group organizing this protest is Concerned Gun Owners of PA (formerly Concerned Gun Owners of Bucks County) who are not known for using passive tactics. They are better known for armed demonstration combined with aggressive, in-your-face tactics.

CGOBC sprung up right after Sandy Hook, and I attended several of their meetings and rallies. We attended a few meetings with some of their leaders. The group ended up splitting into two organizations last year, largely due to disagreement about tactics. I soured on CGOBC after the mother’s day rally, especially when they started to generate negative headlines having one of their leaders photographed screaming in the face of a little old lady. When you’re in a position of strength, as we are now, I think it’s best to behave as if you’re in a position of strength. Passive protest is the right tactic in this circumstance. Just be seen, and have someone ready to speak to the media when they come around. Don’t let the headline become armed protesters show up to intimidate a memorial ride. Unfortunately, CGOPA hasn’t shown (to me, at least) that they are good at using wise tactics.

39 thoughts on “Opposing the Sandy Hook Riders”

    1. Wow, talk about leaving out facts. That little old lady being yelled at just spit in the mans face for no reason. That is a tactic the antis use. Another tactic is to actually grab your weapon. There is no back story on CGOPA. Contrary to this story, the 2A is under attack, we are not in a position of power. I use the state of Connecticut as an example. I dont care if is only 2 protestors telling lies and trying to have my rights taken away, I will be there to tell the truth. Now is the time to put the “back story” away and work toward the cause. United we stand, divided we fall!

  1. I’m thinking out loud at the moment, so everyone forgive me.

    Even these days, with social media, I am inclined to think five days is too short a time to put together a GOOD counter-rally. The CGOPA is doing their thing, so let it go at that. I know my age inclines me to favor the way we did things in the Good Ole Days, but back in 2000 we mustered roughly 2500 gun owners, on a weekday, to counter what turned out to be about 75 of the Million Moms, in Allentown/Bethlehem. But we had more than a month to work on selling the idea.

    IMO the CGPOA looks a lot like the Tea Party wearing a different hat, and I thought that even before looking at their Facebook link above. I guess that’s great if you like the Tea Party, but other than that I think it sends a mixed message. Is every gun owner about the TP Platform? I don’t think so. (Too bad the TP expropriated the Gadsden Flag, but I digress.)

    I corresponded briefly with the fellow whose picture was in the newspaper, shouting in the old lady’s face. She really got him, IMO. But I thought he had some rather odd “constitutional” theories; he was pitching for a rather odd “constitutional” assembly or forum that was scheduled a few months back, and we parted with some rather curt words after he came out in support of that (fired) Police Chief Kessler of the viral video from Schuykill County.

    I’m thinking I will be home this Sunday, as I don’t own boots high enough for what I expect at that rally.

  2. Staying home and just letting Bloombergs hitmen do their thing is exactly why we are in the position we are. We need people in the streets not asses in seats. I dont understand what the Tea Party comments are all about, not that there is anything wrong with the Tea Party. There are people from all walks of life and political backgrounds that support the 2A. These types of comments attacking other groups are damaging to the cause.

    1. I won’t dig any deeper into it than this, but, we have any number of “gun” groups out there that use gun rights as a decoy issue while they front for another agenda. THAT is what has put us in the position we’re in. Don’t even get me started, but I was a founding member of a group that was infiltrated and subverted — by good solid people “On The Right” with a broader agenda, of which gun rights in fact was only a footnote of convenience. I believe that of the Tea Party, but I’ll allow you to believe whatever you will; experience taught me people need to believe, more than they need to eat, sleep, drink or (fill in the blank).

      And with regard to rallies, they are probably one of the most useless exercises we ever undertake. I was among speakers at a “gun rights” rally in Harrisburg in 1994, that was the biggest citizens rally in the capitol, ever, at least at the time. There were 8,000 to 10,000 gun owners there, on a weekday. While we postured on the steps, the pols were literally inside composing the next mammoth gun control bill, that they would spring on us four months later. You see, our “gun rights” rally was really a Republican campaign rally, that was part of the Republican UnRevolution of that year, and when it swept Tom Ridge into our governors office, he insisted on an “anti-crime” bill that would include gun control. I was there for another rally on the same day the next year, but without Republican need to facilitate a self-funding campaign rally, the turnout was about 30.

      Here’s what rallies do: They show the politicians a collection of the people who are already guaranteed to vote a certain way, all assembled in one place. Pols who are afraid those people might not remember their names, utilize those rallies as ultra-cheap campaign events, where the gullible will assemble on their own dimes to listen to campaign speeches.

      I’m told that at the CGOPA/CGOBC rallies in Doylestown last year, our illustrious Republican county sheriff was there to schmooze and gladhand the crowd, channel John Wayne, and say some nice words about gun rights. That would be the same sheriff who for quite awhile stopped sending out permit renewal notices (that part of our permit fee is specifically designated for) and for an even greater time illegally charged almost twice the state codified permit fee. But hell, when you have a free crowd that demonstrates they’re gullible, why not gull them? They’ve known us for decades. Too bad we don’t know ourselves.

      1. You sound bitter. I guess you didnt know what you were doing if you were infiltrated and politicians wrote anti gun laws on your watch. Thank you for trying. Your bashing of CGOPA is unwarranted. Your critcism of Republicans and the Tea Party is just silly. Dont tell me rallies dont work. I just saw it work twice this winter in Falls Twp and Bristol Boro. We stopped them from making their own gun laws. Are you familiar with Dillon vs Erie? Again, a rally ended a gun law. Get with the program.

        1. The Metcalf rallies in Hburg work? Seriously? By the time people actually get in that building, everyone is in session, and the only ones that can speak with you is the poor secretary who had 40 other grievance groups in the AM.

          What works is small, intelligent groups that go in, on a regular basis, and have sit downs with these people. Not the crowds. It makes for a quick snippet on the local news, and sells some bus seats, but thats it.

          Andy is right in many of his points.

          1. And might I add that until leadership is more afraid of your vote than they are of Bloomberg’s money, fat chance getting anything pro-gun through committee or out for a vote. Dunno about on the Dem side, but the Repub’s leadership is spineless and that comes right from meetings with them that I have been in the room for.

  3. Oh boy, what a great contrast that’ll be for the cameras. A bunch of fit cyclists vs angry red-faced people who should probably spend more time taking care of themselves.
    Doesn’t matter what your message is if you don’t look good.

    1. Yup, those ceasefire Pa people sure are angry and red faced. They should take care of themselves better and maybe their brains could accept facts.

  4. We don’t oppose these people in their face, because they consider gun groups who protest to be a good thing. They get zero coverage riding bikes (or standing in front of Staples or whatever), because it’s boring. Now add the potential for conflict and then all of a sudden: press attention.

    If we want to “answer” their events, the best way to do it is to get everyone on an email list to make a few phone calls that same day. For every bike rider, we put in 50 or 100 calls.

    We don’t need to skip work or get off our couches for these guys. We just need to let the lawmakers know that we do drive our asses down to the election booth and get in their face, if they vote the wrong way, and that there are a lot more of us than there are of them.

    Otherwise, don’t feed the beast or it keeps coming back for more.

  5. Patrick,
    I agree and disagree. Yes, the ultimate way to beat the antis is at the polls. That doesnt make them go away. I will confront anyone trying to take away my rights. Again, twice this winter anti gun politicians we defeated in Falls Twp and Bristol Boro by boots on the ground! If everyone just stayed home and made calls we would have another illegal law. Btw….. Google Dillon vs Erie. Boots on the ground, a great attorney, and some balls had another illegal ordinance overturned. If they stayed home and made calls, that law would still be there too. Sorry but people in the streets not asses in seats are what get results!

  6. I dont belong to the NRA so I dont see how it is propaganda for them. You sound like an anti that doesnt want the Nra to sell a glock ak 15 assault weapon with a 100 caliber clip with an ar 47 grenade launcher.

    1. I don’t think Patrick was saying boots on the ground is always the wrong tactic, but that protesting often isn’t as effective as a lot of people think.

  7. Sebastian,
    I must ask, how a group with no facts or statistics to help their cause have so much power? The antis are out and about, constantly lobbying, and are well funded. To not counter them is foolish and naive. Their tactics work as much as I hate to admit it. The truth is on our side. They need to be confronted with that in public.

    1. It’s 26 people on a bicycle that the media isn’t paying any real attention to. They don’t have any power. My whole point was not to give them some by helping them get their story out in the media by making a story out of something that right now isn’t a story.

      1. They dont have any power? Hmmmm. Please explain registration / confiscation in Connecticut. While you we sitting home I / we were fighting townships right here in Pa that wanted to ban guns. From what I have read, this seems to be the sit home and let someone else handle it group. Please tell me, if sitting home and ignoring the problem has worked so well why is there so much gun control legislation?

        1. Protesting 26 cyclists the media is paying almost no attention to in Pennsylvania isn’t going to fix the problem in Connecticut. At this point we’re far better off ignoring the anti-gun activity the media isn’t paying attention to, rather than help them become a story and get in the news cycle.

  8. Sebastian, one more thing. Please tell me how you would handle an old hippie (not an old lady) if they spit in your face for no reason. Would you say “thank you sir may I have another”? Would you ask for a tissue? Would you turn the other cheek? Please explain you unfounded bashing and how you would have handled it better. Im all ears.

    1. I’d bring the cops in and have her arrested for assault. That way the news story is anti-gun person is arrested for assaulting a pro-gun protester, rather than what actually ended up in the media.

      1. Frankly, this.

        I understand that we are all human, and therefore fallible, but this really is a game of headlines. We need to do everything we can to control our own behavior so that it doesn’t result in bad headlines.

  9. Wow, I just noticed something. This blog makes $$$$$. How much of it do you share with the NRA and other Pa 2A groups? No wonder why you make factless comments about other groups. Its how you make money. Shameful.

    1. This blog makes enough money to pay for the costs to host it. I don’t do this for a living, and I don’t make much profit off it. I’m a regular donor to NRA when I have some bucks to spare.

    2. Hmmm. You can run a site for free. But I guess that in your mind you are right and everyone else is wrong. Btw, I dont hate. I just dont tolerate liars. Its ok. Two can play at this game. Enjoy your night.

  10. I’ve been to several CGOBC meetings and rallies, generally think well of the group, and was seriously considering going to this one on Sunday too. But after reading this exchange in the comments, I think I’ll pass. The media always is itching for a chance to make our side look angry and out of control. Hot-tempered rally leaders just make it too easy for them and the antis.

    1. Jim, Hot tempered rally leaders? Who, how? Did you even read the CGOPA page? This page is only trying to make money by making insults and is now exposed for what it is….shameful. Every time we hit submit this page makes money.

      1. Gee, I don’t know what would give him that opinion. Berating your supporters is always a good tactic, isn’t it? So how are the turnout numbers compared to last year?

        I don’t think I’m the only one who’s been turned off to the group. It’s seldom a winning tactic to call your supporters as afraid and lazy. And I say that as someone who can completely sympathize with the frustration of trying to recruit and lead volunteers who often have other things to do. But you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

        1. And that comment is 100% correct! It points at people just like yourself that stay home because it is too cold or someone else will do it. Same thing happened in CT and now it is late in the game there. Thats ok, Ill go do the work while you sit home nice and warm and make money on your blog by lying about other groups. SHAMEFUL!

          1. It also comical how selective you are at the truth. You lie like an anti. This is in the same thread explaining how 1000 were coming but only 100 showed:
            Concerned Gun Owners of Pennsylvania It seems some took this post the wrong way. We understand some attend church services and Pastor Cook held services for those that wished to attend and worship on the steps of the capitol. As far as turnout, about 100 people showed up and close to a thousand clicked they were attending so it was a bit disappointing that 1/10 showed up. We have an event page and shared multiple times the event from GRAA-PA.
            We aren’t giving up at all. We are here for the long haul but more people need to come out when needed. We can’t be at every municipal council meeting. We need everyone to get involved.
            As far as communication, we post events several times. The events include the date, time and location. You click on the event and I’d say 99% of the time people click on the link and get the info. We don’t set out to offend anyone but we have to get right to the point.
            We will be announcing meetings and rallies soon. Some might be short notice and some will have plenty of notice.

            Again, if you are going to tell a story, tell the whole story. I think it is clear to everyone you just make these dumb comments so your blog makes money.

            1. OK, Mike. I couldn’t help myself. I appreciate your passion, I really do. But some of us have been doing this for a long time, and since the early 90s we have been winning much more than losing. I think there are many people that could teach you more than you seem willing to learn.
              Let me start here. A football analogy if I may? Who get’s penalized in a football game, the guy who causes the trouble or the guy who retaliates? Now place the little old lady in the instigator role? You lose and are penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike like conduct.

              Then you come into a well know nationally ranked blog like this one, who has incredible insight and has been welcomed by Instapundit and various other 2nd Amendment crusaders and you criticize it and throw out vitriolic anger and idiotic/childish behavior. That’s what I see.
              You can dismiss me as I now reside part time in California, but you see what we are doing out here? It isn’t with folks and protest like you, it is in the courts and meetings with elected officials. These are held where the opportunity for embarrassing things don’t happen. We attend the fund raisers, we attend the local party meetings. That is where business is done IMHO.

              Dismiss me, I can handle it. Again, I love your passion, I am suspect of your abilities to lead.


  11. Again, I like CGOBC. Starting a new gun rights organizaton from scratch is not easy, so kudos to the founders and organizers. I understand that sometimes emotions run hot on issues that are close to your heart. But I don’t see any gain in picking fights with guys like Sebastian. He’s not an enemy by any means, and certainly not an anti – he just has a different opinion than you on tactics is all. I’ve stood with CGOBC at rallies before, and am more than willing to do so again where I think it will help. But if the comments here are an indicator of the general temperment of the group – your either with us 1000 percent or you’re against us – then I’ll skip the rally. People yelling at bike riders or other anti types – even ignorant bike riders who yell at us first – is not going to go over well with the folks we’re trying to persuade.

    1. Jim,
      For the record Sebastian attacked CGOPA in his comment. I dont understand where you feel there will be groups of people yelling at cyclists. Please go read ” Empty holster rally to counter Cease fire Pa” Nothing of what you just wrote is accurate and you have been given bad information. Im writing off Sebastians unfactual comments as just having a bad day. Attacking other 2A groups and then airing it in public is unacceptable and unprofessional. It is part of the learning curve. We are all working for the same cause. My understanding is this page was contacted about setting the record straight but it was ignored. I will gladly volunteer all my comments be deleted if Sebastian removes the negative, unfactual comments about CGOPA. We are all on the same team. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

      1. If you request your comments be deleted, then any reply to them in the thread is as well. So my comments would disappear as well.

  12. Some comments in the thread have been removed at the request of the author. Note that nuking a comment will generally also nuke any comments in the replay chain for the comment deleted.

  13. Well, I just got a email that CGOPA succeeded in persuading the Central Bucks School District to tell the Sandy Hook bike riders to go elsewhere for their rally — now they’re going to a local church. CGOPA also decided not to counter-protest at the church – a good call, in my view. I’ll support any gun rights organization that is doing good work and getting good results.

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