Are Protests Getting out of Hand?

That’s the question Jeff Soyer asks, in regards to NYSRPA bailing out of the repeated protests at the State Capitol. I’ve been thinking about how to approach this topic, because I don’t really have any fundamental beef where NYSRPA thinks their focus ought to be, and I tend to agree with the notion that protests are among the less effective methods of activism out there unless it’s used very judiciously. It certainly has its place, but endless protesting and rallying just squanders grassroots energy and conditions both lawmakers and the public to ignore it. At some point, we have to be heard at the polls.

Let me quote from Tom’s comments:

There have been many studies and surveys done regarding the population demographics of the people of this country and state our research tells us New York State is divided in this manner (Numbers rounded): Rabidly Anti-Gun 22% Somewhere in between 46% Avidly Pro Gun 32%

Fellow gun owners I submit this to you for your consideration. We will never convert the 22% rabid anti-gunners, we don’t have to convert the 32% avid pro gunners but we must convert a sizable portion of the 46% of those somewhere in between if we want to retain our 2nd Amendment Rights long term. These are the soccer moms, the guys who say I’ve never shot a gun but would like to try it and the people worried about their safety. How do we do that? Not by standing on stage screaming obscenities at Cuomo and certainly at large rallies where people stand on stage, pound their chest and tell the attendees to prepare for war. That frightens the very people we want to attract to our side, the people who will insure 2nd Amendment Rights for our grandchildren.

I’ve said before that what we need to buy acquiescence from that 46% more than anything, but that’s conditioned on there being a generally favorable environment for our issue. There can present circumstances where acquiescence is not enough. Where the political elites and politicians are actively hostile, you can buy all the acquiescence in the world and it won’t amount to a hill of beans. If the great middle are not willing vote gun rights, it doesn’t matter if you convince them that the SAFE act was unconstitutional, unfair, and useless. If they then go ahead and vote for Cuomo again, you haven’t gained anything. You have to not only win that 46% over, but win them over enough to convince them to vote against the people who did this to you.

Or, you can depend on the Courts to save you. While I wish the Federal Court case against the SAFE Act all the luck in the world, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has demonstrated nothing but unusual hostility towards the right to keep and bear arms. Beyond the Second Circuit, I’m not convinced the Supreme Court is in a position to help us out any further on gun rights. I’ve love to be wrong, but I’m not optimistic.

I believe bringing the rogue states back to America will necessarily involve federal preemption, but I can’t promise that will work. Even if it does work, it involves a years long wait for the Obama Administration to end, and then some time to push a hopefully Republican President and Congress to act. You could easily be looking at “Second Amendment Restoration Act of 2018” or maybe even 2022, to be more realistic. And that’s making a lot of optimistic assumptions.

In the mean time, I can understand why Tom might believe his organization is better off playing good cop to other groups’ bad cop, and he’s probably right about that, given areas they have chosen to lobby and litigate. But until the calvary actually appears from over the hill, New York gun owners are surrounded. Their backs are against the wall, and many of them have been rendered felons for refusing to take part in Cuomo’s utopian daydreams. While in ordinary times, I’d quickly agree that overheated rhetoric helps nothing, but what of difficult times? During difficult times I think it’s necessary, as Thomas Jefferson said, to remind officials that the people still possess “the spirit of resistance to government.” We are a people who threw off our previous form of government because its previous officials conspired to disarm us. Today’s officials would do well to remember that, so I’m not going to suggest anyone is in the wrong for reminding them.

20 thoughts on “Are Protests Getting out of Hand?”

  1. I disagree with the idea that the only two positions are compliance/compromise/surrender/whatever else the loudlings want to call it, and acting like a (moronic) dick in public.

    Only someone supremely unimaginative *has* to use obscenities or blood and thunder rhetoric, symbolic gallows, and all that puerile nonsense to show unwavering resolve and explain the consequences of continued abuse.

    Over the top rhetoric gets ignored by the target and doesn’t impress the non-ideological, I daresay it is actively counter-productive. Hell, the Spartans didn’t put on a big display or make empty threats, they simply stood their ground, coldly demonstrated their capabilities, explained the consequences, and dared their enemies to “come take them.”

    1. Really, if you’re going to rule out both surrender and essentially peaceable rallies, the options grow limited.

      You can go the non-violent resistance route, as some Civil Rights folks did; I’d love to see some images of modern day Bull Connors hitting peaceful protesters carrying stripped AR lowers with water cannons and K9 dogs. That can help shock and persuade the great middle — if you have sympathetic media coverage and a government that takes the bait.

      You can try an economic boycott, as in Montgomery in the civil rights movement. That was partially effective but required the moral courage of the leaders to put up with firebombings and other attacks, as well as nationwide support. I don’t know if there’s a critical mass of gun owners in NY that can withdraw from vital infrastructure to the point that it will inflict economic hardship on NYS or NYC. Plus, the boycott ultimately worked because the federal courts stepped in.

      The Sons of Liberty in mid-1790s Boston committed numerous acts of vandalism, torched the homes of public officials, shut down the court system by making credible threats of violence against court officers (and locals that collaborated), and formed mobs in the streets that threatened the persons of Royal officials. But let’s assume that as reasonable adults we’ll rule out violence as a course of action for now, although it seems the Black Panthers provided a hammer to MLK’s anvil.

      So where does that leave us?

      Frankly the best option NY gun owners have is to get out. If they can’t or won’t get out, they at least need a plan to get their non-combatant family members out so that if SWAT goes hot the families don’t get wrapped up. Showing that gun owners can and will survive a few raids will signal resolve at least.

      1. I’ve thought about that issue. Drawing that line is a pretty serious amount of dedication. You’re essentially agreeing to commit suicide for your views; to become a martyr. Seems to me voting with your feet requires a hell of a lot less dedication. That lets them win in New York, but I can say I’d love to have more people who care about the issue here to keep this state from going the way of our neighbors.

        It’s unsatisfying, but I’m not sure I disagree that leaving is really the best option.

        1. Problem is, when you let them win there, they breed, and then they move out of NY and NJ to try and ruin the rest of the country. They’re like #$(*&#$(* locusts, destroying everyting in their path, just to move on to greener pastures and do it again.

      2. I wasn’t clear, have the demonstration, just drop the effigies and wanna-be Patrick Henry blood and thunder rhetoric.

        You don’t have to shout “from my cold dead hands”, “tree of liberty…” and other bumper sticker nonsense, and hang Cuomo in effigy, and hand out lawmakers addresses, to have a rally and get your point across.

        You simply have to be clear that A) you have a fundamental right, B) you have done nothing to deserve infringement (and the infringement won’t solve any problems), and C) you will resist by whatever legal means are necessary as long as it takes.

        Optics are key, you are never really speaking to Cuomo, legislators, or anti-gun types; your sole audience is Ma and Pa Kettle and you want to dress, act, and speak as much like they do so they *want* to be on your side.

        *Persuade* them. That means normal clothes, no profanity or insults, and no violent imagery or rhetoric. We’re here, we’re your friends and neighbors, and we will not submit to injustice.

        1. I think to some degree it depends on the audience.

          If you are preaching to the choir and trying to stiffen the resolve of the 32% pro-gunners to be willing to stomach the coming challenges then such rhetoric is appropriate.

          If you are targeting the middle 42% then it isn’t as effective.

          Frankly, the 42% aren’t attending these rallies. The news media will seek out the most extremist cook and craziest sign anyways if they bother to cover the event at all so it is going to be hard to appear “mainstream.”

          If the entire third ostensibly in our camp would get out and vote the issue (SINGLE ISSUE) we would not be in the place we are today. Only 4.6 million New Yorkers voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election. The voter turnout rate was LAST in the country in New York. 32% of the eligible electorate voted in NYS according to the NT. If a more extreme appeal motivates three or four on our side to get engaged, but turns off one middle grounder, then that is still a net win. The middle grounder probably isn’t a voter in NYS anyways.

          If every gun owner and their household went and VOTED against gun grabbers in New York they wouldn’t be at the point they are today.

          “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

          ― Winston Churchill

          Today, in New York, they have the choice to submit, flee, martyr themselves (either literally or legally), or fight. Shitty options all around. The fact that so many lack the stomach or means to rent a uhaul and go four hours down the road to PA, NH, or VT tells me what value they put on so celestial an article as freedom.

          I’ll believe they plan on standing and fighting or martyring themselves when they get their wives and children out of the state. Until then… its all talk. I suspect most will submit, or quietly non-comply and hope the state continues boiling the frog. Their children will vote away my child’s rights in a generation or so.

      3. “Frankly the best option NY gun owners have is to get out.”

        See, therein lies the rub: if gun owners leave NY, you end up with nobody to resist the anti-gun politicians. That can end up affecting people in other states as well: if gun owners in New York vote for pro-gun federal representatives, that’s good. There’s plenty of gun-friendly districts outside of NYC. If you lose them, that change change the balance in the House of Representatives and might result in bad federal laws being pushed through.

        It sucks to live in an anti-gun area (I was born and raised in California prior to moving to Arizona) but it’s important for pro-gun people to not completely abandon districts and states that are anti-gun.

  2. The problem is that we don’t want the ” to come and take them” When it gets to that point blood would be shed. We want to show the rulers that this is a life /death issue that people would rebel against despite losing their lives. We want the cost to the SWAT and police to be very clear. Come and get shot. Gun owners will loses their lives and their families also.

    We all decide what is the line in the sand .Many people have decided that is when the cops come to the door.

    Now if a rebellion starts we will lose . We have no organization ready to take on the militarized force of the federal or states government. WE have no communication, NSA has compromised that.
    The three C’s Command, Communication and Control. We have none of those

    1. Except egging them on with threats is the best way to get them to move against you.

      Doing that provides them *justification* to act by giving them evidence to convince the non-ideological middle that you are actually dangerous and need controlling.

      You can’t “scare the white people” and expect to win; you have to get Ma and Pa Kettle to sympathize with you as the aggrieved, discriminated against side of family, truth, and apple pie. To do that you need to look, talk, and act like they do and persuade them with the reason of your argument and courage of your conviction.

      1. And I think that’s why the mainstream of the movement needs to stay just that, mainstream. But I’m also arguing that when backs are against the wall, extremists can go from being tits on a bull to actually being useful. At some point there has to be a line which is not to be crossed, and in NY and CT, they are walking precipitously close to that line.

    2. OK, I’m going to let you in a few things.

      First, the NSA can’t effectively monitor short-range radios everywhere. They do not have the resources, nor could they ever possibly afford them. Plus, unlike a cell phone that regularly ‘pings’ the local cell towers, a radio that is in receive mode doesn’t give away its position. They are more vulnerable to casual eavesdropping, and they can be DF’ed if there are resources in the area, but mostly there won’t be. Oh, and the drones being used for domestic surveillance? They’re supposed to be able to intercept and generate bearings on signals from 30 MHz to 3 GHz. CB radios operate on 26 and 27 MHz, below that thresh-hold. So do some ham radios, and they can often be easily modified to transmit anywhere. But you didn’t hear that from me ;)

      Second, you don’t have to use a computer to encrypt things. It can be done manually, with paper and pencil. I currently work in IT, and if you were to ask me if I could 100% secure a computer, even one not connected to the Internet, I would say no, no I can’t. But I do know that if I completely burn a piece of paper, it can’t be read at a later date. There are some manual systems that can be memorized completely and that are reasonably secure (though not unbreakable given enough traffic), and the most secure cipher possible, one that is unbreakable both in theory and in practice, is easy to implement manually, the One-Time Pad. The only real problem is generating the pads, but that can be done manually also with a handful of 10-sided dice (available at your local Gamer store). It takes a bit of time, but if you need to communicate in a way that can never ever be broken (provided you follow the rules), then the time should be considered well-spent.

      Another thing to consider is that you don’t need a traditional top-down command structure that is in itself a major weakness and a handicap. I would also point out that we’ve spent years fighting insurgencies in both Afghanistan and in Iraq, and the *ONLY* times we make progress are when we co-opt the locals. And that’s basically what we want, right? We *WANT* them to co-opt us by taking away the casus belli: Infringements upon the Second Amendment. Plus, some of the methods the US has used overseas would be very, very bad press if used here at home.

      Yet a different consideration is that it’s relatively easy to go fight against people who live 6,000 miles away and who speak a different language, and who don’t have the ability to strike back at you. It’s quite another to do it against the guy who lives a few blocks from you, whose relatives live near yours and who might take exception to their cousin being SWATted to death because he had the temerity to own a 15 round magazine instead of the legally allowed 10.

      1. Another problem is a platform that just spits out a bearing on a signal doesn’t really give you much. To get a fix or a geolocation you’re going to need more platforms in the general area. Now you have multiple land or air assets being used to find one guy working a radio in the woods.

        Glad to see a fellow former SIGINT weenie on here. :)

        1. And that guy may or may not be transmitting gibberish specifically to fool you.

          Plus, even if you do get accurate bearings from several different assets, there is still a considerable and irreduceable amount of error in those bearings. And unless the person keeps transmitting, you only know where he was. Not like a cell phone where you can track him relatively continuously.

          And I haven’t even gotten into techniques to minimize the accuracy of DFing like low-HF NVIS, or using the same tricks hams use for RDF “fox hunts”.

          The general principle is: Don’t play to your opponents strengths. The NSA and the FBI (and presumably state law enforcement agencies) are very, very good at intercepting modern communications, like e-mails, phone calls, texts, etc. So avoid them. Use low-tech means to foil their advantage in high-tech operations.

          Just like you wouldn’t go up against an M-1A1 main battle tank armed with a deer rifle, you don’t want to communicate stuff like this using your smart phone.

      2. Thanks for the good advice. Considering that SWAT may be coming to you. Perhaps the gun ranges could coordinate with ham radio clubs and get gun owners into using ham radios. If raids happen then they can get warnings off to other gun owners.

        1. There is a lot of overlap already. Go to a hamfest and look at the bumper stickers.

  3. The last time we had a Reep prez and Reep Congress we got…


    1. “The last time we had a Reep prez and Reep Congress we got… (Screwed)”

      You have a strange definition of screwed. The last time we had a Republican President with a Republican Congress we got the sunset of the Federal AW ban without any renewal. And that Fed AW ban was originally passed into law under a Dem Prez and Dem Congress.

  4. Unles you’re willing to go full arab spring/Ukraine, protesting isn’t worth a damn. The people in power have already decided their course of action and really don’t give a shit what you think and protests are a poor method of pursuading the undecided among your fellow citizens. The typical Joe Sixpack ignores protests to the greatest extent possible, really only paying attention if it causes him difficulty in some way, which makes him pissed off at you the protester. Unless you’re willing to shut everything down and duke it out with the riot police, there’s better uses of your time and energy…

  5. Protesting has its place, but the more important part of the program is converting those in the middle. I have already initiated quite a few to the joys of the gun range, and I am teaching my children to be responsible gun owners. I was converted by my father-in-law. I became a full blown “gun nut” once converted (I am quite the libertarian idealist). This is how we win. Make it fun, and share the joy! Not everyone will become a fervent 2A supporter, but if you demystify it for them, that will take the wind out of the antis’ movement’s sail.

  6. Optics are critical to converting the middle. When I saw the description I was all ready to share the video of NY LEO’s confiscating a cardboard cutout of an AR-15 (or similar) at a rally. A pretty clear First Amendent violation I think, since no reasonable person would actually mistake it for a weapon.

    Then I watched the video and there was an effigy (I assume of Cuomo) hanging in the foreground. 100% guaranteed that would turn off the folks I had in mind. No way I’m sharing that.

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