Rally in DC

It looks like some folks associated with Save the Second are planning a rally in DC on Saturday November 2.

I always hate writing articles like this, because I don’t like pooh poohing other people’s work. Any effort for the cause is appreciated, and I’ve learned over the years not to look a gift horse in the mouth by critiquing volunteer efforts.

But my skepticism of rallying as a tactic is still alive and well. It’s not that it doesn’t work, but in order for it to work you have to turn out numbers that make politicians stand up and pay attention. For DC, that’s a huge number that have to turn out, and it’s harder to generate numbers in DC than it is in other places. Making a DC rally a success takes a lot of organization and money. If you’re depending on people to get there on their own, you’re probably not going to turn out the numbers needed to really put the scare on lawmakers. Making a rally or march on DC work is a gargantuan effort, and it takes a combination of top down and bottom up organizing if it’s to truly be a success. You can joke all you want about Bloomberg buying a bus and boxed lunches, but that’s how it’s done. The reason Bloomberg’s outfits struggle with rallying is they lack the bottom up component that is necessary for making it successful. Our error has traditionally been assuming that bottom up is all you need. It’s not. It’s a lot of work from the other end too.

So if you’re not about putting out that effort in both directions, the rally is an exercise in growing your list. That could be important, especially in the battles ahead both internal and external. But even if list growth is the goal, is a DC rally really the thing to accomplish that? That’s the big daddy. You need a lot of organization and money, and November 2 is awful close.

19 thoughts on “Rally in DC”

  1. Most of us need a decent amount of notice beforehand to schedule off work and around other commitments also, and local groups need time to get the word out, work up numbers, and see if renting a van or bus is feasible. Now is likely too close for this November but planning for next year starting now would be a good idea.

    1. “Most of us need a decent amount of notice beforehand to schedule off work and around other commitments.”

      That was one of the things that made the Harrisburg capitol rally described below so impressive — it was on weekday, a Tuesday if I recall correctly, yet thousands of working guys were there. It was Flag Day, June 14, a nominal holiday, but not one that most people get to take off.

      I don’t remember how long that rally was in the works, but I don’t think it was more than a couple months.

      The next year someone attempted to emulate it, and I attended for the convenience of meeting with some people from GOA. Total attendance was about 30, including those of us who were more or less there “on business.”

  2. One should also remember that Hillary beat Donald in DC by a 91% to 4% margin. The surrounding counties in MD and VA are also strongly Democrat. While political allegiance does not perfectly align with support for the 2nd A it’s becoming more so every day. The commute alone makes it much easier for 2nd A foes to rally in DC than for supporters to do so.

  3. An Old Story, of course:

    In 1994 the Republican Party “facilitated” (my word) a truly massive gun rights rally at the capitol in Harrisburg, as part of their mega-campaign for the Republican UnRevolution that occurred that fall. It was said to be the biggest capitol rally to that time, with 10,000 attendees. I remember it well because I spoke at it, and being cheered by 10,000 upturned faces is pretty heady stuff. Not that I was that inspiring, but the crowd was well-warmed-up by that time. I quipped later that such adulation could inspire me to annex the Sudentenland or something.

    The “facilitation” of the rally was accomplished by various pols putting the right bugs in the right ears that it would be a great thing they ought to support. My club’s president and a couple board members were encouraged to hire a couple buses at club expense, to transport members to Harrisburg, and they did. Others among us carpooled.

    With hindsight it turned out to be more of a Santorum Rally than a gun rights rally. Not that they did anything so transparent as have Santorum there, but everything and everyone who stood still for five seconds got a Santorum sticker pasted on them, and all the Santorum signs being waved took some preparation and planning. Tom Ridge was also well represented, though having voted for the Clinton AWB in congress, he was already a source of controversy and dissension among PA’s gun rights community.

    The most important bottom line though, is that the rally accomplished nothing at all for gun rights. Since Governor-to-be Tom Ridge was anti-gun, while we were rallying on the steps of the capitol, possibly literally bipartisan pols were inside drafting the comprehensive gun control bill that would be fielded the next year at Governor Ridge’s behest.
    For the proposed Washington, DC rally, what I fear is that friends-we-don’t-need like our contemporary white power advocates will expropriate it to promote their own presence. Alternately, a motive may be to lure out the antifa types, and use their opposition to the Nazis who will be present to say they were there to attack gun rights. Both approaches have occurred in other states.

    In any case, I won’t be in Washington, DC. I’ve had too much experience with learning too late what I had been rallying for. November 2 seems oddly close to Election Day.

  4. “For the proposed Washington, DC rally, what I fear is that friends-we-don’t-need like our contemporary white power advocates will expropriate it to promote their own presence. Alternately, a motive may be to lure out the antifa types, and use their opposition to the Nazis who will be present to say they were there to attack gun rights. Both approaches have occurred in other states”.

    That’s what happened with “Unite The Right” to an extent. College GOP Chapters, Young Americans for Freedom, and even the Constitution Party were the original venue members……6 weeks later,……good ‘ole David Duke and the “White Nationalists” showed up. College GOP Chapters, YAF, and Right of Center 3rd Parties were tied to scum they have nothing to do with.

    David Duke also, always seems to show up when the Democrats are in trouble on the Immigration Issue, and he was a successful “Slander-Tool” to ruin the political careers and personal reputations of Jesse Ventura, Ross Perot, and the Reform Party………all whom had nothing in common with Duke.

    Take a look at this regarding the Stasi and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

    Blumenau, Bernhard (2018). “Unholy Alliance: The Connection between the East German Stasi and the Right-Wing Terrorist Odfried Hepp”. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism: 1–22.

    1. “That’s what happened with “Unite The Right” to an extent.”

      Those people are natural opportunists because their own numbers are really so small — not that being able to get up a torchlight march with hundreds of tiki-torch participants is exactly small.

      I poked around a little, and I noticed at more than one chat-site other gun owners expressing the same reservations. Maybe some people are getting somewhat smart about those things.

      In poking around though, it occurred to me that Rob Pincus’s motive could be simply self-promotion in the community that pays his bills. I apologize for the cynicism, though.

    2. That article looks really interesting. Too bad its $43!

      Any idea where I can get it for cheaper?

  5. You should not worry. I have been assured that tens of thousands of people will Open Carry their AR15 in DC on that day because they are the modern day Rosa Parks.

    1. But I’ve been told that we shouldn’t scare the modern day whites by open carrying a pistol, because we are not the modern day Rosa Parks.

      (Also banning me from your site for a few comments trying to debate you seems silly… just saying).

  6. The Tea Party stuff did work for a while despite a notable lack of organization and active harassment from the Federales. As I recall, they started at the district and state level and built up.

    1. “The Tea Party stuff did work for a while despite a notable lack of organization. . .”

      The tactic applied with the Tea Party was to encourage and facilitate a lot of inept and delusional local or regional groups, that by yelling nonsense and bumping into things would provide a patina of genuine “grassroots” for those groups that were actually astroturf. In some cases local leadership that proved its mettle by actually organizing something workable were allowed to make the transition to paid astroturf.

      I attended one Tea Party rally, by accident. A buddy and I stumbled into it while we were in Dover, Delaware, near the capitol. I took the opportunity to chat with some of the participating attendees, i.e., people with tables pitching one issue or another or their own group. I recognized exactly the same mix of cranks, opportunists, and just-plain-loons I had been familiar with when I organized or participated in similar things in the early 1990s. (I had proposed a “Tea Party” demonstration here in Bucks County in 1988, during an anti-tax campaign, but for some reason the county Republican enforcer put the kibosh on the idea — and I had gone along as a Team Player.)

      When the c. 2009 Tea Party movement emerged, some of its characters here in Bucks County attempted to wear two hats, and form a “gun rights” group manned by the same — dare I say, clowns? — as their Tea Party group. Both manifestations disappeared pretty quickly and none of their people seemed to move up to corporate employment or into “mainstream” Republican politics. None of us from the “legacy” gun rights movement had ever heard of them before, but, that could have been our own fault.

      1. Yeah but they put a really big group on the street in DC in spite of amateurism, government harassment and in some cases fraud. How big the group was is subject to partisan dispute but I would be happy if the gun rights group could reach the lowest estimate.

        Not surprising that gun rights activists were unfamiliar with them since their core issue was finance and a lot of them were just new to political activism.

        1. “Yeah but they put a really big group on the street in DC in spite of amateurism”

          I want to be honest in emphasizing that I don’t know, and therefor can’t prove it, but it sounds like a case of “professional facilitation” similar to my personal example given above. All the “community organizers” (not the usual-suspect community, though) and astroturf outfits would need to do is go to the locals and say, “we need your support for this, tell your people, take the local credit, and if you need help organizing bus rentals or carpools or scheduling just let us know.” Small help with details coupled with the appearance of peer pressure can work wonders with those things.

          But I’ll emphasize again that I can’t prove that — I can’t prove some things of which I had first-hand knowledge. But what I’ve had first-hand knowledge of in the past informs my suspicions of what went on in more contemporary examples. Long ago my rule-of-thumb became “nothing is what it appears to be, and it definitely isn’t what it’s represented to be.”

        2. sounds like a case of “professional facilitation”

          I had to check my memory on a couple things but I wanted to expand on the above.

          The two primary astroturf outfits associated with the Tea Party were Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. Both are funded by the corporatist usual suspects on the right, who are the counterparts of Bloomberg and Soros on the left.

          Freedomworks I recall was sponsoring “boot camps” for Republican campaign workers. I took note of that because I had attended broader-based boot camps for activists, under the auspices of another organization. They were treated as super-secret. They were the path by which promising activists were identified and recruited for bigger things. I accepted the “basic” ones on “scholarship” though some people paid hundreds of dollars in “tuition” for a week or so of training. I stopped because I had second thought about being beholden to my sponsors. By stopping I assume I disqualified myself for further progress.

          In the “basic” courses we got an overview of how things really work, like, fundraising and front groups. Basically I learned that there are sponsored “community organizers” for our communities of interest, just as Obama or Sol Alinsky before him were community organizers for the left. But relevant to rallies, I learned that an awful lot of “market research” is done to identify just how much the typical activist will spend to attend a rally, and how far they will travel, and how much time they will take. So, rallies promoted by front groups tailor their rallies for what they want to accomplish. If they really want to maximize attendance, the sponsoring front groups may (for example) subsidize bus fares so the cost is acceptable to the most people. If the local group will sponsor buses, that’s great, but if the local group doesn’t have the money, they will be guided to a subsidized firm, that will quote an acceptable fare. No one, including the leadership of the local group, will be the wiser unless they are knowledgeable of the current bus charter market.

          Once again, I don’t know, but I am confident a lot of those kinds of things went on to get a million-plus women in pussy hats to Washington, DC, for that Saturday after Trump’s inauguration.

          On a slight tangent: That is why so much financial secrecy is allowed to 501 (c)(4)s. Not to shield their membership from a snooping Big Brother, but so that funds can be transferred between organizations undetected by their rank-and-file, who might be shocked to know who they are working for.

          1. If you are correct, it would improve my opinion of them. I had thought that those groups came later in the process.

            1. It is often hard to tell, even when you are involved in things deeply yourself.

              In late 1987 the Democrats in Pennsylvania under Governor Bob Casey Sr. put forth a “tax reform” plan, that I thought was just terrible, and dangerous, because it would eventually have no constraints on the local use of income taxes and property taxes. I got together a small group of local activists to form a “Vote No” committee, since the legislation would require a constitutional change that would have to be approved by referendum.

              I held a press conference announcing our kickoff in the county courthouse immediately after a weekly county commissioners meeting, when I knew all the reporters would be there anyway. Coincidentally, a statewide group was launched in the capitol in Harrisburg at exactly the same time. No one could be blamed for thinking we were just a satellite of the statewide group, which was an astroturf effort of the state Republican Party.

              I know that because I was immediately recruited into the Republican effort, and all our meetings were in Republican state senators offices in the capitol. That really went to my head at the time.

              The “grassroots expropriated by the astroturf” is really the point of my story, but to round it out, we won by 3-1 statewide, 6-1 in Bucks County, and 9-1 in the townships that were my group’s home territory. The Democrats had made the mistake of putting forth their plan too early, when a constitutional change is what people were really voting on. So, we had the tax plan to shoot at, and plant doubts about, when it really wasn’t what voters would be voting on at all.

              Now, to explain my road to cynicism: The Republicans really didn’t have any problem with the tax plan at all, and only opposed it to embarrass the Democrat governor behind it. The Republicans themselves eventually passed a constitutional change identical to the one we had opposed, and its prime sponsor was the senator who had been the real power behind the “Vote No” campaign. So, I had wasted months of my time when I should have been at my business, on an almost pointless partisan power-struggle. I did learn an awful lot from it though, and would learn more as the months went on; but those are Old Stories for another thread.

  7. If the NRA was doing this, I could see it being successful. Especially if its made out to be a protest to Robert “Beta” O’Rourke. But with an unknown organization? Ehh.

    I’m opening to going, and probably will (because I don’t just complain on the internet about doing nothing while insulting those who aren’t open carry idiots). I just hope its not small and used against us.

  8. Years ago I recall Andy protesting Charlton Heston at the Phila. NRA convention. I see nothing has changed.

    The 1994 Harrisburg rally (7000 was the police attendance estimate at the time, though the below article says 3000) was organized by GRASSROOTS groups, one of which I played a significant role in.

    It was NOT a Republican/Santorum event, it was purely against Governor Casey’s proposed “assault” weapon ban.

    I don’t know where he comes up with this dreck!


    UPI Archives
    June 14, 1994
    Thousands protest Pa. gun control bill

    HARRISBURG, Pa., June 14 — Thousands of gun control opponents rallied outside the Capitol building Tuesday to protest Gov. Robert P. Casey’s proposed ban on assault weapons.

    Undeterred by suffocating heat and humidity, more than 3,000 people waved signs urging lawmakers to reject a bill that would ban the sale or possession of 45 types of semiautomatic weapons.

    ‘Too many people believe that killing the Second Amendment will eliminate violent crime, but they are wrong,’ said Bonita Hoke, executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmens Clubs. ‘Our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’

    Alan Krug, state legislative liason for the National Rifle Association, told the protesters, ‘I don’t believe there’s ever been a bigger fraud perpetrated on the public than the so-called assault weapon issue.’

    Rally speakers urged the demonstrators to register to vote and work to unseat lawmakers who support gun control.

    Casey unveiled his plan March 8, calling it ‘reasonable legislation. .. that will impose new standards of responsibility for gun ownership.’

    The proposal would allow people who already own banned weapons to keep them, but only if the firearms are registered with the state police. Assault weapons could be sold only to licensed gun dealers, who could sell only to other dealers or out-of-state residents.

    The measure would also ban the possession of semiautomatic weapons by minors. Minors could possess other firearms, but only for adult- supervised activities like hunting or target shooting.

    The list of weapons covered by the proposed ban includes the MAC-10, UZI, AK-47, and Streetsweeper, a 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun.NEWLN: (edited by Harold Martin, New York)

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