Yes, Gun Control is Still Pretty Much Astroturf

An MSNBC contributor e-mailed me looking for a statement. As a policy, I don’t return e-mail from the Administration’s propagandists, but I figured a public response would do just fine:

You have accused Mayor Bloomberg of being “Astorturf-in-Chief” and the gun control movement of being “astroturf” instead of a grassroots movement.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns now has 1.5 million supporters, and they organizing events in ten cities. The Newtown Action Alliance also held an event today on Capitol Hill.

Does the mean the “astroturf” efforts are becoming a grassroots movement for control? Or does it still just amount to “astroturf”?

What Bloomberg is likely defining as “supporters” are people who have gotten on his e-mail list. How one defines a supporter is quite flexible, but that’s a vastly different animal than a dues paying member. NRA actually has one of the strictest standards for membership of any interest group that plays in DC.

NRA has 5 million members. That’s 5 million people who forked over money, usually 25-35 dollars to become members, and who have to keep paying that every year to remain on the rolls. Voting members, which includes life members (who forked out anywhere from 300-1000 dollars) and people who have been members for 5 unbroken years, number 1.72 million by the number of ballots that went out for the last Board election.

But it’s not just that. Where are the anti-gun blogs? Where’s the anti-gun convention that turns out 82,000 people like NRA did in Houston last month? Why are we able to mobilize bigger protests ad-hoc than they can manage even with professional organizers and slick ad campaigns. If Bloomberg has grassroots why is his bus tour schedule not being made public? Perhaps because he is well aware our people will show up and risk MAIG not getting the media’s undivided attention?

If I wanted to play Bloomberg’s game, just doing a quick query on the blog’s database, I have 7139 supporters in just my small corner of the pro-2A universe. That’s how many unique people have ever commented on this blog. We’ve had 1.9 million unique people who have visited this blog since I’ve been keeping stats. Of those, about 260,000 have returned to the site at least once. The metric I use to determine how many regular readers I have comes out to about 2300 now, and 7000 over the years if I take the data back far enough. We have 520 Facebook fans, and between Bitter and I, we have 2500 followers on Twitter. I am a blog about gun politics, and that’s all I generally blog about. That’s a pretty niche topic, as things go, and I’ve never spent so much as a dime on an ad campaign, or made any effort to compile a list of “supporters.” What could I have accomplished if I had sunk even a million of Bloomberg’s money into marketing?

So yes, I believe the gun control movement is still mostly Astroturf. I am sure millions of Americans are willing to say they support gun control, and some might even be willing to sign up for an e-mail list. But it takes more than that to win in politics. Bloomberg’s 1.5 million doesn’t matter if none of those people are willing to act or vote on the issue. NRA’s 5 million people will act, and will vote, and largely on that one issue. We will crawl over broken glass to defend the Second Amendment. In fact, most of us would do more if necessary.

Growing the Astroturf

Miguel calls the head of Mom’s Demand Action the plastic gardener, noting her background as a PR professional. The question isn’t so much whether she has a PR background, but whether she’s a political hack. Shannon Watts doesn’t look like the same kind of hack as Donna Dees-Thomases, who was a closely tied to the Clintons and the media. It’s the fact that Dees-Thomases was a political hack that destroyed the narrative. Someone with a PR background can still be a stay-at-home mom from New Jersey or Indiana, but to suggest someone with close ties to the Clinton Administration is just some ordinary, concerned stay-at-home mom defies credulity. The question with Shannon Watts is who she is politically, and not so much what she did in her professional life, and I’m not sure any of the cases I’ve seen against Watts paint her to be connected at the same level as Dees-Thomases.

The Astroturfing of Ayotte

Ever since New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte voted with us on the Toomey-Manchin sellout, Bloomberg and Obama have been doing their best to manufacture outrage at her town hall meetings, and the media has only been too happy play along. The New Hampshire Journal takes an honest look at these “protesters” and discovers an awful lot of AstroTurf.


Twitchy has some hard evidence that the gun control crowd is engaging in astroturfing efforts. We know that the call went out in New Jersey, and that the Obama people paid for busses in order not to have an embarrassing turnout last week, and SEUI is also on the hook to help Obama screw fellow union members out of jobs. You can hardly blame them, since without astroturf efforts, this is what the anti-gun movement looks like. Meanwhile, the Day of Resistance seemed to have good turnout in a lot of places, such as this demonstration in the Idaho Capitol. There was a successful counter-demonstration outside of John Runyan’s (R-NJ)  office as well. Nonetheless, I do get concerned about our people wearing down with demonstration after demonstration. I think the purpose is to try to wear us down.

UPDATE from Bitter: Even Buzzfeed, which leans pretty far left on most things politics, concludes that the fake Twitter gun control astroturf is likely real. I searched the results on our lawmaker, and I found several egg accounts that were legit and underused, but just as many that were suspiciously devoid of any tweets except the one OFA-ordered message. They had no followers, they only followed the recommended celebrities pushed by Twitter, and they had no other interactions.

Astroturfing HR822 Opposition

I’m always skeptical any time I see a letter to the editor in the paper from someone appearing to be a concerned citizen, yet appearing to hit all the right talking points. While there are certainly anti-gun people in New Jersey, I don’t think most of them pay enough attention This is the case with Sharon Ransavage’s letter against HR822. Ransavage is a former prosecutor in Hunterdon County, but more importantly, she’s co-chair of the Hunterdon Peace Coalition, which is a subset of Coalition for Peace Action, which, as you may remember, absorbed CeaseFire New Jersey. So she’s one of Bryan Miller’s buddies. They say it’s a small world, but I’m always surprised how small a world it really is when it comes to anti-gun activism.

If we’re a tiny minority, exercising influence beyond our number, what do they think they are?

Caught Astroturfing

Thirdpower has uncovered that one “I’m a gun owner… but” article was actually written by the former Mayor of Madison, WI, who is actually a member of the anti-gun group  Mayors Against Illegal Guns, going by the name of “Citizen Dave.” You see, when they don’t actually have grassroots, they will manufacture them. I would be reluctant to call these people “Fudds.” A more apt word would be “Frauds.” These folks are anti-gun forces masquerading as sportsmen. Kudos to the bloggers who uncovered the true identify of this bozo.

This is really no match for our grassroots resources. Our opponents’ duplicity is too easy to uncover, and, after all, they take the weekends off.


Astroturfing |ˈastrōˌtərfiNG|

A form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a “grassroots” movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event.

See example.

Astroturfing, Part MMCDLXXXI

Days of Our Trailer uncovers another attempt by a Joyce funded group to look like they are the real McCoy. You can usually tell the fake ones quickly, by the fact that they don’t take comments, and never did. Most real bloggers like getting comments.

New Astroturfing Effort?

I found a media release for a not-so-new-but-new-to-me anti-gun blog. As is usually the practice, Reasoned DiscourseTM is in full effect. It’s run by the geriatric author of some anti-gun books. A quick Whois search shows it is registered to him, but what kind of hobby blogger puts out a release on PR Newswire. That’s not free. I smell astroturf.

Suspected Astroturfing

John Richardson has uncovered some strong evidence that an Letter to the Editor touted by CSGV is an astroturfing effort. To add more evidence to show that it probably is, I looked up to see whether there was any Charles Ford who held an FFL in Oregon by looking up the list from ATF. There is no one named Ford who holds an FFL in the entire state of Oregon. I think it’s safe to conclude that this is indeed an astroturfing effort by our opponents. As I mentioned, they are not above this kind of dishonesty. It’s the only way they can win.

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